Ode to Joy
Violet S. Tides
© Copyright 2015 Violet S. Tides
All Rights Reserved
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This book is a work of fiction based on a true story. All characters and events are fictitious. No part, excerpt, image, or passage of this book or book cover may be reproduced or copied by anyone (including online libraries), in any medium, except for those expressly and explicitly allowed in writing from the author or publisher. English literature professors are allowed to read this story in its entirety to a class or gathering. For other permissions, contact [email protected]
A right of passage in blossoming spirituality leaves a young girl in wonder. Can she become who she was born to be? Can she step into the beauty that encompasses all?
Smoothness gliding across that which had been all darkness just a moment ago. Somehow, it is connected to me. A gentle warmth emanating from the source, carrying a wave that feels like love, acceptance. I focus on the place of sensation, pondering with what I am feeling it, and how it is communicating to me. Me? As I question, a shadow motions in front of my awareness. Visual awareness. Could I make that happen again by questioning? By using the part I felt work when it happened before? I try, and the spastic motion of a tiny, curled fist bops my eye, then recedes. I try again. Yes. It is under my control. Barely, as it is not yet steady, but this time I don’t bop myself.
A finger from a much larger fist reaches forward and strokes an area under my visual sensor. I perceive, but cannot yet see, a much larger and hazy form behind it. It is this being that emanates the love and acceptance. Something in me arises…a happiness. Joy. I try to call out to the being, to join with it, but do not know where the mechanism lies that can evoke a summons. All is instinct.
A violent pain grips a portion of my brain. No, it was something else connected to me, somehow lower. How is it connected? It feels solid and I am just an awareness living in a moment. It wracks again and I send an equal amount of force to it. To suck it back. To will it away. When I do so, a sound—a horrible wailing sound—ensues. The sound continues as long as I fight the pain. It goes like this: pain, suck it in with anger, wailing. I can’t control it exactly and the pain does not subside.
I can see dimly the room with brown and gray looseness, a gauziness, shifting, waving over prisms of light. Away from there, an opening that’s dark and deeper into a dimension of space. The words are missing, but the concepts shimmer through my awareness like age-old friends. The being I had felt before glides through the opening, moves her arms about in the air as though she’s petting an angry wave, and gestures with graceful motions of her hands. Ripples of golden energy gyrate from her midsection to her hands and to something she holds in it. She puts a nipple into some part of me and a soothing warmth slides through more parts of me I hadn’t known were there. The warmth arouses my sensors as it glides to the pain, calming it, singing to it in gentle tones. The flavor is intense: a mixture of joy, light, and sensation. It is the great Soother. That which removes pain. I am bonded to it as it becomes my god.
I’d learned my first lesson of life. First, there was joy, then there was pain. Then there was joy again.
Da and Ma were known to me when I poked my hand into the heated water on the stove and screamed. At first they did nothing, but then, as though jabbed by the blinding force of my scream ripping through the airwaves, both jumped to their feet and rushed to me. Ma took my hand in hers and ran coolness from the shiny sink over it until the pain subsided, somewhat. I waited for the joy to follow, but it did not.
Da motioned over a plant, plump with healing juices, selected a fat leaf, and returned to Ma with it. She issued cooing noises which almost covered my continued wails, but they were low in her throat—more an automatic reaction than directed toward me. She applied the aloe in a gooey mess, and the pain, mostly held in place by fear, subsided. She stroked my hair, her hand stopping at my ear. Her hand went timid, and traced the outer shell of the appendage. A small clicking issued from her throat and her face went pale. I reached up to touch her ear, but she held back my hand from moving her hair, where it must have been hidden, smiled a little, and turned sad eyes to Da.
He nodded just a little to her, and they began a rapid fire exchange with their hands. They beat at the air like wings; Ma’s were faster, more emphatic than Da’s. He turned to me, smiled, then held out a hand in a waving flower pattern, as though to calm her. I understood they were fighting about me and Da did not want me to see. In the flavor of his love, I knew he did not ever want to hurt me. Ma did not, either, but her worries were much more complex. I began crying again, but not for the pain of my hand, but because I had done something to make her sad.
Tinkle, twitter, and tines
I’d grown enough that my parents let me go outside alone sometimes, and that’s when I heard it. Someone had left a pitchfork erect in the wind, and as the air passed through it, a light whing could be heard. A clatter of a tile on the roof drew my attention, then a bird chittered at me with curiosity. I giggled, and marveled at my own laughing sound. I’d never heard it before.
Picking up a stick, I began whacking it on boulders, trees, old cars, and box carts laying around the yard. The difference in the music it made astounded me. Inside was quiet. Outside, there was music everywhere! I picked up two pieces of glass from one of the broken cars and struck them lightly together. The resulting ping was like fairies dancing in the wind on shoes of pure light. I closed my eyes and listened, then tried to do it with my voice. I failed, but laughed at my attempt.
A sudden wave of heat overcame me and I jerked to awareness. My mother stood at the doorway, watching me as though I were crazy—her hands demanding in no uncertain terms that I return to the house immediately.
I listened to the last call of the wind and promised to come back later. Knew I’d teach myself to sing its gentle songs.
In time, in secret, I taught myself the music of the earth and its creatures, and had only recently realized the rhythm in all things. It was a breakthrough moment, a dimensional blossoming that lifted my spirits and awareness. I began yearning for others who shared my secret and hidden abilities.
A doctor came to see me. I knew he was a doctor because of the smell of anesthetic and the authoritative stride. When he spoke to my parents using his hands my eyes widened in pretended ignorance, however, my vocabulary was much larger than my parents knew. I’d been forced to learn ahead because of the strange motions the others always made around me. In addition to words like “monster,” “alien,” “idiot,” and “weird,” I’d learned terms like “abnormal,” “procedure,” and “mutant.” So after the doctor looked me over, pausing for quite a long time to study my ears, I knew when he crafted his hands to say “horned beast.” My mother began crying and her hands expressed her fear and concern. He reassured her that I could be normal, would be normal, and that neither I nor the other children would be able to tell what I had once been. There would be no repercussion. He explained that I must be a genetic throwback to a time before evolution, for there were myths about people like me. He opened a large book he’d brought, and showed her some drawings. He explained that even though my horns were lower than those in the book, and appeared softer, they could only be horns and, in his professional opinion, and due to his allegiance to the medical profession and law, there was only one thing he could do.
Even though I knew the words, I was still too young to understand all the implications. Still, the threat drove me to cover my ears with my hands and run from the house to a creek about a mile away. I sat by the creek and listened to the music tinkle as the birds sang, and the wind spoke to me in a gentle whisper. “Don’t worry,” it said.
When I returned, my mother hugged me and gave me a large glass of milk. As it worked its way into my stomach, tense with foreboding, I waited for the Joy, but instead received a dark pressure over my eyes and mind, until I drifted into a songless sleep.
The bandages bunched over my head, where my ears had been, prevented me from lying otherwise than flat on my back. My mother came into the room, and it startled me because I hadn’t heard her. And although I strained, nothing was audible but the gray sound of memory. Her hands waved a hello in the air as she said she’d heard me awaken. The greeting was warm and sad, but I waved back. It seemed odd, but it wasn’t until that moment that I realized my parents couldn’t hear, not at all, not one little bit. I hadn’t heard her come in, yet she’d heard me awaken. How could that be?
She explained the sense to me. It was like hearing, but with the skin instead. She explained slowly, as though to a handicapped child, which I guess I was. “There is a layer of beauty,” she said, “that feeds all living and non-living things. This layer is the source of all life and you can connect with it. When we are connected, we sense and feel all that goes on around us. The beauty is bright or dark, riddled with waves and vibrations. When you are connected, you walk in Beauty. You live in Joy. You’ve felt it sometimes, haven’t you?”
“Like when you and Da love me?”
She seemed a little tense that I was so slow to grasp.
“Maybe a little.”
“But how did you know I was awake?”
“I felt your eyelashes flicker and a gentle vibration touched my cheek.” She smiled and held my hand. “Just like when we sign and send signals to each other. They move through the air and bless us with meaning. I know you sign well.”
I began to cry and reached up to touch where my ear had been.
She pulled my hand to her lips and kissed it. “Gone,” she said. “But now you are normal and the teasing will stop.”
A wad of grief worked up from someplace where the milk could never reach and I ripped my hand back, then blurted. “But I don’t want to be normal! I want to sing!”
I knew she couldn’t make out the last word as I had made it up myself. She reached out to stroke my face, and her hand felt the tears. Her fingers followed their path gently to my eye and she looked puzzled. She squeezed the tears between fingertips unaccustomed to something so coarse, so in tune was she to the delicate currents of Beauty and Joy.
She went away, then, and for three days I fought it. On the fourth day, I tried to find the Beauty that she had described, to see what she saw. To hear what she heard.
The Doctor Returns
I returned to school and the children ignored me at first, until the places where my ears had been dug from my head healed. I expected that I would then be accepted, even though I fallen behind in class some.
When I turned thirteen, my mother and father asked me to be seated on the couch, and I waited there expecting a present. I wasn’t sure what it might be, but my mood was playful, just as theirs was secretive.
When they returned, the doctor was again with them and carrying a large book. He seated himself next to me, after politely asking if it would be all right. I signed that it was.
He opened the book on the coffee table and took my fingers in his. All the books in school were in Braille, and this one was no different. But, unlike the ones in school, this one had pictures, also in Braille.
Moving my hand, he guided it to read the paragraph to the right of a picture, but I didn’t need to use my fingers. He insisted that I do, so I faked it.
It was a picture of a rare malady which, he said, I had also acquired with my horns. And although removal of the horns had made me almost normal, my parents had only just saved enough money for the second procedure. I stared at him with wonder and dread, as he touched my eyes, gently. First my right, then my left.
I stared at the earless, eyeless head of the doctor and understood. I wasn’t sure, however, how much more Joy I could take.
A right of passage in blossoming spirituality leaves a young girl in wonder. Can she become who she was born to be? Can she step into the beauty that encompasses all? This sci-fi thriller twists perspectives into shrinking dimensions.