Saveola is knee-deep in mud and beaming her true teeth. Brother Wax can't help but to look but he hasn't looked at her yet.
Saveola: it's good. you seem calmer now.
Wax: how can you tell?
Saveola: you're not drawing circles with your marshmallow stick anymore. you're making broken triangles. you're not pounding the stick anymore, you're gliding it along the lake mud lovingly, as if guided. it's good, though, it's good to get things off your chest. praying isn't the same, you need to talk to another living person.
Wax: everyone prays in their own way. i'd be a wreck without my long periods of prayer. i'm not sure if it's prayer or meditation or a time to gather my thoughts, but this place provides the solace and the time.
Saveola: i tried to sit still once but i thought i would go crazy. this damn modern time of ultra insta everything and digital roses.
Wax: why am i called Wax?
Wax looks at Saveola's forehead, the seat of her third eye. he takes the stick and plugs it into his ear.
Wax: simple, i have wax in my ears. i bathe, i shower, i use the steam, but i can never get the wax buildup out. cotton swabs, sure, but the doctor says i've been sticking them down in my ear canal dangerously. it's true, i've started to see red on the tip. goes back to my mouth. i had a big mouth when i was young, why i'm so quiet now. as in i had a physically big mouth with a misaligned jaw. surgery was too expensive so it stays misaligned to this day. that's why my wax is so out of whack. whack wax. it got so bad i was forced to go to the doctor to have him manually remove a large snake chunk of wax from both ears with an electric tool. he plopped the snake in front of the nurses and the three of them had a good laugh. i've distrusted people ever since.
Saveola: i'm sorry. but is that really reason enough to become a monk?
Wax: no, this is my name, i hear it with pride. the wax allows me to shut out the outside world and focus on those tiny sounds only animals can hear. i'm honing it every day, it just takes time. soon i will be able to communicate with nature, with animals, with my animals.
Saveola writes something in her green notebook. it starts out as words starting with I but ends up a picture of whiskers.
Wax: Carrie helped me not for one day. she was there as my caring arm. whenever i had more questions about how best to integrate a kitten and a cat who had been man of the house alone for so long, i went back to the pet store on various days and times and she always seemed to be there. never caught her at lunch.
Wax: Carrie, things are getting a bit better. i let the kitten out with the cat for ten minutes in the morning when i change their litters and bowls and check my instagram. they play rough. the cat doesn't know his own strength, he tosses the poor kitten around like a rag doll thinking it's normal. the kitten has learned to use her small frame to her advantage, she squeezes into tiny cracks under armoires and low living room displays. i feel her fear. i never press my luck, never, i make those ten minutes eight, i count down fast in my mind to get it over with and return the kitten to her room. i think things are improving but it is just a perception after all. no perception is reality, only Jesus knows reality. there are incidents. one time the little kitten got into the room she is never to go into, my man cave lined on the away wall with dusty garbage bags full of unused pots and pans and metal sticks and detritus from the life of a bachelor. i freaked out, i got so angry at everyone around me, nobody seemed to care as much as i did, i live alone in a house surrounded by a world of strangers. one time the kitten was innocently tugging at shoelaces when the cat didn't like that very much on a whim. he uppered his head slowly and assumed the attack position. before the inevitable melee, i tore the kitten's claws from the flying shoelaces and carried the kitten to her room and closed the door. one time i saw the cat sniffing at the kitten's cute water and food bowls. that couldn't be good. then the rambunctious kitten of course takes the first opportunity when the door is open to enter the cat's room and sip at his water and chew his food. i became peeved before the cat could, carried the kitten away, ferried the kitten away in my arms, and along the way during the ride told her that she had a death wish. the kitten doesn't listen, she lives in her own world, she seems nervous, or perhaps it's nervous excitement at being newly alive, she doesn't care much for her own room or her own food or her own water or her own litter. y'know, the organic litter i purchased for the kitten as a healthy alternative to the dusty clay litter?
Carrie: it's okay, i'm here for you. don't worry. if you take nothing else from me, remember to not worry. the cat will adjust, and so will she. no death, only delight at what's to come. is the kitten eating the dust litter?
Wax: i don't think so, but she doesn't really use the organic litter. she thinks the cat's big bowls of food and water and his big, covered-for-privacy litter box are hers as her princess right. she goes in his litter, combining the two as one, and thinks nothing of it. the smell is pungent but sweet.
Carrie: good and bad. life. i suppose it's ultimately okay as long as she doesn't eat it. this is good, though, it's leaning everything toward when the two are free to roam together in all rooms. it's hard to believe now, but one day the cat will be the leader, he'll guide the kitten through the ins and outs of life in your house. belief. eventually, on that happy day, it'll be more cost-efficient to have just one set of bowls and one litter for them to share. you'll have to get bigger bowls and bigger scoops.
Wax: i'm not thinking about that but i'll buy them here. money is no object. this project of love is the subject.
Carrie: patience, patience, patience. time is a river, built up from many midnights.
Wax: built up like protective wax...
Wax: what? i can't hear you.
Saveola: where are your fur babies now?
Wax: they're with Carrie. she's tending to them at my house. i'm not worthy, i'm not worthy to be their owner, their master, i have to understand them first, i have to see what they see, smell what they smell, hear what they hear. that is why i am in the wild. i must be one with the animal kingdom, for it is the kingdom most closely aligned with the Heavenly Kingdom.
Saveola: you can use my notebook as your progress report. you seem to have a lot to return to. being a monk isn't for you.
Wax: keep your notebook, you have a life. it is me, though. monasticism isn't donning a robe, it's a mindset. walls will always close in on you in life, you must learn to breathe in the enclosure and recognize the opportunity.
Saveola: tell me more about love.
Wax: Carrie, my children are doing better, getting along. fifteen minutes now. i'm still apprehensive whenever both of their heads attack the bowl of food at the same time, but i've learned to laugh at it, too. one night, the kitten was lost. i was frantic. i looked everywhere, i became a cat and got on all fours searching, hunting, sniffing, under the armoire and display. nowhere to be found. the cat stood sentry by the glass sliding door of my closet. he never moved as i moved all over. tiring, i joined the cat on his spot, and i slid the glass door open, and there she was. he knew the entire time, he had smelled her, her scent was with him forever, etched in his heart. i needed to learn from him, i needed to be at his level.
Wax turns towards Saveola. he looks her straight in the eye. his eyes are red from the lake mist and his crying. Saveola locks into his stare, picks up her pencil, and writes something in her green notebook without looking at the page. her lips are pursed.
Wax: i have a dream. i have a dream that one day my cat and my kitten will be brother and sister. they will run side by side and tumble without hurting each other. they will be in the same room and take turns eating and drinking. hell, the cat will get bored with the kitten and leave the room. my red eyes will look at them both looking at me, four eyes to two, both of their heads and their four kitteh ears side by side, they'll meow simultaneously, and the cat will lick the kitten's forehead. i have a dream.
Saveola: Christmas is upon us. do you believe in miracles?
Saveola: i must be going. i have the entire season of Over the Garden Wall i have to marathon off my dvr. i've been busy with finals.
Wax: i heard that was excellent, unlike the norm, complicated, rich storytelling. i watch some shows now and then when i'm not busy thinking my thoughts. Cotard believes in complete media immersion, he's a big fan of porn, but i believe in restraint. this is a monastery after all.
Saveola's lips puff up in a kissing shape. she looks down at what she has written and sees that it was good. she smiles at Wax and gets up from the rock she was sitting on. the pain of the points in her ass is suddenly released.
Saveola: thank you. this way out of here, right?
Wax: yes. but no one leaves this place. the fireflies leave with you, in your overalls pocket, providing extra light. a little piece of the monastery travels with you in your travels. ghosts are real here. what you imagine, what you conceive, becomes reality. Christ is real here, He doesn't live on the tongue of a prayer's breath. i see Him walking on top of the lake right now.
Saveola: can i use your stick?
Wax: it's not my stick, it comes from this place. the stick, so simple and yet so everything: it plays, it holds marshmallows, it draws, it communicates, it waxes, it's a crosier and an office of staff.
Saveola: and it's now my walking stick. peace be with you.
Saveola stuffs her non-stick hand and notebook into her pockets and makes her way to the front gate. there's first that bridge, though. it's dark, or perhaps it's light but the canopy covering of the thick brush makes it appear dark. Saveola reaches the middle of the bridge and looks out over the water. there are a lot of chirping fireflies, there are a lot of tiny presences, and yet the entire area is uneasily quiet. she gets down on her knees, on the spot of the bridge that is cracked and leaking out mud. she slides her crotch until it touches the muddy ground which was designed to be a muddy floor. she closes her eyes, realizing the best things were never meant to be written down. she absorbs
THE SYMPHONY OF SILENCE, CLICK HERE, RIGHT HERE AT THIS LINK
she needed those four minutes. she is recharged and makes her way to the front gate. the entire monastery is one giant jungle, it's difficult to make out what is a tree stump and what is an office carved out of a tree stump, but she does manage to locate Cotard's official office officium. the good monk is feet-up scrolling his instagram away.
Saveola: knock knock. hello, Brother.
Cotard: hello, my beautiful. make a connection?
Saveola: yes, thank you. thank the others for their warmth and hospitality. this has been an experience. i can see what my father saw in this place. my mother, too.
Cotard: your parents' courtship was the stuff of legend round here. Marcio and Rya, the greatest love story ever told.
Saveola: how did you know i was their daughter?
Cotard: you look just like your mother. Rya, a raging beauty tempered with kindness, i'll never forget her face.
Saveola: i have a lot to live up to. i'm born into royalty, and into tradition. i hope i make the most of my college years, i hope it's not all a bust, i hope i get that lasting romance.
Cotard: patience, my child, it'll come, just keep plugging away, tending to your studies, and you'll be led into wonderfully wacky unpredictable directions, like the flight of a firefly.
Saveola: i hope Wax's deepest desire comes true.
Cotard: all things are possible in Christ. i know, it's my job to know everything and everyone, what's in their hearts and what they've done, naughty and nice.
Cotard puts his two hands on his big belly as it shakes.
Cotard: i can't wait to get Wax his gift come our big post-Mass bash on Christmas Day. speaking of gifts, i'll send one to your dorm room. and to your parents' house. say hello to Marcio and Rya for me.
Saveola: yes, the fruitcake. every single year. i do appreciate it. it's a little chewy, but. i will.
Cotard: i'll send you something else this year.
Cotard touches his shaking belly again. he rubs it in rhythm with the jiggle.
Cotard: y'know, our front gate is mystical. legend has it that when a person goes through the front gate to the outside after having spent a spell in our monastery, he or she sees visions of a future left behind, or a future of possibility, depending on whether the person becomes a monk here.
Saveola: i'm off. i'll be back.
Cotard: nice. we watched that just last week, by the lake on a huge white sheet.
Saveola passes by monks raking away orange brown autumn leaves. they wave their hands in rhythm when they have a spare moment from their raking, never missing a beat. Saveola does wave back politely but gets a dooming pang in her gut that it really is time to leave this place, its mud is starting to seep inside her, she's overstayed her welcome. she reaches the front gate before she knows it. she doesn't know it cos she was in trained thought. as she approaches the gate, she sees the dusty path in front of her. over the gate on the other side she sees Carrie holding a double-headed leash. the cat and the kitten are there. the two critters are not on the leash cos that's silly. the pets are by Carrie's side, running and playing and carrying on and being free. then, Brother Wax enters the picture with his hand on Carrie's shoulder. Wax sports a long flowing monk's beard but his cowl is the hoodie from a sweater one might wear in New England. no tonsure on his head, he's merely going bald gracefully. as time goes by. aging the ages. the family of four speak Latin to each other, the ancient language, the correct language, the one most closely aligned with the Kingdom. it's gibberish to Saveola and everyone else, but not to them, they speak intimately, they belong to the same club, they communicate with animals, it's Pig Latin.
Saveola closes her eyes four times to change the channel, skew the image, but it's always the same dream before her. she can't get the principles to change, she can't get the principals to change, she can't get herself into the picture.