The Queen of Cups

The Queen of Cups

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The Queen of Cups

– by Lori Moritz


First Session – I see what I know.

What do you see?

The pretty voice wants to soothe me. Make me like her.

I don’t like her.

I don’t like anything.

The pretty voice is supposed to help me.

I forget what the owner of the voice looks like. A generic woman. Immemorial.

Isn’t that amazing? I can give her one thing, though… she has a pretty voice. All you need in this field, I suppose.

When my daughter begged me to come, I resisted. I can’t be hypnotized. I don’t trust anyone. I don’t even like my daughter, how could I like this girl – this hypno-therapist.

I came because my daughter thinks something on the inside is plugging up the ducts of my love flow. The offensive plug is lodged so far down the pipe, I need guidance to get it unstuck.

I spat into the sink. To hear of it!

There never was a love duct.

Love is missing in me. It always was. So no therapy could magically bring it back.

I came here to prove that to her.

I thought – so wound up in a mental vice grip of negativity – that I would see only blackness.

But wouldn’t you know it. Something comes to mind.

Look around and tell me what you see…

Fine!

“A kitchen.”

It isn’t my kitchen, though. Instead of walnut, “The cabinets are white. The counter-tops are tiled in indigo blues.”

It’s much bigger than mine.

“With an island.”

I always wanted an island.

“And everything is clean. Pristine.”

My kitchen has old wine stains on the counter. Sticky goo on the stove. No island, and absolutely no blue.

But something is wrong.

“There are mirrors where all the windows should be. I don’t know how the room gets any light. No light bulbs, no sunbeams, but the room looks bathed in daylight.”

Where are you in the room?

I’m nowhere.

Wait –

“I’m at the countertop.”

I’m not holding anything in my hands, but I feel something slip from them. Wet. It clangs to the floor. It breaks. A flood on my feet. Trembling.

“I can’t look down.”

You don’t have to look down, Mary. It’s OK. Look where it’s comfortable for you to look. Is there anything on the countertop?

There’s a chalice. Blue glaze.

“There’s a cup I made on the potter’s wheel over sixty years ago.”

I haven’t thought of that cup in – decades.

Where is it?

I must have it again. I loved it. I loved it.

How could I not know where it is?

Come to think of it, I don’t know the moment I didn’t know where it was.

Could I have given it as a gift?

I certainly wouldn’t have left it behind. It’s not broken. I’d have to remember that. No, that cup is somewhere.

But, where?

Is there something in the cup?

In the cup. You can look in the cup, can’t you?

“Water. Full. No, filling.”

The cup is overflowing.

“The water is pouring. Oh my god. The water is gushing. Gushing, gushing, gushing.”

My feet are covered. Where’d the cup go? Just water. Out of a hole in the island. Gushing. Ole’ Faithful comes to a permanent head. My doom.

“I’m going to drown!”

Look behind you. You can find safety from the water. Go where it’s safe. Go away from the water.

How neat. Behind me. It’s all dry there.

What do you see, now?

A field. In the summer. There hasn’t been rain for months.

“Some butterflies. Pretty ones. With gold and black. Some blue and black. And tall grass. Wheat-like grass. That itches.”

I’m safe here.

Describe how you feel in this place.

Dry.

“I feel comfortable, thank you. I could stay here a very long time.”

Good. I’m going to end the session now. When I count to five…

Second Session – I don’t want to know.

… four, your eyes are feeling heavy. Three, focus on the slow rhythm of your breath, two relax into the state of heightened awareness. One, you will remain aware of all that you encounter, and can stop at any moment…

Now, tell me what you see…

I’m in that damn kitchen again with the blue countertops. But…

“I feel a breeze. From behind me.”

What is behind you?

Well I’ll be damned.

“It’s a beach. I hear it now.”

The low rumble of the waves sounds much like wind through trees. The sun hangs mid sky. It drops a bit, but has enough strength yet to whiten the sands and paint the water in deep blues and translucent greens.

Tell me about the beach.

I’m not familiar with it. But then again, since when had I been familiar with a beach?

“Oh my god.”

What happened?

“The beach. The sky went from blue to black, the water – green to brown, the air – sweet to sour. Just for an instant, as the water crept up the beach to envelope my ankles. There’s tar on my feet. It grabbed my ankles and pulled. All in a split second. Then it all went back. The water is clear now.”

But it nearly gave me a heart attack.

Remember that you can look behind you, where you can find safety.

Behind me is the kitchen. The kitchen with the cup. The ancient cup I made over 60 years ago. The cup overfilling.

I made that cup for my sister.

My sister is dead.

“I can’t cry for my sister.”

Tell me more.

The voice sounds tense. Urgent. It compels me to tell it despite the numbness in my mouth.

“I remember her now. I can just touch the moment. Warm earth tones, clay under our nails. A studio. Our father’s. She was so tiny. She smiled all the time. She smiled at me. I can almost feel it. But I can’t. It’s too terrible.”

What is terrible?

“Losing her.”

Cause it’s my fault.

“I can’t relive the emotion. I want to. I really want to. But I feel nothing.”

I have a stone in my hand. I clutch tight. The edges bite into my skin. I walk to the cup on the counter, behind it a holy glow. I hover over it enough to peer inside.

“The cup is dry.”

I cast the stone in. It clangs along the walls, falls into the dry, stone well that the chalice has become. It falls and falls and falls, the clanking fades, I don’t hear the satisfying plunk it would make had it ever reached water.

Dry.

“I could jump in.”

Into the cup?

“I could jump in. Go after her. Have it take me. I could find her.”

I’m not living, anyway.

No, Mary.

“Wow.”

What happened?

“I can’t put it into words, but I know now, what I’ve been missing. I think my daughter might be right about me.”

But I still don’t like my daughter.

Or you.

Or anything.

Third Session – I know what I see.

“I see the kitchen again. I have been there. It’s been over sixty years.”

Do you hear anything?

There is no sound. The cup begins to swell with water. My hair is wet. But there is no sound. Until…
“I hear laughter. Giggles. Stomping on the floor above.”

Do you know who else is there?

“No.”

But I can guess. I bet it’s a little girl named Tamara, with strawberry-blonde hair and freckles on her cheeks. With wide blue eyes. Inquisitive blue eyes. Water eyes.

“I hear feet tumbling down the stairs. Little feet. Skipping stairs and jumping. I hear the slap of skin on blue ceramic tile. She’s coming to me.”

Can you see her?

“She’s behind me. Tapping my shoulder. I hear her breath. Feel her breath. Her hands are wet.”

Her touch makes me shiver. The hairs on the back of my neck bristle.

“I’m young again.”

Are you able to turn to face her?

I turn around. There she is. Beautiful little doll face. Seven years of unspoiled innocence.

“She looks so much like my daughter when she was that age.”

You don’t have to continue if it’s too painful.

I want to smack that pretty voice out of my head. Tell her that she’s intruding on a private matter, now.

The bells of her voice cannot save me.

“I can’t stop. She wants to go outside.”

She smiles, a wet hand grasps mine and pulls. Giggles. We’re in the field, chasing butterflies and scratching our feet.

“I’m eleven again.”

What are you doing?

“Running in the field. Chasing a seagull, now.”

It flies over the sea oat barrier. We go after it.

“We’re on the sands now. On the beach, dodging Portuguese man of war and sandburs.”

I make a misstep.

“Ow!”

What happened?

“I have a bur in my foot.”

The sand is warm. I sit down and inspect my foot. Tamara disappears.

“Where’d she go?”

Look for her.

She’s far from me now, just a few inches high in the distance. She points something in the water, ‘Mary, I want to touch it.’

Don’t go in the water. Mommy said no!

“She won’t listen to me.”

The sand stirs, the water around her, muddy.

‘Look! A whirlpool, Mary! I want to see where it will take me.’

I’ve lost my breath.

Mary, breathe. You’ve stopped breathing. You need to breathe.

The pretty voice veils my eyes. I lose sight of Tamara again.

“No, you bitch! Shut up. Just SHUT UP.”

Go back to the field. The field is safe.

“She’s chest deep. She’s too far away for me to reach in time.”

This is when she goes under. This is when I sit, picking at my feet, watching.

This is when I decide to change the past.

“It’s my second chance.”

I sprint for her.

“I’m coming.”

Mary, please. You have to breathe. Lucy, dear, call 911. I have a patient in cardiac arrest.

I’m vaguely aware of hands on me. Ghost hands, pressing down on my chest. It’s so hard to breathe. They slow down my running. Tamara’s head bobs above the water. There are only seconds left.

Mary, listen. You have to fight, Mary. Fight for life.

I am fighting.

I am plunging into the water. The water rocks me. The wave scoops me under. I’m a rag doll in its arms.

I see a face. It’s Tamara, sneaky little thing. She’s a mermaid. Fish and face. Red locks, like blood, billowing in the current, such that the setting sunlight turns crimson through the sea.

I grab her.

Mary, let go. Let go of my hair.

I won’t let you go.

I can’t get you out.

I can’t get you out.

So, I’m going with you.

“I love you.”

4 Responses to “The Queen of Cups”

  1. Adam21 says:

    Nicely written story.

    Might be open to interpretation I suppose but my own is that, while under hypnosis, she dragging her round by hair thinking she’s saving her from drowning.

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    • Lori Moritz says:

      Yes, in my mind, the person undergoing the hypnotherapy begins to have a heart attack. Then, the hypnotherapist tries to do CPR. Then, the patient grabs her hair as she leans over…

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  2. This story grabs me, Lori. The layers of memories – tactile clay, burrs, colors, sound, scent… love.

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  3. nancy says:

    A sad story. Good sensory impact. An important choice for all of us: to love or not to love.

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