Shadows curl around her like smoke. They are close tonight. She bats their presence away…as if they are flies that distract her from the task in hand. She cannot settle, cannot concentrate. Can’t think for their insistence. She leans back in the chair, stretching tired limbs. Resting her eyes… just for a moment.
But then they are there. All of them.
The dark screen of her eyelids peopled with presence. There would be no rest. They clamour for her attention. She sighs, beginning the slow process of teasing them apart. Most of them are no more than illusion… fragments of herself, shards of the shattered lens through which she sees the world. Memories… those she can dismiss, banishing them to the outer realms of consciousness; some with tenderness and an aching loss. Some no more than a replaying of the day, drawing from it the lessons learned. They can wait.
Fears, hopes, dreams… they mingle with the milling shades. They too can go. There is always time for those… and each one resolved brings another in its wake. They are hers. She has no place here.
But there are others. They are not seen, nor are their voices heard. They are felt, known, present. Older selves and younger, faces from the past far and recent. And the Others. The command from she knows not where… to look, to feel, to open her heart and let them in. These are the lost ones, strewn across the tapestry like a myriad blind stars.
And she must listen, hearing their tales, letting them empty themselves of their pain before they can move on… hearing with love the secrets their hearts had kept; hearing without judgement what none had cared to hear. There is only compassion. Empathy. An empty vessel waiting to be filled.
Winter rain batters the empty seafront; the shutters of the hot dog stall rattle in the wind beside the tawdry sign of the fortune teller. Behind the brocade curtain, tears roll down the faded face of the sin-eater as she opens her heart…