One Slip and a Wyrd in Passing
Okay, for a second, forget everything you know about reality. I mean absolutely everything. The sense of gravity, the patterns of light and color that make up a video screen, the delicate buzz of a honeybee in flight, the taste of raspberry preserves on hot toasted English muffins, the powerful scent of chlorine at a swimming pool, the feel of fleece against skin in wintertime, the light and warmth of the summer sun, the flavor of mustard on a baseball park hotdog in late spring, the subtle crunch of leaves underfoot in the autumn. Forget it all. Let every aspect of reality slip from your mind and then snap it back into place, only this time, make it sharper, brighter, more magical.
That's what happened to my senses as Kenny pulled the knife back out of me. I gasped in surprise.
Well who wouldn't gasp! My best friend had just put several inches of steel into my chest, right over my pounding heart and then yanked it out again. That has the "you need to gasp now" reflex written all over it, I'd think. My hand unconsciously clutched where the knife had entered me.
But my attention wasn't focused there. It was focused squarely on Kenny. I felt the ultimate betrayal. I couldn't get my mind around the concept that he had just stabbed me, mortally, while we had been in the midst of laughter. It just didn't make sense. I looked into his steel gray eyes seeking answers, seeking if nothing else a reason why. He stared at me with a worried look, like perhaps he'd done something wrong in cramming a carving knife into my chest.
It wasn't exactly a moment for sarcasm, but I thought, in a moment of sudden clarity, that a fencing master's son would know exactly how to slay another kid with edged steel. With a single stroke, no less. And after all my ability to predict his moves while fencing, I hadn't seen this coming. Irony, no?
And that's when the realization hit me. Things suddenly looked really different. For one thing, Kenny stood before me wearing some kind of skin tight armor, like tiny rings interconnected, snaking against his chest. He still had the bearing of a trained athlete, but for some reason now, it was coupled with a regal air, and a sense that light itself poured from him. His eyes retained their gray luminous depths, but his face, if anything, was suddenly more beautiful than I had ever seen on a boy, or a girl, or a supermodel. I stared up at him as if in a daze (well, he had just stabbed me!) and was simply awed by his magnificence.
His armor was like spun silver, mounted with crystals and leather adornments. It all looked as though a medieval weapon smith, an Egyptian jeweler and a Chinese silk trader had combined talents. Where the kitchen knife had stood before was now a short-hafted spear with a long, wide point, like a half curved dagger, carved from clear, faceted crystal, shot through with strands of spun lapis and gold. It was all unearthly and powerful and bizarre and….and I really can't come up with enough adjectives in one string along sentence to get it all. The only thing that truly hits it all is an expression most of my fellow New Englanders would probably frown upon unless they'd seen Kenny like this as well: fuckin' mad wicked awesome!
I pulled my hand away from my chest, suddenly finding neither wound nor blood. I was now really confused. The, er, weapon was still in his hand; I hadn't imagined him stabbing me. I just stared down at my chest and then back to him, to the knife, to my chest and then into his eyes.
"Kenny?" I managed, squeaking. "Why? What?" Okay, I was flabbergasted and now totally confused. What would you have done?
"I'm sorry. I should have waited, Robyn. I just… I dunno. It felt right to Enchant you now."
"Enchant?" I asked, still confused, but feeling my voice and my breathing returning to normal. I noticed that he had pointy ears now, as well.
"Look out yon window," he directed me. He gave ground to let me glance out the window by the staircase. I kept glancing back to him and the dagger-weapon as I approached the window. Something was clearly going on here, but I couldn't figure it out yet.
Outside, things looked, um, different.
Okay, saying that doesn't do it justice either. Imagine your own house, on your own street, on your own little slice of reality. Now take that and turn up the volume knob on the bright. That's a start of what I saw outside. The trees of my front yard, some estimated at being three hundred years old, were smiling towards the sky. I kid you not. There was a sound like gentle music carried on the breeze that seemed to coalesce into a baby unicorn. The creature looked at me, and I swear to god it winked, then faded back out, in a different piece of tones, floating and ebullient, drifting like a leaf on a stream.
I stood back from the window, letting my entire face go slack. I stared for a moment, almost waiting for some credits to roll up in front of me, or a narrator to begin opening some fantastic film. Mom was out there chatting with Mitch still, but he wasn't really Mitch anymore. He was and he wasn't. Actually, he was more Mitch than Mitch was, if that's possible. Like I said, I was confused, so don't be too ticked if you are at this point.
"Okay!" I said looking back at Kenny/Not Kenny and pointed back outside. "Did you just drug me?"
"No, I Enchanted you. I'm sorry if I frightened you Robyn, but…..'
"Why do you keep calling me that?"
"It's your true name, your soul name… don't you remember?"
"No! If I'm supposed to remember any of this, let me clue ya! I don't!"
"Don't be upset. I wanted to let you know what was going on. I felt you deserved to know, beloved."
As much as I felt like rebelling against it, it all made far too much sense. Strange as that sounds. Still, I had some fight left in me. "Upset!" I screamed, tears forming in my eyes. "Kenny, you just stabbed me with… with… with whatever the fuck that thing is, and then you tell me not to be upset! And look at you! I mean, is there a film in town that I don't know about?!"
"I'm sorry," he repeated.
"Sorry!" I sat down heavily on the steps. The whole house seemed to be suffused with inner light right now, even the dark carpeting on the steps.
"I'm sorry that you had to be reintroduced to the enchanted world the hard way, milord Robyn."
"Kenny, I just… I don't understand. What is all this?"
Kenny leaned closer to me and embraced me, his body warm beneath the armor. I felt all trapped and stuck and tired and confused all at once. It was almost too much. I hugged him back, the strength in my arms leaving me even as I held onto him. Here I was, holding the boy who had been haunting my more erotic daydreams for the better part of two days now, and all I could do was cry and complain. Dreams weren't supposed to be like this.
Kenny pulled back and his eyes were glistening with tears, a splash of luminous daylight, resplendent with colors dripped off his cheek and graced the bare flesh of my arm. I wasn't sure why, but for some reason that single tear striking me was almost enough to break me back to myself. I inhaled sharply, getting a full dose of his scent. Cherry blossoms and ripe crisp apple.
"What's wrong with me?"
"First, there is nothing wrong with you," Kenny said, his fingers wiping tears from my face. His fingers were as strong as I remember, but so much longer, suddenly, delicate almost. "What you see now is the enchanted world, as it exists below the skin of the world you've always known."
"Like in the stories you were told as a child. This is the world where the dreams and collective unconscious of all humanity exist and breathe. It's a part of you and me and all who dream."
"I don't understand."
Kenny seemed to be searching for an answer, then he found it and spoke, softly, but with conviction. "Imagine, for a moment, if it were possible to enter into the dreams of others. To travel their dream roads, and have adventures there. Now imagine where all the dream worlds of everyone who has ever lived merge and overlap our static reality. That is the enchanted world. Separate from the solid world, yet attached to it. I have just attuned you to that world."
"So I'm not going crazy?"
"No, beloved." He smiled and I couldn't help smiling as well. The autopilot was back and clearly was hooked into the mouth again. "I did it to show you one of the secrets I hope to help you with, Robyn."
"You called me that before. You said it was my soul name. Am… am I like you?"
"Yes and no. As you see, your mother is her normal self. So are you, for the most part, now."
"But, you are different from your mother. In a very real sense, you always were."
"It's hard to explain, but believe me, it's all real. I was much like you a few years back when Father revealed the truth to me. He too showed me the enchanted world. It took me a while before I could understand it all and become my true fae self."
"This will be difficult to accept, Robyn, but you are a changeling. A fae spirit trapped in human flesh."
At about this point in time, I felt myself take a solid left turn right into a brick wall, doing something on the order of the speed of light squared. Nothing made sense, yet I couldn't help but believe every word Kenny was telling me. Either that or I was actually on the hallway carpeting bleeding to death and totally delusional. I don't know about you, but for some reason being slightly bewildered beats the hell out of significant loss of sanguine essence. Call me crazy…
"Oh god, why is this making sense to me?"
"So you believe?" Kenny asked, his eyes going wide and his smile returning full force. God, what that smile does to me.
"I don't know, Kenny. All I know right now is that I don't know and it feels right, but… oh, I dunno!"
"Okay, let's just get some things for you to take to Father's house and we can talk about it more there." Well, aside from everything else being weird, he at least made sense in that regard. We climbed up the stairs to my room and…
Okay, this enchanted business had just gone too far. Now my room was warped! The collection of polar bear stuffed animals in the corner shelf seemed to be waving and smiling at me. My toy chest, replete with my Lego collection was gilded and had tracings of silver and gemstones on it. Even my closet was done up in elaborate whirls and swirls of color. It all was enough to make my head spin. I began humming a song from one of my favorite old-music groups, Queen. "I'm going slightly mad, I'm going slight-ly mad," I whispered.
I sat on the bed, wondering about what was going on around me. Kenny went to the chest of drawers and the closet and gathered together a simple overnight kit and then approached me. "Robby?"
"We are ready to go now. Will you be okay?"
"I'm seeing stuff that isn't there, Kenny. You're suddenly beautiful beyond belief and things that shouldn't move are waving to me. I'm losing my mind."
"NO!" Kenny shouted. "Don't Robby, please! I've waited centuries for you. Don't make me wait centuries more."
"I thought I was losing it before when I thought about nothing but you… now….Kenny, I don't know anymore."
"This is the difficult part, I know. But I will be with you. I will always be with you."
I looked up at him and sorta smiled. I mean, he was reaching out to me when I felt like my mind was taking a vacation from sanity. He was reaching out for me. Wanting me.
"Kenny, before I go completely insane, I have to know one thing. Please answer me true."
"Anything," he spoke boldly, and his voice seemed to echo with ominous power.
"If this is all real, and I'm not going insane, and we were meant to find each other, like I said before… is this love?"
An eternity passed between us, and I felt like the bottom was going to drop out from under me at any time. Like it already hadn't, right? I looked into his eyes of gray and waited, while his face went through several subtle movements. Something was really bugging him, aside from having just stabbed me through the chest with that awesome weapon of his. The answer was far from simple, I had to guess, and he was trying to find a way to make it a truth I could understand.
"Robyn, in a former incarnation, the two of us have shared an oath. At least once in the past we have done this. It is an oath as sacred as any other our kind takes. And more binding than most. I can tell you that this is an oath that goes beyond merely the flesh, beyond spirit, even beyond the great Dreaming itself. I can recite it to you if you wish. Perhaps it will explain to you how I feel."
I was a little shocked at this (as if everything else hadn't shocked me) and I simply nodded, hoping it was an answer of some kind.
He cleared his throat and began speaking, his voice clear and sonorous as he began, yet that echoey quality returned to it, through it and through everything that the sound of the words touched. And strangely enough, about halfway through the first phrase, I was reciting along with him, and meaning every word.
"Blood for blood, bone for bone, life for life, until only we stride the earth. My life is in your hands, my blood is in your veins. Hold me well and I will lend you my strength, break your bond and may we both perish. Friendship I swear to you, an oath of clasped hands and shared hearts."
"I remember that," I spoke in awe. "But we meant it for more than friendship."
"Yes! Robyn, you remember!"
"Bits and pieces I remember. It's all so strange to me now."
Okay, so things were starting to make deeper sense. And I felt a wave of such overwhelming feeling come over me at having remembered that oath. I now knew at least one part of the puzzle. Kenny loved me as much as himself. More, even. And I loved him, since the moment I had seen him to a thousand years before, to a time that stretches back before recorded history on this Earth. And somehow, I realized that everything he had to tell me was true.
I was a changeling. I was fae born, wrapped and trapped in human flesh, hidden within a human soul. But from within that soul there was also a form that was waiting to come out. An outer me that matched the inner one that is/was/always has been/always will be my true self. To Mom and Dad, who I love dearly and eternally, I was Robby, their only son. But to the Dreaming, to Kenny, I was Robyn the Blue, son of a thousand years, immortal and…
"I'm not done yet, am I?" I asked. "Something still remains for me to be what you know I am, right?"
"Yes, but not much more. You are almost there now. Think not on it, beloved. This night, at Father's house shall I teach you the rest. Perhaps then your chrysalis will break and you will be in your true form."
"I should not tell you what that is, Robyn. I should let you experience it and simply be there to help you."
"Okay," I agreed. "I can see the logic in that. Am I all packed?"
"Yes," Kenny said, and the world returned to normal around me. Kenny stepped forwards, without his armor and pointy ears, and hugged me tightly against his bare chest, our skin cool and smooth against each other. "I knew from the moment I saw you that it was you again, Robby."
"Yeah. I think I did, too." I held on to him, my hands lightly brushing against the muscles of his back. "You know what? I'm gonna want one hell of an explanation from you about how much that oath means. I'm thinking it's far more than it sounds between us." And even though the new cup I wore was roomy, it suddenly felt a lot tighter than it ought to have. Oh yeah, plumped again.
Okay, now as far fetched as all that sounds, and as bizarre as it is to write it, at that moment, all was right in the world. Well, at just that moment. I even could flat out claim that he felt right under my arms, leaning against me. Comfortable, familiar somehow. No we weren't doing those myriad things I had planned while at breakfast that morning. Nor did we drop right down on top of my bed and screw like weasels for that matter. Just being with him, with no one around, with no barriers between us other than our own free will and a sudden remembrance of a chosen kinship beyond life, death, and whatever form of reincarnation we were currently in the throes of, just us together made all the sense in the world. Whichever world we chose. And for the record, that wasn't the end of the shocks for me, or for him.
Then again, at that point in time, nothing past present or future mattered as much to me as just being held in his arms, holding him in mine, two boys, two hearts, two souls that had found each other against time itself. My tears were the flow of joy as we held each other. Tears of love.
I just hoped that for whatever else I had to learn it didn't require me being on the receiving end of something sharp for a change!