The River: Broken Pottery.

We descend upon the darkness and my breath is robbed. Before us, there is infinite blackness. It is inky and violent, soft and tender. The aching sweetness mingled with the heart-stopping fear is too much. I can feel a part of my shattering into the night and I am lost. I was lost the moment we came here, but he knew that would be the case. Without breath, without more than an instinctual need to move, I step forward. My steps are sure though I can see little beyond the brilliant pinpricks of star dust above us. It shimmers in my eyes and lights my veins on fire. The only way to make it quiet is to step ever forward into the gentle riverine whispers before me. I must quiet the storm in my body.

Weeks ago now, I began dreaming about Osiris. I was not pleased upon waking from that first dream to find imagery of that green-faced man in my head. I complained and whined about it. This was my fault, though, if the dreams had even a modicum of truth. I had decided it would be a good idea to break into Big O’s palace with some foolish intent on finding TTR, one of the few people whom I would like to meet in the unseen. My plan backfired, of course, because I was caught breaking and entering. I spent a few days having a staring contest with Big O, which seemed to only cause me more consternation. What the fuck had dream-me even been thinking?

A few days afterward, he brought me into the bowels of his palace. We passed through a door and into a landscape that I feel I have described poorly. The starkness of that landscape causes chills up and down my body. Just remembering the black sand beach, the barren rocks, and the scrub grass in shades of charcoal, brings me back to that moment. Before the two of us was a single swath of water, quiet in the stillness of this place. While my poetic endeavors would have people believe that I willingly and quietly went forward into this moment, anyone who actually knows me will understand that I was neither.

I was actually pretty pissed and made my feelings on the matter quite clear. I chose this moment for brashness but that was mostly because of my fear. Of course, I had read about a similar scene playing out so I knew what was coming and I knew what the end result would probably be. I also knew that I could go into the water willingly or I would get tossed in with a little less ceremony, a lot more hilarity (not mine, of course), and a lot more anger and sputtering (mine, of course).

I chose to do what I had been brought there to do willingly, but that hardly means that I was pleased with the overall idea.

With probing fingers, the darkness pushes me ever forward. I feel as though there is no choice in the moment, as though my will has been robbed of me. In a matter of course, it has been, but I also know that it will always come down to this. Eternity is a long time to play this game of cat and mouse; I am too tired to keep playing. The whispers of that river call out into my soul, whipping the storms in my veins into a frenzy. I want to cry. I want to scream. I want to yell. I want to not drown again. My fear is all around me, beating at my body like a bird’s wings but its intent is nothing more than harm and horror. I relive the moments of my death, that painful frightening death, as the water sucks greedily at my toes and feet. I don’t want to die.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t die.

Sometimes breaking something, even though it seems like the worst thing in the world, can be to our benefit. It’s a matter of discovering that benefit later. (Image by Joanna Bourne.)

I went down deep and let the water quiet the wildness within my veins. It seems to poke and prod at every hidden portion of myself, not just my physical body but the metaphysical body that houses the pieces of my soul. Water can be both healing and destructive, but healing and destruction can go hand-in-hand. Though the touch of the water was gentle in a way that I can’t fully describe, the end result I have to admit is that I came out of there broken.

Broken-er?

More broken?

I went in with my ib relatively intact. It was taped up, glued up, shot to hell with the mistakes of its fixing covered in white-wash. But the truth of the matter is that it was a mess. It wasn’t anything to be proud of. The river’s focus was to point that out to me.

As I lay in that water for what felt like an eternity, I ended up realizing that it was removing bits and pieces that had been added from other portions of myself, pieces of myself that had to be removed, cleaned, and destroyed in order to heal it. The removal of those pieces left me fractured and raging. I had been trying to build a tower out of pieces that didn’t actually fit together without any instructions. And now, I was being informed that I had to start all over.

It seems rather unfair.

I crawl from that watery embrace, coughing out the destruction in spades. The fire within my veins, the storm within my soul has softened its touch; it is a tender rain upon my insides. I fall onto my face and cry for it all. The destruction that had raged within my body had been destroyed or at least quieted. I could feel the tender bits of my heart quaking as it felt for the first time in centuries. I roll over and stare up at the brilliance of diamonds in the sky, wondering if it is possible to join them now. Though death has not taken me and I am nowhere near ready to be changed into stardust and memory sparkle, I am too defeated to do more than breathe.

I’m left wondering if I had a map to all of this and I somehow left it in my other pants. Or if not a map, then maybe I could get some form of instructions on where I’m supposed to go with this progression. I’ve been informed, more than once, that Big O speaks in wing dings though. This particular moment seems to more than qualify for that. Even looking at others’ experiences with their personal rivers and looking to the bits and pieces that I know about Big O, I keep coming back to that moment when the fire in my blood stirred to a boil before the heat was lowered to a simmer. I can remember feeling it as it lessened until I was left cold, alone, and gasping for breath. Everything points to a moment of rebirth.

The cost of rebirth is pretty high and no one asked if I was willing to pay the toll. I should be a little used to this turn of events; I seem to rarely get asked if I’m willing to pay for what’s being done. The problem with rebirth is that it means a bit of you – large bits or small bits – have to die. Death is a part of living; living is a part of dying. What I always expected was that death was a little more black-and-white, even though I constantly go on about shades of gray and even though I know consciously that this perception isn’t true. I thought death was the finality, not the beginning of eternity. This was just another way to die, if only a little calmer and maybe a little more relaxing than other ways.

The thing is that even though I’ve paid parts of the debt that the process has demanded, I don’t know if I can finish the payment plan. I’m being asked to craft my ib from start to finish. The parts that were removed were for me benefit, for the good of the entirety of me. This is about bigger picture, but the bigger picture isn’t community, isn’t interpersonal deity relationships, isn’t friendships, isn’t romances, but is about me. I was important enough as I blazed a trail of fire and brimstone behind me to be stopped, to be taken aside, and to be forced to look at the fact that what I had been doing to craft a representative ib was insufficient. Now I have to build a new one from scratch, using tried and tested pieces that haven’t been destroyed by my own inability.

The thing is… these hands look awfully weak to undertake such a task.

My demise was granted yesterday, I have returned today, I have gone forth in my own shape; I am tousled…; I am disheveled, having gone forth…– excerpts from Spell 179, The Book of Going Forth by Day translated by R.O. Faulkner

I think that if I keep telling myself what the end game is, then maybe I’ll be able to get through it. I tell myself, “I want to shine and sparkle, I want to roar with my power, and I want everyone to know who I am and not the person that they think I am supposed to be.” But I have to admit that there are some serious side effects to dying, even if it is only a little death. I haven’t quite mastered the side effects and I honestly don’t know if I care to try. I keep trying to point out why this is important, why I need to get going, and why it’s something that I need to do, but I’ll be honest: the gray cloud of my existence is kind of addicting. I’m not sure if I really want to remove myself from it at all.

But the real problem, the larger issue out of all of this is that I just don’t know how to build the ib, the soul, the person into reality and not the ephemeral dreams of smoke and mirrors. Without instructions or an idea, I don’t know if it’s even worth starting all that hard work.

The Astral is Balls.

I kind of feel like this is every experience I've ever had over there summed up in one 60s fabulous Spider Man meme.

I kind of feel like this is every experience I’ve ever had over there summed up in one 60s fabulous Spider Man meme.

Two years ago, I felt my mind start to shatter a little bit at a time. I couldn’t understand it at first – I didn’t recognize it for what it would inevitably turn into. The thing is that so few people actively talk about having their head cracked open. I mean, sure. I read TTR’s blog regularly and I’ve combed through almost every entry that has ever appeared about having a broke open head. But you know? I just figured I was the girl who sat on the sidelines and nodded at all the good parts, made commiserating noises at the bad parts, and made sarcastic remarks during the in between.

My head wasn’t supposed to crack open. I wanted to have a broke open head because, honestly, I didn’t recognize or realize what it would entail. Reading blog posts is fine and dandy, but it still doesn’t quite get across all the fucking bullshit, responsibility, and fuckery that comes along with having your head cracked open. It’s that whole “grass is always greener” syndrome. Just because the grass looks greener doesn’t mean it really is greener. Honestly, looking down, I have to say the grass looks decidedly dead and brown.

That’s the thing about perception though; the only one that matters right now is my own.

So you know, the months passed and the crack widened. I honestly thought it was a good thing and maybe, back then, it was a good thing. It started off as a steady trickle, you know? It’s kind of like how someone had turned on a faucet, but it was only just dribbling out. I would have random moments feeling like I was in two places at once or odd dreams that I couldn’t really explain away to subconscious mind bleed through. It all seemed cool.

As I began to realize what was happening to me, mostly through interacting with spirit workers and paying close attention to messages/dreams I was receiving from the netjeru, I worked hard on opening that little hole in my brain wider. The point was so that I could work appropriately and conscientiously on the things that needed to be done. For about three to six months, I did everything I was instructed to do as best I could – I mean, let’s face it, I’m no more for deadlines than Douglas Adams was – before I learned my first major lesson about having a broke open head:

The trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool.– Stephen King

What I learned as my head was broke open was that trust was a very precious gift and that it should never be willingly given, but earned. It doesn’t matter who it is that you trust, either. It doesn’t matter if it’s a best friend, a lover, a god, a demon, a spirit, a ghost, a transfigured family member, etc. It doesn’t matter who it is that you have provided that precious gift to unless they have proved themselves able and willing to protect your trust for the gift that it is.

You see, I went into the whole business of having a religion with the mindset that the gods can be trusted. I don’t really know where this mindset came from. It was just there one day when I was doing my thing. I trusted and I trusted foolishly, blindly.

But you know, now that I think about it, I have to admit that I am a blindly trusting fucking idiot. I always have been. I can look back down the years and see all of the little things that could have added up to me not getting hurt in relationships and friendships – things that I completely fucking ignored because I trusted the person not to hurt me – and I suppose you can guess what ended up happening. If not, I’ll give you a little hint: I got fucked over.

As if I hadn’t had it happen often enough with human relationships, I got to learn the lesson again with gods. I have to admit that it was pretty fucking jarring to get fucked over by a god. I mean, looking at the situation as objectively as I possibly can… I can admit that in the grand scheme of “you got fucked over,” this was pretty minor. But it opened my eyes enough to make things that much harder as the crack widened and yet more fuckery and woo came flowing on down the sluice way.

I can’t honestly say if the lesson stuck. Or maybe I just assumed that my gods wouldn’t fucking do that to me because, that god was just hanging around to get some shit done.

Sometimes, I really laugh at my own naïveté…

As the gates began to open more regularly and remain open for longer periods of time, I got more lessons. A lot of them were personal and painful. I don’t think I can fully explain to people how painful or even how personal. It isn’t just a matter of working on some things that have been sticking with me because of things from when I was a kid. Oh, no; it couldn’t be that easy in the slightest. The pain-filled lessons have had to span centuries and numerous lives until I was dizzy from it all. My second major lesson in all of this has been:

It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance. – Thomas Sowell

What I realized as I really started paying attention to the numerous lessons I was getting handed like some school child was that I didn’t know a fucking thing. Sure, I was well read and I could tease out tidbits and interpretations with the best of them. I could spend hours upon hours, combing through documents and books looking for the tiniest little thing that would help me leap forward a little further on this whole crazy fucking ride called life. But at the end of the day, with as much knowledge as I’ve gathered, I still don’t know shit.

I have realized that everything I had thought I had known about my religion, my path, my gods, my relationships, for fuck’s sake even my life was only a simple grain of sand in the desert of eternity. I had thought I had it figured out, mostly, but you know what? I didn’t have a damn thing figured out. I had blinders on and in order to really get to the nitty-gritty, I had to get those blinders ripped the hell off so I could truly see for the first time.

And what I saw was both beautiful and frightening.

I was transformed and remade and destroyed and put back together again. When that didn’t work out properly, I got to do it again. And when that way didn’t really work out, either, I had to do it again. When I got sick of doing that same old song and dance, I ended up being forced to do it against my fucking will because what I wanted didn’t have a damn thing to do with what that broke open head part of me needed. And I have had to keep transforming and changing everything I thought I had learned, everything I thought I knew and I have had to keep transforming myself with each new gush of that broke open head all just to incorporate yet more mind-boggling fuckery.

Sometimes, it’s almost like a euphoric, ecstatic moment where pain transcends into pleasure and then back again into pain. Sometimes, it’s almost like the darkest abyss filled with every frightening monster that hides in the dark, intent on destroying you utterly. In either case, you have to learn to deal with the shit going on around you while you feel like you’re ready to shatter for the millionth time into a thousand fucking pieces.

As that trickle turned into a steady gush, which in turn ended up as a waterfall with cascade effect like possibilities, I realized a lot of things about myself, my life, my path, my religion, my gods, my friendships, and everything in between. I’ve realized a million different details that were once thought impertinent really weren’t and the bits I thought were the most important have fallen to the wayside, completely forgotten. In the midst of that rubble, I learned the most important lesson of all:

Details create the bigger picture. – Sanford I. Weill

At the end of the day, all the harshness of this new reality has made me realize that the transience of the now is only outweighed by the “bigger picture.” I’ve talked about it, tagged it in posts, and commented on it here and there. The bigger picture is the end result of all of this. While I find it difficult to order myself and my life and my path and my personal relationships and the relationships I’ve begun with my gods in a manner that may, one day, benefit that bigger picture, I know that it is what all of this broke open head business is about.

Bigger picture.

Even just writing those two words can cause such a multitude of emotions within me that I cannot even begin to describe them all: horror, joy, terror, calm, pain, ecstasy, etc. Even just those six words cannot do justice to what it all is to describe it in any attempt at detail.

At the end of the day, even with all of that emotional capacity tapped out and felt in one form or another, I have to admit that I’m just bitter tits about it all. At the end of the day, I sit down and I have to admit to myself that while being a part of something bigger may be nice for some people, at the heart of it all, I’m a selfish fuckface and bigger picture can really piss me off.

It’s only been a little over a year though since I get hit face first with the brick wall of bigger picture and I hear tell from other people that the bitter tits might wear off. I don’t know if that’s true, but I can hope that’s the case. The bigger picture I see is viewed through a lens smeared with Vaseline, but I’m assured by the gods that it looks pretty nice. I guess so; I’ll just have to take their word for it.

Across the Universe

Across the Universe by onwatersedge via Flickr

I remember what it was like all those years ago, looking in upon what must have been a spectacular tea party when people talked about their godphones and their broke open heads. I can remember knowing that I just wanted to be like them. I guess the real lesson in all of this is that “looks can be deceiving.” Or maybe, better still, the real fucking lesson is “be careful what you wish for.” I got my wish and I honestly, truly have to wonder if it was all worth it.

Maybe one day I can look back at all of this fuckery and say, “it was totally worth it.” But I’ll admit to harboring a fear that when that “one day” comes a-knocking, I’ll never be able to say that it was worth it but that I’ve hated every fucking minute of it and I rue the day I asked for all of this. Sekhmet tells me I won’t hate on it forever. She says it’s a good thing, but I honestly can’t tell if she’s just trying to get me to stop bitching about it all or if she really means it.

Further Reading

  1. Astral Don’t Care by TTR
  2. I Am My Own Guide by TTR
  3. Devo Magix: Vision Questing by TTR
  4. Musings on Pain and Astral Travel by TTR
  5. A Good Horse by TTR
  6. For Everything There is a Learning Curve by TTR
  7. Before and After: A Comparison on Being God Bothered by TTR

Visitation.

The pain of having something that has infested the entirety of your insides removed one finger-licking moment at a time is intense. It is so intense that, after a while, you really just want to pass out. In fact, it can get to the point where you truly ask your mind to shut the fuck off and let you sleep it off. Perhaps because of the nature of the ritual or perhaps because my body is a traitor, I did not in fact pass out. As much as I prayed to any deity I could possibly think of and as much as I cursed at myself, cajoled myself, and generally begged myself to let me pass out, I did not. I felt each tug as the demon creature purified my body.

I had, after a lot of thought, decided that was what was going on. I couldn’t be sure, of course, but it made a certain kind of sense. This was clearly a ritual of some form and the purpose, at least partially, was remove the green-black gunk that the shard had dripped into my body. Periodically, I would catch glimpses of the creature’s face – some mix between the Gnarl and some monstrosity from an episode of The X Files – that was doing the job as my vision resolved its issues. When I saw it, for the first time, licking every last drop of ooze from its fingers… that was the first, real, time that I begged my mind to shut off for a while.

I couldn’t be sure, of course, but I thought that being awake for the entirety of this was probably part of the ritual, too. I had already requested to go to the Nun in order to regenerate myself from the wound I had inflicted upon myself in an effort to sever the blue ball’s bonds with my body. There was my consent, I supposed, to the matter at hand. What I hadn’t taken into consideration was what the purge would look like and what part, if any, I would have to play within it. It seemed that the only part, besides being there, that I was to play was to be awake for it.

Sometimes, I would feel tears falling down my face. They were warm and dried out the tender skin of my temples.

Sometimes, I would just close my eyes and wonder what the hell the matter with me was.

Most of the time, though, I just hoped fervently that I would pass out.

I knew when we were nearing the end, though. It felt like an eternity had passed and I was pretty sure I was more than ready for this to be over with. But the creature sucking at my interior was slowing down. And as my vision cleared again, I watched it press its face into my abdomen. When it pulled back, it had the blue ball in its mouth. I watched, fascinated, as it swished the ball around in its mouth very much like a small child attempting to keep a marble away from a parent’s questing fingers. It seemed thoughtful as it sucked the thing clean and then, with a little audible noise, it popped the ball into its hand.

We both inspected its job – it probably was looking on with pride and I was definitely looking on with a mix of disgust and interest – before it popped the damn shard right the fuck back inside.

I was almost positive that this was antithetical to the process. Like, I was very sure I had come on through the cold blackness and the hot blackness to land on a really uncomfortable table and to be babbled at and to have weird things caressing my naked body and then doing icky, nasty sucking things to my insides NOT to have the shard/ball/thing put back inside of me. I was pretty sure that it was the cause in the apathetic goo that had infested my insides so, you know, it didn’t seem like a good idea to put it back in fucking side of me.

I stared at the demon and it, seeming to realize this, turned to face me. It gave me a grin, showing me needle like teeth, and then my vision went out again. The babbling at my ear seemed to fade as my hearing started to go, too. Oh, of course, I thought snottily. This is when I fucking pass out. And that is precisely what I did.

When I came to, I had a lot of things I had to process. It took me a long time to process it all.

My first thought was a very ungracious, fuck, I’m still here. This, to me, signified that I wasn’t at all done and there was still some things left to do. That didn’t really seem like a good idea because, you know, I had just had a demon spend hours upon hours abusing my internal organs while it ate out the pestilence that had infested my body. I probably should have been grateful but after having had to suffer through that, awake for the entire time damn thing, I had very few nice thoughts left in my head.

My next realization was that I was dressed. I was wearing a sort of halter-like dress. It had a slit along the abdomen, leaving my wound open to breathe. At least, I assumed that was the case. I honestly didn’t know what the point in keeping the thing open for anymore was. The poison had been cleaned from my body – I could tell that easily enough – so why was access to it still there?

The next thought was that the stupid little fucking ball was still, very much, in my body. However, instead of it being rooted into my internal organs as had been the case before, it was free floating. I could feel moving around in there, bouncing against what felt like my intestines. That seemed like a really not good idea, either. It had liked it so much down there before that it had sent out little roots that had poisoned my body. It very much seemed, to me, as though we were playing with fire here and just asking for trouble.

Probably, I had to remove the ball on my own, but of course, my body was still very much not moving.

After coming to terms with all of this, I realized that the babbling baby guy was either being quiet or I couldn’t hear him. On the heels of that recognition, I became aware that there was someone sitting by my right shoulder. Whoever it was had placed their hand on my shoulder very gently and was humming into the room around us. I swallowed thickly and opened my mouth for the first time in a long time. I thought about screaming, but decided that probably was counterproductive.

“You know, little one, things wouldn’t have been so terrible if you had merely asked for help sooner than you did,” Sekhmet assured me.

I pondered this statement. I had a few things I could remark here, not many of them very nice. I thought about just shrugging and maybe going back to sleep since I was still very tired. Instead, I said, “You make me seem like I can do anything on my own. I had to try.”

She hummed a little bit more and I could feel my body coming alive underneath that sound. It was like she was speaking to me on a level beyond bodies and beyond people. She was speaking to me, I felt, soul to soul. “If I tell you that you can’t do everything all on your own, and teach you that you should ask for help all the time, then you will never learn anything. Instead, you have finally learned your own limitations.”

I found my tongue thickened, cotton mouth becoming a serious issue to continuing this conversation. “I never thought I was capable of doing all of the things I’ve done on my own until you told me that I had to do all these things on my own. And now, you tell me, that I have limitations.” I coughed. I felt her left hand curl around my neck and lift my head, her other hand pressing a glass to my lips. Water cascaded into my mouth, across my tongue, and down my cheeks. It was the most delightful thing I had ever tasted. When I signaled that I had enough, I said, “I’m a little confused. Can I do everything you’ve asked of me on my own or not?”

“Most things,” she said enigmatically. This conversation was maddening. Either I was all of category A or I was all of category B. And of course, as I thought that is when I realized how ridiculous I sounded.

Wasn’t reality shades of gray? Wasn’t that what ma’at was about? And weren’t bodies and their functions just as much shades of gray? And weren’t people and their personalities and what they were good at and what they were bad at and what they were so-so at all a giant swirling pattern that, when looked at properly, was a shade of gray? I sighed. “I’m dumb.”

“No,” she corrected me, “you are just very young.”

I giggled. I had lived so many lives and here she was, calling me young. But of course, in relation to her years, I supposed I was young. “So, you knew I couldn’t do it all on my own?”

“Not necessarily,” she admitted. “I had hopes that you would be able to clear yourself of this all on your own. I knew that when the collar was put in place, this would flare up. I also knew that you would either clear yourself of the poison on your own or you would require help. You ended up requiring help and, I will admit, your request to come here had some ingenuity. I wasn’t really expecting it.”

“But, you told me that I didn’t need to come here.”

“How many times have you told someone what they think they want to hear from you even though that’s not what you are thinking or feeling at all?”

I was kind of startled by this question. I had, of course, told a lot of people any number of things because it was expected of me. They would look at me and see me as X, when I was really just a little bit of X and maybe mostly all of Y, and knowing what they saw when they looked at me, I would tell them what they were expecting to here. I had done this to Sekhmet; I had done this to other gods. I had done this in my waking life; I did it much more there.

“Are you telling me that you said those things about fallibility and infallibility because you knew I would expect to hear it?”

“Yes.”

“Are you telling me that you are proud that I asked for help?”

“Yes.”

I figured I may as well strike while the iron was hot. “Are you telling me that –.”

“I am telling you that I love you and I will do whatever you need me to do in order for you to be what you and I both need you to be.”

I was getting a little choked up here. I couldn’t really figure out what in the world I was going to say. All I kept thinking was about how I had always thought she had loved some of her other kids a little more than me. They were way more important than me in the grand scheme. I was just a fill in for other things. Or, if it wasn’t that particularly, then it was the idea that I, in a life I could no longer remember (nor wanted to), had agreed to this little shindig without knowing what I was agreeing to and I had denied her so much in the intervening years that she had grown wary of me and disappointed. She was telling me that whatever I had always thought wasn’t true at all.

“I don’t know what to say.”

“I know,” she said. “This is a lot to take in all at once.”

I mulled that over and then decided I would think about all of this later. “When I agreed to this, all those years ago, did I agree to things I didn’t understand?”

“Yes.”

“But I did consent to it.”

“Yes,” she said, seemingly startled. “You consented clearly and fully. I even had witnesses at the time, at your request.” Well, I thought, I was pretty smart about it. “But you didn’t realize that what I needed was more than just a simple lifetime’s worth of work. I don’t think you clearly realized all that would go into what I wanted from you.”

“I probably didn’t know what to ask.”

“No,” she agreed, “but you were a new soul. I needed a new soul.”

“I know.” I thought about all of these revelations, trying not to wonder why in the world she was telling this to me now. Usually if she was telling me important things, it meant that more important and confusing things were coming down the pike. I had a feeling I knew what those important and confusing things were, but decided not to discuss it. “So it’s… not because of you that the shard started, then?”

She seemed surprised by my question and she needed a few moments before she responded. “No,” she said slowly. “You’ve always had this issue, of course. But it was built into who you were when you were first created. This is one of your… lessons.”

“Are you telling me I always fail this one?”

“You can’t be perfect in every life,” she hedged.

“So, I can expect to fail this time, too?”

“No, you may just beat this finally. But it’s been in your abdomen for a long time. You let it grow when you got confused by what you needed to explore. You went forward, when you should have gone back. If you had gone backward, you would have realized that this has been a lifetimes issue, not a lifetime issue. It was built into your nature this life, too. Sometimes, it seems less at the surface than in other lives, but it is always there.

“This is why you were tied to it for so long.”

I was startled that she would even refer to that one. We had both done our utmost best not to mention it at all. But of course, it made sense; what she was saying. This issue had been happening for lifetimes instead of merely just this one. And it explained, as she said, why I had been tied to a dark soul for so long. That soul had looked for someone like me, unwilling to ask the right questions or not knowing what questions to ask. That soul had looked for someone like me, whose soul had been built with a few cracks within it. Maybe my soul had been handcrafted on a whim or maybe I had been born defective. Whatever the case may be, that particular soul had found me, had lured me, and had bound the two of us together above all others.

This, also, explained why I had denied her in so many lives. Maybe, in some of them, it hadn’t necessarily been me doing the denying but having been manipulated into it. And maybe, in some of them, I had known what I know in this life but being unable to sever that bond, I had denied her in some weird belief that I was protecting her.

Knowing what I was thinking, Sekhmet nodded. “So you see?”

“You didn’t offer me any help when I needed it.”

“You created the mess,” she reminded me.

“But I could have used your help.”

“Yes, you could have and you would have relied on me for everything. Just because I can do a thing doesn’t mean I will do a thing. Besides, it wouldn’t have done you any good if I had done all of that.”

“What if I had decided to rip the bonds out?”

“I may have stepped in,” she admitted.

“Well,” I said around a huge yawn. “That’s a relief.” We both sat in silence for a while. “This isn’t over yet, is it?”

“No, the shard is much bigger now and I think you could remove it if you wanted to.”

“Why wouldn’t I want to?”

“Are you ready to hurt again?”

I thought that over again, thinking about the pain that I had caused myself and the pain that I had relived. “Maybe I will wait on that. It’s been in there for this long and it doesn’t seem to be sending any poison through my body anymore.”

“Just don’t leave it too long, little one.”

“Yes, mom.”