#2404

As the attendants rub scented oils into my skin, I expand my consciousness to see who will climb the mount to ask questions or beg blessings from the gods today. I see a farmer first, browned and bent from years of labor beneath the sun. His wife is barren and they wish desperately for a child of their own. I will tell him she must bathe in the river every night for an entire run of the moon, and if she does this without fail the gods will bless them with a child. I will not tell him this child will be a demigod, however, or that his life will be filled with tribulations and sorrow. That is the boy’s prophecy to seek.

Next I see a man in much regalia riding a fine steed, a contingent of soldiers at his back. Ah, a general! He wishes to know the outcome of an upcoming battle of great importance. I will tell him I see a decisive victory for his army, but that the hidden cost may be higher than his nation can afford. Drunk on the promise of conquest, he will not listen to these cautions – they never do, no matter how far they travel to hear my words. All they want is glory, fame, and riches. What matters the cost to them when they are not the ones who pay it?

Lastly I see a young woman just barely out of girlhood who travels alone from her tiny village to seek my counsel. In her pocket she carries the meager earnings she’s saved all year; coin enough, she hopes, to buy an audience with the Oracle. There is no future for her in that dreary town but marriage to a man as old as her father and a life birthing brats until she dies in childbed. She dreams I might tell her she is secretly royalty, or will be chosen by a handsome prince to become his wife and queen. I will tell her nothing, though, because we will never meet; there are bandits waiting around the next bend of the–

“Okay, how do you feel?” The massage therapist turns the lights back up. I peel open my eyes, blink up at foam core ceiling tiles. “Good,” I answer by habit, but I honestly have no idea if that’s true.

#1864

Do you think the Oracle at Delphi ever wanted to just say Fuck, man, I don’t know or maybe You know, I’m just not really feeling it today, can you come back tomorrow? Think she ever got so overwhelmed she almost yelled Shut up! or Go away! or I do not fucking care about your shitty prophecies but bit her lip until it bled just to keep the air of mystery until the last travelers left? How hard it must have been, maintaining that mask of aloof omniscience when the incense was giving her a headache and the gods weren’t being forthcoming. How tired she must have become by the end of the day, sitting straight and tall for hours on end when all the world’s futures weighed on her shoulders. I’m sure at the end of the day there were temple attendants to help her to her chambers, to serve her wine and cheese and massage her feet, but did any of them ask about her day? Did any of them tell her stories or jokes to take her mind off being the axis of destiny? To that end, did anyone even bother to ask her what she saw in her own future, and if she was afraid?