Melissa walked for what felt like ages on the soft black sand. The stars impossibly moved through the cloudless sky as if to entertain her, but she never looked up to notice them. The sand felt pleasant on her bare feet and while she kept watch for an ocean wave to threaten the bottom of her pajamas, no sound of water was present, much less an actual ocean wave.
The more she walked the calmer she felt, and the more distant were all the events that were not present here on the black sand. Here there was no specter of a pandemic, no social posturing, no power plays of men attempting to control her life, and no ghosts from her past trying to ruin her present by predetermining her future. Here, there was just herself, a thickening peace, and a path that did not require eyes to see.
Melissa did not notice when she had stopped walking and had laid down on the sand. Did not notice that the sand had no temperature to it, that it was neither warm nor cold. Did not notice the one star directly over her head that never moved even as the lights in the sky smoothly rearranged themselves into constellations that were never recorded with motions that could never happen. She only noticed the numbing calm that felt like it was soaking into her from without even as it emanated from within.
Continue reading “A Deeply Planted Seed: Chapter 10 – Indignus”
Melissa walked into the unguarded conference room without knocking as her assignment instructions dictated. Gladys had handed her the assignment packet as Melissa came through her door and never gave the younger woman a chance to sit down or to review it.
“Orders from Bob. Leifert, that is, in case you’ve met any of the other Bobs in this building. He’s asking you to report to a meeting in progress as soon as you get in. I’ll pester you for details later, but you’ve been taken off rotation until he releases you, so I suggest you get going. And Melissa, mind yourself. Bob sees a possible future for you, but everyone else is going to see your past.”
Continue reading “A Deeply Planted Seed: Chapter 9 – Equilibrium”
By the time the diner had begun to fill with the regular evening crowd, Jean had left her side of the booth to sit beside her sister. Melissa had also brought her tablet with her and had logged in to the Leifert Enterprises Human Resources website to show Jean what medical benefits she was signed up for.
Jean was surprised to see that Melissa had the best available medical plan usually offered to full-time employees despite being on the books as an on-call, part-time intern, but she quickly put her surprise to the side to help Melissa navigate the bewildering options.
“And this is how you find the psychologists that will accept your medical plan. If you’re still worried about any of them being in Aunt Helen’s pockets, then pick one that does not have an office in the city. That’s going to mean a rideshare for you, which leads me to something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about. You need a car.”
Continue reading “A Deeply Planted Seed: Chapter 8 – Forbearance”
Melissa sat precariously on a plastic chair sized for bodies far smaller than hers and her back filed a constant complaint about the stresses annoying her. But when one is invited to a child’s tea party, one takes the pain so the child can take the joy. Across from the fruit themed plastic tablecloth, a strange amorphous shadow was constantly pouring itself over a similar child-sized chair. The shadow moved indistinctly, and Melissa pretended to pour from a bowl-sized plastic tea kettle.
To her right, a small girl sat neatly in her chair. She clapped happily to see Melissa interacting with the shadow and her joy eased Melissa’s pain. To Melissa’s left, a teddy bear almost as large as Melissa herself was propped carefully in the remaining chair. It did not move as Melissa then offered pretend tea to the giggling girl.
The shadow across from the table released a blob into the space over the table. Melissa watched the blob be drawn back into the shadow that released it. The girl tapped Melissa on the arm. “He wants to know why you are still afraid. There are many people who want to help you stop being afraid and he is worried about you.”
Continue reading “A Deeply Planted Seed: Chapter 7 – Excavations”
Melissa’s hands were stuck to the side of the bin in the Mail Room. No amount of jerking or twisting would peel her flesh from the timeworn and cracked edges now digging into her palm. Across from her, Janice continued her assessment of the uselessness of Melissa’s presence during the years spent in high school together.
Melissa looked around for Julie or Director Cargill. Surely the director would not tolerate anyone being more of a bully than she is. Surely Julie would insert herself into the conversation to prevent being written up herself. But all Melissa saw in the spaces around her were more sorting bins filled with boxes and packages.
Now Janice was informing Melissa of what had happened after Melissa was sent to a remedial school. How other girls continued to be treated unfairly and punished for misconduct that only earned Melissa some tutting and a call to her sister. How Janice’s family continued to pay for Janice’s bail with high interest rates and missed opportunities because that bill was everyone’s priority or Janice’s mother would be arrested. How Melissa’s very existence was a blight on Janice’s family and on Janice herself to the point that Melissa was now likely to be given the soft and easy assignments that Janice was working so very hard on earning.
Continue reading “A Deeply Planted Seed: Chapter 6 – Echoes”
Halfway through the morning, Melissa’s scheduling app announced with a bright chirp that she had been called in to work. Her paid internship with Leifert Enterprises was only part time but it came with full benefits and provided enough income to allow her to save part of her trust fund allowance. With a check-in time of two in the afternoon, she still had time in the morning to look up how the Ten of Pentacles tarot card was portrayed in other decks and write down questions to pester Rebecca with later.
In the Sweeney Tarot, the Ten of Pentacles was the Ten of Coins. This deck had a feature that Melissa was grateful for: Each card in the Minor Arcana was titled with a keyword for that card. For the Ten of Coins, that keyword was “Wealth”. In it, a woman dressed in an extravagant gown evoking the feel of feathers and flowers is seated at a bar. Her body is facing away from the bar and her face is facing the viewer squarely. She is holding a glass of wine and the entire card is hued in various shades of wine, from blanc, to rosé, to pinot noir, to cabernet sauvignon.
The card held the same feeling of “wealth” as the list of meanings in that there was the sense of more money available than one could possibly spend. The figure in the card was set and there was nothing left to do in life except to relax in whatever world the figure had created around them.
Continue reading “A Deeply Planted Seed: Chapter 5 – Legacy”
Melissa woke up shortly after dawn. The glow from her window was enough to warm her room but not enough to convince her to get out of bed. She remained comfortably sprawled under the covers as she reviewed her memory of the dream.
On remembering the sensation of planting the card into her body, she moved to touch the skin on her chest. However, the act of adjusting her body to make the willful movement inspired her body to remind her of other more pressing obligations and she begrudgingly left the bed for the bathroom.
Technically, today was a workday for her. Whether or not she actually went to the office would be determined by the needs of other departments. If an extra set of hands were required for a mundane task, she would get a notice via the corporation’s scheduling app. Technically, it was too soon for the day’s schedule to be set. After cleaning up, Melissa went out of her way to check it on her phone to make sure she was listed as available for work.
Continue reading “A Deeply Planted Seed: Chapter 4 – Beacon”
The full moon held court in the summit of the bright starless sky and would have been quickly hidden by thickening clouds except Melissa was tired of this shit and brought the dream to a standstill immediately after becoming lucid. As such, the sun did not rise to challenge the usurper of its noonday throne but remained hidden below a horizon that did not exist.
“Not this time.” She looked up at the unmoving light with the same lack of warmth as it gave. “And I know better than to call the Sun. The Sun is there.” She pointed to the ground at her feet. “On the other side of the world. This isn’t Day, no matter how much you have brightened the sky. This is Night, and I’ve been reading this scene wrong all this time. No wonder he keeps getting the jump on me.”
Melissa turned around and looked at the gray featureless landscape around her. She had interrupted the dream before pareidolia could construct a false world to spring shadows from. “This is Night, and I am here, and here I am.”
Continue reading “A Deeply Planted Seed: Chapter 3 – Astronomia”
Melissa knew that the shorter Rebecca’s answer, the more resolute Rebecca was about whatever she was answering. To throw a tantrum now in public would only entertain the card reader further, Melissa was sure.
“Hey. I need you to trust me for a bit.” Melissa did not realize she had turned away from Rebecca until she was spoken to. She turned her head slowly back to her friend. “Good. This is a very important anti-stress technique. I’m not saying it could also be an act of magic, but we magicians do all sorts of strange and arcane rituals. Now, are you ready?”
Confused, Melissa nodded and felt her wet face cool from the movement.
Continue reading “A Deeply Planted Seed: Chapter 2 – Descent”
The full moon held court in the summit of the bright starless sky and was quickly hidden by thickening clouds that also smothered the sun as it moved quickly to challenge its usurper. Melissa saw enough of the two luminaries to spark lucidity and recognized that she was dreaming again.
As shadows seeped up from pores in the ground under her feet, she held her hand to her chest which brightened as her heart glowed with solar blessings. The landscape around her darkened and dissolved into ghostly scattered blocks of imagined landmarks. If she glanced this way, she might see the outline of a shuttered restaurant. If she glanced that way, she might see the shadow of a mansion framed by cypress trees.
The dreamscape wibbled and wobbled as it tried to complete what her mind thought it recognized in the abstract shapes. But Melissa knew that pareidolia can be humorously misleading when awake and the seeds of terror when asleep. She pinched a glob of light from the glow over her sternum and flicked it in front of her almost carelessly.
Her command was soft and short. “Let the light of day reveal all.”
Continue reading “A Deeply Planted Seed: Chapter 1 – Denial”