Something inspired by an encounter with my wife a week ago. It can’t be easy to live with someone who walks between the stars and you can’t follow.

“What is it you want?”
The question softly asked expects an answer
But my mind is like a library in the summer after midnight.
The silence thick as snow upon a mountain in winter.
Again you ask the question, a coldness in the tone this time.
Not a scholar to be found in the library, only silence.
“I don’t really mind,” is the only response I have.
The slap when it comes is sudden and unexpected.
The sharp sting of the palm of your hand, just above my ear.

My tongue feels fat and heavy,
My mouth is full of spittle,
Teeth retract as if to speak,
The lips remain closed like a sphincter.
No words come, no sound is made.

Confusion, frustration and hurt flash in your eyes,
“Why am I so distant?”
“Why have you built walls around yourself?”
No response.

So short a time ago I’d have felt the protection of my armour,
Expected harsh words or cruelty to bounce off its surface,
Like raindrops striking metal.
Your words have punched holes in it like it was made of coloured paper.

An answer comes, not a graceful elegant response,
It comes in fits and starts, then a stream of consciousness,
The rolling event log of my mind, as it spools its way out.
Not a human emotional one, just the answer of a machine.
Overthinking even while vocalising the thoughts that left an imprint.

The ground beneath me gives way and I fall into a silent watery void.
A pond? A lake? A river? A sea? A display tank at an aquarium?
Who can say? It’s dimly lit water as far as I can see.
Shapes flicker in that silent place.
A school of monstrous fish with vicious jaws in their small bodies.
My intuition whispers, ‘regret,‘ for regret doesn’t eat you in one bite but slowly over time.
A freakish looking octopod floats past, using jets of water to propel itself.
Its large eyes scan the half gloom for its next meal.
‘Fear,’ comes the whisper, for it will wrap its tentacles around you, trapping you in its embrace.
Slowly squeezing the life from you, then when you lose the strength to resist and with no rescuer to drive it off,
It drinks you like a horrible smoothie.

The world turns, my vision spins, and I’m back looking at your blurry face.
Fat raindrops fall on my cheeks and dribble down my face.
I look up, forgetting I’m indoors, looking for dark clouds.
Then it hits me, not raindrops but tears splashing on my cheeks from filmy eyes.
There is no need for words between us,
You have only questions and I have no answers.

Time passes, and we go through comforting rituals.
We do together things, performing familiar actions to reassure ourselves and each other.
I can feel the ticklish sensation of something nibbling on my toes,
My socks feel wet and a line of suckers coils around my ankle.
I look down; I run my hands over those places and touch nothing.
I can feel them return when my fingers move away.

The sun sets, it’s time for bed.
I find myself sitting on a rock by the side of a narrow country road,
Grass grows down the centre of it,
Large potholes like a Dalmatian’s spots
Filled with murky water, rotting leaves and dead insects.

The cold damp air tells me it’s late at night,
I don’t know where I am, or how I got here.
I look to the sky and there is the Worm Moon.
Luna huge, beautiful and wreathed in silver light.

I rub my eyes with the tips of my fingers and wonder what to do next.
There’s something around my neck, bouncing against my chest.
I grip it in nervous fingers and lift it to the light.
A simple, battered wooden compass, with cheap glass.
The luminous compass star gleams in the soft light,
The direction arrow glows blue, swaying back and forth as I move my hand in circles.
My compass, the one I made a long time ago when I started another difficult journey.

A bird screech nearby makes me jump in surprise.
An owl, perched on a tree branch is looking at me.
I salute the bird, right fist over my heart and a respectful bow.
The bird appears to bob up and down on its branch,
It screeches at me as though it wants me to copy it.
I rise to my feet, fingers smoothing down my dress,
There’s something under me, something soft and heavy.
I turn to see what it is.

A red boiled wool cloak is draped over the rock,
I pick it up and shake it open, sending dust and leaves flying.
The silver silk lining catches the moonlight.
Something metallic gleams in the corner of my eye.
A silver moon phase clasp.
My cloak, the one I always wear for rituals,
It can’t be an accident that this is with me.

I know not where I am, or how I got here.
I have questions to answer that I do not understand.
Still, I have more than when I started my first journey.
I have my compass to navigate by,
My cloak, to keep the weather off,
My boots, to carry me over all terrain.

For now Northeast along this road in search of answers, Goddess willing.
I place my trust and faith in her to guide my steps as I have ever done.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

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