This is an astral post, so if you are not interested in such things, you do not have to read.
It has been a long time since I have been able to do anything. I have long felt like a caged animal and only now, I can give free reign to the desire to do whatever I want. Instead of running, instead of jogging, instead of exploring, instead of a good many other things, I am in the desert. The feeling of the sun upon my skin is as delicious as the fresh feeling of healing moisturizer upon my skin. I can feel myself growing, just as a flower or a tree, as it kisses my face. I close my eyes against the brightness of those rays and let them caress my features. When I feel full, I begin about my task. I have a purpose here and I am intent on seeing it through.
I begin to dig. At first, I merely dig with my hands. I feel like a child at the beach, exploring each particle of sands that fills the crevasses beneath my finger nails, in my boots, in my hair, in my underwear. I can feel every gritty piece and I revel in the feel of it beneath my hands. But I truly do have a purpose, more than simply play, and I pull a shovel out of my pack. With diligence, I begin digging. I think that maybe, in a few hours, I will go and see sandworms or perhaps, I will go back to the forests I have been playing in lately. Whatever, it is immaterial what I do in a while. All that matters is what I am doing now and what I am doing now is to dig. I have a specific purpose here and I intend on seeing it through.
I do not dig a hole. Holes serve me no purpose here. I am not binding someone or punishing them. I am not going to bury a treasure of some form here. Besides, when the sands begin to blow over the hole I could have made, I may never find the trusty X that marks this spot. No, I have another purpose. I am digging a trench. I have no particular idea on how big it will be or how long. I do not dig it very deep – only a couple of feet. But, I make it very long. I have decided that the purpose here isn’t just the important part but the message needs to be particularly grandiose. I am lost for a while in the act of digging. My muscles ache; my mouth dries out; my body dehydrates and cools itself with my sweat. I am lost in the minutiae of each shovelful I toss over my shoulder and the particles of sand that whip back in my face.
I take a long break then. The trench is a good twenty feet long and I have made much progress. I can feel pleasure soaking through my bones and bringing the ache from the roar of a lion to a dull, dull moan. I giggle at my progress and skip a little dance. I am quite pleased with myself, with my progress. After an eternity in that place, I am finally free. And I am finally able to do what it is that I wish to do. All the imagining had done me little good when I had things I could have been doing. Of course, the point in that white room is not lost on me. But the act of doing is very important to me and always has. Being locked up was enough to drive me insane, but I had come out of it rather whole. At least, I felt a good deal more whole than I had going in.
The sun is behind me now. I have been at this work for a long time. I close my eyes and enjoy the peace and quiet. I can hear, sometimes, the wind beginning to pick up. However, it leaves my work-in-progress alone. There is a purpose here and even this desert can feel it. I wait for a while but when I realize that I still have more to do, I get up and go about my business. I even out the line of my trench and extend it a little further. The sun beings to lower towards the horizon behind me and I stop more frequently to watch it. The cast of its blood red tendrils against the golden back drop of this desert is awe-inspiring. My eyes are drawn to it.
I can feel her walking up behind me as I bend forward to remove another shovelful of dirt. It had fallen into the trench when I wasn’t paying attention and I cleared it from the nest it was making. I take a step back and admire my handiwork again. I fold the travel shovel together and set it down beside my back. I can feel her, of course, searching me over and trying to figure out what it is I am doing here. I hardly ever come to her neck of the woods. I keep myself away from here for a very good reason and she knows that I have no love of this place. A lack of love, however, doesn’t mean that I cannot appreciate all that it can do for me or all of the beauty that is around me. I just prefer to leave her to her home and I go about my business elsewhere. It has worked thus far for us in this world but I know that this will soon have to stop. Soon, I will have to become quite comfortable here.
I can remember a time, what feels like an eternity ago, where this place was a comfort. I can remember sitting on sand dunes and just watching the sun on its majestic journey. I can remember letting the wind blow my hair and I can remember following in her footsteps, hoping that I was working on something good. I can remember all of that, but this place brings me no joy. It once did, but no longer. Now, it is a testament to a time of my innocence and that has long been destroyed. I may not see in its entirety, but I can see much more clearly now. This place will need to be retrofitted to make me more comfortable and I know how to do that, of course. But the matter still stands that sometimes, I can feel my skin crawling when I am here. And it has nothing to do with the sand blowing in the wind.
She finally comes up behind me. For a second, I feel as though I need to move so that the predator is not at my back. But I will not give in to such childish impulses. I know she is there. And I know that she prefers to come up behind me. It is a control thing and I am okay with this. As I know what to expect, though perhaps not when to expect it, I am better in the knowing than in the attempt to change it.
I glance at her from the corner of my eyes and for a moment, my heart breaks anew. I can remember a time – just like the time when these sands were comforting to me – when I was always so in awe of her. No matter what form she would show me, she was beautiful to me. No matter what words she was speaking or in what language, I was completely enthralled with every move of her lips. I was always half in love with her – always. This is something that wounds me now, knowing this. To an extent, I can still feel that love. But I have been tempered and that love is one of the things that has been changed in that process. I close my eyes against my emotions and against my mind. I had been living in a solitude, I had been living in quiet, and now my mind is aflutter again. This does me no good.
“What are you doing here?” She asks. She finally steps into my direct line of sight, but I do not look at her. I keep my eyes on the project, my trench.
“I don’t know,” I say.
Frowning, she takes a step forward and searches my face worriedly. “Perhaps, you came out of there too soon?”
This is a test and it was successful. Her worry means a lot to me and it means that she does, ultimately, at least care about my well-being. But it was successful in letting me know that the work I had undertaken in that damned, fucking room was successful in a way I had not realized. The old man had warned me that things would change – relationships as well as myself – and he was right. Things had definitely changed. I was not an open book any longer, at least partially. And that meant a good deal more to me than anything else. Sometimes, inscrutability is as important as knowing the proper way to express oneself. If anyone and everyone can read you at any given time, they have the power to control you, to hold sway over you and your desires. I didn’t want anyone, even she, to hold sway over me.
“No. I was done in there,” I explain. I take a step back and give her a winning smile. I can see the relief peppering her face before she glances down at the work I have done. I jog backwards, extending my right arm to encompass the trench I have made. “Ta-da,” I cry. She stares at the trench mutely, unable to understand what it is that I am smiling about. I run from one side to the other, illustrating how long it is. “This is my line in the sand,” I say, a little out of breath, as I jog back towards her. I look down at the trench with pride and then back at her, beaming. “Get it? This is my line in the sand.”
“Bah-dum-ching,” she says coolly.
“Minus that part, but yeah,” I semi-agree.
“Explain,” she says. I can see her interest. This isn’t merely an order, but this is her giving me the time. She is also giving me the respect that I deserve.
“You are correct: I have agreed to the title,” I say amiably, “but that was only one of the many lessons I had to learn in that room.” I look down at my handiwork gain. I am choked up for a moment with the weight of the emotions of that final, haunting encounter. An encounter that she had known would impact me in a way that I could not have guessed. She had given me two very kind people who had given me warnings about that encounter. And I had still not guessed at the impact of that moment… but it does not matter. As insane inducing as that moment had been, I had managed to hug it to me and to pull it through me and come out whole on the other side of that moment. “I have agreed that I will fulfill this role. This part of me that you have been creating in me for a long time. I have agreed to it… but on my terms. Not yours.
“This is the representation of those terms.”
She folds her arms over her chest and quirks an eyebrow at me. “Oh, really?”
“I understand why you want me,” I continue. “I have never really doubted or questioned that. I have questioned everything else, though and that is a problem for both of us.” I sigh. “I cannot do my job effectively if I am constantly doubting your reasons. So, we do this under my own terms. I will do as you ask. I will give you what you want, even the parts that I have not a single clue on how to do. I will reach out and I will do those things, but I cannot doubt you and your reasons. I do not need to know your reasons, but you need to know mine. I will not bring lambs to the slaughter.”
She smirks. “Do you really think I want to destroy everyone?”
I think about this for a moment. My answer is important and I cannot just spew out whatever comes to mind, as much as I may want to occasionally. “No, of course not. I understand that you always have an interest and a purpose in what you do. However, many times, how you go about these things leaves a lot to be desired. You forget that we have wants and desires, too. And while we may very much want to please the gods, we also want answers. I know that you can’t provide them, always, but sometimes, you have to give in order to get anything in return. Sometimes, even the gods have to sacrifice. And those are my terms: sometimes you will need to sacrifice. And sometimes, you will need to tread lightly with these people. And sometimes, you will need to know when to back off and not throw us to the wolves, both literally and figuratively.”
“You would have me be more humane,” she sneers.
“No. I would have you be more kind.”
She sighs. She looks down at my illustration. “I have no more kindness in me,” she says simply. “I do as I am bid. I do as I see must happen. It’s the ‘bigger picture’ you hate so much.”
“I don’t hate it all the time,” I admit. “I hate how all of you go about these things. I understand that there are reasons for everything and that sometimes, we, humans, are unable to get out of the way or to stop because of that ‘bigger picture.’ But a lot of us are very tired of feeling used all the time. We feel not so much wanted and needed, but as tools whose sharp edges have been worn down with constant use. You need to realize that if you use a single tool so often without re-sharpening those edges, you will lose the use of that tool. And sometimes, that also means that you need to let us rest. You need to let us take time for ourselves and our needs. You need to remember that we are not your mindless automatons, but the ones you have chosen to see this ‘bigger picture’ through.
“You need to stop being a selfish twat all the time.”
She glowers at me, but doesn’t respond right away. That, in and of itself, is a small victory. If she wasn’t considering my terms, then she would have walked away or smote me down or something. Arms folded across her chest, she walks around my not-so-metaphorical metaphor and studies it. She looks into my face periodically as she walks around it. I can see the turmoil in her every step. She is both angry with me and proud of me. It is the pride, of course, that I was hoping for. She sees in me what she wants, which is both exhilarating and frightening all at once. But this is her lot in life, just as it is mine. I am willing to sacrifice, to a point, for what it is she wants. I hope that she doesn’t ask the bigger things of me, not for some time. I hope she lets me get used to the role she is asking of me. But I also know that sometimes, time tables are fucked up and pushed forward.
I hope I have not fucked things up with my terms.
“If you truly accept this, then you know that I will do less and you will do more,” she says finally.
“And so you understand that you will be the selfish twat, periodically.”
“And that you will have to use those ‘coconuts’ more often.”
“And that you will have to sacrifice to me, big time.”
I sigh heavily. “I know all of this. But if I am to do what it is you ask of me, then you cannot expect me to push and prod and hurt others for the greater good. You cannot expect me to be an asshole all the time. Yes, I can destroy easily. I can snap my fingers and a conflagration builds.” I snap my fingers and fire sparks at my fingertips, only to ignite in the palm of my hand. We both watch it thoughtfully for a good minute before I let it dissipate. “But I also know that sometimes destruction isn’t always the way. Yes, destroying things can be good and cathartic and it can stick the point home. But words and hugs and gestures can, as well. It will be up to me to make that call.”
She sighs. “You are such a bleeding fucking heart.”
I shrug. “You chose that,” I remind her. “This is as much your fault as mine. You didn’t want some mindless, brainless idiot doing your bidding. If you had, then we could have had this part done and over with generations ago. Instead, you kept attempting to create what you wanted out of me. You experimented on me for lifetime after lifetime just so that you could get someone who would be useful to you and not merely kowtow.”
“You used to kowtow,” she agrees. After a moment, she adds, “You kowtowed to me not even that long ago. Only a few short years ago now.”
“I know,” I hiss. I am both angry at this reminder and wounded by it. “I remember just as clearly as you do. But this is about me now. You have demands and I intend on seeing them through but only if you do not cross this line. I will not send lambs to the slaughter. I will not allow you to mindlessly destroy whatever you want, whenever you want. I will not be a party line, but I will reach out. I will teach. I will cajole. I will instruct. And I will destroy when the need calls for it, but it will only be at my direction – not yours. If you agree to this, then we can get starts at the new year.”
She bites her lip thoughtfully. After a moment, she studies my face. Her eyes leap to mine and I could drown in those orbs if I let myself. She reaches out and brushes a stray strand of hair out of my face. “You will do me proud,” she says. She nods thoughtfully. “We can break this cycle.”
She leans over and presses a loving kiss to my forehead. I close my eyes and revel in this. I know I will not get it often anymore, not that it was a normal addition to our relationship. In that single kiss, I can feel her love for me. She is abominable about showing me her feelings and making me feel as though I matter to her. But in that single gesture, I know that I do. I matter more than anything right this second and that is more precious to me than any gift, any gold. “I agree to your terms,” she says. I let out a sigh of relief. There was a small part of me that truly worried she wouldn’t agree. “I need you just as much as you need me, little one.”
“Come. Let’s get out of this litter box. There are sweet meats and chocolate waiting for us,” she explains.
“Please point out the chili chocolate,” I implore her as I pick up my knapsack. I push my shovel into its depths and then snug the pack to my shoulder. “I do not want a repeat of my last event at your place.”
“What? Running around screaming about your mouth burning asunder isn’t entertaining to you?”
I grimace at her. “Definitely not. Especially not when Big Red things it’s a good idea to mimic me every time I see him now.”
She laughs at me. “I was beginning to wonder why he was refusing to see you.”
“It’s either that or he was rather embarrassed when I threated to paddle his behind with his brother’s sekhem scepter.”
Laughing, she throws her arm around my shoulder. I can see tears in her eyes, so great is her mirth. “Ah. This will be a tale to tell. A new myth shall emerge: ‘the destroyer’s intermediary paddles the red one’.” Giggling, she brings me back into her world.
We leave that trench behind and enjoy ourselves elsewhere. I am not worried that she will cross me. She tossed me into the white room for a great purpose and I have more than found that purpose. I have remade it, of course, and made it my own. There was never any doubt that I would make changes to the covenant. As we leave behind that trench in the sand, I do not fear that she will cross me or attempt to make changes to our bargain. I know that she will not cross me. She knows what I am capable of. After all, as everyone is always telling me, I am my mother’s daughter.