“A dramatic change. An unexpected challenge or conflict. A transgression of shameful action that must be confronted.” Steve Luca via Japaridze Tarot
The sun peered through the blinds of the Nicean flat in the early morning gently nudging Selene to awaken. She rolled onto her right side and found Caer soundly asleep. Being on the road for two years had made her forget what it was like to awaken in the presence of those familiar to her. In her journey, she had become accustomed to strangeness; familiarity was an enigmatic sensation that belonged in another world. Yet on this particular morning, it’s the potion that she needed. Slowly, she sat on the bed to witness an all consuming headache. Throughout her body there were chills, aches, and an overall sense of malaise. When was the last time she had been sick? She wondered. While being constantly on the go can often weaken your immune system, it was an arena where Selene thought she had been gifted with luck. Though this morning, reality presented itself differently. Shivering, Selene pulled the bed covers over her head and lay in bed until she heard someone clumsily trip in the living area adjacent to the room she was in.
“Sorry about that, mate. I didn’t realize you had fallen asleep on the floor beside me.” Said the voice. Some moments later, Caer was up and as lively as ever. Selene lay in bed until the sound of chatter and intense aromas took over the room. She made her way into the kitchen and greeted her friends, “I’m not feeling too well.” “What’s gotten into you?” Nico asked. “Headache. Fever. Extreme fatigue. I think I’ll have to stay behind today.” Slightly disappointed the bunch looked at each other until Sofia broke the silence, “If that’s what you must do to feel better, absolutely do that. I’m sure we can survive a day without you!” They all laughed. “I think we can, too.” Added Dmitri. In an hour’s time, the group had left the apartment and Selene found herself alone. Overcome with chills, she returned to bed.
Under the rays of the midmorning sun, Selene fell into a deep slumber where she was transported to a different world. Before her eyes lay a scene riddled with chaos resembling a war-torn state. From her point of view, she saw two mountains at a distance. On the mountain furthest to the left, there stood a lighthouse. On the mountain slightly to the right, closer in approximation to Selene, there was a citadel. The sight before her was consumed by flames of great height. Though the flames were increasing in height, there was a stream wrapped around the citadel mountain that violently gushed its water in an attempt to pacify the flames. In between the two mountains, Selene noted an intense ray of light mimicking what she could only label as the birth of the sun. Simultaneously, lightening and thunder stroke near the lighthouse, which rattled the ground she stood on. She looked up to the lighthouse and saw it surrounded by the moon, pieces of galactic rocks, and planets. She shifted her vision from the distance into that which was before her. There were floating masks, glass rounded ornaments, sculptures, a telescope, some lipstick. Above that, Selene saw a version of herself falling from the citadel tower. She had somehow stumbled into a world where gravity was both an absent and present force. A world without order; the scene of a lawless pandemonium. To the sound of a chirping bird, Selene awaked in a state of panic covered in sweat.
Though feeling intense muscular fatigue, she grabbed a sweater, pulled up her hair, picked up her clutch, and found her way to a nearby market in search of peppermint tea. She stepped into a public car and asked the driver to take her to Palais de Thés, a tea shop. The shop was located in a beautiful building in the intersection of Rue de la Liberté and Passage Emile Négrin next to a shoe store by the name of Geox. Selene walked in and after a few minutes set her her heart on a blend by the name of ANISE, PEPPERMINT, MELISSA – THE HERBALIST N ° 52 – the combination of anise and peppermint intrigued Selene’s increasing body temperature. She grabbed a box with twenty bags and went to check out. Briskly, she exited the store hoping her ride would arrive soon. She craved nothing more than rest.
While waiting for her car, Selene heard a faint call of her name from the direction of Passage Emile Négrin. “Selene!” She turned her head and to her surprise, it was Ms. Laguerre. Selene’s phone application informed her that her driver had cancelled the ride and a new driver was set to arrive in the near future. In frustration, Selene cancelled the transaction all together and awaited for Ms. Laguerre whom hurriedly approached the intersection where she stood. “Good day, my dear. How do you do?” Selene swallowed and felt the ache of her throat. “Not so well, Ms. Laguerre. How are you?” With a look of concern, Ms. Laguerre approached Selene closer, “You don’t look so good dearest, let’s take you home.”
Moments later, they found themselves in Selene’s flat. While Selene planted her body on the sofa in the living area, Ms. Laguerre ran the kettle to prepare them both tea. A few minutes later, Ms. Laguerre walked into the living area with a tray which held a kettle and two small ceramic cups. In the interim, Selene had escaped to the bathroom to grab some acetaminophen for her headache. Though she avoided pharmacological products as much as possible, she could no longer sustain. As she walked back to the sofa, Ms. Laguerre gave her a cup of warm tea. After the first sip, she began to tell a story. “I find the cycles of life to be so fascinating. Don’t you? When I first met Giuseppe, he had just settled into Nice and came to me under the conditions of a cold. He told me that he took his health for granted during his travels. The resiliency that his body exhibited allowed him to buy into the illusion that he was somehow invincible. I still remember the first time I met him. He was accompanied by the lovely Freya, his love. That afternoon I was working in the market stand, where you met me, and this captivating couple approached.” Feeling a little more calm, Selene listened intently, as although she had spent hours upon hours with Giuseppe, he had never mentioned a lover. “I saw him coughing and sang a little tune my grandmother use to repeat – ‘some part ginger, add some cloves, add the cinnamon, sweeten with honey, and let lemon settle it all.’ I come from a line of green witches – women who made magic in the kitchen. Freya found it intriguing and that is how we began to converse. That night they invited me to dinner in their home. It was there were Giuseppe told me of his travels, of meeting Freya, and his choice to settle in Nice. The next morning, I brought him some of my brew and to this day he swears is it what ended a bout of month-long illness!” She said as she giggled.
“Well my dear, I hope you continue to get rest and become well soon. Life calls.” As Ms. Laguerre made her way to the door, Selene stopped her. “Wait, who is this Freya you speak of? How come Giuseppe has never mentioned her?” Ms. Laguerre stopped in her tracks and responded, “Ah. You see, that story is not mine to tell. Freya was a woman whose presence radically transformed Giuseppe’s life. She pushed him off the brink of the tower.” Ms. Laguerre winked and closed the door behind her. Startled, Selene closed her eyes and placed her head on a pillow in hopes of a long, restful sleep.