Summer Festival time is over and everybody is back to work on Dog Island. We pick up a couple of days later as Xiao Mei is trying to get to sleep. Her dream has been bothering her. I don't mention it in this passage, but if it doesn't keep coming back to her, she thinks about it, which is practically the same as having it over and over again.
She doesn't need a seer, or a priest, or a witch to figure out what it means. It's pretty obvious--I mean, as an author I'm almost ashamed that I beat you over the head with it. But she wonders: is it wishful thinking? Is it Qin Qin's silly fairy tale optimism and opportunism that has just rubbed on her? Is she amenable to the idea that Dr. Wong is someone special because she's afraid of venturing into the wide world on her Island's appointed quest?
She really wants to ask the closest person in her life, Lum, her mom, what she thinks. But Lum is potentially tied up in the consequences, so Xiao Mei knows she cannot ask directly and get a straight answer. What would you do?
If after you have read this installment, you think Xiao Mei must have gone to a sales leadership seminar for businesspeople, just remember that American motivational speakers have been mining the visualization techniques that Buddhist and tantric esthetes have been practicing for centuries. So, get off of it. (But it's not beyond comprehension that Clete may have gone to a Jack Canfield talk or two...).
Anyway, the First Princesses, the Cousins, are extremely empathic with one another. But you will learn more
... as the story continues ...
[Reporter captures remembrance by the Questor for this entry]
U.S. Time: Sunday, August 26, 2012
Island Time: Dragon, Month 7, Day 10, Xingqi 7
Island Time: Dragon, Month 7, Day 10, Xingqi 7
Last night, when we retired to bed we lay there for a while. I was restless. It was one of those nights when everything all seems just a lot louder and more intense. You feel everything more.”
“Mommy? Are you awake?”
“Not really. You know I never sleep soundly.”
“Would you like to try something we learned in Dr. Wong’s class?”
“It’s what he calls a thought experiment and a visualization.”
“Nothing will explode will it?”
“Mommy! It’s not chemistry. It will all be in our heads. Or YOUR head. I’ll be the one guiding the experiment. You just have to imagine something.”
“I think I can manage that.”
“Close your eyes. Pretend it is one hour from now. What are you feeling?”
“Pretty much the same thing now.”
“Go ahead and say everything you are experiencing. Like the weather, things against your skin, sounds around you …”
“I feel the midnight breeze passing through. I feel the hardness of the planks under us. Occasionally the little feet of a bug that is crawling on my leg. I hear the call of the night birds, and frogs. And the chirping insects with the really long antennae. I feel your hand on mine.”
She went on for a bit. After that, I guided her through imagining a day a week from today. And then I had her climbing the tallest tree on The Island, standing at the top and looking down. She said just thinking about it gave her stomach an unsettling feeling, and she felt her hands sweat.
“My. This is quite exciting even though I haven’t moved a bit from where I am,” said mother. “What is this for? Why do this?”
“He said part of the fear in doing something new is that it is unknown. If I practice doing something new in my head, I will be able to do it more easily because I have done it in my mind many times. But we must start training our minds by imagining things we already know.”
“That makes a kind of sense to me. He’s a very good teacher isn’t he?”
“I really love his teaching. And I love that he is my teacher.”
“I’m very pleased with him myself.”
“Do you think … that … you might let me go to his university?”
“To America? Mei. What are you thinking? Even if I could think of such a thing, American schools are very, very expensive. There is no way that would be a possibility.”
“But he seemed to think there might be some options.”
“That is not the plan for you.”
“But there are ways that he could make it easier for me, to transition. To become social …”
“Mei. Please. Not now.”
“Why are you being like this?
“May I take you through another visualization?”
“You are setting up a trick aren’t you? If you are going to do what I think you’re going to do it won’t solve anything. You are going to make me try to see something like you would. Or like he would.”
“If I did, would that be a bad thing?”
“Yes, it would be a bad thing.”
“It will just make everyone unhappy.”
“Are you happy then Mommy?”
“Of course I’m happy. This is not science. He calls himself a scientist. This is witchery. That is all I am doing tonight for this kind of thing.”
“I’m not going to make you look through anyone else’s eyes.”
“What is it then? What do you want to know?”
“I just want to know how you feel about something.”
“Why don’t you just ask me?”
“This might give me a more honest answer.”
“Are you saying that I lie to you?”
“You are my mother. You say things to protect me.”
“Will you be honest with yourself?”
“As much as is possible … for me.”
It is September 11, 2012. A little more than three weeks from today, just 24 days in the future. A boat from the Protectorate has anchored just outside of the harbor. A lighter was sent into the harbor and is tied up at the landing. The weather is breezy. A storm passed over just an hour earlier, so it is extremely humid. We are all feeling very wet, the ground is wet and the deck of the landing is wet.
“Tell me why the boat has come.” I ask.
“The boat has come for Clete.”
“Who is present there?”
“A man in the Protectorate navy uniform. He is putting Clete’s bags into the lighter. Clete is there of course.”
“Is anyone seeing him off?”
“We all are. You girls are all wearing the clothes he had shipped here for you. You girls all want to cry, but you are restraining yourselves.”
“You have been ordered to show royal repose in the presence of the Protectorate.”
“Are the Sea Witches there?”
“Hmm. No. No, they’re not.”
“What is the Professor doing now?”
“He is facing each pair of us, mother and daughter, expressing thanks with a deep bow of salute. As he stands in front of me, both you and me, he looks solemn. This is a ceremonial farewell. He turns from me and moves on to the next. I don’t like it. I want him to take my hands. I want him to hold me. But he moves on. Two more. Then the Security Council. He hands something to Mu as main Island Representative. Then he steps into the lighter craft. The operator starts the motor and they begin to move off. He keeps his eyes on us, and then waves to us, and then sets his eyes out in the direction of the sea. I stand there until I cannot see him anymore. I am so overwhelmed by emotion that I have to fall on my knees.
“Why? Why did you leave me again? I waited so long for you. Don’t go! Please come back. Come back. Take me with you. I tried to be good. I really did! Please. Ahhhhhh. Aiiiiiiiieeee. Euhhhhhh.”
In all of my life, I have never heard such sounds of grief come out of my mother. Her cries were coming deep from within her chest. It was scary. It was as if a demon was inside of her. But what was scarier, I could not bring her back out of the visualization. I tried holding her. I tried restraining her. I tried siting her up. But she just kept crying and wailing. I even tried slapping her, but that didn’t do anything. This never happened when Dr. Wong took us through visualization. I didn’t know what to do. Should I go get him? But it’s so dark out. And then someone spoke to me.
“Xiao Mei!” It was Qin Qin. “I hear your mother crying. My mother is crying too. She just started all of a sudden in her sleep.”
“It’s terrible! I don’t know what to do.”
“I think they’re in what I call their ‘hive’ state.”
“Haven’t you ever noticed that about the Firsts? They act like bees or ants. Once in a while they move and think like one. Mostly they do it during the Seven-Seven Dance. Sometime during morning stretches. A few other times. This is the first time I’ve seen it while Mom was sleeping.”
“Why does it happen? What brings it on?”
“It’s because they are avatars of the Empress I think.”
“But aren’t we as well? As are all of her female descendants?”
“I guess. It only seems to be the Firsts that can do it. My mother never talks about it. But she knows exactly what your mom is thinking and feeling sometimes. Don’t you ever see that with your mother?”
“I think they’re just all very empathetic. Do you think we should get the Sea Witch? Do you think she can calm them?”
“I think we should just wait. My mother always likes to say ‘High winds do not last all morning.’ They sound awful though. Do you have any idea what might have brought it on? Was your mother asleep?”
I did not want to share with Qin Qin what I was trying to find out from my mother yet.
“I don’t know.”
“I’m going try lighting some of Mom’s favorite incense. Maybe that will bring her out? If it works, I’ll do it for you too.”
I returned to mother who was still moaning and wailing. I just cradled her in my lap, sang to her, and stroked her hair. It seemed like the longest time, but she eventually did become quiet, whimpering silently in the dark. She eventually came back to her senses.
“Oh, ah. Ai. What happened?”
“I’m sorry. I made you rehearse how you would feel when Dr. Wong will leave the Island.”
“How? Why? I was so … Where is he?”
“I’m sure he’s sleeping in his cottage.”
“I barely know him.”
“You know him better than you think you do Mommy.”
“What do you mean?”
“When I went to him on Seven-Seven for advice, I did not just ask him about college. I also asked him how he would conduct my quest for the Prince.”
“Why would you do that? That is something you cannot tell an outsider.”
“Because it seems impossible; like I would have to search the whole earth. And I trust him. But he said it would be as easy as just finding a man that you would take as a husband, and just start there. He suggested that when I had a list of four or five candidates, just pick the best one and work on selling him. A few days later, he took me through the same kind of thought experiment searching all of the major cities of the Pacific Rim using data that his assistant collected.”
“It can’t be that simple.”
“Mother. Stop and just think for a minute. If I had suggested to you, ‘Do you think Dr. Wong is the Great Prince?’, what would you have said?”
“CLETE? The Great Prince? The One? That is the strangest idea when you think about what kind of person he is—how rude …”
“So your answer would have been ‘no’ then?”
“Of course. I would have said no.”
“But, how did your body just answer that question right now?”
“That … that does not make any sense.”
“Forget what your head is telling you Mommy! What does your heart tell you?”
“My heart is telling me that I am very tired. That whole episode exhausted me. It’s too much tonight. I need to sleep darling.”
She closed her eyes and exhaled as if she had dropped a heavy burden. She gave a whimpering sob. I whispered to her.
“Sleep easy mother. Because Dr. Wong is still with us.”
She then passed into the deepest slumber I’d ever seen her have. I got out of bed and went over to Lian and Qin Qin’s cottage. Qin Qin was sitting on her porch, writing in the dark.
“The incense seemed to work. I don’t hear your mom, so I figured she was OK.”
“Qin, listen. I wanted to tell you. I BELIEVE you.”
“Well, she is very sensitive to all of her different kinds of smoke that she likes.”
“No, no. I mean I believe you about the Professor being the Prince.”
“WHAT? REALLY? The Questor believes me? What happened?”
“I have been having … dreams.”
“Me too! We need to call a general meeting tomorrow then. Oh thank you! California, Here I COME!”
“NO. It’s not that easy. We cannot just make a pronouncement. We need a case. Does he match up with a lot of oracles and prophecies?”
“We REALLY need to resolve the number one criterion. He HAS to be a four-times dog. Without that, he’s just a ‘nice guy’ to the Firsts.”
“I know, I know. They weren’t buying my workaround with the American clock time.”
“You probably need to liberally interpret some of those prophecies then and make a LOT of them match up to compensate.”
“Unfortunately, my mother, the Guardian of Truth and Light, has created a strong aversion in me to keep from truth-stretching. My backside hurts just thinking about it. I’ll do what I can. You know something that’s bothering me though? If he IS the Prince, why hasn’t he made a move on one the Firsts yet? They’d be reincarnated lovers right? So you think they’d be itching to make up for lost time.”
“He sort of did with Feng, but I thought it was really forced and half-hearted. There was no passion there that I could see.”
“And as fiery and emotional as my mom is, there are no sparks there, I’m sorry to say. He is definitely not helping his own case.”
“I have a theory. He’s married, or at least he was, to that Rico woman. Being the super-loyal man that he is, he will not make a move on ANY other woman while she is alive.”
“OH! I’ve got it. We need change your Questor mission a bit. When you get out of here, you need to hunt her down and assassinate her. I’ll come along and help.”
“Ben dahn!! Idiot! Get real! How ridiculous! If he couldn’t find her, how could we? We just need to get him to give up the hold he thinks she has on him.”
“That doesn’t sound easy. How about we get him to ‘cheat’ on his absent wife with one of our mothers, he will figure that he broke that fidelity rule anyway, so why now move on?”
“Sounds good, but that would make him an adulterer, at least to himself, and it would undermine the essence of what the Great Prince is supposed to be.”
“But that wife is NOT his REAL WIFE, so it shouldn’t really count, should it? We have to think of something. We’re running out of time.”
“You certainly didn’t help matters with the botched kidnapping plan of yours. I can’t believe you got the others to go along with you.”
“Dr. Wong said I’m young, so I’m allowed to make mistakes.”
“I’m surprised he hasn’t airlifted himself out of here already. Fei’s mother seems intent on driving him away with her viciousness. But he hasn’t bolted. So that’s a good sign that something is holding him.”
“Maybe we don’t have to be in a rush. If he truly is the Great Prince and he does escape to Los Angeles, we do know where he lives and we can go get him when we’re ready.”
“We need to keep up the pressure. I think it’s better to complete the quest while he’s here. I think it will be harder to get him back here once he’s left. He hates the climate here. We need to find out what all the other Seconds think too.”
© Copyright 2012 by Vincent Way, all rights reserved.