Nemesis, NoBloPoMo, Stories...

Nemesis… Chapter 8 (Day 12)

I have such beautiful memories of that place, and sad ones, too, as well.  I remember visiting there when my daughter was very young.  She was always drawn to the Fairy Folk, and they to her, almost from the time she was born.. I remember the day we first stumbled into the enchanted part of the forest.  Out for an afternoon hike through these beautiful woods, we had gotten somewhat lost.  Not that any of us were too concerned, of course, as the park was not that big; eventually, we knew, the paths would lead us out to one of the roads that traversed these grounds, and that road would take us where we needed to go.  So for a little while we just wandered, exploring all the new places we found, and that is how we found the path.

Joking, to lighten my daughter’s nervousness at being “lost,” I pointed to a pair of trees beside the path, asking her if she thought it was a gateway to another place.  We had been exploring such gateways in all the natural places we’d been visiting that summer, as my daughter woke to her own gifts and magickal insights.  We decided it was worth checking out, and so, light-hearted and without any real expectation, we stepped through that doorway, and back onto the path.  Just a few steps ahead we came across a bridge that led into an incredibly magickal place; a place where the Fey actually lived!

Mists flowed along the paths, and everything was colored in living, vibrant shades of green.  Fairy houses were built in stumps or fallen trees; mushroom houses grew for the tiny ones to inhabit.  A sacred pond lay there full of frogs, and fish, and dragonflies, who would gladly come out to greet their guests.  And there was a Queen who ruled them all, living in her sacred tree, so full of wisdom and willing to share, if you showed her the proper respect, of course!

While you were there, you were as invisible to outsiders as the Fey themselves, as strangers wandered down the surrounding paths, and never noticed us.  It was uncanny, really, since you could be standing right beside the path, and people would pass you by as though you weren’t even there!  My daughter loved to play there as a child, and so did I.  We didn’t always find our way in, but that was part of the magick and charm of the place, because each time was an adventure, and a dream; a hopeful trip that kept us coming back, time and time again…

Until one day, when my daughter was in her early teens, we went to visit the Enchanted Forest, only to discover that the magick was fading.  We were no longer invisible within the realm, and while the houses of the Fey remained, the fairies themselves were gone…  We went looking for the Queen to ask her what was wrong, but never found her; the tree that she had once called home had been struck down by lightning.  I held my daughter while she wept for what the Queen had lost, and cried myself for what we all had lost;  for soon, I knew, there would be no more magick here than in any other wood…

I came back over the years, every once in a while, but it was not the same.  Finding the path became routine, as the magick no longer hid it from view.  But I would sometimes bring people along and show them the remains of that enchanted place, teaching them what to look for if they ever went looking for the Fey.  “In fact, the last time I took such a group there turned out to be an adventure somewhat similar to the one I’m on today,” it suddenly occurs to me…

On that occasion I arrived with a group of friends, all of whom had heard the stories of the fairies and their magick place.  I had, of course, explained that the Fey were gone from there, but they wanted to explore it nonetheless, and I was game.  I was actually looking forward to returning, since it had been so long, and I couldn’t quite suppress that ever-present spark of hope that maybe the fairies had returned to that place.  So off we went on our adventure, on a perfect summer day…

When we arrived, I took them to a backwoods place, where sensitive ones could still sometimes feel the magick flowing.  I didn’t expect to encounter anyone, but it was worth a shot, as our group contained a mix of people with various levels of magickal awareness; I was more curious to see who among us was sensitive than I was about the fate of the Fey that day.  On a whim, I decided to cast a circle in that place that would temporarily place us “between” the realms, and so enable, perhaps, even the least sensitive among us to experience something unusual that day.  The circle was a rousing success, and though it did not allow us to encounter any actual fairy folk, it did provide us all with an entirely new perspective on our world!

We wandered endlessly through the forest that day, sharing our awarenesses, laughing at each other and the sheer joy of being joined this way.  It was better than any drug I’d ever tried, and we were all of us quite sober, but together the memories we created that day proved to be a literal “trip.”  The day grew long, and so we all piled back into the car and headed home.  The ride home brought its own fascination with the cloud forms, and the nuances of color along the way.  And the laughter, of course; perhaps that is what I remember most about that day.  We were almost home (some 45 miles away) when the headaches settled in…

At first I simply assumed it was the transition from such a rural, natural place, to the pressures and chaos of city life, as I often have difficulty bridging that gap myself.  And then, one of the more experienced magick users among us thought to ask, “Hey, Lisa, did you ever close that circle that you opened for us in the woods?”

Shocked, as if hit by that proverbial bolt of lightning, it occurred to me that I had not!  Sheepishly I admitted my mistake, then sought to overcome my shame enough to try and remedy the situation; obviously I should have returned and finished the job, but we had travelled so long to get home, that it simply wasn’t feasible.  So I did my best to ground each of my friends, drawing them more fully back into our world, and warned them that the headaches might continue for up to three days.  I performed a closing ritual for us all in an attempt to reset us in our space, but even then I knew my efforts would fall short.

We all survived that error that I made without any lasting effects, but it is an adventure that often returns among that group of friends.  Some ten years have passed since that fateful day, but even now, one or another of them will occasionally bring it up.  Usually it is in response to mysterious happenings in our lives, an inside joke they never tire of mentioning; out of the blue one will say, “Hey Lisa, don’t forget to close the circle!”, or “Did you leave another circle open somewhere?”  And every time they say these things, I can only laugh, remembering my amateurish mistake, and the arrogance and carelessness that created it.

***     *****   ***

“Hmm…  Wonder why that particular memory is coming back to me today?,” I think to ask myself, as I become present in my form once more.  “Maybe it’s just because of the visit I just made to that magickal forest?  Or perhaps it has to do more with the concept of being trapped between our realms…?”

“Of course!, ” I exclaim.  “That must be it!”

Looking around once more, I realize that I am in exactly that kind of place – a “between” space.  Everything about this place of non-being screams transition to me now, having left behind the brilliant force of life that is the Enchanted Forest of the Fey, and seeking out the mundane reality of my own world.  I am in some sort of Limbo place, between our realms!  And, while I am not sure how that helps me yet, I am certain that it will be important when I reach my goal…

Looking ahead, I see that I am rapidly approaching that goal.  Finally…  And what I sensed as distant shapes is now clearly taking form.  Ahead of me is a small grove of trees, unfamiliar in terms of species or location, and in their midst there grows a tower made of old stone and mist.  As I draw nearer with each step, I am beginning to feel a pulsing in the very ground beneath my feet, made ever more remarkable by the total lack of feeling that preceded this.  As I watch the mists circling the tower, I notice that a piece of that tower seems to detach itself, circling slowly around it, spiraling down to the ground as if preparing to greet me.  In the same heartbeat, it occurs to me that the tower, and the grove that holds it, is shimmering, fading in and out before my eyes.

A drop of fear rises from my feet, from the pulsing of the ground itself, seeking to connect with my spine.  And when it does, it flashes instantly up into my brain, exploding into the possibility that the tower will disappear before I arrive, thus taking my only means of escape away from me!

Randomly, a thought pushes through the fear, leading to a seemingly absurd and pointless question… “Why is a ‘drop’ of fear climbing up my spine, when gravity ensures that all ‘drops’ usually fall?”

But I do not have time to explore such a question, or any other for that matter, as real urgency  grabs hold of me.  I must make it to that tower before it disappears or I will be trapped here indefinitely!  I do not think to question how I know this (I simply do), and it is enough to drive me forward now.  I pick up my pace, breaking into a jog, and then an outright sprint, racing to reach those trees before they’re gone.  Running is easy here in this place of non-feeling, but I cannot help but wish for the wings I had before.  Expecting them to materialize as they did before, I am disappointed to discover I only have my feet to rely on here…

“So, magick doesn’t work here, I guess,” I tell myself, such knowledge only adding to my trepidation.  And it is then that it occurs to me that I am growing tired from running…

“Oh, no!,” I cry as I realize my feet are growing heavy, and my breathing is becoming labored.  Somewhere along this journey I lost control, allowing myself to become a part of this lonely outpost of reality.  And now, I know, no dream techniques can free me from this Limbo…

***     *****     ***

(to be continued)

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