"WE'RE ALL HUMAN"
Dreamed 1987/3/13 by Chris Wayan
I'm sitting in an astral cafeteria, a place called the Xanth Cafe. I'm at a long crowded table. Most of us are strangers, so we each announce our name and homeworld. First to speak is a willowy woman in robes, who stands, not sits; behind her head, covered by the robe, is a high protrusion, like a spare pair of arms raised... But the shape looks more like folded wings. Is she an angel?
The woman beyond her apparently takes the shape to be an arm, and concludes you ask to speak by standing and raising your hand, for she does both. She's thin, with dark hair; and I recall her from my contact-improv dance class. Lynn? Wait, that's my sister's name.
She says about herself only, "I'm ugly; I must not be seen without my Illusionary Form." As she speaks, her face gets heavier and tougher. I'm not sure if this is her hidden ugly face or her public pretty face! I speak up out of turn: "I've seen many races here in Xanth--people who look like rotting corpses, and worse. I don't believe you need illusions, no matter what you look like."
I talk with a third woman, a strawberry blonde mid-sized human with a strong jaw and a strange complex nose: quite good-looking but very different from everyone else here. More solid.
But her aura's bitter. I ask her why, and she says "Of course I feel bitter! No one knows the real me, because..."
"You're a shapeshifter, right?"
"Not exactly," she says. "I don't really change, I just bend light rays! I can change my size or appearance or go invisible or change color." She rattles on about it, sounding oddly superior, sure that she fools us all, that "You don't love me, you don't see me -- I'm a chameleon." I feel challenged by her certainty so I ask her to show us how it works.
She walks around the cafeteria columns, changing the color of her clothes and their patterns--pajama designs with little flowers or logos--from peach to red and back. I notice her face is stable through all these other changes, and I say "I like the effect as the changes flow around your body. It's pretty."
But this stable face among the changes--I think this face is her real face. Does she know we SEE her real face? I don't think so!
Outside the cafe, my sisters Lynn and Shell wander by, down the street, playing out another fairytale: they're wearing masks that change their size. My little sister is bigger than my big sister! Oops, now they've switched... giant and midget, now.
There are ten parallel universes I know of... and my sister the story-weaver knows and uses them all. Which world are they in now, which plot are they playing out? It looks Celtic. If she's not careful, Faerie may manifest. Could get messy!
We climb a little pass and walk by a pond. Patterns in the tall grass form two subtle faces: Red Man and Pale Woman. My sister Shell mustn't step on the man or she'll summon him. She skirts the red face, but steps on the woman's, and Pale is indeed summoned from the other world. The fairy appears in the pond near Lynn, who's swimming; Pale rises from the water and comes to me.
The Pale Fairy marries me; she becomes one of the family; we have half-magic children; she lives to a tremendous age, always looking young, and then, when I and all my generation have died, she goes too, abruptly and peacefully. Was it worth it, becoming mortal in exchange for true love?
Meanwhile, by the pond, my sister Shell, who summoned the fairy grandmother, has her own torrid affair with a big hairy white guy, who seems simple but sweet. Later, though, when the medieval judges find out, they put him on trial for statutory rape! In this barbaric time, ANY unmarried sex is rape. We 20th-century visitors defend him--Shell's not pressing charges, she consented. She stands to lose her reputation if the trial publicizes the affair. My sister Lynn defends him eloquently, claims he's too casual about rules to even know he's considered the criminal and she the victim. And it's true--he casually, happily greeted the "victim" as he entered court, "Hi, Shell!"
Luckily the judge is also from the 20th century, a middle-aged woman who says "Brilliant defense! I could feel everyone relax when you pointed that out." The jury is still out but we're all sure the charges will be dropped. Big Lunk banters with Shell, who lounges in a slinky black leotard on the pond-face, now the courtroom floor (though still fringed with reeds). She teases him "Don't get too uppity or I WILL press charges!" and he retorts "Aw, didn't you know I'm married now? While you were in the other world, I married Lynn!"
He's acquitted, but the judges order all of US to undergo Group Therapy--my sisters and I and all the descendants of the Fairy Grandmother. Huh? What did WE do?
I hate it--listening to the others complain. This week, a woman's sobbing "I'm so messed up, so lonely... I've only had two dates in three months! And no prospects..."
The others say "That's terrible, you're so isolated, you need more contact!"
Meanwhile I mutter "How I'd love to have two dates every three months!" But not loudly, and no one hears me.
The therapist chimes in: "Yes, it's important to have an active social life! It keeps you healthy and sane. Humans are social animals, and we're all human."
Suddenly, on hearing the lie "we're all human", I switch. Dating has a price. Community has a price. I don't wanna give up my shaman-dreams or creative work for anyone in this group! I burst out "What about responsibility to your talents? If you're different, ahead of others in some area, should you hold yourself back to stay with others who can't follow? Or won't--who knows? Who cares? Like my fairy grandmother--an immortal who became mortal by staying with someone she loved--I am part fairy! NOT human! Should I stay, should I stay with you, when I don't even love you? For love, maybe; there's a question! But if it's NOT love... WHAT DO YOU HUMANS OFFER ME?"
And I wake... a bit shocked at the elven scorn in my voice. That age-old disdain for mortals--when I'm half mortal myself. What elitism!
But, you know, it's true.
NOTES ON WAKING
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