Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Visit With The Seer

Our Hero sat in the cabin, sipping the rich bone broth served to him by the Seer, who prodded the fire in the hearth with an iron rod.  Outside, the cold, bitter wind peppered the home with snow and ice.  

"You have come a long way," said the crone.  "Many didn't think you would make it this far."  

"I didn't, either."  The hot broth rejuvenated him.  The hike through the winter storm had left him cold bone-deep.  

"I knew you would," she said flatly.  

"You're a seer," he said.  "Of course you knew."  

"No," she said as pointed a finger at him.  "You're stronger than you think.  You're better than you think.  And you have far more to offer than you realize."  

"Then why am I alone?"  

"Why wouldn't you be?  That's the real question.  Why wouldn't you be alone?  You've done everything possible to be by yourself."  

"It's a habit I'm having a hard time breaking."  

"I know.  But not everybody out there is going to hurt you."  

"Just the ones I seem to find."

"How's the broth?"  

"It's amazing.  Rich and full of all kinds of notes."  

The old woman smiled and refilled Our Hero's mug.  

"Nobody seems to realize how important it is to nourish our bodies.  You've treated your body like an encumbrance.  You've medicated and bloated it.  You've got it addicted to all kinds of substances."  

"Yeah," said Our Hero.  "I'm working on that.  I've made strides and I'm close to being clean."  

"What's with the cookie butter?"  

"What do you mean?"  

"You eat way too much of it."  

"Have you ever tried it?"  

"It can't be that good."  

"Try it and tell me it's not.  I dare you."  

"Well," said the Seer.  "Seeing what it's done to you, I'm not sure it's a good idea."  

"Nothing I do is a good idea anymore."  Our Hero took a big sip of his broth and tried to hold back tears.  He cursed himself for his weakness.  

And his stupidity.  

"You can't change people," said the wise old crone.  "She wasn't going to love you again.  Or even whatever it was she gave you."  

"Why did I do that?"  His own actions sometimes baffled him.  

"You were lonely and she provided you with emotional support.  She made you realize you weren't nearly as awful as you thought.  And she accepted you, for a short period of time."  

"Until she saw how broken I really am."  

"No!"  The Seer banged on the old wooden table with her fist.  "No!  You decided to let her in, and to share very personal things, thinking she would reciprocate.  You were trying to get to a place that would never exist with her. There was a canyon between you two and she was never going to cross it.  She put that canyon there for a reason.  You tried to jump it."  

"Did I self-destruct?"  Our Hero looked down at his broth.  "Again?"  

"No," she said softly.  "You just made poor choices because you knew she was pulling away from you and the further away she got, the harder you worked to get closer."  

"It was doomed," he said.  "And there was nothing I could do."  

"I doubt it.  I highly doubt it."  

"For the past two months, it felt like I had cupped my two hands together and filled them with water. That water leaked out slowly and the more it did, the harder I squeezed. And the harder I squeezed, the more I tried, the more it leaked. I don't mind insanity. It's a price I'm willing to pay for certain things. And people. And up until recently, had you asked me if She was worth it, I would have said yes."  

"You had it bad. Now you need to heal."

Our Hero looked up at the wise, old Seer. She had advised countless in her years and he wondered just how many were at crossroads like himself.

"I've been having powerful nightmares and dreams again. Last night's dream was so strong, I woke up feeling physical pain."

"This isn't the first time you've had things from your dreams follow you into the waking consciousness, is it?"

"No," said Our Hero. "I've seen things in my dreams, woken up, and saw those same things but only for a few moments before they fade away. But this...last night, it really hurt."

"Tell me about it," she said.

"I dreamed I was in my bedroom with a person. A friend. But it wasn't really my bedroom. It was the house I always see in my dreams but have never seen in my reality. My bedroom was dark and I had a study lamp, one of those with the arms you move around, and there was a clamp on the end for attaching to your desk or table. Only I was trying to attach it to the seam of the ceiling tiles and it wasn't going so well. It was dark.

And then a man came in. He was a bad guy. And my friend's soul was inside of me. The bad guy wanted it because he said it would be safer. We knew that was bullshit. He tried to take it, we fought him, and kept it safe. And then, he grabbed me. He wrapped one of his massive hands around my torso and squeeze, with the other hand he forced open my mouth, and pulled out my friend's soul and a bit of mine.

I woke up because my ribs hurt so badly from him squeezing me."

The old crone closed her eyes and rocked back and forth in her chair.

"That's some dream," she said after a moment. "Some dream, indeed.  You walk in the shadows with an eye to the other plane.  Too often, really.  It's unhealthy.  You court the spirits and the entities.  You're not a seer and you're not a necromancer.  This is unhealthy to do so often."

"My subconsciousness has been screaming at me for the past few months. It's been bad."

"You've been in turmoil emotionally. Up and down. She played you. You were like a puppet and she could get you to do anything she wanted."

"I know. And I fell for it. Hook, line, and sinker."

"That dream is about that. You're not admitting things to yourself. You're still blaming yourself and you're not accepting just how horrible of a person she was to you. What she did was unforgivable."

"Now wait a minute, she--"

"--she selectively ignored you. A month ago she said you two were bridging that canyon between you two. Two weeks ago, she said she was jealous of another woman telling you things on Facebook. And the silence steadily grew. The ignoring you steadily became a habit. And she stopped sharing things with you altogether. You were nobody to her. Why can't you admit this?"

"I was throwing myself at her shamelessly. She didn't have many options."

"She couldn't tell you to knock it off? She couldn't tell you to stop? She didn't have the common courtesy to tell you anything."

"She didn't want to hurt me," said Our Hero.

"So she hurt you worse by letting you make a fool of yourself? Why can't you admit you feel humiliated and embarrassed?"

"It's complicated."

"No," laughed the Seer. "It's not. You're defending her because you don't feel you're worthy of anything better. You think you're a piece of shit and the horrible things she did to you was the best you could expect from a woman."

"Is this the best I can expect?" Our Hero looked up at the wise old Seer. The crone who had walked in the shadows and spoke with the dead.

"Right now?" She looked at Our Hero with an appraising glare. How much truth could he handle? "Right now, you're lucky anybody talks to you. You've lost your mind. You treat reality with scorn and contempt. And you're so terrified of real women I can't imagine you ever actually going further than basic online chats."

"I'm going to die alone," he said flatly. "In the last 17 years, I have changed, and those changes are destroying me. I used to be a walking boss. I used to be awesome. I used to be so much more than this. What happened to me?"

"You lost. You lost and you lost over and over again. So you gave up."

"Can I change this?"

"No. I'm sorry, hon. But no. You can't go back and fix things and there's no such thing as time travel. What you've done to your body is pretty close to permanent. If you lost weight, you'd look like a shar-pei puppy. And you've probably got more plaque in your arteries than any doctor would dare touch. As it stands, you'll be lucky to live another five years. If you go nuts, work out like a madman, drop a ton of weight, and all of that stuff, you might get another 10 years. Maybe."

"Do I want another 10 years?"

"Depends. Are you going to heal and recover? Are you going to get your groove back? Do you even want to?"

"I'm not sure. It's such a long road. And there's no guarantee it will be worth it. Plus, by the time I get there, a lot of time will have passed." Our Hero looked down at his cup of broth.

The old crone pulled out her cane with remarkable force cracked him across the face.

"Ouch! What the hell?"

"You're dying and you don't care?"

"Not really."

She cracked him again.

"How do you feel right now?"

"Depressed. Upset. Embarrassed. Humiliated. Worthless."

"Is that how you want this story to end? Because this journey you're on cannot end in a lonely death. It cannot!"

"Why not?"

"Because you're the goddamned Hero! You're supposed to rise up and fight! You're supposed to get up off the canvas and get your groove back! You're supposed to earn your happiness!"

"Earn my happiness?"

"Yes! Happiness isn't handed out to everybody. Happiness is a goal. Happiness is a destination. Happiness is a place on a map and the last page of an instruction manual. Happiness is the cake on the cover of a cookbook. Follow the recipe! Put one foot in front of the other and do something!"

The old crone swung the cane again and smashed it against his shoulder.

"Ouch! Stop hitting me!"

"No! Not until you get it through your thick skull that this shit from the past few months is what happens when you sit in your apartment and never leave. It's what happens when you don't talk to real people. It's what happens when you accept all the horrible shit echoing inside your head. It's what happens when you think the insane events of your past are how this story ends. It doesn't end like that and it can't end like that. It can't!"

"How is this supposed to end? Because thus far, this story has sucked balls."

"This story has two endings. I've seen both. One ends with you sleeping behind the wheel of your car in your garage.  There is a hose leading up to the window and your cheeks are rosey red, your eyes are closed, and you are slipping away, slipping away, and gone. The other ends with you happy. Happy and with all kinds of goals achieved."

"Interesting," he said.

The old woman hit him again.

"Fight! Get up and fight! You have to change things. You have to get up and fight! Now is the time! Not tomorrow, now! Now! Get up and fight! You say you want things in this life but you don't do nearly enough to earn them. They won't be handed to you."

"I've tried that before."
"Yes, you did. And you got fucked by a lot of people and Fate. But you don't know what will happen tomorrow. Fate might very well be done with you. You don't know this. You don't know what will happen. All you know is up until now, you've taken more than your share of beatings. That doesn't mean it will keep happening."

Our Hero took a deep breath and looked up at the ceiling. Outside, it was still storming and the wind screamed.

"You know those voices that echo in your head? The ones that tell you how horrible you are?"

"Yeah, I know those voices well."

"When was the last time somebody actually said that to you? When was the last time somebody told you how horrible of a person you were?"

"I can't remember."

"You can't remember but they echo anyways? Why believe them, then? Why listen to them? Everybody you know has told you that you're a great guy. You're honest, sincere, kind, caring, empathic, loving, and tender. You get told that all the time and yet you ignore them and believe bullshit echoing in your head?"

"I don't know. I really don't."

"You have to get up and fight. You have to. You will never be complete until you fight. You will never save what's left of your life without fighting for it. These challenges you've had molded you into something grotesque in your mind. You see yourself with the eyes of an abuser. But everybody else sees you as the man who would be king if he'd just get up and take the crown for himself. You have to take it!"


"No!" She hit him again. He was surprised that he wasn't bleeding with all of the shots he'd taken. "No, you will not begin to speak negatively about yourself. Not again!"

"I have no idea how to even start."

"You start with one step. Just one. And there's something else you need to know."


"Something I saw in a vision. Or rather, someone. It was in the other future, the one where you get up and fight. I saw you with someone. I saw the connection between you two. It was radiant. Almost too bright for me to look at directly. The two of you were bonded so tightly it was if you were one."

"What else did you see?"

"I saw happiness. True happiness with a contentment that was complete and total."


"After you get up. After you fight. After you work for it. I saw you with my own eyes and you were happy. You were complete. You were in a distant land, surrounded by blue water, and it was all something you achieved. You earned it. And it was your's. Nobody could take it from you. It's possible. It's all possible because I've seen it. But you have to take it."

"Are you just saying this to tell me what I want to hear?"

She hit him again. This time, the cane struck his eyebrow, and blood began to trickle down his face.

"I never lie! I never tell somebody what they want to hear. And let's be honest with ourselves--what you want to hear is that you'll die tomorrow. Right?"

"Sorry. It's just that reality is a bit fragmented for me.  I'm having a hard time sorting things out."

"It's the shadows.  You have walked in the shadows and courted the spirits for far too long.  You've spent enough time with the dead.  And that's part of the reason you don't care about this life.  You're not suicidal, you just feel like the grass is greener over there and you don't care enough about this life.  I wish they'd never told you so much."

"They sang to me and I wanted to know why."  

"You are giving them too much attention.  If what they said was really that important, I'd know it.  They would have told me, so I could tell you, but they have not."

"I tried to summon them.  They ignored me, too.  Everybody I care about has been ignoring me, lately."
"You will see a sign. After putting in the work, on the first day you feel the rewards of that work, you will see a sign that you are doing what is right. That sign will tell you all you need to know."

The old crone sat down again, exhausted. She wiped tears from her eyes.

"Why are you crying?"

"You have so much light inside of you and you're letting it die in the darkness. You are far more special than you realize. So many will benefit from your future but I can't impress upon you how important it is you have a job to do. You are more of a hero than you'll ever realize. And if you did, you wouldn't even be here, because you would be out doing something positive instead of lamenting the past."


"Enough! No more questions. I've given you all the answers you will get tonight. It's time for you to leave and make your choice."

"Can I at least ask you one more question?" 

She sighed and rolled her eyes. "What?"

"Can I get the recipe for your bone broth?"

The old crone smiled.

"Come to me after you see the sign I told you of and I will give you that recipe and a few others."

Our Hero bundled up and went back outside. The sharp wind blasted ice crystals against him as he trudged back to his village. His mind was swimming with thoughts and what the Seer had said. So many things were happening at once and he had a quest to undertake.

His mind buzzed. The future, the past, the present. It was all a tornado screaming at him in mystical gibberish. He was confused. But the pain on his cheek was real.

Choices. He had more choices open to him than he realized. And he had no clue which ones he would make but for the first time in a long time, he no longer felt trapped on rails going to one destination whether he liked it or not. For the first time in a very long time, he felt hope.

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