Fifty-Three

In a wintry forest, in the night, the trees were dancing. Their black bodies stirred in the wind, a frozen flow of shadows against the white. I looked up at the light above. Couldn’t tell whether it was the moon or a lamppost. My face was slowly covered with snowflakes ready to melt. I could feel the presence of my father, but could not spot him anywhere. My cap was getting soaked where it touched my face, the heavy fabric stuck to my skin and I started to itch. There was a smell of burning wood in the air. There must have been a house around, with a warm furnace.

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Fifty-One

It was almost night. At the edge of the forest, I saw a woman dressed in heavy fabric. On top of her head, there was something embellished with pearls, stones and gold. She was climbing a hill. A vast landscape below. Then, like a drawing on the sky, electric lines. She looked at me as if to check whether I noticed.

Suddenly, I was in the kitchen of my childhood home, at the threshold of the room where my father died. It was dark inside. I was small, standing right on the doorsill. Looking at the jambs around me, I noticed knives hanging from the top, suspended by a single, thin thread of rope attached to a nail in the middle, my height.

I noticed the Siberian man next to me, on the kitchen side. He was looking at me and I at him. Then the door turned into a wooden wheel, with the knives facing the middle, towards me. I was holding onto the axle. He told me to keep steady and started to roll the wheel, then let it go, down a slope. I was rolling and rolling…

I ended up in the parking lot of the factory nearby my childhood home. It was deserted, and my wooden wheel turned into that of a bicycle. Then, I was riding the bike, with my father behind me, pushing, helping.

Then we were surrounded by people holding hands around us in a circle. I saw a wolf and got frightened, but he settled near someone. Next came a bear. A gorilla sat behind yet another person. A falcon landed on the shoulder of the Siberian man. And there was the woman I saw at the start, dressed in golden bees. She was luminous.

My father walked to them. Joined them for a second, holding hands, then closed the circle and walked away. Left alone with these people, I was in the middle of the circle, with one foot on the ground and one on the pedal of my bike.

Then the ground opened, and a shapeless form condensed into something like a hand. I wondered whether it was a mole… I decided to follow it, the shape was about my size and constantly changing but never crystallizing into anything concrete.

It was dark in the tunnel, and it smelt of soil. After a few steps, it was not that dark anymore, as if there was some light filtering in after me. I turned back and saw the woman dressed in golden bees following me. And so were all the others.

We kept going and going, tagging after the form through long, dark tunnels.

Suddenly, I was in my childhood kitchen again, just closing the door to the room where my father was sleeping. But then I decided to open it and went into the room. It was dark inside. The light from the kitchen filtered in and I stared at the patterns on the carpet. I almost bumped into the coffee table in the middle of the room. I gripped the top of the large chest with the tv on it to settle myself, and noticed that I had no sensation in my hands. Not even as if I had gloves on. Nor was the carpet soft under my feet. I could see my hands and feet but they could have belonged to someone else, I could not feel them. I couldn’t hear anything, either. Not my father snoring or breathing… not my own steps… not the noises outside… I was numb and deaf. I was eyes, only.

****

Note: the wheel reminds me of Nicholas of Flüe‘s:

von flue wheel

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Fifty

I saw locks of hair attached to a line, blowing in the wind, like clothes to dry. There was also hair lying around on the floor in my mother’s kitchen, and outside, all over the yard, half-covered by sand.

Suddenly, they became butterflies and flew towards the cemetery where my father is buried. I wished they had brought him to me alive, instead of visiting his grave.

Then there was a little girl whirling two bowls of fire attached to two strings. She turned around and around herself. Now she transformed into a very small man with a burnt face and now she was a little girl again.

Next, we were surrounded by a herd of paper birds. I was worried that they would get on fire. They did, but with such fragile beauty… they were burning in all colours until the wind carried them away.

The night was approaching fast and the burning paper birds became iridescent, weaving their light into the darkness like northern lights.

Then I saw little girls jump off a cliff, one after the other, spinning in their fall. They floated in the air for a moment before they plunged, as if dancing. The Siberian man stood right under the rock and caught them each, one by one.

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Twenty-Eight

I was in the water, ice above me. I could vaguely perceive some kind of commotion above me: people or animals running all over the place.

Then I was on my feet, the Siberian man behind me, holding my shoulders. I was staring into my belly, it looked frozen: turquoise and light purple.

Next, I was lying on my back, on the ice and two polar bears tore my belly open and started to feast on my guts. I couldn’t move. I didn’t feel pain, but it was strange, watching them eat me. The Siberian man knelt down at my head. “It’s okay” he said. The bears transformed into people and they were looking for something in my belly, searching around with their hands.

Out of a sudden, I was in my childhood home, in the kitchen, at the entry of the room, staring at the colourful fly blind.

Then we were outside, and I saw our pine tree decorated with naked, shabby dolls, hanging by the hair. There were also two people unearthing dolls buried in the yard. I started to feel dread.

We were inside again, and the dolls were now tied by the hair to the strips of the bug blind… then they all disappeared. The strips started to move, as if there was a draft, and I wondered if somebody had left the kitchen door open. I turned to check, and I saw a group of dolls marching in.

The Siberian man hugged me from behind. “It’s alright” he said.

I wanted to run away but I didn’t move. I needed to understand what was happening. A dark cloud entered the kitchen, like a thick smoke, like a huge, black cotton candy. I was afraid. The Siberian man kept on whispering in my ear “it’s okay, it’s alright, you are doing well”. The darkness was filling the room, and I was close to panic.

“Breathe. slow. And now, we’ll walk out”

“But it’s in the way, it’s blocking our way.”

“We will walk right through it. Ready, steady, go.”

And on we moved, slowly, step by step. The Siberian man was gently pushing me. The darkness felt like a huge, thick, sticky spiderweb.

“is the spider around? is it a black widow?”

But the Siberian man didn’t reply, just kept saying “one more step, one more step, we go, we go, we keep going”. And we were outside, in the yard. The whole house was swallowed by this dark cloud, this thick spiderweb.

“is he inside? my father?” I asked the Siberian man.

“not now, now we walk away”, was all he replied, gently grabbing my arm, pulling me towards the gate, onto the street.

“But maybe he’s inside, we should go back for him.”

“no, not now.” he said, closing the gate. I wanted to go back and search for my father, but the Siberian man blocked my way. “Not now. really not now. you’ve had enough” he said, in a soft but firm voice. He hugged me, and gently pushed me until I started to walk away with him.

Twenty-Five

At first, it was dark. Then I could see as if through a tunnel. And at the other end, there was snow. There was a man running around with a child on his shoulders. Or rather, it looked like the child’s body was where the man’s head should have been, upside down, with his or her legs dangling up in the air. They were running around a bit like that, then they fell on the snow. They reminded me of a headless chicken, how they used to twitch and jerk when my mother and grandmother cut their necks, blood sprinkling all over the sand of the yard…

I was not sure whether I should go closer and have a look at the man-child. Then I saw the kid get up, and there was the man’s body where their head should have been, and the child was pulling him with them, like a colorful whirlwind, like a tornado. And the child was running and running, head lost in the tornado (which was the body of the man). And then I couldn’t see the kid anymore, only the tornado, whirling, their body was whirling (the head still invisible), chairs and pieces of furniture whirling, and lots of sand…

And then I noticed my fairies whirl. Even though I did have a doll or two, my favourite toys were the fairies I made from my mother’s handkerchiefs and camisoles: I tied a knot on them, the knot was the head, the shorter part the hair, the longer one the body. My mother hated it because I put knots on everything, tablecloths, curtains… the house was a forest of knots… I surrounded myself with the fairies. They were my friends.

All at once I was in my childhood home, playing with my fairies in the room. My parents were in the kitchen, I could hear them arguing, but only faintly, because I did not want to. I looked out through the window and noticed that the tornado was huge now. Only it wasn’t a tornado anymore, it was water, very muddy water, carrying bits of broken furniture.

Then I saw something – or someone: he knocked on the window. For a moment I thought it was my father, but I wasn’t sure. I hesitated whether I should or should not open it, worried that the water would flood the house.

But I didn’t care anymore, I opened the window, trying to swim in the direction where I saw my father go. But all I could see was mud and broken furniture. I swam to the surface, raised my head above the water and shouted “Dad, are you here? where are you?”. But there was no answer. I was desperate.

Suddenly, someone grabbed my leg and pulled me back into the water. It was the Siberian man. He held my hand and pulled me with him, we went deeper and deeper. It was almost dark now, but the mud dispersed, the water was almost clear.

Then I could see a pulsating light, like a lighthouse. We swam closer. The light seemed to have antennae or tentacles, rising and sinking in a gentle rhythm. Like an octopus. As we went closer, I was suddenly sitting on a horse in a carousel. I was not sure I wanted to be there, I started to get dizzy, nauseous, afraid. “I want to get off, please, I want it to stop”.

I heard my mother’s voice “you wanted to get on the bloody carousel, you wanted to try, now you will stay there until it stops. you wanted it, you got it, now you hold on tight until it’s over”. My tears started to fall. I could perceive something moving with me, to the side, something big, but I didn’t dare to turn my head, I was afraid I would fall off. The shadow was moving together with the carousel. Then I was grabbed under the armpit and lifted up. It was my father. He ran by the carousel so that he could take me off the horse. He hugged me tight. “You are spoiling her, always spoiling her. She was nagging for the carousel, she deserved to stay on it. Where are you going? what…” I couldn’t hear my mother anymore, my father was running, holding me tight. I could feel his heart beating, stronger, stronger, we were throbbing together, we were one huge pulse.*

* This is not an actual memory. I have never been on a carousel.  I was a very fearful child. My father did convince me once to try the roller coaster with him. I got so scared that I turned blue and rigid, like a corpse. When the ride was over, he took me in his arms and did a runner towards the entrance to call an ambulance. But by the time we got there (and my mother caught up with us), I didn’t need help anymore, I was alright.

Twenty-Four

I was on a mountain, riding a horse. It was almost dark, foggy, the air was damp and cold. I felt sad. The horse was slowly moving ahead on an invisible path.

My hands were in my lap, and a glowing ball started to grow there, it gave warmth, and its light was cloudy and soft. It reminded me of the Moon. There was something comforting about it.

My horse went on steadily. I thought we were descending. It was getting darker and darker. We were in the night forest I already knew from other journeys. I could see the bee coming out of the glowing sphere, it cheered me up a bit to see him/her. It flew a bit ahead, as if trying to light the way.

I suddenly had a memory of my father pulling me on a sleigh. It was dark, we were in one of the neighbouring small streets. It had just snowed, but people were inside, it was just the two of us. The streetlights were on, snowflakes were whirling, floating, glimmering everywhere. All I could see from my father was his coat and his boots. I could smell the fresh snow. He sped up until I started to laugh. It suddenly hurt to remember him. I missed him so much.

Next, we were in the living room, it was dark, the shutters were closed. My father had taken a white bed sheet and fixed it on the doors of the wardrobe. We were watching filmstrips. All afternoon long, he was holding me in his arms, reading the words written under the pictures. When the projector got too hot, we took a break, brought some food and hot tea. As I came out of the room, I could smell his shoes on the shelf, they really stank. I told him, and he laughed. I suddenly didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to miss him. It hurt. I wanted to get away.

Then I was in the dark forest, again. The bee was in front of me, leading me somewhere. His light was very feeble, but I could see something like a wooden statue. I went to it, it looked like my father. I wanted to stroke his face but I was too small, I couldn’t reach it. I was a child. I wanted to grow so that I could touch his face, and I did. I was stroking him and suddenly the left side of my head started to go numb.

“Don’t let it go, keep it together” – the bee said.
And I tried. I tried not to go numb, but it hurt. I was chasing after the numbness, trying to catch it within my head.

Suddenly I was in a snowstorm, at night, in the middle of endless plains, chasing a figure wearing a white fur coat.

“Stop, please stop” – I shouted after him.

Running hurt, my head felt like it would explode, but I kept on running, faster and faster. I reached him, touched his fur coat. He turned and I realized it was a large polar bear. He went for my neck, grabbed it with a single move and held it tight. I could feel its teeth in my flesh, my blood flooding my throat, I couldn’t breathe, I was suffocating. I could see myself and the bear from the outside. He finally let me go.

My throat was a bloody piece of unrecognizable flesh, and I was choking in my own blood. I sounded just like my father after he drank the acid. But there was no blood then, and I did not see him, I could only hear him from the next room, I was frozen to my chair.

I was still looking at myself, but I didn’t make sounds anymore. maybe I was dead. I was staring at the dark red pool in the snow.

Suddenly, the bear transformed into the Siberian man. He gently put his hands on my tattered throat. I wasn’t outside anymore, I could feel the warmth of his hand, and pain. Then I saw ourselves from the outside again. The Siberian man let his hands go, and my neck was completely healed. He was kneeling in the snow, lifted me up. He held me in his arms, stroking my head, gently rocking me, softly murmuring, full of love.

Twenty-One

I could see some thick, knitted material, dark blue, with some dark purple embellishment on it. It reflected light in a beautiful way. First, I could only see this piece of textile, and felt the wind, it was quite fresh and salty. Then I could hear the waves.

And then, I could see the sea. We were on top of a plateau or a rock, it was green around us, wildflowers, moss… the sky was covered, stormy, but there was no rain yet. A young woman was sitting on a rock, she had long, dark hair and Asian eyes. It felt very peaceful being around her. She was covered by a thick, dark blue-purple blanket.

I could hear footsteps, and as I turned around, I saw the Siberian man approaching.

“Meet my daughter” – he said.

The woman looked at me, smiled with her eyes and nodded slightly, then turned back towards the sea. I was to her right, observing her profile. She looked around twenty. I turned back to the Siberian man to estimate his age, and he seemed somewhere between fifty and sixty, or around sixty. Difficult to say.

I turned back to the woman, but she looked older now, around my age. I must have made a mistake a minute before. She looked at me for a second, then turned back to the sea. I watched the water, too, and the sky, and the flowers rocking in the wind.

When I turned back to her again, she seemed to be in her fifties. I realized she was ageing in front of my eyes.I peeked at the Siberian man, wondering what was going on. He was not getting older, he stayed the same age. He smiled. When I took another glimpse at the woman, she was quite old, her hair was all white.

“Will she die in front of me?” – I wondered.

The Siberian man stepped closer, he was standing right behind me and put his hands on my shoulders. I glimpsed at the woman again, she just disappeared, the blanket fell onto the rock, her hair transformed into mist and the wind blew it away.

“She’s gone” – I thought to myself.

The Siberian man stroked my back gently.

Then I noticed something below, a small dot coming out of the sea. It was getting closer to the rocky slope, and I realized it was a toddler, in a long, white shirt. Suddenly, I heard a cheerful cry:

“Father!”

The Siberian man waved back, smiling. The little girl was climbing towards us, growing. She was around 11 or 12 when she reached the top, and greeted us with a big smile and sparkling eyes, giggling.

She sat down next to me, where the old woman had been just before. The Siberian man took the blanket and put it around her. She bowed her head, and blushed slightly when she looked at me. She was probably around 18 now…

Nineteen

I was at the seaside, breathing with the rhythm of the sea. Then I was in the town where we lived until last year, with gardens overlooking the river. I was lying in one of these gardens, and there was Venus, as a young woman, partly covered in feathers. My belly was filled with soil, like a flowerpot, and Venus was planting flowers in me.

I looked at her hands, one of them looked like the claw of a bird.

And I asked:
“What is it like, being a hybrid? Is it like being sick?”

“No” she replied, “when you get sick, you had a “healthy” self that got somehow distorted by sickness. But I was born like this, it’s not a distortion, it’s my being. When you are one type of being or another, you have a home in the land of this or that. When you are a hybrid, like me, you live at the crossroads, your only home is your skin, not even that, because even that might be forever changing”.

“Are you a shapeshifter, too?”

She just smiled.

“But doesn’t it make things difficult for you, to be so different? I mean, Venus is about relating to others, connections, self-worth and such…”

“All that bull*t about what I am and what I am about. You read too much”, she laughed. “Well, okay, relating, connecting… let’s see.

Your mother lives in an imaginary symbiosis with a duplicate of you, an image of her daughter who resembles a lot like you in some ways and not at all in others. She gets upset and feels betrayed when you “split” yourself from this image, and she refuses to accept that her fantasy-daughter and you are two different “people”. Relating and connecting, indeed.

And your father. He didn’t really get the difference between reality and imagination, inside and outside, child and adult. You were two kids playing together, or two grownups enveloped in darkness… you were his best friend, his comrade, the only soul who could “understand” him. He didn’t have close friends; the only sibling he was close to, his brother, lived in another city; his mother died; his marriage was a catastrophe… and he was mentally “fragile”. I know he meant the world to you, but you also meant the world to him. And that’s not okay. And it couldn’t work. No matter how hard you were trying. You were a child. Even an adult cannot be everything to another person.

Thirteen

I asked the Siberian man about the bee and the old woman, and he said, “First we eat, then we digest. You haven’t even had the first course, you’ve just had some appetizer”.

And he asked me “How did your father see the world?”. That was a funny question, I hardly remember my father.
“what would you say about his relationship with reality?”
“well, nothing, he was a dreamer, I guess”
“Do you remember when your father took you fishing with him?”
“No, I don’t remember.”
“That’s because he didn’t”. Now I was puzzled. “your mother never let you go. you know why?”
“Guess she was worried, she can be very over-protective. On the other hand, she was always quite happy to dump me on someone whenever she considered I would be safe so that I was not nagging her. My father was dreamy and could be absent-minded, but he loved me very much, he would have taken care of me.”

“Have you wondered why your father hardly ever appears in your dreams or visions?” he asked.
“I guess because I felt guilty for letting him die, I froze and didn’t do a thing, I didn’t even cry out for help”
“Were you ever afraid of your father?”
“What do you mean, my father loved me.”
“Yes, he did, very much. Can you remember being afraid of him?”
“no. But he was starting to drink, I guess I might have found him strange when he was drunk… but I don’t remember.”
“Was he disturbed because he was drinking, or did he start drinking because he was losing it?”
“how could I know?”
“After your father died, your mother said that perhaps it was bettter this way”. “Yes, she said there was a man in one of the neighbouring villages who tried to commit suicide but he survived and then he terrorized his family”.
“He went mad because he tried to commit suicide?”
“no, I guess… I guess what she meant was… that he was going mad and his family would have been better off if he had died”.
“Why are you so ambivalent about your gift? your vision? You come, you run away, you come back and walk a bit further, then run away… this is not your father’s head, you know. whatever he started to see, and whatever you saw within him, whatever it was that scared both of you… (and now the Siberian man looked me in the eye and bent so close that I could feel his breath on my face, and said very slowly) you are not your father”.

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