you’ll never learn,
all things must burn...”-The Tea Party
Focus...breathe in...breathe out…
Focus...remember that Emptiness is everything...all is Void…
The main point of such exercises is to still the mind. To focus single-pointed on one thing. Sometimes it’s nothing; just the sensation of breath. There are instants where it’s a single, simple moment. That lark of an oracle springs to mind, coming into sharp relief.
The cards dance, appearing and reappearing in the manner of a stage magician or a street huckster. Her hands move with the speed and agility of two ravenous tarantulas chasing after the same frightened insect. Her eyes are closed as she shuffles, humming some arcane tune in an esoteric accent. Just watching her is an exercise in fascination.
Her short black hair is covered with a multi-colored scarf that doesn’t exactly go with, but does not necessarily clash, with her simple white tank-top and multi-colored skirt. For mockery, the raiment is referred to as gypsy drag. A gold and black scarf hangs from her neck and, when she shifts just right, it removes any mystery as to whether or not she’s wearing a bra. Sometimes, this arousing. Her scent is that of cinnamon and places more far-flung than this. Perhaps it’s her taste as well.
“Select a card,” she says in that esoteric accent of some forgotten place that never was.
The card is lucky number thirteen. A grinning skull, bedecked in blackened armor stands over a mound of corpses, its sword held high in one hand, and the standard of a white flower in the other. In the background is a ruined tower with a rising moon and sun. It almost looks like the cover of a fantasy novel. Perhaps one featuring Conan or a group of elves.
“Death,” she says stoically. “Traditionally, change. The ending or beginning of a cycle. Rebirth.”
“I had a Rider-Waite deck once, but who didn’t?”
She slams her hand down on the card, covering it. With a deft flick of the wrist, the card is back within the embrace of the deck. In another flash, the entire deck disappears altogether. Slight-of-hand, a neat trick. There are some who would say what she just did is the hallmark of a trickster, like Coyote.
“Why do even bother asking for a reading?” She inquires, her eyes narrowed.
“Why do you bother indulging me?”
Her nose, small and spriteish, crinkles. A smile, mysterious, frustrated, amused, and annoyed appears across her lips. Her eyes, intense and unflinching, shimmer, like pools of liquid mercury.
How many have gotten lost in those eyes, never to be seen again?
“You’ve come from far away,” she begins.
“Aside from the McDermontts, Schultzs, Santiagos, and the natives, who hasn’t around here?”
“You burned bridges and buried memories,” she continues, undeterred.
“I’ve told you too much about myself. You’ve probably figured out some by simple observation; reading your mark.”
“A skeptic to the bitter end,” she says teasingly, running her tongue across her teeth. She reaches out, her touch is warm and inviting. “Don’t worry, you’re not so easy to read.”
What does her tongue taste like?
“You’re not telling me anything I don’t already know.”
“Then why are you here?” She asks again, her gaze intensifying.
“Why were you willing to indulge me?”
Back to the same set of questions. It’s like this whenever an oracle is requested; talking in circles. A mutual game, which is as amusing as it is frustrating.
“Always unable to give a straight answer,” she muses.
“Maybe straight answers also falsehoods.”
“There are those who believe the truth will set you free,” she says.
“Truth is a point of view. Besides, that kind of freedom brings its own set of chains to enslave the uninitiated.”
She giggles, reaching out again. A warm hand against the cheek. She leans forward, lightly planting her lips upon the brow. The desire for more is almost overpowering, but, if she really could read minds, she’d know that. Maybe she does, but the future she sees taking that road is not so bright.
“You live up to your name, Ryddle,” she says.
“I don’t believe in the power of names.”
“The ancients did,” she says. “In Egypt, if your name was wiped out, so were you; you did not exist anymore.”
“I don’t want a name. I guess that makes me a ghost.”
“No, it makes you someone who wants to make their own way without the traditions that have existed since the first words were ever spoken,” she says. “That is why you came out here in the first place. It’s why your dreams sometimes bother you so.” She looks away for the slightest of moments. “But one day, you’ll learn.”
A shudder. What little gesture or bit of posture gave away the stench of nightmare? She couldn’t have guessed.
“I have to go.” Standing, walking to the door. Outside is hot and dry. Saliva evaporates in the mouth.
“I know you do,” she says. There is something, which might be sadness in her shimmering liquid mercury eyes. “But I’ll see you again soon.”
“Maybe. I’ll buy you a beer.”
“And maybe then you’ll be more willing to talk, Ryddle,” she says. “Willing to share your secrets.”
“They wouldn’t be secrets then, would they?” The door closes before she can say anything else.