This is an astral post, so if you are not interested in such things, you do not have to read.
We are both dormant upon the floor. He is sitting, cross-legged and Zen-like, while I am lying in a heap. My cheek is pressed into the boring white that surrounds us like a silken cocoon. Only instead of silk against my cheek, I feel the roughshod surface of a floor made to be as uncomfortable as possible. I am tired and there is nothing that can be done still. We are eternally waiting, it seems. Of course, this is not the case. He sits across from me, looking for all intents and purposes as though he is meditating. I know better. His eyes are half-closed and his mouth is slightly open. His breaths come few and far between. I believe he is in another place, doing whatever it is that he does when he is not with me. This babysitting duty has got to be old, I think, and he must be tired of it. But with indefatigable will, we continue on this course. I close my eyes and feel him come into his body again with a heavy start.
“I have to go, honey-child,” he explains to me. I open my eyes and see him climbing to his old man feet. He pulls up his walking stick and tucks it comfortably within his arm pit. He slings his makout across his shoulder as I sit up, blinking in the face of his departure. I am trying not to worry. I am trying not to scream. I am scared, however. He has never left me alone for a single second in this room and I know that I will get nowhere with this business if he is not there to help guide me. I will sit and fall into pieces within this white room, caged forever in obscurity. “I have to go but I will return.”
I sit up fully, my hair falling into my face. My hair is in tangles all down my back. It is in snarls and pits across my head, more like a war helm than long feminine locks. That is my only guilty pleasure in both realms. I have long hair. I like having long hair. I am not feminine in any form of the word except in body. My mentality and emotional self are more shades of gray – not so much gender neutral, but more about strength and resolve than anything else. There is no gender in either of those things. In a way, I like having long hair. But in this room, filled with boredom and ire, I hate it. It is a blasphemy, to me, to have long hair in this hellhole where no one can marvel at the beauty of my tresses. Perhaps, the reality is that I have long hair in both realms is more to do with a desire to have people covet something about me… “You can’t leave. I’ll never get anywhere. Why are you going? Why are you doing this to me? This is even worse than this torturous boredom!” I am crying. I am scared. “Why would you do this?”
He grips my biceps in his strong, knobby hands. “Honey-child, I am not leavin’ because I want you to suffer. I am leavin’ because you got visitors a-coming. And I ain’t in the mood to receive any of them.” His eyes flash darkly. He is angry – as angry as I am. I marvel at this. He is always the affable old man, a jokester and a teacher. Why is he angry? I wonder to myself. I am beyond confused, but I also know that in this, he will not explain himself. He tilts his head as though listening to someone or something that I cannot hear. “I have to go now.” And he disappears.
I was hoping that when he popped out, he would remind me of Schmendrick, the magician. In the movie, The Last Unicorn, which I watched many times as a child, he was an oaf. And sometimes, when I look over at the old man, I can see a hint of that magician in him. In the movie, in the scene I was hoping he would mimic, Schmendrick is floating multicolored balls in a circle around his head and torso for the amusement of the vile king. The vile king is not amused. Continuing in the hope that something he does will please the king, Schmendrick jumps up and begins to flip around a few times before disappearing without a single noise. This does not please the king, but bores him further. I was hoping that, without the multicolored balls encircling him, the old man would disappear likewise. Instead, he is like a whisper, a puff of smoke that floats upon the breeze.
He is gone.
I start to cry. I am alone. I am truly alone. For the first time since I had been thrust into this white room, I am alone. It is a horrible place to begin with, but even more so when I am alone. In the beginning, a few people had come to me with the intention of helping the broken thing I was. Instead, I had lashed out at all of them, in the hopes of wounding them as completely as I had been wounded. Instead of taking my imprisoning as a chance to get some answers from people who are older, but perhaps not wiser, I had lashed out at them in their entirety. They had not helped me, which is why the old man finally came. I had been alone in the room for only a bit between the last visitor and the old man appearing to help me out. But I had not been alone like this. Even though I know that I will have more visitors, I do not know when they are coming. Isn’t it possible that the old man’s inner sense was off? Maybe they would leave me here to rot for hours upon hours, going steadily insane at the bleakness of the situation.
I feel broken already. I feel destroyed. I can feel all the hard work slipping away. And I am so angry all of a sudden. The brokenness, the bleakness, the horror of this situation in all areas of my life… It has all added up. I went from sorrow and then moved quickly into resignation. I knew that what the old man was saying, and all the other people who had tried before, was true. I knew that this was the way it had to be because I never take care of myself, I never bother to deal with anything going on inside of me. I let the fractures grow unmanageable on my own. I was a being of clay who had not been fired properly in the kiln, but had dried haphazardly across months of time and was beginning to fracture. Instead of being destroyed like a piece of glass, I was sent here and I knew, I knew that they were all telling me things I need to know and doing things I had to do. I was resigned.
But now, right this second, I am angry.
I. Am. So. Angry.
An eternity passes and only a few seconds pass. The room that I am in is hell on internal clocks. It can be only a few seconds, but it can feel like forever. It can be an aeon or six, but feel only like a few minutes have passed. I don’t know how long I have been here. It feels like weeks upon weeks upon weeks. I know what time frame it has been in the human place I live, but it is so different here. I cannot tell if I have been a sad, broken heap for hours, for days, for seconds. I do not know. Before long though, I am not alone. I can feel a white hot heat at my back. I do not turn. I know that signature. I will never be ready for this. I know why she’s here, of course; I am no fool. But I am not ready for this.
Of course, this is the story of my life. I am not ready for something and yet, it continues to happen anyway.
I say nothing. I close my eyes and pretend that I am somewhere else. I pretend that I am at a crossroads with the old man. I pretend that I am on a cliff face, watching the sunset with little bit and bby bear. I pretend that I am being taught weapons theory and tactical theory by the wolf man. I pretend that I am in the realm of humans. I pretend that I am a cow, flying through the air. I pretend many things, but none of them come true. I can still feel the white hot heat at my back. She is waiting, of course, for me to acknowledge her. She is telling me that she has all the patience in the world. She is also waiting for me to be impulsive and do something stupid. But as angry as I am at her, at this situation, at everything, I know that I can wait her out. That is one lesson I had not been expecting in this room. I had not realized that patience would come to me in waves. And it has.
I know I can wait for an eternity, if need be.
She begins to tap her foot with her impatience. And for a moment, I feel as though I have scored a point in this war, this battle, this moment. It is none of those things, of course. This is not a battle. I know that she brought me into this world and just as readily, she can take me out of it. We are not battling here. We are going to talk, I can feel that. But I am not ready for her talks. She will be her usual, heated self and I will attempt to not get drawn in. And I will, inevitably, be drawn back in and we will haughty and angry with each other.
“Turn around and face me,” she commands in her queenly voice. I have to literally fight with myself so that I do not obey her whim immediately. Again, I can feel another point scored in this stupid battle of wills. I know I will not win the war, but I can try. “Do not grovel on the ground, like a dog. That is beneath you.” She is callous in her pronouncements and there is a double edged barb to her words. Not only is the old man teaching me and healing me in ways that she, herself, could not do, but he is often seen as a dog to many. She is trying to make it seem like he has infected me with some form of disease. The other entendre relates to my relationship, what little of it there is, with the wolf man. He is a part of me, too, as much as I hate to admit it. What makes this worse is that it’s her fault he’s in me at all.
After a million years, but what is only seconds, I slowly roll over. I pretend to be a slug on the floor at her feet. I do not greet her. I do not look her in the eyes. She wears the guise of a human, in an effort to connect with me. I can see through in ways I never thought I would. I know that her look is strategic. She looks like how I look now. Her black hair is long and shimmering in the golden light that surrounds her. If I was truly human, my eyes would burn from their sockets just upon seeing her from the peripheral. Her dress is long and sheer, as they always are. She wears a golden girdle about her middle with shimmering carnelian tear drops and bells that jingle as she moves. Her feet are encased in golden slippers with an ankh between her toes. She is beautiful. She is gorgeous. Once, I wanted to be just like her.
Once, I wanted to emulate her statuesque beauty and ability to teach. I wanted to be just like her. I thought she was beautiful and perfect. I was a little in love with her, or the image of her, I had conjured into my mind. And as our interactions grew and I began to learn what she wanted from me and who I literally was to her, I was floored. I was grateful. I knew that I was perfect in her eyes even with all my mistakes and fuck ups in the mix. I knew that she loved and adored me. I knew that while I had a long ways to go to work to be like her in any way that I would one day be the same. Now, I look at those hopes and desires with contempt. I want nothing to do with her. She is a liar.
I. Am. So. Angry.
I tamp down on my emotions and do not sit up. I merely lay there, waiting.
She stamps over impatiently and prods me with her toe. I feel like I am truly a slug now. I can tell that she is angry with me, she is pissed at me, she is furious with me. And she is disgusted with me in this second and does not want to touch me. Just as a child will unwillingly touch something that they deem disgusting, so too am I to her. “This is ridiculous! Sit up and face me!” She is commanding. I have no will. I obey.
She sneers at me but I do not respond. I keep my eyes averted from her beautiful face and look at her girdle. It has the images of lions on it and the eyes of those lions are black onyx, mother of pearl, red jasper, and lapis lazuli. The design is breathtaking as she is. I keep my head bowed, waiting for her to tear into me. She can either do so with words or literally. It would be only a second’s notice for her hands to turn into claws and to destroy me. But that would undo all the work I have put into myself in these last few weeks. I know she will not do it, but there is always the possibility.
“What is the matter with you? What is this I hear? I receive reports about you from both your ‘teacher’ and you,” she screeches at me. The word “teacher” is said in the most derogatory tone imaginable. I can feel my anger mounting. “What is this anger that you feel? What is the matter with you? I made you who you are and you are ruining it!” She stamps her foot in her irritation. Her hands are on her hips, waiting for my response. “You are angry with me? You are angry with all that I have given you? You are angry with everything I have sacrificed for you? You are angry and for what? For something that you know full well you are not ready to hear? What is the matter with you?” She stamps her foot again.
Staring at those manicured and well-oiled toes, I say calmly, “You are a liar. You all are liars.”
She sucks in a breath, as though I had punched her in the stomach and stolen the air from her lungs. It is a small victory, but it is empty. It feels like ashes in my mouth.
“Parents do many things in the best interest of their children,” she says to me slowly. I am uncertain if she speaks slowly because I have legitimately wounded her or if she thinks I am too stupid to understand. In either instance, if I have legitimately wounded her, I vow that I will feel sorrow for it later. If it is the latter reason, then I will grow angrier for it later. “They know that the process of growing up and learning the things required is a long, hard, and grueling path. Sometimes, parents keep things from their children for their own good. It is not right to inundate children with hard truths right from the get-go. How cruel would that be?”
I sneer at her. “You can tell children many things and they will accept it. They do not need to be lied to or had the truth withheld from them over and over again, especially if they ask. You may think you were doing me a favor, but all you did was destroy my trust. Congratulations,” I say tartly.
She sucks her teeth at me. “You think you know something because you are a parent in that other place? That is nothing to what I am doing for you. I am not doing this for anyone else. I am not doing this for any of the other children around. I am doing this for you and this is the thanks I get?”
“You would turn it back to me being the insolent child,” I reply with a sigh. “You would do that. ‘How best to turn this back into me being the wronged party,’ is all that I hear.”
“You ingrate,” she screams.
“You liar,” I scream back. I jump to my feet. I stomp my own foot and the room quakes beneath the power that has been building in me for weeks. It is a power that is not fully born of who I am or what I will one day be. But it is a power that has been folded numerous times like the steel in a sword. This sword – me – has been tempered many times over and I can feel that power surging within me. “I have asked you for nothing but the truth, time and time again. I have asked all manner of questions and you play games with me. You play games with my soul. You play games with everything about me. You make this into my betraying your trust, but what about what you and your cohorts have done to me? You are all filthy, dirty liars. The only truth I have ever heard is from the old man whom you apparently despise!”
She stares at me, her eyes narrowed into slits. She is taking my measure now. After a moment, she shakes her head. There is sadness on her face. “I do not despise him. I never have. We are friends. I am friendly with everyone. You know how this works. We are different. We are better. We are stronger. But we all have our rolls to play. And so do you. Your roll is coming and these painful truths that you are finding out in this room are integral. Do you really think I could have told you any of this before now? You would have run away. I’ve done this with you before,” she reveals.
I choke on my own air. I am startled. I did not know. I swallow and suck in my breath. “How many times?” I ask. It is the first thing that comes to mind.
“A handful,” she says dismissively. “You have only ever fought me. The only time you never did was when… before. When you were the daughter of [redacted.] You knew the intrinsic truths then. It was no surprise. You had been brought up in all of this,” she waves her hand to encompass the life I had led once. “You knew what to expect from us, from me. And you went with it. You did not fight me. And you were so powerful then. And you did not even have nearly a fraction of the power you have now.” She grasps my shoulders and stares deeply into my eyes. Her kohl is smudged, I notice. She has been crying. I am shocked by this display. It is not like her to be this way. “You have grown and grown with each life you have lived. In some of them, you were nothing. In many of them, you were something. But you have fought me whenever I thought it was time.”
I look into her eyes. They are like jewels unto themselves. They are beautiful. They are made more so by her unshed tears.
“You could have told me this,” I say slowly. I don’t know what else to say to her.
“I couldn’t.” She shakes her head. “You are so very much a part of me,” she says ruefully. “You are as stubborn and intense as I am. With each new life, you have only grown more so.” She shrugs her shoulders delicately. “You are truly what I want you to be. You question me. You bring me back into check. You remind me that I am not nearly as perfect as I pretend to be.” She offers me a faint smile and then it disappears. The sadness in her eyes is gone. I am staring at my reflection in the cold being she can so obnoxiously be. “But this is the way of it. I tell lies for your protection. Do you tell your son the truth in that realm always?”
“I try to,” I say truthfully. “I tell him that things are the way they are. I try to answer every single one of his questions with the truth. I may not go into detail…” I trail off because I know I have made a misstep.
“Nor I,” she murmurs to me.
“It’s different,” I say stubbornly. “I may not tell him the whole of the truth, but I phrase things so that when he asks the inevitable next question, he has the building blocks to make the next logical leap to the next definition or explanation I provide. You do not do this. You give me no building blocks. You tell me that things are ‘the way that they are because they are that way’ or you tell me that ‘things are the way they are because we made them that way and that’s how it is’ and you do not explain further. If you made it that way, why? What was your motivation? If you wanted me to do things, then why didn’t you just say so? Why the fuck have you been beating around the bush for my entire fucking life?”
“You are not ready yet,” she says simply. “And you may never be with all this other inside of you.” She gestures at my middle.
“I am what I am because you forged me this way,” I retort.
She purses her lips. “This is true, but you have me inside of you. You will overcome it.”
“Or I will go my own way,” I suggest.
Her eyes narrow. “Then we will do this again in your next life.”
Without another word, she exits. I stare at where she was. That was a threat, I decide. It was a clear and concise threat and I know there is no way out of this…