All night long I dreamt of performing the ritual. Laying out the gear and saying the prayers. Raising the thin brown book and my hand while reciting incantations. Lowering of the amulet and raising the knife.
At first, the scene was properly linear. First this, then that. The book is lifted before it can be lowered. But the scene broke, and thirty days of morning ritual shattered into overlapping snippets that were physically impossible yet completely understandable.
As long as you let go of the idea of time being linear.
I experienced each shard’s actions from a first person point of view. Individually, each shard could only see what she was individually doing. But the understanding of the totality of what I was seeing came from outside myself, and outside my time.
I was watching the pieces of ritual from [Patient Caller’s] point of view.
There was no communication with the spirit, who was completely absent from my still limited perception. Instead, I observed the shards of me that had the ritual words nearly memorized moving past the shard of me who didn’t notice the knife had spun after it was laid down and almost picked it up by the blade.
Thirty days suddenly ended as thirty voices intoned a final “Amen” at once.
The room darkened.
A bright light glowed from the chair beside my bed.
From the spirits point of view, I saw myself looking sternly at the alarm announcing the morning of the thirty-first day. All the gear is in the storage places they have been the thirty mornings before. I watch myself pick up the phone, silence the alarm, and lay it on my face where its presence will annoy me enough to prevent me from falling back asleep.
The snooze alarm tickled. The alarm was silenced and the phone placed on the chair. My next observation was watching myself fall back asleep.
I woke in a panic, fearing that I had overslept for too long and that the window for performing the ritual this morning had already closed. I snatched the phone from the chair.
I still had an hour and a half before I had to get out of bed if I was going to perform the ritual after all. It took five of those gracious minutes to realize today was September 5th and not October 1st.
I verified the alarms were still set and placed the phone on the other side of the room before going back to bed and having no further dreams.
The preparation, layout, and initial portion of the ritual went smooth. My command for [Patient Caller] to appear felt reflected back at me as if I had spoken it with my lips against a concrete wall. Looking over the table, I realized my mistake.
I had not taken the lid off of the candle.
I removed the lid, lifted the candle, and waved it in the air before setting it back down beside the book. Once again I commanded the spirit to appear.
A gentle softness fell over my face and my eyes closed.
I saw the candle lit with a small flame. The barely perceptible stream of smoke flowed over the book to entwine and fill the shewstones again. No voice came to my head, no memory replayed itself to closed eyes.
Instead there was only an emotion. Contentment.
We… sat… in silence and in peace. I had the idea that anything that could have been said in this moment by either of us has already been said in the dream still waiting to be written. It felt like [Patient Caller] was an old, old friend and words were clumsy things that got in the way.
After five minutes of this, I felt a disturbance in front of me as if someone on the other side of the table had stood and was leaving. In my mind’s eye, the shewstones lost their glamour and the candle gently extinguished.
I spoke the Apophenia Invitation and the License to Depart just the same, and ended the ritual without incident.
Total time: 37 minutes.