Night Mother



This is kind of a cross between a story and a stream-of-consciousness and a modern-fable. It's inspired both by the human experience and Jungian psychological metaphors.

In that place, lonesome and dead, I had been consumed. The aftershocks reverberated through me, body and soul, as I scrubbed and scrubbed, trying to clean the stain, rubbing myself raw with each scrape. I already knew no one would believe me, much less offer their help. So I did the only thing I still could.

         Blaming my own body for my misfortune, I tried to shed the skin I’d been born into. There I was, hours later, scrubbing and scraping and tearing at my own flesh, hoping to reveal something purer, white like amnesia, just beneath the blood-stained surface.

         If a god exists, he must hate us so, I thought. To curse not only our bodies but even our souls. To deliver us into a world that teaches us to hate ourselves with the same intensity as we are hated.

         As the dawn elapsed, my tears overflowed until they became a great sea, in which I foundered for hours. My body was limp as the tides tossed me here and there, like a plaything of the furies, until my head finally sank beneath the waves and disappeared.

         I swallowed that last gulp of saltwater, savoring the taste of final surrender and waited for hell to steal my breath. I closed my eyes and whispered a curse. And it was in that impenetrable silence that two large eyes opened, purple and blue and black and scarlet shifting through each hue with series of successive blinks. And a voice like the wind whipping through a field of hollow reeds whispered,

         ‘You are my darker eye

         You are my other life

         Watching myself through a mirror of sorrow

         Yours is the one that suffers

         But mine is the one that bleeds

         I see you in that red hour

         From the depths of my eternal night

         Knowing beyond knowledge what waits for you here

         In this place that does not exist

         Save in the stories you do not remember

         The ones that frightened you in your childhood

         About a woman you had never met

         I see you there now, coming towards me, wounded hands outstretched

         Asking for oblivion

         I touch you once in acknowledgement, to welcome you to the end of memory


         I stood before that darkened mirror, searching for a speaker but saw nothing but blackness and the outline of a face that reminded me of my own. The long white hair, thin fingers, withered features, and eyes like two black holes, massive and empty, staring into me, came into view only moments later.

         As they emerged, I told that reflection, that crone with my face, that what I’d wanted was oblivion, not this shameful image of something I’d already discarded along with that other life. In response, it told me plaintively, in my own voice,

         ‘One night when you were sleeping, many years ago,

I used to visit you each night, to entertain you,

To shed the fear of those night visions that so frightened you

How we laughed in those blithe days

When you were still innocent and green

Until the night you told me you wanted proof of my existence

Something you could keep beside you

To remind you of my visits during the hours of day

I told you I would give it, when you were fit to receive it

But as you’re sleeping now, I have it here

Come closer and I will show you


Fearfully, I drew closer to that grey-black silhouette, hand extended to accept it’s offering. What it dropped into my fingers left a void in its head, a tear of scarlet that rolled down it’s hollow cheek, and a strange smile across its lips. And when I opened my hand to examine it, a marble of pure obsidian gazed up at me with the same smile.

As I gaped at that gore stained token, the one watching me as I watched it, the silhouette drew closer. And before I could scream, those gnarled fingers reached in, like a darting snake, plucked out my eye and switched them placing hers in mine and mine in hers. And it was with her eye that I observed her looking back at me with mine, marveling at my newfound darkness, glittering with piercing insight, like a hunter in a forest of tall shadows.

‘See yourself as I see you’ she whispered,

‘Looking back at you from this side of eternal twilight

While you remain on the side of day

And when you sleep I’ll wake you

And teach you how to play’

         When I emerged from sleep, my eyes were larger, imprinted with memories of the most wondrous, forbidden things. The most delicious secrets that infiltrate men and women’s minds when slumber takes them. They were now mine to savor forever in the wake of that elegantly shaded dream.

Fear no longer haunts me, because I’m the one haunting it – that spiteful eidolon – now. Creeping silently upon that trembling fever that wracks with guilt and shame, I fill its slumber with restless worry. And I glare at it through that black jewel of night, a gift of the mother who haunts that world, who smiles on pleasure and defiance, and protects with only her shadow and her name.




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