Category Archives: innocence

Whatever is Needed of Me

[short story, by Sha’Tara]
 
She knows the end has come.  Abandoning her crude, water-logged dugout canoe to float away with other logs down the muddy stream, she runs up a sandy,  wet grass-covered bank to the willow line.  There she stands quietly, looking in the stagnant waters of a woodland pond, the rusty grasses now barely standing and at the raspy curling leaves from dying trees all around.  The breeze carries the smell of death, the stench of a dying god somewhere beyond the hills where lie the remains of a city.
 
Taking a deep breath she casts off the rest of her ragged clothing and raising her arms to the rust-colored skies she cries out, “Whatever is needed of me I am willing to give.”
 
At the sound of her voice, or at the power of her words, the waters of the pond stir and rise in a dirty waterspout.  Several of the dying trees twist and turn to each other and morph into a dark form.  The spout and the dark entity merge and there, in front of the naked young human stands an enormous man, or rather a nature-being morphed to resemble a human male.  He changes his size until he stands only some two feet taller than the trembling girl.  The ground shakes as he walks to her.
 
In a voice that echoes far away across the river and into the hills he says, “Who awakens the Woda entering the great sleep of the world?” 
 
The silence following his words is even more deafening to the girl.  Yet she replies boldly, “It is I who calls.  I wish to continue. I do not choose for this to be the end.”
 
The nature giant moves closer to her and he pierces her with his eyes.  She does not flinch but waits, lowering her arms but raising her head, bringing her firm breasts up for him to look upon.  He reaches for her and embraces her.  She gasps as he takes her and feels herself being filled with new life.  Instantly she knows she is carrying his child, their child.  She offered, she accepts, she waits for him to explain.
 
“You now possess the redeemer body and within you are two beings: a man and a woman.  To these twins you will give birth and you shall care for them until they are of age to look after themselves, after which you shall be free again.  During this time of gestation and rearing you belong to us, to this world and to them.  You must remember this.”
 
He touches her nipples and again she feels that current of new life coursing through her. 
 
He speaks again: “I have given you the power to bring forth the sacred milk of the goddess.  Your breasts will never run dry as long as you feed the twins.  To the boy-man you must give your left breast and to the girl-woman your right.  Know now and always remember that these beings are not as you would think, brother and sister, but the parents of a new species of Earth humans.  Now go.  Do not return to your kind for they will sense this new life in you and in fear they will kill you and your unborn.  Go into the mountains, into the setting sun.  There you will find caves to live in.  Find water flowing from within the stones and it will be pure for you.  Food you will gather from the green things that grow around you.  Fear not.  You offered freely and without conditions.  This means you are a powerful woman of Earth.  We would not have listened to anyone else.  Now go.”
 
Though she senses it is hopeless to ask, she does anyway: “Will you not come with me and help me?  Shall I live alone in the mountains and among the rocks and give birth without help?  How can I possibly do this?  I am on the wrong side of the river.  How do I escape to the mountains?  And why can I not remember my name?”
 
“We are leaving; you chose to remain.  So we gave you the gift of continuing life in response to your offer.  Be thankful.  In your many lives here you learned how to do all the things now required of you.  Just remember.  The river you must swim as you have watched deer and coyote swim it for many years.  You know this.  Rocks you know how to climb.  Green things you understand.  Giving birth alone you have done.  You have no name because in accepting our gift to you, you became “Other.”  You are Mother and Redeemer.  Only when they give you a new name will you have a name.  Or when you are free of them you can return to your own names.
 
“Banish your fear as you cast off your ragged clothes, it is an old, useless shadow.  During this time do not seek company of anyone for any company that joins with you will die in your arms, adding to your burden and your sorrow.  You cannot help any of them except by completing this journey.
 
The rumbling of his final words were to her as the noise of a waterfall: “Remember this: at the end of this journey you shall find bliss.”

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Armageddon: of Plots and Counter-plots

[a short story by Sha’Tara ]

“Mr. Chairman, there is one item remaining on this year’s agenda which I think should be considered before we adjourn for another century.”

The heavy-set, red-robed man at the head of the table nods imperceptibly and looks over the table with an undisguised bored expression.

“Very well, get on with it then.”

“Gentlemen, we are in the business of publishing best sellers on contract and I have here the contract for Yahu regarding the Earthian trilogy. It appears he hasn’t written a best seller in over 2000 years of his Earth time. We’ve made several inquiries about his intentions lately but without results. I have taken the liberty of having him present himself here today to explain why he has failed to fulfil his end of the agreement with this House and what he intends to do about it.”

The portly red-robed chairman nods in agreement. “Send him in, send him in.” He waves at the massive door in the side of the meeting chamber.

The door opens and a gnomish gray-robed shifty-eyed character with long white hair and beard enters and smiles at the gathering. No one greets him but the secretary who ushers him to a chair.

“Are you the same Yahu who claimed in his book to be the God of Earth?”

“That I most certainly am,” replies the wizened character with a quavering voice. “I Am that I Am.”

“Yeah well, so you say. Some 5000 Earth years ago you entered into a contract with us to write a trilogy about the creation, fall and termination of some world in your sector. We gave you the advance in power to manifest the ingredients required of your books. You delivered a very lengthy and repetitive but fortunately very violent Part One that contained enough murder, greed, sexual perversion, racism, slavery, misogyny and genocidal mania to easily rise to the top of our best seller list for over a thousand years.

Then you sent us a stultified Part Two in a very abridged and staid format that would have gotten nowhere had our editors not insisted it be tied to and weaved into Part One.

For Part Three you gave us a brief synopsis entitled “Revelation” but we are still waiting for that denouement. No action and no revelation. You are in breach of contract with this great Galactic Publishing house. Have you given thought as to how you are going to fulfil your agreements with us or do we need to bring legal action to recoup our losses?”

The wizened character stands up and wipes his brow with his over-sized sleeve. His voice quavers even more now.

“Please, don’t be so hasty!  Yes, I realize I made you all wait a bit long for the third part but it’s been very tough making this ending plausible. I mean, it was easy enough imaging the critters, evil spirit dudes and violent multitudes I mentioned in my blurb. Also you should know that I was rather busy at the time and I had a trainee write that part. I should have read it before it was sent to you but I was too absorbed observing (and abetting) some spectacular developments in an old empire of the time. I had several contracts to complete lesser books on that affair, which do not legally enter this discussion.

“To make a long story short – I don’t want to bore our illustrious chairman – I’ve taken steps to activate that Part Three on Earth. I’m sure that with our current developments of weapons of mass destruction, the fears around new diseases, global warming, overpopulation, wars over depleted resources and the utter, almost incredible, ignorance and overt incompetence of most of that world’s leadership, that a plausible scenario can be set in motion to satisfy the requirements my agents signed with your firm. Not only will there be a book but all of the action will be on video and made available to publish as a mini-series which shall appropriately be entitled “Armageddon.” I can assure this august assembly that our work won’t fail to entertain even the most blasé of your readers. It is guaranteed to be a box-office winner. You’ll be able to buy entire planets with your profits, gentlemen, you have my Word on that.

“What exactly are we talking about here, you’re wondering? Imagine: the total destruction of an entire world, its satellite and its “heaven” in real time. Imagine this: global war, famines, infectious diseases. Rampaging armies of mercenaries raping, looting, burning and killing unarmed innocents by the millions, year in, year out for as long as there remains life to destroy. Religious bigotry running rampant. Total lawlessness, or as they put it there, the law of the jungle in spades. Billions dead and dying of causes yet unknown. A sun going super-nova and a moon melting down upon a planet. My guarantee to you gentlemen is this: there will be no special effects. Everything the videos and accompanying best seller depict will be exactly as it unfolds. You will see it in real time, exactly as it happens. That, gentlemen, is the script I and my trusty group of shadow-writers, technicians and engineers, have been working on for 2000 Earthian years. You will find it was well worth the costs and the wait.

“How can you be so certain of the denouement, Yehu? That’s a mighty big set-up, even for one like yourself. Intelligent creatures possess a mind of their own.”

“Gentlemen, do not, ever, make the mistake of ignoring the Earthian mind’s predictability. I programmed them, remember? They will respond on cue, make no mistake. I repeat, make no mistake about that. They will believe, they will kill and they will die, heroes and martyrs in their own minds even while committing the most atrocious of crimes. We have already begun to trigger their atavism in that respect and the results exceed expectations. This is win-win.

“Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to stir the pot some more. I must return to a current political seat of power called “The White House” where the ignoramus’s in charge actually believe they worship me. I need to get their sensibilities inflamed to expand that war in the Middle East (don’t worry about these locations, they mean nothing to the actual story, just collateral damage to help us set the scene) and bring the Powers of the West ever closer to a final confrontation with the Powers of the East. You want a Revelation? I’ll give you the mother of all Revelations! I’m bringing you Armageddon!”

He departs with a flourish. He knows his Earthian humans and there is not a doubt in his mind at that point that he will create his masterpiece from the destruction of Earth. It had always been his plan to complete his trilogy thus but he had been stymied by those who claimed he was plagiarizing them and forced to put the work on hold time and again. But those who stood in his way, he had finally triumphed over: the Communists; the Socialists; the Anarchists; Atheists and Pagans and assorted others. Hardly anyone published them or read them any more. Even the new high priests of Science were beginning to “see his hand” in the movement of sub-atomic particles even if they didn’t use his name… yet. And now with his ironclad under the table agreement with his once avowed enemy, Mammon, (Capitalism for the uninitiated) the timing couldn’t be better.

The scales had tipped once more. The people clamoured for his kind of entertainment, even if it meant he’d be using their blood to write the grand finale. The sweet irony! Oh, how he hated the stinking, short-lived whining creatures. Prayers! Prayers for parking spaces and hangnails! Prayers for sick dogs, dead budgies and weeds in the lawn. Prayers for deliverance and salvation: well that last part was his own fault, he’d unintentionally, in a fit of anger, brought that on himself with a promise which he had then used to write Part Two of his trilogy. Live and learn hey, unlike the creatures he was about to annihilate in long, drawn-out bloodshed! They won’t learn, not ever, he’d made sure of that.

“Kill them all: God will know those who are his!”

“Damn, I just LOVE that line!” He says under his breath with his best sardonic smile as he settles back in his containment field for his trip to Earth, all but rubbing his hands in anticipation and glee.

Denos

[a short story,   by Sha’Tara]

In the Imperium, all the way back to the “old planet” (Earth as some still call it) the Princedom, or Kingdom, or world, or planet, whichever happens to be the most convenient political handle of the times, of Denos is known for a single product: it’s agricultural output in terms of crops. Cereals grow on Denos as if the whole planet had been designed but for the purpose of growing them. Well, not too surprising as in many ways Denos resembles the Great Plains of the Americas of Earth, or the Steppes of the new Russian Empire. There are no mountains on Denos, just plains cut through by hungry rivers inhabiting deep canyons. The rivers feed large fresh water lakes which in turn feed massive cloud banks that endlessly circle the world and feed storms. There are no seas or salt deposits. Whatever salt is required for the health of Denos’ 1.5 million inhabitants has to be imported. All Denosians of necessity are vegans: there are no animals and no predators on the planet and what there is of insect life exists within the soils and takes care of its own balancing.

Why would people choose such a bleak world to establish a human civilization upon, one could well wonder. The obvious, of course, is that Delos did not pose any problem as there was no sentient life the first humans and their sensors could detect. The main point however was caused by the diaspora from the old planet. Overpopulation, despite Draconian laws to control births, led to other even more repressive forms of population control by the Hegemon, the global dictatorship under which all nations fell and to which all owed fealty. Gulags, prison camps, culling of undesirables and the encouragement of genocide had contributed to rebel forces of scientists, engineers, farmers, doctors and teachers to form underground associations and deep under the Ural mountains and some parts of the Rockies under what had been known as the state of Colorado, beyond the reach of the Hegemon police, laboratories and plants were built and from these came the first real manned space craft to shoot out beyond the solar system to discover new worlds where humanity could once again seek the freedom to express itself as it chose. As the Hegemon weakened and broke apart to become the Imperium, the diaspora was legitimized and hundreds of thousands of Earthians headed out into space. Thus one ship came upon Denos and the spacers discovered its potential. Permanent settlements were established.

It is winter now in the Western hemisphere. The plains, devoid of crops, stand out stark, grey and sere. Today a steady easterly wind blows through the stubble. In a field that stretches to beyond the horizon, sheltered by a massive combine being drained and serviced, to remain in the field until needed again for the next harvest, three men, or rather if one looks closer, a man, a woman and a youth who could be either male or female, are clustered by one of the giant back wheels of the machine. The man is smoking a kind of odd looking pipe; the woman and youth are sharing a meal packed in a bucket. Their break over, the three return to inspection, draining of fluids and cleaning of various parts of the combine. It seems obvious they are taking their task very seriously.

As they are intent upon their work a dark grey bank of clouds is rising from the north and spreading over the land. The sun disappears in the clouds and the youth calls out to the others, warning them, or asking them, about something. Both adults stretch themselves to stand looking upon the coming storm. The wind turns into a gale in a tween (the equivalent of 20 minutes on the old planet) and the three humans hunker down on the opposite side, using the big machine as temporary shelter. Their low-lying, mostly below ground shelter, or home, lies a good league away and they know there is no walking in this “norther”. It would pick them up and throw them about like ball weeds (imagine a tumbleweed, only three times the size) should they risk the open.

The howling of the wind over and around the combine becomes deafening. Dry lightning crackles, throwing lurid streaks of reddish glow over the flats, here and there igniting fires that flare, then die as fast as they are lit. Now one can understand why there are no trees either in Denos: the fierce winds would reduce any tree to kindling in minutes.

The woman yells over the noise, “What if it hits the fuel tanks, Jord?” The man shakes his head as if to say, don’t even think about it. In a lull from the violence and noise of the storm, the youth suggests they just ride the combine to their home and return it to the field once the storm is over.

“You know the law as does everyone, Keela. We are not permitted to use County resources for personal use. We cannot use the machine, not even if we had the mayor’s permission.”

“We will die here if we do nothing, dad… mom? I promise to drive the machine back to the field as soon as the wind dies down!”

They discuss the risks, which seem small, that they would be spotted with the machine. In a moment they are aboard and driving to their home as the storm redoubles its strength as if intent on blowing the combine over.

Sometimes in the early morning the storm finally dies down. Keela dresses and goes outside to drive the monster back to the field only to encounter five members of the local Guardia, two inspecting the machine and three coming towards her and the house. Keela’s fear causes her to fall to the ground to be picked up, manacled and thrown in the back of another machine. Soon she is joined by both her mother and father.

There is a trial, of course, let it not be said that these people have no understanding of justice, or that they do not have a proper system to administer such. Images are shown of the combine dwarfing the abode of the Tanners. They are read the law, at which point Mrs. Tanner begs for her daughter to be spared. “She had nothing to do with this, it was Jord and I who made the decision to use the machine to save our lives, please!”

The presiding “judge” sneers as he turns to the three member “jury” and says, “The evidence shows otherwise. The youth was observed and arrested as she went to the machine, thus she is as culpable of theft as her parents. Our guilty verdict applies to all three.”

“God, no! She is only fourteen. Have some mercy!”

“Sentence for theft of County equipment and resources: death by firing squad, to be carried out immediately. This hearing is closed.”

So, under a bright and calm day, near the flag pole where a red and black flag proclaiming a free Denos moves languidly, the three are executed and their bodies hung on poles as a warning to others. They will hang there until the winds of Free Denos tear off their flesh and scatters their bones to disappear in the soil.

By decree, the Tanners’ home and significant properties will be added to the County’s growing number of lands reclaimed from “criminals.” There are no prisons, on Denos.

The Simplicity and Power of Innocence

[short story, by Sha’Tara]

“Come over here, look down in the garden. Listen.”

The older woman sitting in the rocking chair gets up slowly and holding on to her cup of tea, comes over and looks. In the garden a small child, a girl, is playing among rows of carrots and beets. She holds a doll in one arm and as she passes her free hand over the carrot tops, she addresses her doll,

“We can’t pull these up yet you know, they haven’t grown enough. Just like you, they are just too young. But it’s OK to caress their hair, they like that. When the sun goes down you and I will water them, just like my momma says.  I’m your momma now, so you have to do what I tell you, see?”

The two women at the open window can hear every word the child speaks to her doll. The woman who had been standing at the window watching the child has tears in her eyes.

“Did you hear, Ellie? She called me her momma. I have a child, finally.  She needs me and she trusts me. Isn’t that amazing?”

The older woman replies, “It is amazing in a way Viv, yet not. Where would the child be now if you hadn’t taken her off the streets when you did last year?  And how could you not? As you so graphically described it to me then, you found her sitting on the ground beside a garbage can, holding her dead mother’s hand and crying, begging her mother to wake up. Dear God Viv, who would not be moved by such a sight and such a need?”

“And yet Ellie, what I did, what I am doing, is illegal! All I know of her family is that her mother died of a drug overdose and there was no record of a child. The fringe dwellers, Ellie.  The homeless, the lost and forgotten. What a terrible, unconscionable mess we are making of everything.”

But out of that mess is that child, Viv.”

“I know. Yet for several days after I took the child in I was filled with blind hatred for her mother.  How could she?  How could a mother choose her own lusts over the needs of her child, if indeed it was her child? So I told myself the girl wasn’t hers but a waif she had been paid to look after. Who knows?

“Now I worry. What happens when I have to report her to the authorities if or when she needs medical attention? When she has to attend school? God, look at her.  Just look at that beautiful innocence. Will they let me keep her? Adopt her? I’m so scared Ellie. Even if I can comfortably support both of us on my income, I live alone and I am forty-five years old! How can I guarantee I can keep her?”

“You worry too much Viv. Not all bureaucrats are heartless creeps. We must, we will, find people familiar with this sort of situation who will be empathetic and able to help with the legal difficulties. I’m not without means either, Viv. I know people and when you are ready to go public, as I assured you a year ago, I will be there for you.

“If everything else fails, I have worked out a plausible scenario for us all.  If they won’t let you adopt her, Nicholas and I will. We’ve discussed it and he’s in full agreement. Then we will become one family and you will have her.  She will take your name, live with you and we will continue to be grandpa and grandma. You will always be her mom. Do you see a problem with that?”

Viv wipes her face, sighs and taking her eyes away from “her” child, turns to face her old friend. “No one could have a better friend than you, Ellie. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Yes, I have been, I am, I will be your good friend. But when we register her, what shall we call her?”

I’ve been calling her Nicole. She seems to have a particular attachment to that name. It could even be her real name.”

Is there a Collective Unconscious and a Collective Dream?


[thoughts from ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara

(Introduction) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Collective unconscious (German: kollektives Unbewusstes), a term coined by Carl Jung, refers to structures of the unconscious mind which are shared among beings of the same species. According to Jung, the human collective unconscious is populated by instincts and by archetypes: universal symbols such as The Great Mother, the Wise Old Man, the Shadow, the Tower, Water, the Tree of Life, and many more.

Jung considered the collective unconscious to underpin and surround the unconscious mind, distinguishing it from the personal unconscious of Freudian psychoanalysis. He argued that the collective unconscious had profound influence on the lives of individuals, who lived out its symbols and clothed them in meaning through their experiences. The psychotherapeutic practice of analytical psychology revolves around examining the patient’s relationship to the collective unconscious.

Psychiatrist and Jungian analyst Lionel Corbett argues that the contemporary terms “autonomous psyche” or “objective psyche” are more commonly used today in the practice of depth psychology rather than the traditional term of the “collective unconscious.”[1]

Critics of the collective unconscious concept have called it unscientific and fatalistic, or otherwise very difficult to test scientifically (due to the mythical aspect of the collective unconscious).[2] Proponents suggest that it is borne out by findings of psychology, neuroscience, and anthropology. [end of Wikipedia introduction]


In a recent post I wrote about an interesting dream I had involving certain “symbolic characters” currently much in the collective mind: Donald Trump as president of the USA, his press secretary, KellyAnn Conway, and the White House represented by a “Black House” in the dream.

Since, I have met one other person who had a similar dream on or about the same time I did, involving Donald Trump asking for help. 

In the comments section of my article, Katharine Otto  ( https://katharineotto.wordpress.com/ ) wrote: “Sha’Tara,  Your dream has been working on me since I wrote the above, and I do indeed believe you are functioning as a catalyst. I believe Trump is also a catalyst, in that he is rattling so many cages, but he can’t control outcomes. The outcome (or outcomes) depends on how we as Earthians deal with the changes. We do have the opportunity to uplevel individual and group experiences, maybe with a little help from our more evolved, extra-terrestrial friends, whoever or whatever they may be.

Maybe in a group-dreaming mode, we can dream up some visions of the kind of society we would like to inhabit.

Is there a collective unconscious (or objective psyche) and could this involve a kind of collective dreaming involving those free-er minds no longer bound by belief systems as promoted by organized religion or atheistic scientific materialism?  That somewhere between these antagonistic extremes exists a subtle reality preventing extremism from totally destroying a living sphere; a reality that dreamers can access and input into, thus adding to its power to dampen or control volatile conditions brought on by excessive greed and predatory lust leading to insatiable appetites for the predators; fear and uncertainty for their victims?

The “Teachers” warned me time and again not to embroil myself into the physical struggle for balance in the worlds of religion, politics and money.  They cautioned me not to “take sides” by exercising my voting “rights” as all such moves reveal a sense of powerlessness on my part and a gloating on the part of the enemy. 

Recently I compared the political processes world-wide as a game of snakes and ladders.  “They” cast the dice, we walk the line only to rise, then fall in turn.  “They” are the gamers, we the pawns.  Thus it always was, thus it always will be, until perhaps, as Katherine points out, more and more of us are drawn into the dream, expanding that gentle realm until the extremes dry out from lack of food. What is the extremist’s food? Violence.

The lesson of non-involvement through detachment is harsh and apparently pointless.  The dreamers are the conchies or conscientious objectors, not just to war, but towards all forms of violence.  All violence is always, without exception, an extreme counter life force.  All types of competitive behaviour is based in violence, like it or not.  Is voting then a from of violence? Yes it is because it’s a competition, a vicious game.  It is a religion, the  support of one’s particular “household gods” in the hope that they will bring peace, or if not, then the defeat of the enemy, whatever and whomever that enemy is – in politics, religion or finance there is always an enemy and all of it results in competitive behaviour and that always results in victimization, suppression, oppression, marginalization and often the genocide of innocent victims.

Who is the enemy of religion, politics and finance? The answer is obvious: me, if I dare become an individual who refuses to offer innocent sacrifices on the altars of oppressive and oppressing “divinities”.  Me, the self empowered who dares enter into the collective unconscious dream and therein draw off power from death-dealing structures to engender new life.  From this place I am neither heroine nor victim: I just am. 

A Touch of Home

[a short story –  by Sha’Tara

“Beautiful day, huh?” The slim brunette in the sleeveless black pantsuit doesn’t even look at Steven as she pours the coffee into the ornate, obviously home-made mug and hands it to him, taking his “toonie”[*] and two quarters for payment. He waves the change and walks to the window, to the only small table left unoccupied. He sips the hot dark roast and scans through his paper.

As many experts at reading the once bulky commercial dailies will tell you, there’s a certain art to this, one I’ve never bothered learning. You don’t actually read news or stories. You go through it page by page taking mental notes of relevant items to get into later. You skip the fashion, cars and trucks, and entertainment or sports sections if these are not your thing. Later, during your next break or back at home, you attack the pieces you hope will hold your interest long enough to provide a “shift” or a time of forgetting.

“Mind if I sit here?” A tall man in a grey suit points at the only seat left in the entire Java Hut coffee house.

“Not at all.” Steven points to the empty rattan chair. “I don’t own the place although at the prices they charge here I should have shares in it by now.”

The tall man sits down, puts his paper cup down. “If you don’t like these prices why don’t you go to Tim Horton’s down the street?”

“And do line-ups? I value my time. Beside I like to be able to taste coffee, not just hot water and sugar.”

“Ah, the very reason I frequent this establishment. Interesting mug you have there. Your own, obviously?”

“You’re either a lawyer or an investigator, sir!”

The grey suit laughs. “I do a bit of both actually; lawyering and sleuthing that is. I have a traffic case at 11:00 today as a matter of fact. Can’t really discuss it, you understand. But that mug is fascinating. It has a story: I can almost hear it speak.”

“A touch of home, sir, uh, ah?”

“Sorry. Al. My name is Albert Delisle, attorney at law and at large.” He laughs again and extends a strong tanned hand, impeccably manicured. Steven extends his and the handshake is firm, almost too eager; the grip of a professional golfer.

Steven continues, “I’ve had this mug for twelve years now as of yesterday. My daughter Katherine made it in a pottery class she was taking as an extra-curricular activity in her last year of school…” Steven stops talking and holds the fading white odd-shaped mug with both hands, hands of a man old before his time. Tears begin to flow from his eyes and the lawyer touches his arm.

“Sorry to stir up painful memories my friend, uh… no, don’t tell me your name. You must be Steven Baillie.”

Steven appears shaken and startled by the mention of his name from someone he’s never met. “That’s right. That’s my name. How did you know…?”

The lawyer stops him. “Sorry to startle you as well as upset you. If you tell me the story of this mug I’ll explain how I know your name.”

“Ah, yes. Twelve years ago my wife Jean went to pick up our daughter Susan at school to take her shopping for a grad dress. On their way home after shopping a drunk driver ploughed into the mini van. His vehicle, an old Ford 4×4 was totaled but he was thrown clear and didn’t get a scratch. My wife, they said, died on impact. Susan lived for one month of pure agony afterwards but the burns were too deep… The only thing that survived from the wreck and the inferno of the mini van was this mug. She was bringing it home for me after cleaning out her locker.”

“I’m so terribly sorry sir,” says the lawyer. “The driver of the other vehicle, his name was Gerry Felton?”

“Yes. That was his name. But how can you know this, or remember these details after such a long time?”

“Research. The man I’m defending today is that same driver. He’s charged with running over an old woman crossing the street in the dark, killing her instantly. He was driving while under the influence of alcohol and a mixture of prescription drugs. These details are in your paper.”

“I know. That’s an article I’ve been reading every day for twelve years.”

[Note: a “toonie” is a Canadian $2 coin]

O Beauty, thou art Relentless

[a sensuous meditation from ~burning woman~ ]

I drop my hands slowly to my bare thighs and gently pass them over my skin. I realize, mind fully engaged, that both, my hands’ skin and my thighs’ skin is my skin. The pleasure that arises from the touch is my pleasure, not someone else’s hand-me-down. Mine. I pleasure myself thus, as my hands, of my own free will, continue to feel me, down to my knees, then around the back, over my round buttocks, up and around my slim waist, up more, to my armpits, hairless and lightly tanned. I continue to explore this marvel of my body, moving to my throat, down, extending my fingertips lightly between my breasts, then outwardly, cupping, then gently rubbing my nipples to make them stand out, throb, hunger for a baby’s lips, adding to the effect of this beauty that is all mine.

I am not done exploring. My hands, of their own volition, move down, caressing, caressing, so gently, my fingers eagerly exploring between my legs which, as I stand on wet grass, spread out. I feel my heat there, my desire for that ‘more’ that drives ‘normal’ people to seek out another to complete the cycle.

But for me, the transgender, the androgynous, there is no need of another: I complete myself and with a loud moan of utter satisfaction, let myself fall to my knees in the grass, bending back to stare into an intense blue sky, my auburn, waist-length hair spread out under the back of my head, a living pillow of lavender scent. Up there stars without number play hide and seek and as they have all my life, invite me out to them to let them taste me.

An image of a nature creature appears in my mind, rolling over towards my knees spread in subconscious invitation. It murmurs, ‘Earth girl… earth girl… O Beauty, thou art, relentless.’ I lock the feeling in a smile so it can never be taken from me.