“Chaos, I’m ready.” Nearly fifteen-years-old, sitting comfortably on my bed, I pull the vision of the well and glowing tree into my mind’s eye. Holding my gaze until my leg twitches, I felt myself lean back against the well. Unable to see Chaos, I shifted my thoughts to the intricate weaving of the silver bracelet he wore on one of our first encounters. Watching the tree comfortably with my legs stretched out while keeping the memory of the bracelet fixed in my mind. I let my mind go as I waited for Chaos.
Why is there only one tree here and why does it glow? … How does it glow? Following the massive trunk (a trunk that would probably take 150 people holding hands to circle) to the tips of the branches. Branches that when stared at seem to go directly into Chaos. No, the branches don’t go into Chaos … do they? Squinting to find the tips. What the —
“Am I interrupting?” Sitting down on the edge of the well, next to me.
“No.” Surprised that he came.
His lavender eyes twinkling in amusement as he raised his thick black eyebrows in response.
“Ok, yes.” Glancing over at the tree, “But, you’re the reason why I’m here so no, you’re not interrupting.” Looking up at him.
“Any ideas?” Nodding towards the tree.
Shaking my head no, I look at the ornament hanging from his belt. “You’re barefoot.” Shocked to see his ten toes peek out from under his robe.
“I am.” Lifting his robe up higher.
“So many questions.” Leaning my head against the edge of the well. “None of which is why I called you.” Focus, Geri. Sitting up, “I’m ready to meet the Devil.” Meeting Chaos’ eyes.
“Are you?” A faint smile played on his mouth as he reached out his hand to cover my third eye.
Closing my eyes, I felt the warmth of his touch flow through me. Calming my nerves while at the same time, nudging my fears surrounding the Devil.
“You’ve been busy.” Pulling his hand away.
“I have been.” Feeling good at the acknowledgment.
“Now, you tell me.” Coming down on the ground next to me. “I like hearing it from you.”
Moving over so we could both face the tree and have our backs supported, I became overwhelmed with emotion, “I don’t think an adult has ever come to me.” Tears splashing on my leg.
“You’ll change that.” Patting the teardrop that had just fallen.
“Not in this life.” Using my sleeve to wipe my face.
“You will.” Patting my knee once more before pulling it back into his lap; exposing his bracelet. Following my eyes, he looks down at his bracelet. “You used this to call for me.” Running his finger over it before smiling at me.
Giddy with surprising him, “I like it. I’ve never seen anything like it and sometimes you don’t answer when I call for you so, I focused on something physical you wear. I don’t know what it means but it looks cool.” Feeling like I suddenly overstepped my bounds using the bracelet to call him, I cautiously met his gaze.
“You did fine.” Reassuring me with his smile. “Now, tell me what has been going on.”
And that’s exactly what I did. When I finished, we sat looking at the tree. Afraid to say anything, I waited for him to speak.
“Have you thought of naming the demon you’re becoming friends with?”
Out of everything you could have asked, “I … “ Looking over at the tree, “I didn’t think I could.”
“Ask him.” Smoothing down the tail of his belt like it was something that he wasn’t used to.
“Ok.” Unsure of how that will go over.
“Now, part of what you were supposed to do was to see the souls and spirits — “
“Wait! They’re souls?” Looking at him with wide eyes.
“Yes Child, they’re souls. Don’t you remember our first encounter?” Grinning at my realization.
“Not really … I will though.” Tilting my head at what I just said, “Well, that makes a lot more sense. Especially since there are more here than just demons.” Excited by the simple explanation. “So, the spirits are human spirits? And, they’re the lights?” Bubbling with excitement at what was coming together.
“Oh?” Feeling deflated.
“All colors are here, even the shadows are color. ” Checking to see if I was following.
Letting what Chaos was telling me sink in, “So … the only way to tell if it’s a soul or spirit is by how I feel or by what I think about when I’m close to them?”
“Mostly.” Confident that I was understanding, “You can also ask them and they will tell you.”
“Even the demons?”
“Even the demons.” Grinning at my naivety, “You can also send them away by telling them to go or by stating that only those who wish to do you no harm can stay.”
Snorting, “Who would say they wish me harm? That’s like someone admitting they have bad intentions.”
“True.” Holding up his finger, “Then how would you word it?”
Calming my mind for the answer, “I would tell them to go based on the direction of my thoughts and how I was feeling. But … I would have to know what’s good for me.”
Nodding, “Yes, you would. Now, what about seeing them?”
“I’m not sure about that one. I can see some but not all. Like, I can see you here, but I can’t see you in my bedroom. I can’t see Nemesis anywhere. But the demon without a name, I can see everywhere. I only know it’s Nemesis based on how I feel and the direction of my thoughts.”
“Have you seen her since the last time we spoke?”
“No. She hasn’t been around and I haven’t called for her.”
“Does she know you’re going to help her?”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course, I’m sure.” Feeling a stab of pain under my left armpit. Staring at me, I stare back with all the pain he just caused me. “I can’t believe you think I would start lying now.”
Stepping back from me, “The timeline has already started.” Watching my reaction, “You’re the only one who can start it.”
Absorbing what he just said to me, “We — “ looking up at him. “I mean, I.” Realizing he was never going to tell me how to keep my memories. “Must have figured out the memory problem.” Wishing I actually had the answer.
“You don’t know the answer, do you?” Excitement flashing in his eyes.
“No … not yet, anyway.” Unsure of how to answer.
“When you figure out the first part, which you’ll think is all of it, come tell me.” Studying the tree pulsing under his stare. “You have to promise to come tell me.” Urgency radiating from him.
Shocked by his reaction, “I promise.” Barely whispering.
I thought I knew what I was going to happen today. Instead, I started a timeline I didn’t know I could start.
“Are you done brooding?”
“For now.” Moving my legs to refocus. “How about you tell me about the tree?” Feeling slightly caged in.
“Tell me why you can’t see each of the souls and spirits that come through here.” Turning his gaze back to the tree.
“They’re not ordered,” I blurted out. “And, I have no idea where that answer came from.” Shaking my head as if to clear it.
Laughing at my astonishment, “You’re open, Child. That’s good. That’s exactly how you have to be.”
Letting his comment sink in, we sat in silence with our backs against the well, and our legs stretched out, crossed at the ankles. “How come your feet are bare?”
“I thought you wanted to know about the tree?“ Stretching his toes wide.
“I do, but … I want to know that too.” Looking up at his profile.
“Any ideas on why I have bare feet?”
Looking between his bare feet and my stocking feet, I tried to feel the difference. Waiting for the answer to pop into my head like before, I kept watching on the tree. When nothing blurted out of my mouth, I looked up to his patient face and said, “Because you mean no harm?”
“Interesting … but, I think there are some here would say different.”
“Really? You don’t seem like you’d hurt anyone.” Shrugging as I turned back to look at the tree. “Is that why the souls and spirits stay far away from you when you’re here with me?”
Chuckling softly, “I suspect it is.” Sighing, “I’m known to have a temper and everyone,” bending toward my ear as if he was telling me a secret, “including people, are afraid of me when that happens.”
“Are you the chaos that causes people to have a temper?” Leaning my shoulder against his arm.
“I am.” Smiling at my connection.
Taking off my socks, I stare at our bare feet against the tree in the near distance. “Now, for the tree.” Feeling the apprehension of leaving crawl over me.
“I do owe you an explanation. Tell me what you’ve figured out.”
“I’ve given you the last two answers to my questions, you tell me. You promised me.” Staring at his profile.
I watched him look at the tree for a long time before he turned to me and said, “That is the Tree of Life.”
My body trembling at his words, I turned to the Tree of Life and stared. After a few minutes, I turn to Chaos, “You don’t have to tell me anymore. I’ll figure it out. I can come back here.” Turning back to the tree, How do I know I’ll figure it out? Pondering my own thoughts as I waited for Chaos to respond.
“How do you know that you’ll be back here?” Not looking at me.
“I don’t know.” Starting to feel lost, “But, I know we see each other here again. A few times actually. I get my — “
“ — How do you know all this?” Getting to his feet.
Instead of standing over me, he paced between me and the Tree of Life. Creating a golden glow around him. I felt like the tree was telling me something because all I could see was the golden glow outlining Chaos and deepening the darkness of his robe. What am I supposed to know? Pushing the thought out to the tree.
Remember this. The tree pulsed back.
I’ll remember this. Feeling my response leave my mind, I waited to see if Chaos noticed. When he didn’t, I turned my attention to the branches reaching above into Chaos; following them until they disappeared. Do they end there? Coughing to clear my mind.
“What’s going to happen when you take me to the Devil, Chaos?” Changing the subject as I left my trance with the tree.
“Let’s go find out,” he said gently. Walking toward me.
Placing my hand in his, I immediately felt his calm warmth soothing my fear as his energy spread through me. Climbing to my feet, I felt different energy spreading through the soles of my feet. As the two energies combined, my body started to tremble until I was panting from the emotions swirling around inside of me. Squeezing his hand to keep from falling, I look into Chaos’ eyes and see the swirling colors of what I was feeling inside. Forcing myself to focus on breathing, I watch in Chaos’ eyes as I transitioned from chaos to calm; using my breathing to create order within me.
“You’re ready.” Gently tugging my hand as he proudly smiled down at me. “Before we go, take a look at this place.” Sweeping his free hand from the well to the tree. “I want you to create a memory.”
“How — “ Fighting to keep calm.
“Do you know where you physically are now?”
“Good. Now, connect the two. A day will come that you will need to remember where we are and what has happened.”
“I — “ Looking down at my bare feet. “I’m in my bedroom, standing like I am now. Facing my stereo under the window.” Taking a few deep breaths, “I won’t be here when I remember this. I’ll be somewhere else. A place I’ve never been to before.” My heart beginning to hammer against my ribs. “Chaos … “ Looking back up into his calm lavender eyes, “What’s happening to me?”
“You’re becoming emotionally stronger and … “ Choosing his words carefully, “Wiser about the mysteries of life.”
Trembling, I grip his hand as his words stir up undecipherable thoughts. “Chaos … “ Pulling his hand as I sat on the edge of the well, “Anger and … fear … are …” Taking a deep breath, “Are creating thoughts that I don’t understand.” Searching his eyes for clarity.
“I’m sure they are.” Patting the top of my hand that was still gripping his. “C’ mon.” Pulling me to my feet, “You’ll have help on your journey, just like you’ve had help getting to this point.” Cupping my cheek in his free hand, “You’re the opportunity I’ve been waiting for.” Staring deep into my soul, “And, you’re about to embark on a journey that has never been done. I want you to remember that whatever happens, know that you’ll be ok.”
“How do you know?” Unable to look away.
“Because you have spunk and an inherent sense of fairness. Plus,” Smiling to his eyes, “You found me.”
Without waiting for a response, Chaos gently pulled my hand until we were standing in front of a black metal door with rivets scattered in a pattern I don’t recognize. “What is this?” Running my fingertips over the rivets.
“What do you feel?” asked Chaos. Ignoring my question.
“Pain.” Taking a deep breath as I placed my open palm on the door. “I feel pain and … and pride.” Opening my eyes to look at Chaos.
Without a response, Chaos waved his hand in front of the door, vanishing it from under my palm. With wide eyes and a pounding heart, I stared into the room. My eyes immediately going to the fire behind the large wooden altar in the center of the room. Feeling Chaos letting go of my hand, I looked over at him. Instead of looking into lavender eyes, I was looking into the eyes of flames. Stepping back to go around him toward the door, I saw the door had become a solid stone wall. Frozen in place, I hear “Who are you?” growl through my mind.