Dreamed 1989/7/31 by Chris Wayan
I'm seeking a warm place to live with no smog. Paso Robles, Obispo, Santa Maria, Ojai? But the central California coast has boomed since I last saw it. Smog, malls, Victorian houses bulldozed, big towers looming over the hills, and more going up.
About the only thing unchanged is that weird old castle of crumbling stone, a mixture of Hearst's Castle and the old Madonna Inn. It's empty still, for it's haunted by time-ghosts: slices of time-travelers who are thinned out, not all here-now. Not that all of them are even human when they're whole...
I read a novel about it. About me! I lived alone in the castle, and met people from a span of three thousand years: about 800 BC to 2200 AD. Some of the folks I met were fascinating, but in such an expanse of time, it was nearly certain I'd never see them twice. I was terribly lonely!
So I rewrite the book, expanding the time-castle crew to four of us who reincarnate and remeet through many lifetimes, as we each struggle with an issue.
I thought mine was isolation--no lover, few close bonds... But my goal manifests as a handkerchief that slowly covers with embroidery, grows ever more intricate through time. The images on it are my dreams. Is THIS my true goal in life? Turning my dreams into art, is that all? I want love, I want to change the world, I want a lot more than just writing and painting. Art's fun, but it's not a whole life! I'm furious with the author of this book, for denying me any connection to others!
Wait--I rewrote it. The author is me... isn't it? Who's the author behind the author?
My three companions through time:
1: My sister Miriel--I'm not sure what her central issue is. Assertiveness, maybe?
2: A man, a soldier in many lives, whose issue manifests consistently as a spear and a shield. How to balance offense and defense!
3: A woman who alternates lives, first a guerrilla leader, then a shamaness, then back to fighting for justice, then back to healing... Always formidable and respected, even feared, but a bit mysterious. She has a reputation as a great lover. She always wears a tight sheath dress, with blue and green sequins. Always--even in battle, in the jungle, in bed... I begin to suspect it's no dress at all, but her own scaly skin! She's a snake-woman. I'm wary of her, but I'm curious what her issue is so I fight my fears and hang out with her. She and Miriel are close; I often listen while they talk. Slowly, without asking her directly, intuition tells me what her goal is. In all those years, all those lives, all those lovers--she's never come once! It's not ignorance: she knows everything about the art of love. But a sorcerer STOLE her sexuality, or part of it, long ago. She's trying to win it back. It's why she always learns war, stealth, and magic: practice for the day she finds the thief! But who is it, and why?
I'm afraid to ask her now; she's building up to one of her legendary rages. She and Miriel and I walk west from the wooded valley where Time Castle stands, through fields atop a river-bluff. The air's clean. We reach a small town, a row of shops. Snake is fuming by now, and she runs past us into the first open shop and starts bullying the owner, a small shy Japanese woman. Scathing put-downs of her shop, her habits, her person... Snake glares and hisses and snarls threats lurking behind her words, never explicit but there...
Once the shop-girl is shaking with hurt and fear, Snake emerges, looking relieved and cheerful. We walk on. I'm silent, troubled.
Snake and Miriel talk about Pharoah hooks. I have two golden hooks in my pocket, a bit like crochet hooks, each with a needle-like eye. One's about 20 cm long, the other only ten--fits in my palm. I don't know what they're for and ask "Why did the Pharaohs use them? What for?"
Miriel blinks in surprise, then laughs. "Pharaoh? Oh! Farrow, not Pharaoh." I look blank--they sound identical. "Oh--a farrow with an f, spelled like harrow. Means a litter of piglets. Keep those hooks for now, we won't need them till the littering season."
"What? What are they for?"
"You won't have known about it, it's a girl thing. We use farrowhooks to help pull out our piglets if they're stuck." I gape at Miriel.
Snake looks at me with those sharp black eyes and sees my shock, and chimes in "You DID know we mate with boars, didn't you?" I blush, embarrassed, and choke back my impulse to snap back "I know YOU find them all bores, but that's due to YOUR curse, isn't it?" Snake may have an angry streak, but even she won't casually mock our life issues. We can't afford to do that to each other.
So they mate with boars every year and give birth to a litter, no, a FARROW of piglets...
I can see why I'd think of Pharaohs, though. Remember their royal insignia? Two golden instruments, the Crook and the Flail. The first was a shepherd's crook to lead the people, the second, a whip to defend them with, or punish them if they went truly wrong. Carrot and stick!
Miriel and Snake have two golden Crooks, but no flails. No, not true. Snake just showed me her flail--that sharp tongue of hers!
THE NEXT DAY
Miriel and I meet for lunch. She talks of our dad. I knew he subtly patronized her, but I didn't realize that when I was around he toned it down. Without witnesses around, he was far more explicit: actually told her "You're the pretty one, but not intelligent." Not just sexist, but CONSCIOUS. It had to be, for he knew to hide it from me: knew I wouldn't stand for it. He KNEW what he was doing! So much for the mystery of who cursed Snake, who stole her sexuality!
So, hesitantly, I tell her the dream. She doesn't react to Snake's curse, or the part with her fucking bores and bearing piglets. To my astonishment, her first response is: "But... those ARE 'Pharaoh hooks'! They're real. They were instruments used in the process of mummification--the Egyptian priests didn't want to disfigure the head, but the brain had to come out, it was too wet to mummify. So they used those narrow hooks to scoop it out through the nose. Not too different from brain surgery today, in fact."
I never knew that.
I bet my dad didn't either.
Just Miriel. You know, the family bimbo.
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