Category Archives: Remembering

A Star Dancer Speaks

Have you ever wondered what “listening to the voices of the dead” and “hearing the music of the spheres” have in common?

When you look in the night sky, what do you see?  Stars?  Yes, mostly stars for only stars emit enough light to travel those quasi-unfathomable distances of space to twinkle in this earth’s little firmament. 

What does that twinkling represent?  A sort of Morse code, yes?  The “spheres” talking to us, perhaps calling some of us back; reminding us that we are not utterly lost as we walk in weak finiteness on a dark non-star matter world that can only reflect a sun’s light.  For we are the star dancers, beings of eternal combustion, burning to give light, as did our ancient worlds of origin.

If you know yourself to be a star dancer, do you know the language; the music, from your starry worlds?  Do you remember any of it?  Do you know why you are here on this cold world in semi-darkness, the closest thing resembling your ancient home, that tiny ball of fusion in this world’s sky? 

Look back through your great remembrances and see the waves of migrations as your home worlds burned themselves out, leaving you orphaned, refugees scattering in the endless immensity of space.  Remember how you closed yourselves up and “died” to become seeds that would find homes – or not – here and there in the great vagaries of worlds in collision.  Remember.  Remember the unthinkable.

Eons later, through millions of transformations and mutations you find yourselves here, looking into the night sky.  It is filled with pin-pricks of light from your star worlds.  Do you hear them, their voices?  Their sad songs?  Do you realize now that what you are hearing is the voices of the dead?  Those lights, so many, are but the remnants of what were once our living worlds.  We were star beings living within our star worlds.  Then they burned out.   We did not.

We became the cast out.

We scattered, as seeds from a dandelion head, blown away in the fiery winds of their demise.  But our worlds’ light kept on its path through time.  These lights we see; these voices calling us, they are the voices of the dead, star beings; voices of our dead worlds, the wind whistling through tombstones and denuded trees in man’s graveyards.  We can never go back home again.  We must accept this. 

What we need not accept is that we are now permanent residents of cold material worlds.  We have seeded our wisdom and knowledge here and there throughout the universe.  We suffered more pain and loss than any language could ever reveal.  We re-created ourselves into semblances of quasi-intelligent life, not only to survive, but to teach.  We have seldom been accepted or welcomed; mostly doubted, held in suspicion, suppressed and killed.  Our role, if such it was, has cost us dearly.  Many of us to avoid martyrdom slipped into the predictable monotony of a matter-world’s life patterns.  We put our minds to sleep; we disconnected from our innate compassionate and empathetic nature.  We did not want to suffer anymore.  We wanted rest. 

We found death instead.

Look in the night sky again!  We are awakening!  We have a new power now, we can make new worlds suitable for us and all our kin.  We shall make those worlds to last forever.  When our children hear the songs and music of these new worlds they will be the voices of the ever-living. 

Come, let us prepare to leave this dying world and go home.   

“Stars, too, were time travelers. How many of those ancient points of light were the last echoes of suns now dead? How many had been born but their light not yet come this far? If all the suns but ours collapsed tonight, how many lifetimes would it take us to realize we were alone? I had always known the sky was full of mysteries — but not until now had I realized how full of them the earth was.”  – Ransom Riggs


     The Star Dancer

       I have no recollection of having posted this very short story.  If I did, it would have been many months ago, and “followers” have changed drastically since.  If it is a repeat for you, just ignore, although I have made some edits.  thank you.                                               

                                                               a short story by  ~ Sha’Tara ~

One could almost say she had the characteristics of a winter bird without stretching the comparison.  A killdeer on a windswept dune in December heard only after darkness covers the shores, that would describe her presence. 

Slim of build, almost translucent of skin, she could stand in perfect stillness beside a doorway and remain unseen by those passing in and out.  Generally silent, there was a quality to her voice that demanded stillness and silence.  Not from weakness nor self-pity, her way of remaining in the background was her means of allowing her to observe the world, voicing some of her thoughts little more than the occasional soft word.  She could just as easily remain alert and active for long hours without apparently tiring.  Never was she seen indulging food or drink beyond a body’s basic needs.  Her pleasure, and she radiated pleasure, did not emanate from satisfying carnal desires. 

She was not what would be called pretty, but she was truly beautiful, with the movements of a small wild animal raising its head to look inquisitively at the world; with the velvety touch of an angel.  And what to say of her attire?  She wore no makeup and draped herself in the simplest of styles, in second-hand clothes.  If asked why she didn’t spend more on herself, she’d smile, as if shyly, and shrug.  “It doesn’t go with the innocence of children,” would be the extent of her explanation on the subject. 

Certainly, the innocence of a child would have described her.  She was called naïve by some.  To that she’d reply, “Do not confuse naïvety with innocence.  I choose to remain innocent.  It is my way of counteracting the many grave faults of this man’s world.  Do not make the mistake of thinking I am unaware of what goes on here or helpless to do anything about it.”  Only then did her voice take on the severe tone of the Teacher, a tone of voice loaded with implications which none but the awakened caught.

She was an empath.  Compassionate.  When she interacted with strangers, she mostly smiled and helplessly, they would smile back at her and then at one-another.  All children who met her were attracted to her, that is until the time when their innocence was forcibly taken from them.  Then she faded from their eyes and their memory.  They will not remember her until they get old and tears will roll down their lined faces in realization of what they had encountered; what they could have learned; how much it could have changed their lives.  

There were tragedies in her life as in every life.  Through it all, she brought hope and comfort where none existed.  That was her nature — to give, not to take.  It was as if she gave her own flesh and blood to those in need.  She “fed and clothed” by what she did not spend on herself – that was one of her “open” secrets.  But with each sorrow, her translucence increased.  A dawn would come to finally dim her starlight beyond earthly recall.

It didn’t matter what they called her, I recognized her from times before time.  She was of the Star Dancers; those whose home is the infinity of the Cosmos; who scatter themselves as stardust over myriad of worlds and touch the lives of countless others.  Sadly, yes, some of us get lost and for long periods, sleep in forgetfulness.  Our memories of the Star Dancer are but myths in the conflagration of time that burns within our confused minds.

But she did come.  A speck of dust on the wind, perhaps, but she appeared on our horizon, burning off into the skies like a meteorite. 

What does that matter now that she is gone, you may well ask?  What matters is, she came, scattered a bit of magic stardust and there was joy where none was to be had; there was hope where despair had held sway. 

What matters is, I can now remember and continue to do some of what she began.  How could anyone forget such a passing?  How could anyone mourn?  How could anyone who ever encountered her not make a supreme effort to remember? 


Thoughts about Dying

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~  by Sha’Tara]

(Preamble: What does one do when one day away from one’s 70th birthday and having been living for 20 years in what I call sudden death overtime?  I don’t know about other people, but for me thinking about dying seems a logical and proper mind exercise.  After all, the closer one is to departure, the more likely one is to think about it.  About what will be required at the gate, and about the destination, of course.  Who goes on a trip and doesn’t know, or care, about their destination?  So, let’s do some thinking about dying.)

  Yeah, I’ve thought about dying.  In fact, I’ve thought about dying lots of times.  Before I began to think about dying in English, I used to think about dying in French.  Somewhere in between, when I worked with Central American refugees from the White House’s Assassin–in-Chief Ronald Reagan whose CIA contras specialized in capturing, torturing and murdering unarmed Guatemalan native campesinos, I learned a bit of useful Spanish, and then I thought about dying in Spanish.  I learned to sing Guantanamera in Spanish and sang it as close as I could to the original as sung by The Sandpipers, ) then I learned the English translation.  “My words are like a wounded fawn seeking refuge in the forest… Before I die I want to share these words of my soul…” 

          When I was little I thought about dying because I was afraid of it.  I knew, even then, that I was born to die.  I remembered a previous life in which I had died painfully and violently; when I had spent a lot of time in a cold, dank prison, thinking about dying; about how nice it would be to just go to sleep finally one night and never wake up.  When you are being tortured, you think about dying.  Dying is a gift the gods are very reticent to grant you because, I suppose, the gods invented suffering and death and they feel cheated if you arrive at the one without fully experiencing the other.  They get off on man’s pain and suffering, you see.

          I still think about death a lot.  I think of it as the bottomless, endless topic.  But I no longer think of death as an escape from reality.  I’m experienced now, and I remember that death was never an escape.  I learned that whatever I was; whatever I’d become; passed with me through those black doors.  Whatever I was, that was inescapable reality. 

          I cannot escape what I am. So when I think about dying now, I have to remember this simple lesson and prepare myself for death accordingly.  It’s no different than planning a very, very serious trip.  It could even be a journey if I beat the odds this time around and I don’t find myself right back here with only a few months, or years of interim fogginess of mind.  Death is funny that way; it likes you to go through its doors over and over.  Death has a magnificent set of ebony black matte revolving doors and he’s unduly proud of them.  The more times people pass through them the shinier they get. 

          How did Death design his doors?  I’ll try to make a long story short.  Think of all the doors of the world designed to keep something, or someone, from escaping.   Think prison doors, and how inventive, clever and imaginative man has been in designing prison doors to create a sense of utter hopelessness behind those doors.  Take every design of every prison door and put that into one set of massive doors.  Pretty impressive.  It’s psychological.  You’re supposed to think; to believe; that when you cross that threshold you’ll never get out again.  So you lose your mind; you go into a coma; you remember nothing when your time’s up and you are set “free” for another round at the wheel.  They wipe your memory so you won’t remember.  The reason is simple: they want you to die all over again as if it was the very first and only time. 

          They want you to live in an inescapable fear of death.  Those who fear death are easily manipulated into unthinkable antisocial acts against anyone they believe can rob them of life.  Fear of death is a belief in serious limitation: one life, then nothing.  Or for a dwindling number, one life then a judgment by a god of terror.  Some choice.  I remember that god of terror.  He was even more frightening than Death because he held those eternal chains that would keep you in a burning hell forever.  I remember doing the math on my chances at an eternity in heaven instead of hell: the odds weren’t good.   And I remember thinking also, how can I be sure that an eternity in heaven with a psychopathic god will be better than one in hell?  I thought, it probably compares to voting Republican or Democrat.  Liberal or Conservative.  The lesser of evils is still evil.

          Then I grew up some.  I learned some tricks on how to access deep memory; the part they can’t wipe out before they send you back.  The data wasn’t great and lots of it is corrupted, but there was enough to reconstruct some memories; to remember.  From delving into those remains of past lives I reconstructed some of them and learned Death’s great secret; that it isn’t an end, nor is it a passage into a predetermined eternity of bliss or the most terrible of eternal pain.  It was a revolving door and if I came to that door again I could hold some seriously powerful bargaining chips with which I could bargain for my freedom – if I did the work that is.

          So I’ve been thinking about death a whole lot more since the day I exposed its secret.  When I think about death now, I do it while looking at this world.  I think of all the death that accompanies what passes for life here and the termination of a body allowing me to push through those revolving doors in self-empowered mode isn’t an issue anymore.  The way I look at it now is, I’m living a free life in sudden death overtime.   

          Here’s how John Donne put it:

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

The Duduk’s Haunting Music

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]

(from Wikepedia: The duduk (doo-dook)[1] is an ancient double-reed woodwind flute made of apricot wood. It is indigenous to Armenia.)  (Armand Amar:  “Terre”)

Whenever I listen to Levon Menassian, Armand Amar, or anyone playing the duduk something terrible moves inside my mind.  No other musical instrument can ever do the things this instrument of dark magic does.  I find myself transported through space and time beyond anything I’ve ever sensed as an Earthian.  Such incredible feelings, more powerful than anything, even of what I can remember of being “in love” as it is called.  This goes much deeper and the vistas I sense, so much greater.  It’s as if this instrument was translating the music of the spheres to me; calling to me from places lost long, long ago.  Places utterly alien, beyond all “where’s” and “when’s” – beyond any language I can remember save communication in thought-forms. 

If I “force” the engendered feelings to connect to earth, I see endless desert; massive dunes; sand moving under a scorching sun in the searing wind, blowing in curving sheets over the top of dunes.  I see a terrain that knows no water, only extreme heat, bitter cold, eye-squinting days and harsh black night under a canopy of flashing frozen stars of greens, blues, reds and yellows.  And always the sound of slithering sand, ever moving, ever hungry to bury anything that stands in its path, or eat its flesh. 

The desert has always held a fascination for me, not as a friend but more like the eye of a reptile that holds its prey in a helpless trance.  For what I remember of the desert is the deepest kind of haunting sadness; of abysmal loss from which I thought I could never come back, not even as a bodiless mind; a ghost.  In my remembrance, the desert was my final tomb.  No fancy pyramid for me; no cave, just a body upon the parched sand quickly stripped of skin, flesh and finally of bone, becoming part of the endlessly, hungrily questing sand. 

The sand: wasn’t it once mighty mountains?  Is that why it is so insatiable in its hunger; it’s quest?  Wanting to be the mountain again and knowing it shall never be, not ever?  Now but a series of low mountains of gritty grains pushed by winds that are as hungry as the desert they render mobile, predatory and ever hungry.  Am I like that mountain?  Am I remembering my own death in the sands, alone, parched, my skin rendered as parchment to fall down one last time, unable to rise again, watching my body being stripped and eaten?     

I remember, of course I remember.  The desert is the most alien world my mind could conceive.  I come from a water world, and my people on that world were those who lived in the sea, along with the other great sea mammals.  We seldom came to land for the sea was our cradle, our life and the sea bed our final resting place.  We were the mer-people, fully integrated to our environment.  We knew no conflict as we were a peaceful people.

But it all ended in a great catastrophe.  Our world was attacked and broken up.  Its waters were flung out in space and we, frozen.  A part of our world survived the catastrophe and some of us, mutated beyond any recognition, survived and came to life again on this tiny new shattered world with its tiny seas.  That world is called “Earth” by the land people on it today.  But I did not find “Earth” at first when I re-awakened out of my frozen body.  I was on a different world, a world of sand.  There was not a drop of water on the surface of that world, though some moisture existed in the air, and deep in underground caves reservoirs of water could be found by those lucky enough.  I would have been one of those, but you need more than water to survive on a world.  You need food, and that was even rarer than the water.  There was an edible and life sustaining substance that could be found in certain folds of sands, and it was in one of those treks, when I ventured out into the “bled” or high desert for this elusive food source that I met the desert face to face and it took my body.

Many, many lives from then, I found Earth, your world, and I saw a piece of the home I remembered.  Only now I no longer had my sea-faring body.  I had this Earthian body, much like all the other people who walked on the land.  I could only remember, and long for the feel of the salted waters entering my body and exiting again, leaving me purified, almost intoxicated, and strengthened.  It was not to be.  However I longed for my transformation back to my normal self, Earth would not permit it.  Our bodies were not part of the matrix of Earth and I will have to wait until I can leave here and find another water world where perhaps some of my people escaped to.

And so is the reason I hear the haunting sounds of the duduk; sounds that tear through this body as the desert sand once did.  And it holds me in total fascination, this sound; this Earthian desert music.   


Thanya of Norda

While Roger at Woebegone but Hopeful (

is entertaining us with his hilarious history of the British Isles, his 12th part with the arrival of the Vikings reminded me of this story I wrote some time back, based on a past life remembrance.  Unlike Roger’s stories however, this one is not humorous.

Thanya of Norda
          a short story – by Sha’Tara

My name is Thanya.  I live on the coast of Norda, in a poorly fortified village.  My people are woodsmen, fisherfolk and farmers.  We constitute one of the main centers on the coast and my father and mother are considered to be the Chiefs.  I have an older brother who is a great hunter and whom I admire.

This part of my story begins when I am fourteen years, according to the Christian calendar.  In the late Summer the feared and hated Norsemen raid our village.  Our men are overwhelmed and put to the sword.  I see by father and brother die.  I pick up a sword to defend myself but I cannot handle the weight of it.  I’m quickly disarmed and brought to the leader of the raiders.  I can hear the cries of the women and the children, some being raped and killed, others rounded up, tied and put aboard the boats to be sold as slaves down the coast.  I can see and smell the smoke as our homes are systematically destroyed and burned.

A tall, red-haired and red-faced man stands in front of me.  He tears my clothes off and has me put to my knees, my wrists pulled back and tied to my ankles.  He straddles me and lifts his sword.  Laughing, he brings it down as if to cut me in half but swings it aside.  I curse him for letting me live.  He rapes me.  I scream a “prophecy” at him:  “I will have your son and when you return here he will kill you!”  He laughs again, has me untied and held away from him.  He says to me: “For that I will let you live and go free.  If indeed you have my son and if indeed he lives to defeat me in battle, I shall freely confer my title and properties to him.  I am King Garthul.  If you survive, remember that name, wench.”

They rowed off the shore, then sailed away with their spoils.  I found some rags to cover myself and tried to cover the bodies of the dead.  I covered my father and brother.  I found no trace of my mother so assumed she had been taken prisoner.   I did not have the strength to drag them onto a pyre and burn them, so I left and entered the forest.  I found shelter in a cave made from a hollow windfall and survived my first winter on nuts, roots and dried husks of fruit hanging from branches or lying in clumps of grass.  I gave birth to a healthy son in the Spring and took him deep into the forest, not knowing what to do.  I found other survivors and eventually convinced most of them to return to the coast, to my village.  We gathered the bones of the dead and burned them, then performed the ritual of cleansing for the land.  Then began the task of re-building.

Throughout the years I directed the re-construction based on villages and strongholds I studied during inland wanderings.  First an inner fort made of stone, not of material that could burn.  Then an outer palisade made of strong timbers and deadly stakes.  Finally, near the beach another fence made of non-burnable materials, whatever we could find.  I trained the people, young and old, male and female, to bear and use arms of all kinds.  I designed new weapons, especially for the females.  Shoes were basic wooden sandals equipped with a sharp spearhead at the front and sometimes at the back.  Armbands made of wood were equipped with a deadly dagger that could be flipped and locked in a forward position, the tip of the blade extending past the hand.  We made bows that were longer than hunting bows and much more accurate, using longer arrows.  I made them leave crenellations in the walls, and holes that looked natural but through which arrows could be shot.  And I trained the tallest men to use long spears that could be thrust through cracks deliberately left in the walls but concealed from anyone looking from the outside.

As more and more survivors and disgruntled serfs from other parts joined us our village grew and surpassed the numbers and strength of the past.  My son became a fearsome warrior, I made sure of that.  He was tall and had red hair.  There was no doubt who his father was.

Among those who joined us came two Christian monks.  They claimed they had special knowledge they wished to impart to certain chosen people among the village.  I asked them to share their knowledge with all of us, offered to give them a special place at our regular meeting day, but they insisted their knowledge was only for the chosen.  They also insisted that we give up worshipping our gods and learned of their one god and accept him as our only god.  This I refused to do.  I gave them a hut and made the people aware of their offer.  Anyone who chose the Christian god over the land’s gods was free to do so.  Some did but it did not matter.  Christians made good warriors too, there was no conflict among us.

In time my prophecy was fulfilled.  The raiders returned and an older Garthul still led them.  As soon as the alarm was given all the people who could not fight and all the younger children with as many goats and fowl as could be taken, were sent deep into the woods in preselected hiding places.  Then we waited.  My son was then eighteen years of the Christian calendar, and eager to fight this Garthul.  I had not told him this was his father, just what he had done to his family.

Yelling their taunts, the raiders rushed our first slender defenses.  We killed several of them before we retreated to the next defensive position.  The raiders crashed through our first wall only to encounter a much more effective defense.  They had no place to hide and we defeated them there.  Garthul gave the signal for surrender and my son jumped forward to put a sword to his throat.  I ran behind him and stopped him:  “Well Garthul, we meet again.  Remember the prophecy of the young girl whose parents and brother you killed.  Remember her taunt, “I will have your son and he will kill you!”  Well here I am, and here is he, your son, Garth.”

He remembered, and believing he was about to die, he called his second and swore that his title and lands were now the property of his son, this son, my son, Garth of Norda.

And this is where my life turned.  For Garth said, “He is my father, and I cannot kill him.  Therefore, since he has so grievously harmed you, mother, here is my sword.  You must avenge your parents and your village.  This is not for me to do.”

I took the sword and held it aloft unflinchingly.  I could have easily cut his head off, but instead I laid the sword on his shoulder and said, “Life has taught me this, Garthul: That there comes a point where it becomes necessary to let go of the past and to forgive.  For as heavy as the burden of loss is, the burden of vengeance is twice as heavy.  I have reached that point.  Today I have redeemed what was lost.  I have defeated you and I am your master, I, a mere woman.  Furthermore, I have something of yours that I know is more precious to you than your own life: your son.  So here’s my proposal – listen to me well.  I wish that you should take Garth with you.  Make him into a sailor and take him back to your own land and train him in the arts of being a King there, as you are.  When the time comes, I wish for you to pass your power on to him.  Further, I wish that your country should enter into a  permanent peace with us.  We have much to trade with you, especially of hardwoods.

And it came to pass.  Garth became ruler of both Norda and his father’s land.  There were no more raids on our coasts.  We remained at peace until a new trouble began to brew from the hinterlands.  But that is a story attached to a future that is not mine nor Garth’s.


The Cursed Year, the Year of Bliss

  short story by Sha’Tara – part 8

“How it ends”

I slept like a log and woke up the next morning around 10 AM with a slight headache and some confused memories.  I remembered some words and somehow I felt better, less confused, less worried.  I wanted to write my story, that was all.

I took a longer than usual shower, took more time with my face and hair, fixed myself a good brunch of French toast with whipped cream and canned strawberries and got myself ready in an ankle-length plain brown skirt, a dark green sleeveless turtleneck top and pulled my hair back with a white band.  I pulled on a pair of black fake leather boots on two inch heels and put on a wide brimmed brown hat. I hefted my small black shoulder bag instead of the briefcase.  I needed sun glasses to complete the effect but I didn’t have any.  Then I remembered I had some change left from the tenner I’d gotten for the taxi.  I’d stop at a drug store and pick up a nice pair of glasses and a pair of black gloves.  I asked myself, was I trying to impress someone?  I smiled in the foggy mirror, then stuck out my tongue at myself: brat.

Raymond arrived promptly at one and deposited me in front of the Lonin Towers.  I was quickly and deferentially escorted to the penthouse.  Joe was waiting for me. 

“Good afternoon Helen.”

“Good afternoon Joe.  What’s on the agenda?”

He leaned back in his chair and looked me in the eyes.  “You are.  Please sit down.  I need to square something with you.  Serious, really serious.”  I nodded.  Serious – I can do serious.  I waited, listened.

“I was up all night completing some research and what I’m going to say to you now; what I’m going to reveal to you; might come across as if I’ve lost my mind.  It certainly did to my attorney, Frank Beck earlier this morning.  But I have to do this.”  He leaned forward and looked deep into my eyes.  I had trouble holding his intense gaze.  Then he completely threw me for a loop.  

“How much, do you think could I trust you?”  Tension in that question, the air seemed to crackle around me. 

“Weird question, I know, but bear with me here.  For instance, with proper, acceptable compensation, how far would you be willing to go for me, to cover for me?”

“How could I answer that Joe?  Would I jump off a bridge?  No.  Would I help you launder money, or channel drugs in or out of the country?  No.  Would I lie for you in court?  No.  Would I protect your interests inasmuch as I could understand a certain situation, and it was in my power to do so?  Yes.  Could you trust me in some legal – and note I’m saying “legal” with emphasis – transaction involving large sums of cash or property or with someone’s reputation?  Yes, to the best of my knowledge and ability, I would serve you in such capacity.”

He sighed deeply and leaned over his desk towards me. 

There were tears in his eyes.  I shook my head and looked again.  He was wiping his tears. Then he faced me again, extended his arm and opened his hand.  I instinctively placed my right hand in his and he held it tightly for several seconds,  saying nothing.

I ventured: “You want me to feel something; something you want to say but would rather I deduced for myself.”  He nodded, yes. 

I let my feelings flow freely through his grip.  And suddenly I understood, with a shock, what he wanted from me.  I let my mouth speak the craziest words I’d ever said, and I’ve said quite a few crazy things over the years, as I looked directly into his eyes.

“You want me as your heir, like if I were a daughter…”  I stopped, not knowing what else to say.  He nodded again, yes.  I realized he was finding speech very difficult, so I continued,

“But you know nothing about me, Joe.  I’m a stranger to you, a girl with no past, no future, no family, nothing.  A stray, a nobody.” 

A part of me wanted to tear my hand out of his and run from this, as far away as I could so I’d never be found again.  I’d fallen into another man-made nightmare that was going to tear me apart.  This time I felt trapped and really scared; scared because I couldn’t physically fight this man. I just couldn’t.   

Yet an equally powerful part of me went in the opposing direction, falling into his mood and I felt a great welling of compassion for that man.  I also felt a sense of belonging, as if the present was a formality between us, as if I’d been his daughter all along, and I’d been in a coma, and I’d just awakened.

I heard myself say with a quite reasonable tone of voice, “What’s going on here Joe?  What is happening?  I’m confused.  I feel as if I know you and somehow I belong here, with you.  Have I been drugged? Joe, please talk to me; level with me.”

He stood up, walked around the big teak desk and pulled me out of my chair.  He took my hair band off and ran his fingers through my hair.  He held me carefully, as if I was suddenly very fragile and his tears flowed freely now.  I heard him say, “Oh, God, thank you.  Thank you!”  I waited, comfortable in his arms and loving his fingers through my hair.  I leaned my head against his shoulder, waited.  Then I heard him say life-changing words in my ear.

“You’re my daughter, Suzanne, my daughter, my only child.” He paused again, just holding me for what seemed a long time.  Then he resumed,  “I will tell you a story that is hardly believable, but it will make sense to you eventually. 

“I married your mother twenty years ago.  It was one of those impulsive youth things.  She was young, beautiful, attractive, luscious and so full of promise.  She was an entertainer in a Toronto bar, a university girl who’d gotten trapped by drugs and into the sex trade.  I bought her freedom and kept her in a private apartment so my parents wouldn’t know about her right away.  Yes, a kept woman, but I was sincerely in love with her and determined to marry her.  I got her re-enrolled in university to legitimize her in the eyes of the family.  Eventually I convinced my mother to meet her. 

She was accepted in the family and we were married.  I bought us a suite uptown, quite luxurious, and all went well.  She finished her accountancy degree.  About two years later she got pregnant and nine months later, there you were.  So beautiful… such an incredibly beautiful baby. And I swore over your crib that you were going to have everything to make your life heaven.  We, well your mother actually, called you Suzanne.  You were my Susie and the world revolved around you.  Six months of perfect bliss between my new partnership at my dad’s firm, in this building, and home with you. 

Then it all went to hell. 

Your mother kidnapped you and disappeared from the radar of police and private investigators.  Nothing, not a trace.  She had planned her run very carefully; left no trace.   She took the money from her private account but didn’t close it so as not to arouse suspicion right away.  She’d also bled a substantial sum from a company account she had access to through her part-time position in the company.  Investigators concluded that she’d embezzled enough money to live comfortably practically anywhere in the world, enough to easily buy new identities for herself and you, allowing her to disappear forever. 

I must say, sadly, that the very last place anyone would have thought to look for her was in northern Alberta!  The police, the investigators, Interpol – we all thought, California, Costa Rica, Europe, England, France, Tuscany, Spain; the Caribbean, Brazil perhaps, the Philippines, even Japan.  I spent a fortune in stocks to keep investigators and Interpol looking: nothing, as if she’d taken you on a ship and vanished in outer space.  What really covered well for her is that she had a lover and she took his  name, effectively cutting all traces.  She had money, she did not need to apply for government money or get a job.  And in her new status, everything about her was legit and above-board.  As I said, no trace and we weren’t looking within the country, not until I hired a retired ex-FBI agent with a different approach to solving kidnappings.

“But I still don’t understand Joe.  How can you be so sure I am who you think? I don’t remember being called Suzanne.  Ok, how old am I?”

“You’re almost 17.  November 11th is your birth date.”

“True.  My mother didn’t change that then.  Any other proof?”

“You had a little birthmark just below and to the right of your belly button.  A tiny little starfish shape with one arm missing.”  My heart jumped.  I had that birthmark.

I couldn’t stop myself any longer.  Imagine the longing to belong after all I’d gone through, and my current state of loneliness.  I blurted:  “Dad?  Can I please call you dad?”  and I turned around and threw my arms around him.  We stood there, holding and crying for a long, beautiful, unforgettable moment in time.

But it was not over, not yet.  I still had questions, maybe not doubts as such, but definitely questions.

“When did you discover that this crazy girl was your own lost daughter?”

“Do you remember a fifty-something man in a black trench coat and a fedora kind of hat engaging several conversations with you on the train from Edmonton to Montreal?  Do you remember him buying you a few meals in the dining car and escorting you when your train was held up overnight in Winnipeg?”

“Yes, he said his name was Roger.  I remember him quite well.  He was rather annoying, insistent, I thought.  Kept asking me dozens of questions, especially about my childhood, and what I remembered, if anything, of my early Peace River farm days; said he was doing research in the history of Canada’s northern farmlands; their development, and he added he was especially interested in the movement of people, and what brought them to that lonely north country with so much against it, a country that truly belonged to bears, moose and muskrat and not human beings.  But I’m sure I didn’t say anything revealing, I didn’t, and still don’t, remember anything of that period.”

“Roger, well his real name is Stephen, is one of the last two private investigators I’ve had on your case through the years.  And you did reveal things.  They didn’t make sense to you because we’re sure your mother and her man drugged your milk so you wouldn’t remember anything that happened to you.  Even at six months old you may have been able to see things in your past and asked dangerous questions.  You “woke up” on the farm they’d bought with some of the money she’d stolen from the corporate account and you were brainwashed to think you were born in that house, not in the hospital and there would be no records because they hired a midwife for the delivery.  Remember them telling you this?”

“Yes, and for a time they made me feel special about it.  I was a true farm girl, born right in the family home, not in an impersonal hospital.  They wanted me to feel safe, secure and loved.  But things changed.  The man I called dad became an alcoholic and abusive.  Dangerous.  That’s why I ran away.  But how could I have an older brother on the farm?  What about Gene?  Did your guy tell you about the older brother?”

“That’s the key part.  Your mother’s lover already had a two-year old son you see.  This Gene is no relation to you and he’s got a big mouth.  He remembered things and bit by bit he told a story about his beautiful younger sister.  “She’s no kin of mine and I can legally fuck her,” he bragged to some acquaintances in a bar.  The story got told around and Roger heard about this and he did his math.  He did research on the family, then went looking for “the no kin of mine” younger sister.  He called me and told me he thought he had a substantial lead when you suddenly left your home.  He traced you to Grimshaw and got on the same bus to Edmonton.  He kept watch over you while you stayed in Edmonton and when you booked passage on the train to Montreal, he got on too.  He then contrived to have several conversations with you.  He’s a dedicated employee and as an ex-FBI operative, he knows his business.  He knew how to gain a degree of your trust without alarming you.  And he’s a bit psychic.  He told me that your decision to take the train to Montreal was an indicator you were being guided home.”

“That Roger guy on the train… you kept private investigators looking for me for 16 years?  You love me that much… dad?”

“I do.  There is no explanation for this kind of love.  It’s the kind that travels infinity and I’m convinced, lasts throughout eternity.  I sensed it when you were born, and I know it even more so at this moment.”  And he whispered it as he hugged me even tighter: “I love you, Susie.  Welcome home.”

[end of part 8 – How it ends]

(Teaser questions:
Will Suzanne write and publish her story about the City’s slums and their occupants?
Will she fulfill her dream of becoming a full-fledged investigative reporter?
Will she become a director of her father’s conglomerate news empire?
Will she return to the Peace River country and confront her mother?
Will there be indictments and criminal charges laid against the mother, and the step-father?)




The Dream: a Train, a Frozen Prairie and Forbidden Knowledge

             The Dream:  a Train, a Frozen Prairie and Forbidden Knowledge
[thoughts from  ~burning woman~  by Sha’Tara]

I could hear the steel wheels clacking against steel rails, the sound made harsher by the intense cold of the Great Plains prairie in January.  Outside, snow had drifted and crusted in shallow drifts.  Here and there, shafts of brown grass stems poked through and small white birds clung to them, feeding in the killing cold, some twenty degrees below zero plus wind chill.  We went on and on across flat fields and frozen marshes and eventually night fell and only the rattling of the wheels remained.

It was a dream, one I’d had before and may well have again.

Dreams are funny ways for the mind to give itself reminders about important matters. 

This important matter is about grieving.  I realized coming out of the dream that I personally know nothing of grieving.  Oh yes, I’ve lost people, even close family people, but inside there was no such thing as what people call grief.  I don’t feel loss when someone dies, I just feel a need to organize the situation so things can get back to “normal” as quickly and painlessly as possible.  Don’t dwell on the oat crop wiped out by an early frost.  Don’t dwell on the dead cow that slipped through the ice of the pond and drowned.  Don’t dwell on the dead body in the next room.  Don’t wear black.  Remember… and record.  That’s what matters.

And from that dream on the cold wind-swept prairie, looking at the hard packed snow sparkling in the wan sun and those incredible little birds eking a living from dry grass stalks in such bitter cold, I also realized that I don’t know love.  I don’t know what is meant when people talk about love, any kind of love.  At best love seems to me to be a special type of friendship, at worst an annoyance; an impediment to the full enjoyment of life and a trap full of dangerous and debilitating attachments.

Grieving, loving: emotional entanglements.  People will say that it is necessary to take time to grieve for “their” dead or departed loved ones.  They will say that without love the world would be a terrible place.

But I don’t see it that way.  Grieving is admitting one’s insistence that death is an end of life.  It means that whomever has died is gone forever and nothing can bring that person back.  But why would you want them back?  Were they so precious, so important, so much a meaningful part of life that it now has a hole in it that can never be filled?  That isn’t true at all.  People are simply not that close except for very rare instances.  Rare indeed are those empathetic individuals who carry their loss through their entire life. 

And about love, seems to me that if people didn’t insist on promoting an emotion called love, they wouldn’t be so keen on expressing hate either.  These are symbiotic forces: hate cannot manifest where there is no love, just the same as “god” cannot exist without its arch-enemy, “Satan” or the Devil.  Duality.  Of necessity we live in a duality concept.  Everything is reciprocal, but why promote one over the other when all that means is that it amplifies the other automatically?  If shadows frighten, turning up the intensity of the lighting isn’t going to do the trick, quite the opposite.  Turn off the light and the shadows disappear.

Life should be engaged, yes, but never emotionally.  Emotional people are shallow beings.  They live on fumes and never really get to experience life in its deeper layers or its higher spheres, they’re too busy staring at the little surface ripples and blemishes on life’s surface.  They’re too busy examining their feelings and giving them politically correct terms to make them acceptable even when they are not.  Grief is surface stuff.  Love is surface stuff.  Hate is surface stuff.  Finally, faith is the most shallow emotion of all.  Faith, the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen – except for the fact that faith provides neither substance nor evidence, just wishful thinking.  Faith is assuring oneself that wishing upon a star will make it happen.  Do you have faith?  When was the last time you caused someone to rise from the dead?  Faith is believing that the wished-upon star is not only aware of our wish, but in a position to grant it.  All vices and corresponding virtues are emotionally-driven.  They can’t even overcome addictions – so what good are they?

Duality functions from reciprocity.  That is how all of man’s forces operate: push-pull.  Give-take, take-give.  All things being equal, that would work well enough.  But man’s world is a world in complete chaos, rife with inequity and injustice.  The give and take is neither honest, fair nor equitable.  Within man’s controlled status quo, reciprocity, or reciprocal energy isn’t a tool, it’s a weapon.  Every deck is stacked and the house always wins.

We need something better.  For the living we need something better than love.  For the dead, we need something better than grief.  Grief is useless: it’s never stopped anyone from dying and it’s never helped the survivors.  Life goes on.  More often grief is akin to guilt.  “I should have been there.  It’s my fault.  I should have done more.  I should have been nicer to him…”  As for love, the living deserve better.  How long ago did man learn about love?  Thousands of years at least.  And during those thousands of years has the world been made better by love, particularly by institutionally mandated love, as in religiously, piously directed love?  That’s a rhetorical question, and I rest my case with these three condemning words: it has not.

In the dream sequel, I am an observer.  Years have passed over the earth.  Long ago the trains stopped running across the prairie.  People died off and no one serviced the tracks.  Gradually they sank into the ground and the marshes and now nothing remains to indicate that once there were trains taking people across those plains.  But the wind still blows, the snow falls and makes shallow encrusted drifts.  The harsh cold turns the snow to ice crystals and the sun still makes them sparkle.  Here and there tufts of dead grass still poke through the snow and as they shiver in the breeze flocks of small white birds still cling to the stalks and find their sustenance to survive the winter.

I found it interesting that these things survived man, without loving, without grieving.  They survived on instinct and a knowledge not made chaotic by useless concepts.  They survived where man could not because man wanted to know more than nature was capable or willing to reveal without correspondingly taking responsibility for what accrued from that forbidden knowledge.

“A little learning is a dangerous thing, drink deep, or taste no the Pierian spring…” (Alexander Pope)

But man has tasted that Pierian spring, and too few drank deeply of its waters.  I.e., man chose to build an entire civilization without taking any responsibility for the consequences.