Log 53: Man Beneath the Mist

 

Weather: Open and sunny sky. Brief morning rainshowers.
Encounters: One very interesting meeting on the boat.
Expenditures: None.

We spent most of the day sailing. The rocking of the ship made me a little seasick. I stood by the railing, breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth. Senalala seemed soothed by the motion. The sky was clear, the air salty and crisp. The Healer sailed the boat (or is it a ship?). The Healer’s brother stood on the deck for most of the day. He observed Senalala with a look of passive amusement on his face. Every time I glanced his direction he cracked a smile, but his eyes seemed to focus on something far in the distance. Perpetually.

I pondered my idea from Looking Forward. I wanted to speak with the Healer’s brother, and I felt sure I could make it happen. I would use the candle from the Candlemaker to contact the his spirit... if it lingered.

I had to wait until the Healer left. He had explicitly told me not to try. It would be too painful for him, knowing his brother’s spirit was still out there unable to connect with his physical form.

We anchored again when the sun began to set. The Healer led his brother to his room. When the Healer emerged back onto the deck he clapped his hands together and shouted, “I think it’s time to eat! There’s a great place about a mile inland.” His tattoos seemed to change every time I looked at him.

I placed my hand on my stomach, “I’m still feeling a little sick from sailing today. I think I will lay down.” My stomach gurgled and growled under my hand. I willed it to be quiet.

“I will bring you back something.” He smiled and winked. “Hey, care if I take your turtle out for a walk?” Senelala stared hard at the dock wanting his feet on solid ground.

“Go ahead.” I smiled, “He could use some time off the boat.” The Healer led Senelala into the mainland. He stretched his arms and looked up to the stars as he walked.

I crept through the moonlit hall to the Healer’s brother. Every time the floor creaked my heart raced. I opened his door slowly, soft music drifted from a player in the corner. He sat in his chair facing the window like always. The light from the stars drifted over the ocean. Pulling the candle out of my bag I watched the Healer’s brother. I gripped the little candle so tight I feared it might break.

Slowly he turned to look at me and spoke, “Hello.” His eyes were blue and vacant. I noticed a thin white scar burned through the expanse of his face. It cut his eyebrow in half. His hair was shaved so close to his head it was merely a shadow. Unlike the Healer, he had no tattoos. I’m sure he was extraordinary once.

“Hello.” I murmured. “May I join you?”

He didn’t answer, but turned to face the ocean once again. The blankets on his bed wrinkled as I sat. I leaned in close to the brother and sat the candle at his feet. Every fiber of my being was wishing for success.

I summoned up the words the Candlemaker whispered to me. The words seemed so ancient they could have crossed from this world into the next. I met the Candlemaker in my travels. She was a wise woman who lived deep in the forest. There she formed candles that allowed lost and wayward spirits to attach themselves to the burning wicks. A trail of candles led to her home in the woods. The spirits who found them sat like lights above their flames. Could the Healer’s brother be out there still?

I whispered her archaic words over the candle, but nothing happened. The boat groaned, a deep sound like a yawn. I buried my head in my hands. Why did I think this would work?

That’s when I smelled it, the small bit of smoke that erupted from the wick.

The candle was lit.

Every single one of my senses heightened. My skin shivered. The Healer’s brother seemed oblivious to the burning candle at his feet. I waited there, watching for minutes. As time passed, I became ready to give up. I leaned down to blow out the candle, but felt a slight breeze blow over my outstretched arm.

“Maybe wait to blow that out?” said a voice. “Sarah Jane, nice to officially meet you.”

I looked up. Seated above the Healer’s brother was a mist. It was like seeing through water to another person. While the brother I knew sat still behind the surface, the misty brother sat with a grin. His hand outstretched to shake mine.

“Hello.” I said and shakily reached out a hand, but it passed through the mist of his ghostly handshake. He laughed, the same laugh as the Healer. “What’s your name?” I asked, the Healer only called him brother. Apparently it was too “dangerous” for me to know their real names...

“My brother calls me Beta, usually. He acts as if I’m his helper.” He stood and turned to look at himself. He seemed to crackle with electricity. “I don’t do much helping these days.”

I stood to look him in the eye. It shone through with moonlight. “Tell me, is there anything that can be done? Anything to change this?” I asked the wrong question. I should have eased in. He darkened, the mist taking on a shadowed form. Beta gently held out a hand and passed it through his human form’s face.

“Why are you here?” he asked me, but gazed down at himself.

I didn’t feel any answer could justify the moment I found myself in. I just offered, “I’m following a feeling.”

“Following a feeling? Will you tell me about it?” he asked and sat back on himself, so I was staring at both his forms.

“I felt this feeling one day when I was in my village. It seemed like something was fluttering in my stomach, pulling me out into the world. I followed it, found Senelala, and then came across this…” I reached into my pocket and pulled out the newspaper clipping showing Home Sweet Home. “I’ve been looking for Home, whatever it is.”

“I know what that is!” He said and tried to take the clipping from my hand, but he passed straight through it. We both paused as we heard Senelala and the Healer boarding the ship. How had time sped by so quickly?

“Quick, blow the candle out.” He whispered. “We can talk more, but it would break my brother’s heart to see me.”

He added one last thought, “Come talk to me more, will you? I’m always listening.”

I looked him straight in the eyes once more. My heart felt so heavy I was afraid it would tear. He nodded, so I leaned down and blew out the candle. The mist faded away.

“Hey, you two enjoy yourselves?” The Healer smiled and swung into the room. “I brought back food!”

I nudged the candle under the bed with my toe. The Healer didn’t seem to notice. I stood, stretched, and patted Beta on the shoulder. I followed the Healer out of the room.