The Oracle’s Tale Part 1
(Beep. Music fades in)
I know you have a lot of questions for me. Because that's what always happens. And also, there's a large asymmetry of information happening here--I know so much about you, but whatever forces are whispering this information to me aren't returning any of your calls. Or, more simply, I'm dreaming of you with an astonishing degree of clarity and accuracy, but you've never seen my face--either when you are awake or you’re sleep. Or if you have, you don't realize it, which is pretty much the same thing. And exactly what I’m going for.
Because look, I'm not going to advertise myself as a fortune teller or psychic or medium or whatever the word is this week. That seems woefully impractical when you can't control your powers. Which I can't. If I could, I would have shut them off a long time ago.
Also, it seems… scummy? I guess… I mean, I’d be charging a fee for something that happens to you, assuming this is real. I think it's real. Do you?
On the other hand, knowing creates a sense of responsibility. Or an obligation more accurately. Not even to the other person but to myself. But obligations always come with a choice. At least, I think they do. And I think I’m making okay choices, but I don’t know.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's go back to the beginning of this nightmare, no pun intended.
(Music fades out and new music fades in)
I was a child when it started. Just about to enter my preteens, or so I think. It's hard to know how much of it was real when all I was getting at first were little things--items, words, glimpses—scraps that really could have meant nothing, anything, or everything. I would go about my day to day life and something would catch my eye, reminding me of a dream. As dream and reality lined up perfectly. Or I'd see a word or item in a dream that would have been out of place in my daily life, but sure enough, a few days later, it would appear.
There’s so many little moments like this. The line between truth and distorted memory is blurry. But there is one instance that stands out in my mind.
(Music fades out and new music fades in)
Once upon a dream, I opened my eyes and saw the word lung written across a paper presented in front of me where I was sitting. Almost like it was waiting for me to open my eyes and see it. My dream eyes, this is, not my real one. But I really can’t explain to you, besides context, what the difference really is.
I took the sight in. But it wasn’t that interesting, and I was a child. It was straightforward that my eyes only lingered for a moment. I lifted my head to myself in my classroom. The classroom I spent every day in. I knew it quite well. Every last detail matched perfectly. It looked so real…
And yet, I still I knew I was dreaming, but I could easily convince myself I wasn't. After all, back then, I still didn't really know what was happening myself. Never mind understand. Which I still don’t… But back then, I didn't have a schema with which to latch myself onto in the storm of surprises and other strong winds. There was just me lost in unfamiliar, familiar territory. Scared and very much confused.
I lifted my eyes. I watched my teacher go through the motions of teaching math to restless middle school students. We weren't a well-behaved lot. To put it lightly. We weren’t worse than your average middle school class, but we were a remarkably average lot before a woman who was far from remarkably average.
She was too good for us. Too warm. She was like the keeper of one of the flames that kept the world warm, and there she was, jeopardizing the world just to teach us math.
And I cherished her for it.
In the dream, she went about teaching. She moved. She gestured. She walked. But the paper sat still in front of me, motionless. A paper like all papers. But somehow it was yelling. Or it felt like it was yelling. I didn’t hear anything, but still I could the magnitude of the word all without hearing it. It shook me. Or I was just trembling. Either was possible.
I tried to look away from my teacher to find the source of this: of the note or of the yelling, or of all these things I didn't understand. But I couldn't. I couldn't move. I couldn't look away from my teacher. And I didn't understand why
Lungs, I felt. Lungs.
And saw her.
(Music fades out)
The next week at school she has an asthma attack. A horrible one. On a day she was not armed with a working inhaler.
(Music fades in)
I didn't help her. Not in the way you might expect. I ran to the classroom next door and got an adult far more capable than I have ever been.
That teacher was the only one at the school I ever talked to. She was one of the few adults in my life that I felt like I could talk to. So when the weight of the dream got to be too much for me, well, I ran to her. I waited until lunch, and I slipped into her classroom to spend the hour talking.
And that's when I found her.
Lungs, I heard.
Lungs, the dream said.
Her lungs are what almost killed her.
(Music fades out. Beep.)