the necessary fee

The ferryman spits and reaches into the water where the roots of an old tree gnarl the bank. He pulls out my head by the hair. Just that – my head and nothing else. My hair is laced with weed and mud and soft bodied water creatures. The ferryman gives it a little shake and carries it up to the beach. He scoops out a shallow hole and sets my head down in it. He lights a small fire and sits across it from the hole, and my head.

“What happened to me?” I stand wraithlike at his shoulder.

“You drowned.”

“Why didn’t you protect me?”

“You went without me,” he answers fiercely. “You just went straight into the water.”

“But why would I do that?”

He shrugs. I answer for him, “I didn’t have the fee,” as if this put the onus back on him for charging a fee in the first place.

“You’ve got the idea all wrong. The fee is not some arbitrary thing I lay over the top – it’s not in service of ME. It’s in service of the crossing. The fee is what you need to get across, it is the means, the vessel. When you try to go without – this happens.” He gestures past the fire to the loneliness of my head.

“So what now?” I whisper.

He shifts the dirt back into the hole, covering my soggy head. “Go into the dark. Be still. Wait for what will grow out of this.”


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7 Responses to the necessary fee

  1. This is beautiful. One way or another we have to pay the fee for crossing. Your price was your head. I was just writing a post about not always making sense. Then I saw your new post and I am affirmed in my quest to stop always making sense.

    • lbk says:

      Nicole, for me the ferryman mans the crossing between my interior and the world at large. The fee he asks of me is story. When I go out without some narrative I get dispersed in turbulence. I realize too that I’ve been living very much in my head, tucked up tight, making things work. I have been very much a particle, with very little wave action. So, time to regroup.

      • How dare he ask this of you. But how dare you think you can cross without paying. It is scary, but I think we each have a responsibility to bring our greatest assets into the open. Where they are of course, judged and misunderstood. Oh well, let them judge, you can just ignore them and take the input you need to hear. What is your next step in creating some waves?

  2. Rod Longoria says:

    Love this piece, and I can certainly identify with it. Kudos!

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