Tag Archive: introspection


image

While the two walked through the tunnel, Llana had blindly ran to, Odella smiled softly thinking to herself that perhaps the girl truly might be ready for the first step.  As such Odella’s mood improved with each step.  So much so that softly under her breath she sang the anvil’s song.

Llana did not notice the changes in Odella as she was watching the walls with fascination.  No longer were the stony walls blank and dark now the glowed dotted with silvered light.  The further into the tunnel they walked the brighter the walls became and soon the dark was gone completely and a false twilight prevailed.  This was the only sight until they reached a bend in the tunnel where a tall man stood with a kind of stout strength exuding from him.  As the sounds of their approach reached the man’s ears he turned pickaxe in hand looking them up and down.  Without pretense he dropped the axe from his shoulder and walked up to Odella grinning ear to ear.  The closer he got the more of Llana’s field of vision he seemed to take up.  The large man stopped less than a foot in front of the two and said, “Be welcome ‘Dellia,” in a booming voice at odds with his wide smile.  However, as he took notice of Llana standing behind and to the side of Odella his smile dropped and out of the corner of his eye he took the girl’s measure, “Who’s this?”

Llana, however, did not have a chance to answer because Odella quickly wheeled the man away from her and held him in quiet conversation.  While Llana impatiently waited on the conversation’s end she warily eyed the walls wondering how it was that they seemed to create their own light.  To her they shone like beat tin except in one spot which sucked in any light that ventured in its direction.  She reached out for the dark spot wondering if it was empty; when she felt a liquid warmth rush up her arm.  Startled she stepped back and much to her amazement she held a stone that glowed blood-red at the center of what appeared to be a piece of amber.  She must have gasped in her surprise because the talk in the corner cut out abruptly as they both turned towards her.

“Bless the mist Beorn!  Why didn’t you tell me there was a blood stone in here, I would have come a different way,” Odella nearly shouted hurrying back to Llana.

“I didn’t know ‘Dellia honest.”

“How can you not know?”  She did not even look back over her shoulder as she responded.

“Haven’t been this way since last time you were here, we only took a yard all around.  No one mentioned anything.”  Beorn sounded hurt like a scolded child.

Suddenly the warmth in Llana’s hand started to prick red-hot burning her very soul it seemed.  Only Odella’s harsh words broke through the pain.  “Drop it Llana…now…let it go!”  With the last word Odella struck the girl’s wrist causing the stone to finally separate from young flesh.  When the girl looked up Odella’s top skirt was quickly being wrapped around the stone as the tunnel started to dim back to silver.  The last image girl understood before she sunk to the floor was the oddly shaped mark in her palm.

Beorn was quick enough to grab the child in her swoon and held her lightly as a rag doll turning this way and that.  “Dellia we must be going this is not a good way for you to be discovered, not with what you got under your cape.”  All she had time for was a nod of her head and they were off.

The dark tunnels flew by as they wound their way through scarcely used twists and turns that entered at last into a clearing in the middle of the forest.  “Wait,” Odella motioned to herself a twinkling spectacle with her uncovered chains, “it would be almost as bad to run into the village like this.”

Beorn’s laugh rumbled like summer thunder, “Good point ‘Dellia.  Not sure if you, the stone, or the stranger would cause the most stir, but it’s best not to test those waters.”

Odella agreed.  Setting her cloak on the ground and forcing herself not to let curiosity win out and look at the stone she took the leather jerkin out of Beorn’s hand.  It fit like a potato sack and smelled of wood smoke, but it would work, she wagered, if they kept to the treeline.  “So you think Jira will be happy to see me,” Odella asked with a cocked brow and a half smile.

His only response was more thunder.

Advertisements

image

To Llana the endless dark seemed to have lasted for days though as they walked with little to no rest time had lost all meaning.  Llana had not been told but she was sure they walked the Crossroads themselves.  To her this place had been the stuff of legends, but some how with Odella as her guide it only made sense.  As her feet become accustom to walking on the path that Odella cut without the slightest thought Llana began to remember the stories her mother use to tell.  Though she had not heard them in years they came back to her and in the stony silence that surrounded her and kept her company.

“To all children, I believe, mist is a magical thing which can hold any number of surprises or adventures, but this quality of mist is often lost on adults who are too busy trying to look past the mist to look beneath it.  Because beneath the mist lies the tangled weavers web that is the Crossroads.  Whether or not we are honest with ourselves we are, each of us, upon those crooked roads making decisions which lead us ever closer to what comes next and forever closing the way to what might have been.  Yes Llana, even our smallest choices define us and determine who it is that we are to become.”

Her dream-like state wavered in and out as the surroundings changed in subtle shifts.  However, Llana refused to give up on the story rippling through her mind at the moment, as it seemed to be of particular importance, but the sharp clang of metal shattered her revere.  It was at this moment that the subtle changes fully hit her.  The ground was different, the dark was different, and even the air seemed altered.  “Where are we?”

“Right where we are supposed to be.”  Odella turned sharply to face Llana causing her to stumble at the abrupt stop.  She gestured grandly suggesting that Llana should fully take in her new environment which included a Y in the path they had been following through the dark.  The two arms of the path were  illuminated by nothing more than the few errant rays of light falling from the air shafts.  Neither bend in the path looked particularly menacing nor inviting if she was being perfectly honest.  “Which way would you go,” Odella asked a faint smile upon her lips.

Llana started to answer then bit her tongue trying to restrain the tartness she was sure Odella would hear in her response.  “What kind of trick it this?  You’re supposed to answer questions not ask them?”

“No, I tell truths, but if you insist.  You asked me about my chains what do you wish to know?”

“Why do you wear them?” Llana immediately locked her eyes on the ground mentally berating herself.

“Because they are mine,” Odella responded calmly, “but tell me, why do you wear yours?”

“I’ve told you I have none.  You are the only person I have ever seen wear chains.”  The disgust Llana felt at the idea of being chained leaked out into her words causing Odella to study the girl intently with anger in her eyes. 

“Truly?  What of Namari?  Does she no longer bear chains?”

“How absurd would that be?  My mother would never lower herself to wear chains like some…some…slave.  She has more grace and dignity in her titles alone than you could ever hope to have,” Llana practically spit at the other woman.

“Tell me what dignity was there in birthing you?”

Llana’s mouth fell open in a silent O of confusion, but Odella continued without taking notice.  “Yes, you are one of Namari’s chains, and the titles you spoke of does she not have to strap herself into those chains of gold and silk to prove her worthiness, and what of her man?  Does she still not suffer the ring he gave her?”  Here Odella paused holding Llana captive in her piercing gaze.  “Oh yes, Namari does have grace and dignity, but her chains are only hidden from the unobservant.  She is as much as slave as I.”

The questions whirled around in the girl’s head chasing each other to dead ends.  Yes her mother still wore her coronet and her father’s ring…”but she does not wear chains,” Llana whispered to herself.

“No.  Namari does not wear chains like mine, but never think she does not carry them.”

That statement echoed through Llana’s very core as she blindly started towards the path to the left needing nothing so much as to escape the place where such bloody truths had been spilled.

image

“Goodness its dark in here.”

“Not to me, not anymore.”

She knew there was no point in explaining that her eyes were big enough, that they saw more, so she let the silence drag.  The walk was very short, but as her companion was far behind she went slowly.  She listened as the girl inhaled as if to begin quite the conservation only to stop as if she was no longer sure how to make the words come out right.  Finally, the girl found her voice.

“I did not mean to offend you,”  the girl began wondering what could seem human and still be able to see clearly down here no matter how long they had lived in this way, “it’s well I just…let’s start over?  I’m Llana of Tralia, and…”  When there was no immediate response Llana feared that she had lost the other girl who had been almost completely silent on their descent.

“Odella.”

It was then that the two reached their destination.  A hole through the high rock ceiling allowed an orange-red orb to shine through the hall.  Llana blinked fiercely in the sudden glow as the room started to appear out of the shadows.  It was comfortable without being overly lavish even with the many fine things the room held.  Perhaps the most outstanding piece was the mirror, which encompassed more than half of the stone wall that held it.  In the mirror Llana caught her reflection.  A girl of normal height and build with hair that fell to her shoulders in thick strands of sun gilded brown.  However it was not her mussed appearance or her wide amber eyes that caught her attention, it was the girl standing behind her.  The girl, if you could call her a girl, was not just named Odella. She was Odella.

Llana inhaled sharply and spun on her heel as if Odella might disappear.  “This is not where you are from.”  Llana hoped that she had not given too much away, but she had to know for sure.

“No, but sometimes I come here, and you ought to be glad I do or you would still be very lost.  Now enough.”  Odella smiled as the girl was caught confused and unsure, but she had seen the recognition in the girl’s eyes.  It had been a long while since anyone on this side had cared to notice, and Odella stood at the edge of truth.  “You must now continue on your way, and I mine,” the woman said tersely gesturing towards the dimly lit path to her her right, “you have my best wishes.”  And with those words Odella turned to leave.

Llana however stood rooted to the ground, she had never before received such a dismissal.  Had been so sure it was a sign.  Then without giving it the thought it deserved she replied, “ I am so sorry to impede you on your way, and thank you very much, but I am not leaving.  Not without answers.”  These last words dripped with a disdain that was not lost on Odella.

“I would get real comfortable then because answers don’t often make it this far,” Odella offered over her shoulder taking the downward slanting path to the left.

Out of the quite sounds came a small and rather uncertain voice from the top of the path, “Where are your chains?”

If Odella hadn’t been dragging her feet she would have been too far away to hear the girl, but as it was the words hit her square between her shoulders connecting her Llana.  It was too late to walk away now Odella finally admitted to herself as she walked back to the room with the mirror.  The girl stood facing the path to the right shoulders slumped.

“I am wearing them,” she held out her right arm in such away that the sleeve fell back exposing her wrist and a flash of pale metal in the light, “and where child are yours,” she answered.

“I am no child…and I have no chains,” Llana looked confused as she turned to once again face Odella and sounded offended as she barely suppressed a scoff.

“I thought you sought truth girl?” As her words hung in the space between the two Odella sat down. Llana, however, showed no interest in sitting calmly and discussing what she considered utter nonsense.  Though she stared unabashed at the wrist and neck bands that she could see spark in the low light.

“They make no noise…are they light then,” Llana asked hopefully suddenly meeting Odella’s piercing gaze.

While she knew that the girl could not help but be curious this was a conversation she wanted no part in, and as her anger got the better of Odella struck back with a question of her own. “Why would the chains have to be heavy to be heard or better yet light to go unnoticed?”

Llana sat suddenly open-mouthed so much sting had been in the words she felt as if she had been struck.  Dumbfounded she lowered her eyes to her lap. “I…”

Odella cut her off before she could even begin. “Rest. We start tonight and believe me you are not ready.”

I can hear my mother’s voice, in the quite moments if I listen hard enough, but the stories she used to tell me always ring in my ears.   The story which I never could shake was Her’s…Odella’s. 

“There are no small stories about her as a fussy baby or an argumentative child,” my mother explained, “she just is.  Her story is one that starts in the middle nearly fully formed.  Odella, the hauntingly striking young woman with black eyes and chains upon her brow, neck, arms, and legs all reaching back towards the midline of her body.  “Come, and know your truth,” she dares those who call to her, “I charge nothing for the answering.”  Still she warns, “A price must be paid for while they are freely given true answers are not easily found.”  Her quiet presence seems to unnerve even the bravest of men should they not live in truth.  For that more than anything defines her.  Odella the truth teller, the storm crow, the pot stirrer.”

“Truly that is all that is known, of Odella” I remember asking full of disbelief, “surely there must be more?  Many must have questions which require answers.”

“Only those who have journeyed with her know more, Llana,” my mother replied plainly, “and I think you’ll find very few people are ever very truthful with themselves about their desire for answers.  For the truth can be a weighty thing, daughter.”

For better or worse these words have stuck to me, driving me in my pursuit of honesty, daring me to ask questions…

image

We are nothing so much as a collection.  A collage of thoughts or feelings that, for better or worse, define us.

My collection is a series of sour notes strung together in a way that fools the ear into believing it has heard a song.  I am the discordant melody that plays in the dark to alert you of the danger not so far ahead.  Beware, I cry as I introduce myself.  Run, I caution as our conversation begins in earnest.  To know me is to smile at the devil.

I am a broken thing.  It is this which best describes me, not my height, hair and eye color, or zodiac sign, but the pieces of myself which litter the crooked path I have tread.  I lost my ears to the lies they told me, my hands to those takers who never gave back, my heart to lost love, and my back to the ones I supported.  Still the torn soles of my feet venture forward, tentatively seeking safe purchase.  Even now the fire in my belly lights my eyes constant in its hunger for answers, and in my mind I hear that nameless tune, which I mutter on endless repeat, that is my life’s story.

When I think of myself I see the splintered shards of a dropped vase.  The shattered pattern which is, in its self, whole just different from the glass ornament it once was.  Do not react to my brokenness.  Make no attempt to fit the fragments back together.  For, each loss changes me and each scar redefines me.  So let the key change in this song of mine, the melody remains the same, but flee before the entropy I so ardently embrace.

Because I know, not what will emerge from the next moment of destruction, only that Pain walks with me and he is jealous of my attention.

image

image

Quote from Janet Fitch's book White Oleander

*******

I wrote this after watching White Oleander, the movie, based on Janet Fitch’s book of the same name.  I bleed for the Astrid character in salty tears.  I love this story.  I envy the strength in the characters and their ability to know who they are.  I hate this story.  I despise that we as a people can hurt children in such spiteful and uncaring ways.  I am inspired by this story.

What movie, book, or character has inspired you lately?

Loosing you

So this is April, Rory thought, as a sticky sweet wind swept past her causing the nearby blossom laden branch to creak. The sound made her smile. It was nice to hear something other than the slap of her Keds against the concrete sidewalk as Rory made her way to the clearing. Genius, she thought to herself as a low rumble of thunder added its voice to the night. The building storm clouds off to the west had kicked the barometer so high that unshed droplets of dew clung to Rory like a cloying perfume when she paused at each street crossing.

The second her feet hit grass Rory felt it. The strength of solid mother terra beneath her always caused a near instantaneous release. As if the stress of the last few weeks could be sloughed off. What a perfect analogy, she thought, if only Rory could slip her protective layer of dead emotion like a snake from its skin. That naive thought, however, was overly hopeful, and suggested that beneath the pain she was whole and refreshed. Rory knew the truth was much more likely that if she let her protective shell fall away it would only leave her feeling raw and vulnerable.

In the clearing Rory stepped out of her shoes, spread her arms wide, and threw her head back. The light of the full moon filled her eyes, but Rory dared not blink. Somewhere out there is the answer, she told herself as she searched the cosmos. No star shot across the sky in true omen fashion nor did universal understanding wash over her. All Rory felt, before the rain started, was the gentle kiss of darkness against her bare arms and outstretched fingers, but as she stood there in the soaking rain it happened, so organically that she never even registered a conscious thought. The lump in her throat she couldn’t swallow, the hardness in her heart that pained so deep, the jagged shard of her soul that refused to fit flat left in one searing tear that was lost to the falling rain. Rory let the downpour scour her clean as the realization dawned on her; it wasn’t the loss of you that hurt so bad it was loosing the piece of herself that couldn’t be without you which stung.

image

All rights to owner

 

 

 

My heart pounds, an uneven staccato that reverberates though me.  “Hey,” I say like it doesn’t matter, trying to hide so much beneath so little.  Do you hear what I’ve hidden?  Do my questions thunder around your ears just like they boom in my mind?  Pointless, the questions chase each other’s tails till they become nonsense, as my little word goes unheeded.  You never make eye contact or acknowledge my presence much less my greeting.  The moment passes.  Still my heart rages and now… my hands shake. 

Image

 

“Don’t forget,” she told her reflection as one final tear fell from her bright blue eyes. “To remember to be happy,” she whispered, defeated yet resolute, as the first cords of Pachelbel’s Cannon in D filled the air.

image

%d bloggers like this: