Here's a short story for you all! The Reluctant Healer - or by a Dragon's Tail.
It all began on an evening in the time where the greens of Summer are shifting to the yellow-reds of Autumn. The was sinking and, using two vessels one of apple, one of yew I cast an invocation summoning to my presence and old friend.
I hardly expected them to show since at our last meeting I had been very cruel, inhuman I would go so far as to say. I banished this person with many waves and enraged brandishings of my cutlass. I hurt them and I drove them off inspite of their pleas and tears.
This happened many years ago. Now sitting on the solid oak planks of my front porch I hang my head in shame at the memory and watch as the jewels of my own tears roll down the bridge of my nose and land in tiny pools lighting up on the golden eyes that stare out winking and blinking from the grain of the wood.
At the very moment the third tear departs my nose a great puff of pink smoke appears and out of it step two large flower patterned boots attached to a skinny figure in a hot pink fitted onesy and wearing a top hat as tall as my arm is long and a grin so wide as to make the Cheshire cat look positively glum. ‘I don’t know how I shall forgive you.’ Said my friend. ‘But I suppose there’s nothing else to do.’
‘You have summoned me and I sent to you.’
‘Sent?’ I started to feel a little nervous.
‘Oh yes I have come baring a gift for you which you might like to call your ‘just desserts.’
And with this off came the enormous velvet top hat held in long slender caramel fingers. They shook it and they it began to jump and shudder until with a pop the lid flew off and out flew a dragon.
The Dragon extended and extended and it was great and fiery and the scent of smoke and ash filled my nose. It took off into the air with such speed that my nature being what it is I could not help and in fact was also compelled by external forces beyond my ken to reach out and grab the creature’s tail and follow it into whatever realm or void it sought to take me.
‘Well then.’ Said my dear old friend quite agog and looking at their hat as they had never seen such things before. ‘I suppose we’ll catch up later.’
I had not time to speak a word.
When I awoke the dragon had gone. The feeling of cold hard stone and the soft rythmic drips of water revealed that I was in a cave. Once my eyes had adjusted to the darkness I percieved it was a cavern, vast and glimmering as light from crystal crusted rock faces bounced from wall to wall creating a soothing blue glow. I turned behind me and saw through a crevice in the wall to the outside world. It became apparent that I was in the centre of high mountain peak, surrounded at least as far as I could make out was a sea, black and rippled by a hungry breeze. Far below a cove lined with gnashing midnight rocks like teeth tall as any ship and sand also black like coal dust glimmering and strangely warm under the looming moon.
A boat, at first a moving pin prick blacker than the other darkness came slowly in towards the shore. White horse broke against her wooden bow and took my breath so striking were their powerful hooves against the night. They seemed to guide the boat, to pull it’s course true inspite of all around the speak like jaws and sly bite of rock just out of sight. At last I saw them, ink splots pulling, heaving at their oars with such rythmic, potency my heart beat faster and ached to be among them as they drove the bow hard into the shore and the mighty white horses vansihed and came no more.
I turned my head back into the cavern and found that I was crouched behind a trunklike pillar. Indeed it was the root of some other huge tree twice as thick as my torso and plunging away upwards into the darkness and tunnelling the pitch stone below which cracked and broke in great splits where it had given passage, to this slow determined growth. I peered out from behind this awe inspiring life form into the blue glowing cave beyond and felt my eyes widen and my chest fill with heat at what appeared before me. In a circle each hovering above the ground, a host of angels. Beings whose presence caused me to bow my head. I wanted to hide from the places in my soul which feared the touch and witness of of such purity and the light of their compassion. I wanted to kneel, feeling myself unworthy, tainted, and beg their forgiveness or their just punishment and yet I knew that they made no demand of me. I was already forgiven and I felt something inside me revolve and face the worst of myself with new warmth and kindness. Silent tears again for my heart deeply broken, and as deeply moved with love of life. I was glad of the gnarled and mineral encrusted root to lean and fold into. The comfort of another embodied being in the presence of such transcendent wonder, the tree’s tender embrace felt warm and I began to feel it throb as it’s life force met me and a quickening and a fire ran though me to feel my flesh so long untouched fully recieved and held my another. I felt the bark soften and I sank gently within the pulsing black vein, my own skin and flesh gone. I was at one with a life far old and wiser than mine. I felt it’s density, heaviness and depth, silver tree blood ran through me. My bones aligned with it’s journey; down, down into the core like a magnet pulling out of my spine and skull all rigidity and anger, all frozen metals of grief melting and merging deeper and deeper the old pain releasing. Then a scream in my mouth and my voice and a cry extended before me in a rainbow of clarity, illuminating and nourishing the tree, feeding it’s branches and shoots, so far up and out of sight. I screamed like this for what felt like hours, a scream I had longed fro without knowing and I felt my scream transforming long dead memories into magick and new life. A tree of many colours, visible to me only in sense and imagination but more real than anything I have known before.
Released from the tree’s embrace I collapsed weakly resting on the cool dark bark again and looked out at upon the radiant beings before me. A low hum stirred the angels translucent wings to a gentle flutter. In the distance the thudding of drum moving. A crashign sound, a harsh knocking and a great door appears running with gold seams to a triangular point.
The angels turn in unison and face the door. In unison pale blue index fingers lift and the great faces of rock part and open. Ten people, sailors, dangling cutlasses and daggers and hair wild with wind and spray march in military fashion to the centre of the room and lower down a stretcher. They kneel beside the body they have born. Even from the place I am hiding I can see the wound. I can smell the putrification. Some of the angels are weeping. I feel terribly weak and rest my head against the stone floor.
‘As charged we bear our passenger to your cave.’ Says one of the pirates, for they bear no flag and wear no uniform. ‘Will you heal them?’ Says this one still on their knees, eyes never waivering from the ground.
‘There is only one person who can heal your patient. ‘ Sing the angels
‘And which among you is it holy one?’
‘Not us, not us, not us.’ And to my horror they twist and point as one to my hiding place.
I clench myself into a ball and cower. Footsteps and then hands, the knuckles furred with hair clench my waist coat shoulders and drag me my legs kicking out below me to the centre of the room.
‘Healer do your work.’
‘No, no I think therie’s been some mistake I am no healer.’
They still hold me hard by my shoulders and thrust me towards what seems to be a corpse.
The stench of rotting flesh fills my nostrils, the stretcher is yellow with pus and back with dried out blood.
‘This person is dead, surely.’
‘No, you will save the life. Look at them.’
‘No, no, I don’t understand. I, I…’
And as I say this I look at the face of the body. ‘It can’t be.’
‘Recognise yourself beloved one.’ Sing the angels. ‘Embrace your wounded self.’
I want to run far from this place, this moment. I feel bile in my throat and my knees collapse into the dust of the cavern floor. ‘Forgive me. I cannot.’
The angels say nothing but I see they are weeping. I look from one to another desperate for escape knowing there is none. All my life I have avoided this moment. I wait like this beneath their silent gaze.
Finally full to the brim of this compassion, devoid of hope I reach out my hand. A sailor pulls me to my feet. Wounds are opening on my chest. With every step I take towards the stretcher, the patients wounds fade and move to me, I am torn open, I can smell my body and feel my skin ooze and sink. My eyes turn red with blood and the last thing I see are his arms reaching up from the stretcher to embrace me as I fall.
The ground shudders and the angels raise up their voices in song. There is a strange warmth returning and tingling in my hands and limbs. A feeling familiar and yet new to me and I am falling, falling naked into the velvet softness of the abyss.