LOVE’S LIES WOVEN - WEFT AND WARPED
(A Yarn Unravelled)
In the face of the harshness which had gone before, Julianna had been helpless to fight it. She could not move; the Guardians would not let her speak. But now confronted by such a sorrowful supplication, she had no power with which to fight.
"Am I sorry, truly sorry, but I do not know you. Yet, methinks, that if I did, then I would love you," she said, gently.
"But you do know me. Do you know us all."
"No. It is not possible. Have I learned, only recently, that I am not the person that I believed I was but I do not believe that it is in me to be this vile, so vile a person that you all, all except you, have claimed me to be. You all speak as though you know me and know me well - but this cannot be. I treat none - no one - as you have accused me, I try so hard to not: and, in Truth, Love, do I swear that if I met you I would love you. For who could not love a heart which speaks so sweet and true?"
"You lie," said the voice of Hate.
"You lie," cried the voice of Ashamed.
"You lie!" whispered cloaked Belittled.
"None, she says!"
"Untruth, Sisters," declared Ignored.
"Uncloak, Sisters!" commanded Love.
"No! This cannot be!" exclaimed Julianna, with shame and horror and disbelief, as the sisters-seven, the Guardians of the Path, slipped back the cowls of their mantles and she bore witness to seven images of her Self.
"It can," she said.
"It is," she said.
"It's true," she said.
"We're the Guardians of the Path," she said.
"We are the Guardians of your path," she said.
"We had to close it - for repairs," she said.
"We are you," she said.
"You cannot be," she, Julianna the woman, said to these, the spectres of her very self, even as she recognised the untruth behind her denial. She closed her eyes, wearied by the shock, her confusion and lack of comprehension. She didn't want to see any more. She tried to breathe deeply, but the briars that bound her held her chest tight and the movement brought their thorns to pierce her clothes and prick into her flesh.
"It is only an illusion," one vision of herself said to her.
"It is all an illusion," said another.
"Then what is real?"
"Nothing. Everything, but everything, is an illusion," said yet another still.
"If that is so," she asked of her selves, still in the dark place she had retreated to when she had closed her eyes, "then how can I free myself?"
"Or your mind?"
"Both, I suppose," she sighed, tired, sad, despairing.
"The brambles. The brambles." A tear, swollen and heavy, seeped from under an eyelid and rolled down her cheek, as she realised that she had, indeed, become cruelly entangled in more ways than one. As the teardrop reached her mouth it stung at a small crack. She licked her lips and swallowed, but the taste of salt lingered.
"But you are free."
"Of course you are."
"You became caught without noticing."
"So all you need do to free yourself is to look."
It took some moments for Julianna to realise what had been said and what it meant, before she opened her eyes and looked down. She experienced no surprise. "There's nothing there. Nothing."
"We told you it was an illusion," a ghost-self told herself.
"We told you, it is all an illusion."
"Then the reverse is also true? Just as the brambles were, so too is the freedom I have now?"
"And you? All of you?"
"That is a frightening thought."
"As even is that."
"So what is the purpose of this illusion? Why am I here? Why this? Why now?"
"To change the illusion. As it is always changing. As it must." The seven sisters spoke in chorus.
"But to what?"
"'Tis for you to decide."
"Me? Or you as me?"
The figure that had once spoken of Hate with such hatred stepped forward. "You, as yourself," she said.
Judgement, no longer judging, spoke next. "We have played our part."
"But," added the voice of Love, still lovingly, " shall we remain as long as is necessary."
"To what end?" Julianna asked of her sister-selves who, once again, joined in chorus.
"That we cannot tell you. We have asked our questions, as we said we must. Now it is for you to find answers, as we told that only you have."
With that, as one and in the briefest of moments, the seven sisters circled around Julianna turned to stone. They became no longer aspects of herself but mere likenesses, and to witness, she found the sight and the instant silence more eerie than when they had thrown back their cowls and she had stared at seven living other selves.
She continued to sit as she had, though comfortable now the brambles that had held her prisoner were gone. Real or illusion? They had felt real. She had seen them. They had scratched at her skin and drawn blood. She had seen that, too. But they had also disappeared as quickly, if not more quickly, than they had appeared, leaving no trace that they had ever been.
As she sat, she stared at each of the statues in turn, and then again, deeply preoccupied with her thoughts. Thoughts that held little coherence, that were barely a jumble and tumble of words, images, memories, coloured by a passion here, an emotion there. By the King! This journey had taken her in directions so different to any other she had known. Everything had become so alien to her. There were no reference points familiar to her and towards which she could set her thinking. She knew not where to begin - how to begin - to take the confusion in her head and structure it, let alone put it into something constructive.
At length, she rose and slowly approached the statue of Love itself. The Love that had promised to remain as long as would be needed. It was a tentative but warm hand that reached out and cupped the chill cheek of white stone.
"You can be of no help to me now, so why stay?" She spoke aloud, even though she knew there was no hearing to the ears. Yet to her own ears, she sounded bitter, disillusioned, disheartened, deeply so.
"My, oh my!" she said, then gave a short, dry laugh devoid of any humour as she was struck only by the irony of her situation. "Truly, just as I knew I would, have I arrived at Rock Bottom." How could she have guessed it would be quite such a literal place?