April 10, 2008 at 7:37 pm | Posted in writing | 8 Comments
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The old crone, he had refrained from naming her though not out of decency nor fear of her response. He realised that he meant it as a compliment but that it had been badly translated. He looked to her again and saw her finger crooked, then point and indicate a card. It was all some misunderstanding that had lead him here. He had thought she held some secret possibility as indicated by the complex network of symbols, stars and moons and totem creatures thinly painted on the front door but the language problem simply wasn’t to be overcome, the card looked to him like an invitation to indulge in some lurid fantasy when all he had wanted was direction home. It is unfortunate, he thought, selecting the word almost by accident. She smiled at him and held out her palm. A kind of primitive gesture to indicate she is unarmed, he remembered but he could not recall if the appropriate response was to take the hand or simply to pass some shiny metal object over it.
It is as if they are aliens to themselves, he thought, passing out again into the sunlight,


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  1. wonderful writing, puts the reader right there, very powerful; and the last line achieves real distance.

  2. i got into this–not knowing what to expect–the last line was excellent.

  3. You have just written my life.We are aliens to ourselves.
    She wasnt very goodat the tools of her trade if she couldnt overcome the language barrier, a real crone knows many languages, and knows which one to speak it to, without being told.
    And we are always armed.

  4. This is remarkable writing; and jo is quite right, very powerful too…

  5. Paul your writing resonates…you shower us with delectable descriptions and at the same time spoil us with the driving force which powers your words to a stunning conclusion.

  6. So, ummm, where do we get lurid invitations?
    I’m guessing the card was of the higher archana. there is a great analogy here of human interaction and the broad subjective nature of the tarot. Depending on the context of the fellow cards or fellow gestures has implicaitons of meaning yet are intrinsicaly vague in themselves. Some, obviously more vague than other. The open upward palm extended…

  7. images of creationism popped into my mind as i read this… for some reason, i have the feeling a higher power, once having created us, would immediately pass out in the sunlight from witnessing the sheer alien-ness of us…

    phenomenal wordplay, as usual…

  8. suddenly, as he moved to press a coin into her hand, she turned her palm upwards, revealing that she held the moon in one hand, and, as she lifted her other, he saw that the sun rested in the other. An odd shivering overtook him as he realized that the old crone was the empress of the deck, and that his failing to recognize this might leave him wandering aimlessly, trying to find his way back to Kansas,- but then he hailed a cab and all was well.

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