iv. Black Stones
"Thank you," I said.
She pierced me with her black eyes. "Your brother is not the problem," she said.
"He's not my -"
"You and all you have driven away. Your brother is just one." Raising the bowl of black stones, she added, "These are all the rest." Before I could respond, she stood and walked away, heading east into the morning sun; I quickly followed. A few hundred yards up the beach, I saw Fas pitching a blue tent in the breeze. I had no idea where he had got it; it was too large for the ragged bag he'd been carrying all these days.
The woman bowed to Fas when we reached the tent, after which he knelt and kissed her feet. There was a deep familiarity in the looks they exchanged with each other. She glanced at me and nodded to Fas, and then sat down in front of the tent, facing the sea. Fas gently took me by the arm and guided me to the green water. At the water's edge, he stripped down to his underclothes and bid me do the same. There was none of the forcefulness of Ra or the woman in his look, but I felt incapable of contradicting him. The strength of his compassion with me during our journey contravened any timidity I felt about the woman's presence.
Stripped, we walked out into the cold waters, far enough to let them tumble us. As the sea picked us up again and again, I caught glimpses of Ra farther to the west, still tumbling himself. Tumbling under, the sun's light shattered into diamonds, I felt a buzzing in my head, as if I were vibrating to a larger pulse.
After fifteen minutes or so, Fas walked out of the water to his clothes, ran his hands through his hair and beard to smooth the water out. Leaving his clothes at the water's edge, I followed suit. The water seemed to have tumbled all timidity out of me about the woman.
Still seated in the sand, she nodded to Fas again as he walked up. He opened the flap to the tent and bade me enter. The inside of the tent was the size of a small room, carpeted with a thin yellow rug upon which lay a single orange pillow, barely large enough for one's head. He did not have to ask me to lie down. My body seemed to know what was called for before my mind intervened. I felt as if I were lying down in a field the color of sunflowers, looking up into the blue sky of the tent. Fas nodded to me and left. A moment later, the woman entered the tent; she'd stripped down to a simple white tunic. She knelt at my side with the black bowl of stones. Quietly and carefully, she took each stone in the bowl and gently placed them all over my body. At first they felt as cool as river stones, but as she neared the end of them, they began to burn against my skin.
After placing the stones, she placed one hand on my belly and the other on my forehead. She intoned a sound that seemed to join up with the buzzing in my head. I closed my eyes and felt myself in the center of a giant hive.
Minutes passed and then all was silent, even the sound in my head. It seemed the entire world slept, both in and outside the tent. No sound of wind; remarkably, no sound of water, either. Such was the woman's power, I wondered if we were even near the sea at all anymore.
She lifted her hand from my forehead and slowly passed it, inches above my skin, down to the hand at my belly. Once there, she passed the other hand slowly down to my feet; at that point, she shifted around, knelt at my feet, and placed the palms of her hands against the soles of my feet. I felt warm fire flowing through her hands and up my body to the back of my head.
"They are all the dreams you have abandoned, all the children you have left in the street."
The stones. All of the stones.
I felt a wave of sadness wash through me.
She passed a long exhalation through her lips. I felt her breath on the tops of my feet.
"Ra is not your devil. You are."
I was pinioned by her voice, just as Ra had been by her strong grasp.
We continued on in silence for what seemed hours; I have no idea if indeed it was. At one point, I must have fallen asleep. When I awoke, everything was gone - the woman, the stones, tent and carpet, Fas, even Ra, for all I could tell. At my side, neatly folded, was a white robe and a pair of light sandals.
Where the stones had laid, my body was covered in boils.
Labels: dream children