I'll be honest, the few days that preceded today sucked, just a bit. This year can go to hell, really. 2017 has been stupidly hard, 40 was ridiculously difficult, and my headspace lately has been less than generous.
The night before last, I don't know what I dreamed, but I know how I woke. I woke with someone singing to me, a man, a goddess with a deep voice, I don't know.
"Space Lord Mother Mother" they chanted, whomever They were.
I woke yesterday with the song in my head firmly and at volume. I sang it in the shower. I sang it as I drove. I watched the video for clues to the meaning.* I hummed "Grease up your baby for a ball on the hill" as I drifted off to sleep.
And that was last night, and last night, I Dreamed. I Dreamed of snakes, everywhere. Snakes being sacrificed, snakes being fed, being fed to snakes, wearing snakes, worshipping snakes, being worshipped by a cult of my friends turned snake, their tongues flicking as they chanted, cloth hoods mimicking cobras as they turned from me, realizing I was not, in fact, a snake.
One came forward, one girl. I knew her, once, I think. "Wear this." She handed me a skirt of red and silver, ankle length, slit to the thigh. "And this" she gave me a corset now, and I dashed to change, in a room filled with costumes.
I yanked on the skirt, and then the corset, and then stopped. I held it in my hands, admiring it's sparkles. The same girl appeared through a rack of clothes. "Not THAT kind of fortune teller." she said. She handed me a new top, made of the thinnest cotton and jute, with ribs of denim. I was looser, more practical, and frankly, sexier for what it covered. "That's what I was looking for!" I said, and put it on. The skirt shifted, the silver remaining in sparkles, but changing to country cotton, to match the top.
"Go, you're on next!" She shoved me out the door and I realized I didn't have my cards. Panicked, I turned back to the door, looking for my cards. An arm shot out as I reached for the knob, and a confused rattlesnake was thrust at my right shoulder. It wrapped around me, mostly in fear, and bit me at the elbow, in the soft spot on the inside. The rattles fell into my palm, a deck of cards.
I nodded and turned back to the hallway I was in. The snake clung on, the pain annoying, but I knew he was just afraid. I shuffled the rattle, the cards, and looked around. To my right, a dais, people on it, a crowd around it, a line leading to it. The dress was formal, but stylized in jewel tones, robes and gowns all around. I strode towards the line, realizing I was about to be introduced.
A quiet roar sounded behind, me a thousand people muttering, applauding, crying out in joy. For just a second, I thought it was for me. I turned, and there was a woman pacing towards me, a witch in jeans and a tshirt. Not a good woman, I knew her well, but a good witch, Not a nice woman, except in the old way of the word, when it meant sharp, and effective. Not a kind woman, but pragmatic to a fault. She wore jeans a simple top, as if she'd gotten the invitation last minute, as if she didn't expect the applause. A calculating smile played on her lips as she accepted her due. My due. Her nod was regal and self deprecating, and a lie. fitted lace wedding dress
"Why the hell is SHE here?" I said.
"You invited her." Said the snake. His voice was muffled by the flesh of my shoulder. He was still impaled, whether sucking my blood or injecting poison, I couldn't tell. I suspect he didn't know either.
I nodded. The snake was right. I'd invited her, I was a coyote caught in her own trap. My thunder was stolen, gone, taken by this woman I'd invited. She approached the dais. I felt a pang of sympathy for the people there. "If you haven't anyone else," she said. "I'm right fucking here." I thought.
"I will tell your fortune on this day."She ducked her head and smiled shyly, convincing them she was not as good, not as an effective teller as me, the one who couldn't be found, but that she would try.
Hurt, stunned, and hating myself, I looked down, at the rattles turned cards in my hand. The witch on the dais began her spiel. It was showy and full of lies. I began to walk away, defeated.
"Miss?" A woman came towards me, heavily pregnant. "Miss, will you tell my fortune?" He husband stood, proud and hopeful, behind her. "Will our baby be healthy?" He asked.
The pregnant lady started it, and it rolled from there, a line of people, kitchen maids and gardeners, cooks and grooms, laid out before me. I read fortunes like they were water, one card at a time, flowing through my fingers. I told fortunes for everyone who wanted one, more people than were in the royal line, for the other Teller. I predicted storms, and losses, and healthy children who would grow to be kings. I told common fortunes for common people, given the chance to do so by the pragmatic, sharp, woman on the dais.
So sharp I cut myself, it seems.
I woke this morning crying out for the cards that were no longer in my hand, feeling the weight of a snake that was not there, curled on my shoulder.
I realized it was my birthday, that I was 41 today, that I am not in love with where I am at 41, that I thought I'd be better by now, that I thought I'd be MORE by now.
I woke up some more, and forgot the dream.
Hours later, I lay on the beach. I thought about how I'd swum, and walked, in the ocean without having my usual vertigo. I was very proud. I was humming Space Lord.
The people at the blanket next to us, tourists, were feeding the seagulls. The giant, fat, pushy birds walked closer and closer to us, screaming for food. Annoyed, I grabbed a mostly full iced coffee cup and hucked it at that most bold invader. I missed by just six inches, but the bird only stpped back, didn't fly. I grumbled and went to fetch the cup, and the seagull charged me.
I ran at it, yelling, and then, then, finally, the vertigo hit. "Oh, I'm not falling, I thought I was for a second." I thought as my legs became heavy and I hit the ground. The bird pecked at me as I did an inventory. Nothing broken. No air in my lungs. I was gasping, but unconcerned. My shoulder hurt.
My right shoulder.
It feels like something is there, now, hanging on. It doesn't hurt, but I can't lift my hand above my shoulder without effort. No pain, just resistance. Just a weight, holding my hand down, so I don't hurt myself.
Happy Birthday to me, and to whomever I am when I wake up tomorrow!!
*Years ago,I asked for writing prompts. Mita said 'the beach. And Ben said "Space Lord" and I wrote a story about York Beach, a fortune teller, and a hellhound named Ox.