The Oracle’s Tale Part 2


(Beep. Music fades in)

Okay, Delphi is not my real name. But maybe you already knew that. After all, it's not something most modern parents would think to name their kid, and if there is such a thing as destiny, it would never be that heavy handed. Hopefully

Because there is that one Oracle. Maybe you’ve heard of her… The Oracle of Delphi.

I don't mean to say I'm her heir or her reincarnation. Nothing like that. I was just fascinated by her as a child because… well I needed something to hold onto. I was scared. And largely alone. I am still scared and largely alone. And her cultural memory is the only thing I have to hold onto. Which is not great, but that’s genuinely all I have . You see, my family has not been great about this. Nor do I really expect them to be. Not anymore.

When my family was finally able to acknowledge what was happening to me, they lost sight of me to play catch with words like psychic, medium, and fortune teller. But they weren’t looking for the best explanation for me. No, they were looking for the most prestigious term. The one that put the family in the best light. And each person had their own opinions, to be sure. But me and my poor, unfortunate soul latched onto one word in particular: Oracle. Because that was a word that felt halfway familiar.

No, it wasn't just familiar. It was right. Somehow. I’m not making sense.

Regardless, it made it possible for me to act, albeit in a limited way. As all good millennials do, in this time of need, I turned to the internet to guide me. This word was my North Star as I sought out something vaguely akin to a kindred spirit. And I found it in her: the Oracle of Delphi.

(Music fades out and new music fades in)

They say her real name was Pythia. And she was the high priestess of the all important Greek god Apollo. To cut the story short, he seized control of her body, and in this act of taking, he made her more than a woman in her era could have ever aspired to be. She was no long just a person. Or even just a woman, as they might have said. She became so much more: a legend, a force of nature, a narrative tool… And much more than a girl like me who has always been easily scared and overwhelmed. Pythia could handle this. People cared what Pythia had to say. They would come from all over, seeking her guidance out. They trusted her, and she trusted herself.

It's the latter part that I can't easily make sense of. How did she come to trust her visions? How could any oracle of ancient days fully accept what was happening to them.

It might have been a sign of the times, true. That back then the idea of prophetic visions or communion with deities was part and parcel with life on some level. Once upon a time, that was normal. And then we decided that it wasn't.

Obviously, it isn't that way anymore. I don't think it matters or should matter how many people believe in psychics when you consider how many people out are exploiting that belief. Because let's say there is a camp in this day and age for someone like me, well, I don't want to be in it, whatever it is. I don’t even know what to call it. A nest of vipers? It feels accurate. And you don't need powers to know that being there is not wise.

(Music fades out and new music fades in)

I can't convey to you how scared I was in the wake of my teacher's near death experience. And, yes, it came to that. Asthma attacks aren’t supposed to be that risky when they happen in the shadow of First World medicine, but the inhaler she diligently carried turned out to be defective. She did not know that. She did not suspect that. It didn’t come out it until she was in her hour of need.

That night after was the worst, yes, but my fear and anxiety never really died down. It got to the point that I feared something as mundane as sleep, which in some ways turned out to be a solution. Albeit not a good one. Regardless, the pounding in my chest was more than enough to keep me up at night. But it was not going to hold me over forever.

My mind was almost always racing. I didn’t know what was happening, but there was this idea in my head that I couldn’t escape from this.. That in one way or another, it was part of me, encoding in my DNA just as firmly as my dark hair and eyes.

They were my grandfather’s dark hair and his eyes. I don’t know why it hadn’t come up sooner.

(Music fades out and new music fades in)

My grandfather spoke of prophecies whenever he and I were together. In fact, it was all he ever wanted to talk about. He wholeheartedly believed in them, and he believed that this ability lurked somewhere in our family’s blood. That isn’t to say he thought he had it. He didn’t. But his grandmother did, he would swear. And he’d fill the room with the tales of the unfamiliar people his grandmother supposedly helped. Reciting names of her clients like some Catholics recite the names of the saints: firmly and knowingly. It was the same type of belief, I guess. You know this tale to be true with every fiber of your being, but you weren’t there for it. You just inherited it.

These were his favorite tales of the many he had. Or I always assumed they were because they were the only one I ever heard them tell. My cousins remember his repertoire being a lot fuller, but that is their truth to tell or deny. On that, I can say nothing. But looking back, I can’t help but think it was the sight of me that pulled this particular set of stories out of him. When I was around, it was all he would talk about, staring me down while he did it. His dark eyes were piercing and the type of cold that sucked up all the surrounding heat. Like the heat that was keeps the human body alive.

Obviously made me uneasy. When he looked at me, I felt both attacked and exposed. That’s not a good explanation, but I don’t have a good explanation. It's hard to explain, and time hasn't been kind to the memory. But in short, Grandpa knew what I was. But I didn't. I just knew I didn’t want to be that, or  even be around him. I said as much to my mother who--at the time--didn't give his beliefs any weight. With that in mind though, there was really only one way of interpreting my concerns and only one good way of reacting to them.

She swore we would never see him again. And it was a promise she was very happy to make.

That happened when I was nine. Now I was twelve. And ready to believe him. Or at least, I was more than ready to believe that I needed his help.

If this has been a movie, we could have skipped right to the part where I just pick up the phone and dialed his number, having inexplicably remembered or had overheard it somehow. But life is never as simple as the stories we absorb. And sometimes I resent it for that. I resent life for all the impositions as well as its failure to meet my needs. Never mind the way it always seems to double down on the things.

Because really, there was only one person who knew how to reach my mother's father. And that was my mother. My very skeptical, almost hard hearted mother.

(Music fades out. Beep.)