The Book of Visions

The Book of Visions

A Chapter by YouoweYoupay
"

Lumio's secrets.

"
18. The Book of Visions


Lumio was perfectly healthy a few hours ago. I had not heard him make a single whimper of pain or queasiness. We had crossed paths on my way to school and on his way to the oak pine forest. He made a silly face before taking a separate road and I advised him to grow up. A while before that at the breakfast table, we had been flaunting to father our extensive knowledge in onomatology, verbally destroying one another’s theories of what our uncle’s newborn’s name might mean.

My brother was not ill. I shook the dread off me as I ran past the blur of street markets. Dogs barked, two memahs argued on the side of the road and a man patted his horse after inspecting its bronze shoe. Chickens cackled. I passed through all of this like the restless wind. My ears rang with sharp clanging as Obi Kinan, the blacksmith repetitively struck the hot, glowing iron.

“Choleem, Beya?” he called, “Tell your father we are praying for Lumio!”

 My father quietly spoke to the physician in the room and my mother tearfully murmured a prayer as she rocked back and forth in her seat. They did not let me see him until both the night and his temperature had fallen. Although he had finally succumbed to sleep, Lumio was yellow like a fallen leaf and his lips were dry and white, his face etched with what remained of the agony he had endured when his body burned with feverish shivers. 

 When did this happen? How? Who found him in the tangles of the forest and carried him home? 

I lightly squeezed his hand in mine. The once large, strong hand that ruffled my hair and locked my ankle in playful vengeance was now limp and cool. My chin trembled and my eyes stung, fogged by tears. But I stopped them in their tracks. The physician said Lumio had fought well. And that should be enough.
But I was fooling myself. It was remotely enough. The physician could only speculate, my parents could only hope and the blacksmith could only pray. There was no certainty that my brother would live to see the light of day. Only the gods knew beyond doubt. And Lumio’s seeing eye.

The book of visions. 

Inside Lumio‘s study room, I carefully pulled the lower drawers open. They were empty. I had already guessed that Lumio would relocated his journals. So I pulled the clothes chest to me and I opened it with ease. He had not tried to lock it or hide it from me and it was unusually naïve of him. But I judged to soon. Because as I scrambled through his robes in search for the book, a slip of paper fell out from the folds of fabric. I unfolded it and instantly rolled my eyes with a sigh. Lumio had left me a warning letter and that explained why he had been confident enough to leave his secrets in plain sight.

Beya, 

You snide wolf. I knew you would try to find my book of visions again. You have always had a shimmering heart that aches to understand our broken world. But I urge you to be a sensible boy and learn from my mistakes. The future is as unchangeable as the past. They have both been previously written by the hands of the gods, eternities ago. Therefore, living for the purpose of excavating the past or escaping the future will sadden you to no end. 

Remember the promise you once made to me. Live well and live now.

~Lumio

In an attempt to preserve any shard of integrity I had left in me, I exhaled the dust off the large book and cracked it open with the intention of briefly skimming through the hundreds of pages until I had landed on words relevant to illness and health. I needed reassurance, nothing more. 

My heartbeats rattled the entire room.

Lumio's words were scrawled in panic, breaching holes and wrinkled tears in some parts of the page. It took me a few moments to distinguish the shape of the writing.

Fifo’s Legs.

That afternoon, as she crosses the road, she will not take notice of the enraged carriage coachman until it’s too late... Paralysis, the physician calls it. It renders the lower part of a man useless and immoblie. Fifo will become dependent on others to carry her to places, bring her food, change her clothes and bathe her. Antob will remain by her side, but only for another year and only out of sympathy, not love…

No…That could not be true. Because Fifo has always been an attentive girl. We never walked down the street without hearing her cautious reminder: watch your step.

My hands hardened around the edges of the book. I took a long breath and I turned the page:

Morjana's Disappearance.

Morjana’s infant brother will fall ill and she will want to prove herself useful by trying to find the cure. She will venture alone into the west woods. That night, her father and his men will scatter in the forest with their torches, crying out her name. After days and weeks of searching, one of her uncles will find her bright red shoe on the banks of the river.

Morjana did not have a younger brother. Lumio must have confused her for another female child. Yes, he had misread the future.

My hands quivered as I turned the page:

Uncle Helal’s Dementia.

With time, Uncle Helal will gradually fail to remember everything and everyone. Aunt Tula will remain by his side. Not out of sympathy, but out of love and devotion. He will sit in the bathtub, confused and speechless, his eyes empty of recognition of his wife. While my aunt, youthful and lovely as ever, washes his back with warm soapy water.

My uncle would never forget me. He would never forget Aunt Tula; a man who could tell apart fifteen different kinds of worms in his own garden, uniquely naming each one. How could someone like this spiral into forgetfulness? It was not plausible. 

I hesitated. But I turned the page eventually:

Jaraan’s punishment.

Kais Ulia will discipline his son by striking his face and denying him dinner. He will then sit his son down and explain to him that he could never be friends with Beya Ayar because goddess Melusia created the Ulians with a pure, compassionate soul, while the remainder of the people in the world only possess only a spark of a soul. He stresses the importance of staying alert and suspicious of any of their neighbors because at any moment, history might repeat itself. Betrayal and agression are in the nature of god Tambier, inherited by his worshippers. The Ulians were the divinely chosen people, and they must only put their trust and faith in �"

My mother’s voice echoed outside Lumio’s study room. The book of visions fell from my hands. I tried to collect it from the floor, but my fingers failed me. I grappled against the tremors in my skin, grabbed hold of the book, closed it after smoothing the crushed pages and buried it at the bottom of the chest. I leaned against Lumio’s study table to steady my breathing. 

What awaited all of us was despair. There was no escape.

The ground beneath my feet vanished. The bits of dinner in my belly threatened to rise up. I had once asked Lumio, jokingly, if he knew what dead, cooled charcoals tasted like.. I broke into a cold sweat. Everything sunk into the silence apart from the sound of my breathing. My stomach heaved.

Who could explain to me? I did not understand. 
Mother. Could I tell her? 
Help. Someone, help me. 
I burst out into the parlor stumbling upon a conversation between my mother and a visiting memah:

“We named him Beya hoping he would inherit the courage and loyalty of the wolf, not the rebellious spirit. But it is not in our hands. Unlike his brother, Lumio. Lumio has always lived up to his name. Truly. My poor, sick son...My Lumio." my mother sighed deepliy, "The gods are testing me, I know this�"” She gasped at me, her eyes disbelieving. At that moment the shape of her jaws and the light in her eyes resembled Lumio. It was not fair that she resembled him so much. My brother would never speak of me the way she did. I gnashed my teeth and breathed harder.


“Beya? you’re awake? Why-why �"”
“I heard you! I heard everything!” I snapped, my voice breaking. 
“Beya, wait! Come back!”
I bolted up the stairs.

I curled in the attic that night on the wooden flooring with nothing to cover me but a ragged, disused blanket. 

There had to be a mistake. This was not the real book of visions. This was only a decoy. A forged copy secretly written by a river fiend, with the purpose of drowning my soul in fear or to make me hate Lumio who had been wrestling with death for hours.

I broke the promise. I lied. I took advantage of my bedridden brother.

Regret gnawed at my heart. I did not wish to know. I did not yearn to know. I wish I had not known.  I wish I had listened to Lumio’s advice.

I am sorry. I am sorry. I am sorry… Forgive me. 

I shuddered and shuddered, squeezing my eyes shut. 

Let me sleep. Just let me sleep. No dreams. 


© 2020 YouoweYoupay


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Reviews

Arrrgh what is this?!?! You can't do this to me, Aysha! How can the future be so grim for Fifo, Morjana, Helal and Jaraan? It's cruel! It's sad! Gaaah!
Anyway, I really liked the way this chapter flowed from one emotional beat to the next. You've really got the rhythm and punch of writing down. Nice work!

Posted 2 Months Ago


Well-developed suspense & agitation thru-out this chp. When Lumio refuses to believe there's anything wrong with Beya, then later, when he's looking thru the Book of Visions, he dismisses practically everything he reads from the book, & this wisely sets the reader up for NOT believing anything Lumio allows, since it looks like he cannot face what's happening. Nice job of SHOW instead of tell (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie

Posted 4 Months Ago



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Added on December 5, 2020
Last Updated on December 11, 2020
Tags: Short novel


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YouoweYoupay
YouoweYoupay

Amman, ..., Jordan



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"The Universe is made of stories, not of atoms." ~Muriel Rukeyser "There is no one more rebellious or attractive than a person lost in a book." “He allowed himself to be swayed by his con.. more..

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