“It’s really about the trans fight.” ~ Anonymous
In that moment many things happened at once, because Oracion sometimes saw and heard many things, all at the same time.
Though she could not yet understand them as simultaneously as her brilliant companions could, Oracion hoped in time (when she had grown just a little bit younger) her mind would be as clear as Alacrity’s – and her thoughts as fast as Velocity’s – but that time was not now.
She was well aware of the priest’s snake, that she knew he fondly called Onion, as it hissed and slithered out of the open bedside drawer. The snake was raised up in an instant, as if suddenly balanced on the tip of tiny feet, that were somewhere hidden but now emerging at the base of a still undulating tail. In that instant Oration also observed Onion’s fangs, the tongue, and two small fetus size bulges packaged within the snake’s body – one in mortal stillness, but the other still slightly moving (Oracion realized in horror) and trying to get out.
Oracion also noticed a flash of light about the fat snake’s neck, which registered meaningfully as her own diamond bracelet, constricting the poor snake’s breathing, but preventing Onion’s expulsion of dinner. She drew back and screamed an inaudible scream – as the snake tried to strike at her face, even though Oracion did not really scream in fright. She screamed more in anger for that which the old priest was using the snake.
For since night was like day to Oracion, and although she knew what she saw during her travels was real and had real meaning, she also knew her guides and her Father would always protect her, even from snake venom. The danger was never real. Therefore her scream was more a horrified outcry against evil and the horror of everything she saw and now knew to be true, rather than one of sudden fright – or personal defense. The castle chanters were singing “decoy” anyway – to inform her there was something else she must look at (though the word sounded more like a silent chime, as their words always did in this venue) even as Oracion was also made aware her scream, however silent as she was invisible, had been heard in the chambers below.
She was made aware of this because in that same instant she heard men in heavy boots pounding ominously, as they ran up the stairs.
The fact that the wicked priest seemed to hear what was silent was more significant to her in this moment than the fact that his guards now ran up the stairs with murderous intent, and it was this fact that did mystify – and somewhat frighten her. For hearing what was silent was reserved to the shape shifters and to her Father’s people, not to those whose business was soul murder.
But nonetheless, even as Oracion struggled with her desire to help the second baby out of the snake’s body, and knew that second baby was also her (in some mysterious way), Velocity laid an invisible hand on Oracion’s own invisible hand. In the next instant she was transported to the evil priest’s closet, as if in hiding from the angry men with the monstrously loud boots.
If the old priest had stolen the secret to hear silent things, had he also obtained secrets to see secrets as well? Could he find Oracion here?
Could that be even possible?
Though the enemies had seen shape shifters in various formula and format, the shape shifters were the only ones left that Oracion knew of, to see reality for what it actually was.
To the pathetic wicked priest, when he could see her, at least as far as Oracion could tell, she would always just be the deeply disturbing garden nymph, with wild eyes, too pale skin and a cloud of black hair, the one he had cast off into the forest for being too intelligent. He probably had fantasized that the girl would be taken in by the other commoners he had banished from his kingdom, and somehow, as if through what he viewed as a lower, less than pristine class contamination, forget everything she had seen within the castle walls.
How could the old priest actually see or understand who Oracion really was, when he did not even deem her human, or understand how she could be present when his tap dripped, babies cried, or even when he had flash backs to his own mother, hundreds of years ago, screaming at him for some imagined offense?
But while in the closet Oracion sensed, if not smelled, the unmistakable odor of long decayed flesh, it was so dark that Oracion could no longer see anything either. The priest’s closet engulfed her like a sickening tomb.
She could feel around with her hands, however, and though what she felt disturbed her much, it suddenly made her see clearer than she had been ever been able to before.
Alacrity was whispering something silently into her ear that sounded like “Fuhrer” then “bioethics” even as Oracion was hearing the voices of booted men, perhaps a woman, and some other visitors (good or bad she could not tell) right on the other side of the door.
“ok, Miss Spider…” a voice began.
Oracion felt skeletons hanging from hangers, their little bony feet knocking and clicking against her back, as Oracion found a place to crouch, making her own body very little by kneeling on the floor.
“they found her…has a business now…probably should have stayed away”
The bodies must have been stacked together and compacted quite tightly in this closet, pressed together to get in as many hanging skeletons as possible. Surely they could not have been all of this one priest’s kill Oracion thought, as her small movements disengaged a sprinkling of loose toes from several dry, ancient feet, but this clink, clink, clink of the bones, apparently, the outsiders could not hear at all. The men continued their chatter, as if they were women gossiping about the next door neighbor, not soldiers with guns in front of a closet containing ancient bones.
“very sincerely misguided. It’s like getting a tongue lashing from a snake…all of her comments are crazy…starving children can’t talk…standing up”
But at Oracion’s own feet, another type of body lay… lifeless, but still warm.
A little girl, around seven or eight.
Oracion felt the small, still, familiar hands of the child, and her familiar, round cherubic face, the cloud of tangled hair as soft as she could imagine the silk threads of the blouse of a madonna, and impossible ever to comb… while the most brutal pain of all and heavy understanding suddenly settled on Oracion’s heart.
Would she die an eighteenth death at this moment, in an evil priest’s closet, just so she would understand, with dangling skeletons above her, and her third beloved fairy godmother, dead at her feet?
“I don’t know what to tell ya…her father called the judge. The North Door ceremony, over expenses, music… accomplished. I realize depression – but the only possibility is a mixed seed”
Oracion wept bitterly, holding the poor, lifeless body of Chagrin in her arms.
“the only thing to do…threats, sticks, making stars…hey, what are we waiting for…you know in theory his father’s outbursts pre determine dream obsessions, an isolated bath…maybe the tin man did what he did because she wouldn’t even get a book – a false prophet, to deceive the elect…”
“Father, be with me!” Oracion shouted, no longer able to bear this moment, but fearing the next – her rightful anger and love for Chagrin suddenly igniting into a desperate urgency, and so of course, Oracion’s surroundings changed once again, instantaneously.
She was back in her forest home with Alacrity and Velocity, and Oracion was running through the leaves and sticks and underbrush to find where she had put her most innocent Chagrin down to sleep earlier in the evening, on a blanket of warm winter edelweiss.
There was another moment of excruciating grief and understanding in The Seeing.
For all daughters who see, also grieve. And all mothers who see, also grieve.
It was seeing the child motionless, the child that was at the same time Oracion’s child, and at the same time her fairy godmother, as still as that first motionless baby within the snake’s body, that ripped another bloody sword into the center of Oracion’s heart. For she had to look to see if she could ascertain the gentle rising up and down of the child’s chest, to see if there was any life left, but Oracion knew the moment of death had just arrived, when she had arrived on the scene.
For in that same instance, the moment Chagrin’s chest ceased all movement, the child was already shifting into her new form, and breathing life’s breath once again.
Chagrin was an even younger child now, her hair a prettier and paler shade than the paleness of that winter moon, and her eyes brighter than the sparkling diamonds in a once treasured wristlet band. For what these eyes had seen while asleep and would always see now, was what Oracion could sometimes see as well, or at least intuit – the Constant Presence, the Father Made Known, Who lived where He Would – to be with them always.
“I never left your side” she finally heard His Voice say in a voice that rang out though silent, like a loud crashing waterfall, in answer to the helpless cry she had shouted out to Him in the priest’s bedroom closet.
Chagrin’s laughter rang out as well and echoed merrily, like a sweet musical note ringing loud and clear and finally free throughout the forest. And as the child sat up and reached her arms out to Oracion, Oracion beheld in them the gift of a small bouquet of edelweiss, clutched in a hand.
But Oracion knew she was no longer Chagrin anymore.
“Mother,” Chagrin called her, for the first time ever.
“I am finally Joy.”