Chapter 02 - Jaylina's Lament

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This ocean of tears we believe is our reality extends far beyond what most people can perceive into another place, where souls roam like blooms of graceful moon jellies in vast deep fields of energy and motion. Where stars are not coalescing balls of igniting hydrogen, but masses in space-time where souls gravitate to harmonize with the multiversal collective. This is where we are, even if we do not know it now.

People thought of Jaylina as a witch. It wasn't true, of course. She didn't cast spells or perform supernatural rituals. Her gift, however, seemed indistinguishable from witchcraft by those who did not know her. And she rarely let anyone get to know her. People who approached her found her mysterious, then odd, then uncomfortable, chilling, and finally distanced themselves. Since she had no convenient way to explain her gift, or hide it with any reliability, she let them go. It was easier to let them go.

Jaylina knew things. When she looked at a person, talked with them, or even watched them as they went about their business, they sometimes revealed their secrets to her without knowing. She perceived every detail of her world using every one of her senses, collected this information, and could unconsciously recall it even years later. Her brain analyzed this information unceasingly. Even seemingly random bits of data, like butterflies perched on summer flowers, or the wind blowing high in the oak trees along the road outside the small fishing town where she lived, were collected, stored and processed. It was as if the entire world whispered to her, revealing its secrets atom by atom.

Hungry for purpose and meaning, she read constantly. Books on astrology. Medicine. Mythology. Science. History. She especially absorbed books on astronomy and cosmology, with their illustrations of planets, stars, and galaxies that she hoped might contain some hint to her existence, her purpose. Even if they made her feel insignificant in such an infinite universe, these books were more real to her than the events of her own fragile life. If they were not exactly a safe escape from it, they at least allowed her to approach it from another perspective. As Jaylina's collection of information grew, so did the power of her intuition.

One day at a corner café where she often went in the early mornings to read, Jaylina bit into a warm croissant and immediately intuited that the baker was having an affair with the town seamstress, and his wife knew it. Jaylina did not consciously understand how she knew this to be. She was no detective with overt powers of deductive reasoning that would conclude that an over-buttered pastry might be the last link in a chain of information that allowed her to arrive at this epiphany.

She did not willfully piece together that the pastry was over-salted because it had been prepared by the baker's son, who was still mastering the recipe. Which meant the baker was not tending his kitchen that morning. Nor did she intellectually consider that the town mayor was wearing grey trousers with a small tear in the knee the day before or that grey was not his usual color (he was a fastidious man), which meant trouser repair must have been unavailable to him that day.

She did not immediately recall that weeks before she overheard on the wind a woman weeping from a direction that could only have come from the baker's residence.

All this information and more she had collected subliminally, and her mind, like an automated machine, had fit together the pieces into a four-dimensional puzzle that built for her an inevitable conclusion that was undeniably accurate.

All Jaylina perceived was that she bit into the croissant and knew what she knew. Unable to help any of those involved in this painful triangle in any way she could see, she just let it go.

Jaylina's father had been a mariner. When she was a child, every day he would go out in his boat and every night he'd come back, and if he'd caught his share of fish, he'd sing a little sea shanty, "Come find yourself away with me, away with me, my lady!" He'd amuse her with stories of sirens and mermaids that would keep her occupied for hours by the light of the fire.

Every evening she prepared his supper, an activity she took on ever since her mother had left them. Sometimes he would let her go out with him, and he taught her the ways of the currents and the tides. He showed her how to use the stars to find her way home. That's when her father first understood his daughter's gift of intuition, and he nurtured it. "Someday," he used to say, "you will appreciate that gift. Someday it will help you find your purpose."

"What purpose, father?"

He never said.

One shadow-cloud day he went out and never returned. At fourteen, Jaylina was on her own.

For years after, she would ritually wait by the docks, scanning the blade-cut of the horizon for the silhouette of his little fishing boat, waiting to hear his sea shanty again. It took a long time, but she eventually realized the necessity of letting him go.

"Where did he go?" she would ask the world. The world would never answer. It was beyond her intuition. That was so long ago. Odd that she should find herself thinking about that at this pivotal point in her life. She was twenty six years old.

There are choices, and there are choices. The decision to terminate her pregnancy had not been an easy or pleasant one, but a necessary one, so she thought at the time. The father was a married man. She preferred married men because they never stayed around long.

He worked for the university as an astronomer. Jaylina would bring him tea late at night while he tilted his head to the stars. He would tell her stories of the universe, and she learned a great deal about the cosmos. She became an apprentice of sorts. He taught her physics and mathematics and the movements of the stars. Because of her intuitive talents, she was a natural student. Mathematics became a language she could speak with ease. She could predict the motions of stars and planets in her head.

Then, at his insistence, and perhaps her curiosity, she became his lover.

There was love there once, she decided. But when she told him about her condition, he gripped her arm in his clenched fist and brought her face so close to his she could smell the putrid meat of his gums and the caffeine-stained teeth they held. He whisper-hissed with a madman's eyes that he would kill them both if she decided to have the baby. Jaylina was a survivor, not a fighter. She required no special gift to see she couldn't afford to bear this terrified man's child. So she chose to let it go.

On that day, lying on the wooden table while she listened to the doctor prepare his instruments nearby, Jaylina's doubts scratched at the insides of her consciousness. Some buried instinct bellowed deep from within her soul that she should choose another path, that she was headed away from her happiness. She did not recognize this feeling.

What happiness, she thought.

In the midst of her doubt, she heard the world finally speak back to her. She believed she could even see it moving in the corner of her eye like some kind of spirit, but when she turned to look, there was nothing there. The world-spirit encouraged her, promising she was doing the necessary thing, fulfilling her purpose. It told her that not to trust emotions that clouded her intuition, impaired her judgment.

At that moment, she experienced the uncertain terror the newly blind must feel when they first lose their vision. She surrendered to the guidance of this spirit, and she cried when she felt the departure of that new soul nestled in her womb, and part of her own soul left with it. She bled that day. She bled until she thought she would die.

But she didn't.

Damn him, she thought, recalling how intimidated she had felt after her wild-eyed lover had threatened her. Damn them all, the ones we let too close. Who could she trust if not even herself?

She had even dared to choose a name for the child, though she never spoke it aloud:

Aiden.

She would have called him Aiden.

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