MAELEN AND ME
Dreamed 1972/5/1 by Chris Wayan
I step off the bus into drizzle, but I don't mind--my fur sheds it. Soon, the rain eases enough to unveil the gray granite walls, sweeping thousands of feet above me, waxy and sleek from old glacial polishing. Yosemite Valley! The horn of the Jungfrau looms above even El Capitan. Down its side, all the way to the valley floor, are hanging wildflower gardens and stairish rhythmic cascades.
I collect sticks, but since my thumbs aren't fully opposable, I let my dad try to build a fire. Even he can't; all the wood's still too wet.
So we go inside the Indian Store for shelter. Masks look down on us... and then I run into Maelen.
How can I tell you about Maelen? My friend, my lover, my business partner. Maelen of the Thassa! Her people are gypsies of a sort--an ancient, private race of wanderers who can swap souls with other creatures, learning life in many forms. I should know--it happened to me. I was born human, but Maelen slipped my soul into this catlike body. I'll spare you the story, but the short version is, she saved my life.
Miss the opposable thumbs, but love the fur--overall, a fair bargain. When Maelen's part of it.
She and I run a traveling circus of sorts, with lots of animal acts--the Beast Show. I perform , pretending to be just a brilliantly trained wild cat. In fact, though, I also direct, offstage.
We head back into town for rehearsal. Maelen drives--I'm too short to reach the brakes. So I ride in her lap, purring, as she gives me another lesson in Thassa mental powers. She's been working me up toward telekinesis.
There's a trick we use to make it easier. A certain alloy, locally called "Thassa metal", is especially easy for the mind to grab--astral stickum! Feels so satisfying to be able to grasp something as firmly as my hands used to.
Inside the theater, she changes for rehearsal into her stage costume: a minidress made of silvery scales--Thassa alloy! So, at least theoretically, I should be able to lift and move her, though I've failed so far to do more than tug her around a bit.
But tonight, as we rehearse, I curl a mental paw around her and... she pops in and out like magic! For the first time, I can just manage her mass!
I feel triumphant--what a climax for the Beast Show! The audience will think it's her power alone. Even the Thassa will be shocked. No one can just... teleport!
But two can, two together. We can do it.
It feels sexy, too, moving her with my mind, especially when it's cupped so intimately around her, in that tight dress. Feels like I'm holding her, all over, all at once... as if we're making love in front of a hundred people--and none of them even know! Mmmmmmm.
Now I'm really purring.
A NOTE YEARS LATER
This dream riffs off an Andre Norton novel, Moon of Three Rings, told in alternating chapters by Krip Vorlund, a human trader, and Maelen, a Thassa animal trainer and an expert on soul-swapping. Which has risks. In an animal body, you may shrink to fit! For example, you can think with an animal brain, but it's tempting not to--all those smells! A body can drag a soul down to its level--including human.
In my dream, the opposite happens. My thumbs are gone, limiting my ability to manipulate the world. But with Maelen's love and help (and I think she stands for dreaming itself) my mind's not just holding its own, but flexing psychic muscles few humans ever build up. A compensatory sense, like blind people echo-locating.
The dream reflected my real life at the time. I was a social outcast in school, and I felt shy and powerless--as if I had no hands. But the dream suggests being an outsider had advantages. I was learning to do other things than work, shop... and fit in.
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