IV -

The beginning of the story is here

he couldn't remember whether an event had been part of a dream or had really happened. That was one of the disadvantages of living and working alone; even if he liked to entertain overnight 'guests', there was no-one who was in his house on a regular basis, and the client studio was only used by him, so he couldn't ask anyone else.

As he sat wondering how time had stood still, he managed to convince himself that what had happened was not a dream.

There was the matter of the envelope with the $2000. He moved again in his chair to look at the strange pile of more envelopes, but decided to leave their exploration till another time – life was already turning into something stranger than fiction and the matter of the money in the donation-box seemed trivial compared to his conviction that the stranger had just vanished, rather than going out of the door!
(Why had he called it a donation-box, he found himself wondering. Was he trying to appear more empathetic to his clients, or was it just easier to say donation than fee? And now it was bursting with money – again that uncomfortable feeling in the pit of his stomach.)

It was a no-client afternoon, so he decided to go for a long walk in the nearest park, and then, maybe a movie before going home. Rejecting the idea of arranging for an afternoon and evening guest, he welcomed the space and time to free his mind, and maybe work on that book-manuscript his publisher was nagging him about.

But the strange morning visit would not leave him – and the usual nourishing peace and colours of the park seemed like alien territory. Skipping the movie idea he bought food; and later at home, since no evening writing was happening, he gave himself an early night, falling quickly into sleep.

Can you understand my loneliness? Can you understand why I felt I needed to control things? To try and scare them a little, so they wouldn't injure themselves too much?”

It was the next day; though he had tried to get to the studio much earlier than the day previously, the stranger was already sitting in the clients' chair when he arrived. As soon as he'd walked through the door, the visitor had started asking his soul-searching questions.

You know what it's like with children.”

Oh, yes, he knew – that was until his wife had taken the children while he was at a counselling conference, and gone to live somewhere far away, never to return. He had reflected on the wisdom of counselling others while he had inner turmoil in his own private life, but this present experience was taking discomfort to a new level!

Sometimes one can be a little too heavy-handed and then the love kicks in; and then something would happen and I would be heavy again, and the pattern, well you know how something like that can go on and on... even if one has decided to be completely different....”

There was an interminable pause. And a sudden faint recognition in him that this supposedly heaven-sent stranger was talking about supremely human failings and weaknesses. As the recognition grew a sense of compassion filled him - this wasn't at all what he'd been led to believe.

I did it out of a sense of love, you know. I always did it for love.”

This cue that would normally have had him pounce on the opportunity to 'start the process' as he called it, seemed to clam up his brain as well as his mouth.

And then I started to send messengers. And I tried miracles and strange weather patterns and all sorts of things, but nothing was working.”

The yearning in me had become intolerable. So finally, I made a decision – I obviously did not understand what it was like to be here. I made myself human and came in person. A few different times, actually - though to hear the stories, you'd think it was only once.”

Do you know what I learned?”

Another pause.

It was horrible. Unbelievably sad. I learned what fear felt like. I can't tell you the pain - it hurt more than the yearning! The first time I felt it I cried for days.” 


I made the grandest decision....”

Again, one of those pauses in time and space.

I told myself that on this last journey I knew I had to experience everything. From the highest of the high to the lowest of the low. With nothing left out.”

Perhaps it was the comfort of the therapist's chair, or was it because the bizarre conversation was beginning to sound to him almost normal that he found his voice:

Why would you want to do this?”

I mean, after everything you'd been through, to do it again and open yourself to being hurt? I wouldn't want to go back to that place now and open myself to....,”

His voice trailed off as he realized that this was the supreme question in his own life, and the worry which followed – who was counselling who, here?

The morning sunlight, which had been hiding behind the clouds for hours, suddenly lit up the room: “I was going to heal the separation. Not just for me, but for everything, everyone, everywhere, and it would change the worlds. And, yes, I would be changed too!”

YOU KNOW! I know you know! If we don't go down into everything we have, we can never find ourselves in something new - never create something better. You know this!”

The stranger was almost pleading with him, the voice passionate with tears and feeling, this outpouring. Even from the security of his therapist's chair, as he listened to the torrent of emotion he felt his face redden, like as with a child caught lying.

Yes, I know this,” he said, almost whispering, “yes, I know.”

Yes, in riches and in rags of poverty. Being the guru and the whoreing outcast, the healer and the angry man, the gentle saint and the terroriser – I was them all, I did everything! It was so .......”


Was the stranger crying or laughing? It had turned into a howling; first the body shaking and rocking from side to side - and then the shout: “I have been bringing it all back together! Can't you see?!”

The clouds were winning, and the light had taken on an eery quality.

The question came, “What didn't we want to see?” but he already knew the answer.

It was deafening: “When you see, you'll have to love yourselves exactly as you are. And everyone. Love everyone. NO EXCEPTIONS!”

Quite without warning a huge wave of nausea came over him, he staggered and rushed to the washroom banging the door shut, just managing to lift the lid in time. He vomited violently; it felt like he was spewing up the world - every lie that had ever been told. And in his throbbing head “Why?” “Why?”

It was only a few minutes later but it seemed like an age. He'd managed to clean himself up and return to the room. And, of course, no sign of the stranger – like the previous day, in his donation box, there was a bulging envelope.

The phone rang. He ignored it.

He suddenly knew exactly what he had to do.

to be continued

1 comment:

Jane said...

Captivating, John...I'm intrigued.