An Otherworld Quest

Jessica Macbeth

Several years ago I was very seriously ill—so seriously that I spent several days sitting on Death's doorstep, waiting to see which way to go. Between the disorientation of the fever and the impact of dozens, possibly hundreds of people sending distance healing for me, I felt as if I were floating in a warm and friendly sea. During that time, quite a few people came to see me, bringing healing and medicine. It was only later, after the fever was gone, the last door had been closed to me, and I'd drifted back far enough to be able to feel my bed beneath me nearly all of the time, that I realized that some of these people and their medicines were decidedly odd.

Not long after that, Eileen, who had looked after me through the worst of this, and I were talking on the phone. I asked her just who had visited me while I was ill, and she said, "Why, Elaine, of course."

"Right," I agreed. "And who else?"

Eileen's voice sounded a bit puzzled. "No one. What are you talking about?"

I hesitated to explain, even to Eileen who knows me well. How could I say, "Well, wasn't there was an old woman about four feet tall who brought me fizzy medicine filled with light in a gold cup set in a carved wooden holder?" Or, "There was a small fellow, maybe three feet tall, wearing a cloak of silvery-brown birds' feathers." Or should I mention the big man with the antlers who came and sat on the side of my bed for several dawns in a row to watch the night turn to sunrise? Or...

I just sort of mumbled that I thought there had been other folk. "Maybe," I said, "they were just hallucinations." I didn't believe that—hallucinations aren't usually so physically present - they don't make the mattress dip when they sit on the side of the bed, and the medicine they give doesn't boil through one's veins in a whoosh of light and power. Eileen didn't seem to believe they were hallucinations either. About that time I started having dreams. The interesting thing was that the dreams told a story. There were even dreams within the dreams, also part of the story. I began writing them down but the writing of Taisgeal is taking a long time. After several years, I'm still working on it. When I finish it, you can decide for yourself whether I was true dreaming/remembering or merely hallucinating and dreaming remarkably consistent dreams. I'll put the first chapter up here as soon as it is reasonably fit to read.

© Copyright 2001 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.

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