“I’ve made the appointment,” my father said. “He can fit us in tomorrow morning. So let’s be done with this.”
I groaned. I had told him and told him that the worst thing for me was any form of hypnotherapy. But would he listen? No he would not. He was so impatient to have the condition resolved.
“He’s a good man,” my father said. “He’ll sort you. He got Roger’s boy Wayne off those drugs.”
“Yea, for five minutes.”
But what was the use of arguing. When his mind was made up there was no shifting my father. But then when I checked out the ‘hypnotherapist’ . . . What! He wasn’t even NHS registered. He treated smoking cessation, and dieting problems, and got anxious drivers through their tests. As for Wayne, grandson of one of my father’s old-time buddies, yea sure, he got him off drugs. But then Wayne disappeared off to London and Dad heard no more of it. But I did. Wayne’s sister was at our school. Wayne died just before Christmas last, ‘chasing the dragon’ whatever that means. I do know it involves doing drugs.
I wondered, could I dig in my heels and refuse to go? But my father would never wear that. Old though he was, he still was strong enough to throw me over his shoulder and deliver me out to the car. I thought about locking myself in the bathroom but . . . easiest was just to go along with it. Though I swore I’d do my utmost to resist ‘going under’.
And that showed how much I knew about hypnotism. Or more correctly the affects of hypnotism on my personality type. I hadn’t understood exactly what ‘high suggestibility’ meant.
. . .
David Longman had an office in town. That pleased my father, no long drive into the city with the road-works and traffic. I looked at the plaque on the door as my father ‘guided’ me through. Shame he didn’t do that. He might then have noticed the distinct lack of relevant initials. Not that he’d have known which were relevant and which were not.
David—he asked me to call him that—was probably approaching retirement. And he’d probably been handsome in his day. But now everything about him that wasn’t bone was sagging. My father deposited me, accompanied by the briefest of explanations, and said he’d return to collect me in a couple of hours. David directed me to what looked suspiciously like a dentist’s chair.
“A problem with intrusive thoughts, eh? Not voices, and not schizophrenic, your father assures me. You want to confirm this?”
“Just people’s thoughts,” I said. “ESP-type.”
“And you want them silenced so you can concentrate on your studies? Quite right. And that is what we’re going to do. Simply that.”
Huh, that’s what he thought. Yea, I know, I ought to have told him of the DID diagnosis. I doubt then he’d have come near me. And of course my father hadn’t told him cos my father still didn’t know. But I’d decided to play along, just to please him. Though no way was I going to allow this quack to hypnotise me. Ha! FLAW (Hermione’s favourite saying: Famous Last Words). Besides, the thoughts weren’t quite so intrusive now, not since the latest cycle of dreams.
It wasn’t that the dreams themselves did anything to block the thoughts. It was more that in remembering the dreams and trying to figure them the intrusions were blocked as effectively as if I were singing. Of course, I still presented that distracted look.
So this David explained what he’d do and what to expect. But he intoned it with the same boring inflection of an oft-repeated familiar script. I yawned. He then held a pen above my head where it was barely visible. A smart pen, too, it must have cost him. It didn’t shine as in reflecting the lights, but was all soft lustre. I know this cos he told me to look at it. He obligingly lowered it just enough so I could see it without having to strain my eyeballs out of their sockets.
“Relax,” he said.
Redundant instruction; I was already relaxed. It was that chair, it was excellent. It moulded around me. It ‘held’ me.
“You’re feeling drowsy.”
Yea, course I was, as usually happens with lack of interesting stimuli.
Then I realised what he was doing. Na-na-nah, no way, mister!
I pulled that drum-an-dance scene from my dreams back into focus. I tried to understand what I was seeing. Like, what were those mist-halos these folk exhibited? Were they their auras? My dream-guide’s mother looked like an angel, all pale-faced, ashen blonde hair, with that light all a’swirl in hues of blue and green. I thought there something watery of it. I held that image in mind. Let that bastard hypnotist get through that.
. . .
Mist-formed light of those halos fill my vision; it’s all around me. Every possible hue of green and then some I’ve never seen, all softly swirling, in places blending with blues dark as the night-sky, in places pale as ice. All feathery soft. It lifts me aloft. I am riding the clouds. Riding . . .
The cloud becomes wagon and before it a horse. Yet it’s no horse such as I’ve ever seen—as if carved of wood and improperly formed. I may have laughed. But with amusement? Enjoyment and pleasure? Or with fear?
Where am I? Where’s the ground—it’s no longer beneath me.
A voice, distant at first, calls my name. Arvina. I don’t know the voice but, as if it’s commanding, I know I must reach it. Is it God? Is that God’s voice? The voice feels like a soft breath on my face, calling my name, calling Arvina, over and over. I hasten towards it though it seems so far away.
Someone/something asks me a question: Which way to go?
We can’t do this in less than four moves. From Ethel to Eolhx to Cen to Rad to Os. But better might be: From Ethel to Dæg to Peordh, then again to Rad and then to Os. Yet to go via Peordh is a bit of a gamble.
I chose to ignore these directions, not knowing their source. Instead, I wander in wonder, like someone who’s lost. Here are sedge grasses . . . am I again in the fen at the back of the farm? Yet the sky remains clouded in soft blues and greens. And that voice still is calling, its breath strong in my face, insistent, commanding.
Ah! I see a torch. Is it there to light me the way? But . . . no. No! NO! Don’t take it away!
In its stead is a mirror. I look—who is the fairest? But this cannot be me I see reflected. I close the circle that’s forming around me like closing a gate. Only to find that she, too, from the mirror, is within it.
Who are you? we both ask at the same time. She seems to have horse ears and a tail.
Arvina; Arwen, we say together as we both look at the other, heads tilted.
I’m seeking the voice, I say.
I am seeking the killer of the old seer Beraht.
We both look round as the voice calls again.
The horse-tailed Arvina gasps. That’s the runester, his master. Was him made him do it.
I don’t understand.
She takes my hand—or she tries but we’ve no physical presence and out hands pass through each other.
Was him caused Guillan to kill Old Beraht. And weren’t it for that he wouldn’t have killed me.
The rune-master? I ask. But no one can make anyone . . . every man has free will.
Come, she says and we climb upon a seal-pulled wagon. You ask him yourself if you don’t believe me.
The cloud-sky dissolves, replaced by the sea. Lord Manawydan’s domain, I say.
Woden’s she says—his horses.
I don’t disagree. The sea breezes blow strong in our face as our sea-and-seal wagon lifts into the sky.
There! she says and her arms wrap around me, reinforcing the circle, as pell-mell we descend. At the last we’re deposited at the foot of a god. Well, I thought him a god. But what god wears a long shift of washed-out black linen, his head topped by a short crop of straw coloured hair?
Woden? For here are his ravens. I feel my mouth open in a horror-struck gasp . . .
“Ah, looks like she’s regaining consciousness,” says a voice unfamiliar.
I can smell something . . . disinfectant?
There are odd noises, too, all around me. I cannot place anything, not find a word or a name. With tortuous slowness I open my eyes—their lids feel glued and their prying painful. But now I can see, I find the words rush in though I don’t want to use them. How came I to here? In a bed, in a hospital, in a ward on my own.
Next episode, My Land, My County, My People