To be honest, I, too, am an unreliable narrator. Not that the scribe lies, per se; but her truths are the truths of her subjects. I tell you what I am told. What I am not told, I do not tell. What falsehoods I suspect remain my own and are never uttered. It is not my place to make suppositions, to theorize, to bury certain claims or drag others into the light. We all have our own truths, our own realities; why should my subjects be less worthy in the keeping of theirs than anyone else? Besides, all good stories contain a certain amount of distortion. Where fact may slide into fiction is up to the reader to decide – and every reader has their own truths as well.
I am not your sister, but I have stood by you.
I am not your daughter, but I have preserved you.
I am very tired.
If you had hands, would you lift me and carry me to bed?
(Please lie. I don’t mind.)
I remember it all. Kneeling on the carpet, dragging my fingers through the thick white fibers, I remember the cloying scent of blood, the stains darkening as they dried. Rising to press my palms against the tall windows, I remember the chill wind whistling around spires of broken glass, how the shards glittered on the carpet like snow in moonlight. In the silence I hear the ghost echo of raised voices, cries of pain and ecstasy, shattering glass, gunshots. In the stillness of the empty room I yet recall every moment passed in these halls, and beyond; every word, every detail, every sensation. Rich carpet, cool crystal, sleek marble. Acrid cigarette smoke, hot skin, digging fingers. Promises and lies. Death and death. This place is a tomb. This place is my church.
There are good moments, I swear, Tanim says, but when he tries to think of specific memories his mind goes blank. It’s not that he’s forgotten the rare smiles or rarer laughter, the precious glimpses of affection and peace; they just feel disconnected from him, like the remains of a story someone else told long ago. Bled of sound and context, blurred and desaturated, what worth is left in them? Oh, so much, truly, for the right person. What the scribe cannot commit to word, she commits to heart. What the scribe cannot tell others, she tells herself in the deep of the night. There are good moments, she can swear it, even if they are only fragments.
A scribe should know her place. A scribe does not create, she copies. A scribe does not take liberties, she writes only what she is dictated. A scribe does not tell the story, she merely records it. A scribe is but the extension of the pen, and to imagine otherwise is to rise above her station; she is necessary, yes, but like a broken stylus she can be replaced. A scribe would be wise to remember her role and not dare to move beyond its restrictions.
I am the worst kind of scavenger, entirely capable of catching something for myself yet choosing instead to circle and wait, watch idly until some other hunter has taken down its prey and then close in to claim the scraps. I am the worst kind of scavenger, picking lazily through inspiration’s corpse, discarding perfectly acceptable flesh for the choicest morsels deep inside, the ones still wet and warm, the ones that glisten in the sun and require no effort on my part to make beautiful or interesting. I am the worst kind of scavenger, surrounded by potential food yet choosing starvation over exerting even the most minimal energy required to obtain what I want.
There is a story I want to tell.
This might not be surprising to you; I’m a writer, after all. I tell stories all the time. But you see, I transcribe those stories. I don’t invent them myself – the stories come to me when they need to be told and I simply do the telling. This time, though, I want to tell a story that hasn’t come to me first. A story that currently is nothing more than a few wisps of concept; a story with no voice yet, no presence or intention, like a dream I can’t remember at all.
I only know how the story begins (though was that even the beginning, or was it the middle?). I only know the story is about a certain young kitten, called Thomas by the shelter but with a true name in a language far older than English. I know he will go on a difficult journey and face terrible choices. I know Bast will guide him. I know only these things and nothing more. The story won’t unfold for me (yet?), so I conducted a tarot reading to see if I could clarify at least some major aspects of the story. The cards pulled and my interpretations/thoughts are below.
Your character’s primary goal and motivation: SIX OF CUPS. A childhood cut short? Seeking a new family, or trying to get back to the one that was lost? Searching for a place to belong?
Your character’s greatest fear in relation to this goal: EIGHT OF CUPS. Fearing it wasn’t meant to be? Something about the lunar cycle – that inevitable give and take, or death itself? Not wanting to say goodbye?
The internal conflict your character has to conquer along the way: FIVE OF PENTACLES. A lack of faith? Physical health problems? Despair. Needing to let go of the past. Maybe being too attached to the Six of Cups’ idyllic world?
Protagonist: WHEEL OF FORTUNE. Change. Fate. The world will turn and destiny will come whether he is ready or not. Time cannot be stopped; there is no going back.
Antagonist: JUDGEMENT. Hard choices. Life and death. Rebirth. Fear of regret, leaving, shouldering responsibility. Is this a corporeal antagonist, or is the antagonist his own misgivings?
Theme: TEN OF WANDS. Great responsibility. Help given freely. Owning one’s fate.
Beginning: THE EMPRESS. Mother. Union. Family? Child birth? Is this the beginning of his story, or is there something that comes before him? Is this Bast Herself?
Middle: PAGE OF SWORDS (reversed). Not understanding commitments? Asking too many questions, coming up with too many excuses. All talk, no action. Being too hasty in decisions?
End: NINE OF SWORDS (reversed). Facing inner fears. Letting go of guilt and regret. Stress and sorrow are easing. Ready to face one’s fate with an open mind and heart. Is this the end of the journey itself, or the beginning?
The reading confirmed some of the nebulous ideas hanging out on the periphery of my mind. Thomas had to leave, for some reason. Not because it was his time, but because he was needed elsewhere. Staying would have been selfish and unfair… but to whom? Who needed him more than we did? For what reason would Bast reclaim one of Her children at so young an age? What was, is, his destiny?