Hourglass [Nick Mood Post]
You are fourteen years old and you hang with death wrapped around your neck and your feet swinging free. 

Later your sister will find you.  She will wipe the vomit from your face as you cough and gasp for air.

You are twenty-four and you find a woman washing clothes in a stream, blood unfurling beneath the water like a child’s ribbons.  It is moments later you realize the clothes are yours.

I am the one to place a hand on the center of your chest and hold you beneath the water.  Your nails left gouges in my forearm, because by then you wanted to live.

I cannot remember anything before the darkness.  It is later that we speak thus:

“You wish for that because you wish for a just world.”
“I want that because I believe in choice.”
“Nicholas, this is my choice.”
“But you could be happier than you are now.  You…you’re suffering, Jonas.”
“My suffering has meaning.  Our choices are different.”

Stories interest me.  Yours interests me.

There is an old Buddhist story that goes like this:

A woman is running from a tiger.  She reaches the edge of a cliff, and in this moment of desperation she sees her opportunity to escape with her life: there is a thick vine descending to ground some feet below.

She begins to lower herself in time to escape the tiger, which paces above as she guides herself down against the rock wall.  It is at this time that she notices a second tiger below.

Of course she is trapped there, certain her only chance of escape is to wait out one or the other.  She hangs suspended.

After a time, two mice – one black, the other white – appear and begin to gnaw on the vine.  As it begins to fray, the woman notices that growing from the rock there is a single ripe strawberry.  The woman looks to death above and death below, and at the vine itself which she notices has grown thin as the trickle of sand from an hourglass.  And then the woman eats the strawberry.  She lets go.

This would not have been my choice.  I am glad that it has been yours.

So here we are.  I can see your face in the reflecting pool where you can also see mine: we have no need of the Technocracy’s toys.

“Do you think you still would have chosen the Chakravanti, if you had been older when you were inducted?”

“I was nine.  It has shaped my life to the extent that I can’t imagine another.”

“There’s a man here in Denver who asked me to induct him recently.  I’m having second thoughts because…he killed so easily.  He doesn’t feel, or he didn't at the time.  But I…”  You are hesitating.

“You are asking me because I kill easily.”


You are an insightful man, and I am not.  How do you not realize you are on a cusp?  “Nicholas, you are not inexperienced.  You don’t need my permission.  If you choose to induct him and you want my presence, I will come.”

“I just…I don’t know if it’s a different role, or if I ought to be leery for a reason.  I don’t know what the responsible choice is.”

“You were inducted because we trusted your judgment, and because you brought something new to us.  So trust your own judgment.”

“I…there’s just enough suffering in the world, without my mistakes adding to it.”

And I am a poor substitute for your acarya, but I know enough to know not to give you answers.  Soon enough you’ll find your own, or Fate will create them for you.

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