A week ago, my last wisdom tooth began to sprout from my gum. I had little tingles here and there from other wisdom teeth but they emerged gradually. The arrival of this tooth was painful. I could not ignore it.
Perhaps the full power of wisdom is undoubtedly painful. Life seems to be a strange arrival and a strange departure. Some define it as a journey or a place or use an elaborate complicated equation. There are no definite answers unless you’re crazy and maybe I am!
I nursed my tooth during a writing class with author Derbhile Dromey. It felt great to be there. All the thoughts that were spinning around in my head suddenly had a focus. I became a great traveller and explorer as my pen moved across the paper. Words and images could be channeled out of everyday life, plucked out of routine and made strange. Here is the story I crafted during the classes called ‘The Gold Moth’.
*Finn called to his sister from the dark corner of the attic, “Orla, Orla, come here now.” Orla stopped playing her silver trumpet suddenly. Finn ran to her and could make out her white silhouette in the dust filled echo chamber.
“What is it?” she said as she slowly turned to meet Finn in his panic.
“Its s-s-Sam”, Finn stuttered.
Orla suddenly felt frightened. “What are you talking about Finn?”
He grabbed her hand and they both flitted into the dark corner of the room. Finn pointed to the floor at the little traces of dust.
Orla peered closely. “What?” she exclaimed. “What is it?”
Finn pointed closer, bending down. “Look”, he said. “Look at what’s written there.”
Speckled in the dust there was a faint outline. Orla could make out the letters s-a-m.
Sam was a familiar name in this household. He was Finn and Orla’s deceased grandfather.
“Is this some kind of joke Finn?” Orla said unnervingly. She could see the panic in Finn was real and was confused and frightened by what all of this meant.
Finn stood up and looked at Orla in great earnest.
“I was looking for the clarinet in the back as I always do when I found granddad’s hat. There was a gold moth on it. I let it crawl around my fingers for a while. Then it slipped onto the floor. I watched it crawl around and it made out these letters.”
Orla tried to reconcile this information in her head but like the math problems she hated so much in school, she could not understand or make anything fit.
“What are you saying Finn?” Orla blurted out strongly.
“I don’t know”, he said quietly and slumped back into himself. They both stood in silence and stared at the floor. Finally Orla piped up, “Where is the moth?”
Finn reached into his back pocket where he produced a beaker that he used for his braces. Orla beckoned him to the centre of the room with the white dust flying around the two large skylights. She took the beaker from Finn and laid it down on the floor. They both circled it and watched nervously as the gold speckled insect lay motionless inside the beaker.
“Here is some dust, Finn. Should we open it and see?”
Finn opened the beaker without consultation. Dust scattered around them as Finn rolled over to watch the gold moth fly high into the skylight. They both stood in the rising dust to watch the specter disappear into a crack in the corner of the skylight.
“What’s that”, said Finn in sudden recognition. He leapt and clambered at the spot in the corner. In a cloud of dust something jingled and fell to the floor. Finn picked up a gold key that left the shadow Orla had not anticipated.
The key felt light in Finn’s hand. He examined it for clues. He looked up at Orla breathlessly. “It says ‘The World’.”
They looked at each other and turned towards the globe in its wooden frame at the far end of the room.
“I’m scared Finn.”
Slowly they were drawn to walk together till their feet carried them to the world. Finn and Orla knew what to do with the key. They had felt the grooves of a lock so many times when their fingers slid across the globe to stop and start at the country that chose them. It felt like this lock had chosen them too.
It fit with a little persuasion as Finn nudged the gold key. It became heavy like it was sprung inside a music box. He twisted the key a couple of times and could feel the spring become heavier against the key.
He let go. A presence had arrived. A black shadow stood at the top of the stairs at the very moment the whisper of a piano pounded from the globe.
Aunt Ziggy quietly stepped into the light. Concern lined the creases on her face.
“How did you find it?” she said with light breath.
Finn and Orla moved closer to her in trust and spilled out the details of these strange encounters. She stared at them so hard her eyes began to water. She recognised it was her father Sam.
The gold moth had often been her friend when she was in trouble. Her stare was fearful and tried to penetrate what kind of situation Finn and Orla were in and why the gold moth had come to help them.*
That is my story!
I have just finished reading ‘The Pink Cage’ by Derbhile Dromey.
I cared about the story to read and absorb the thoughts and feelings of the narrator
Somehow I have a good feeling about the arrivals and departures inside me.
Having their words and images is a great way to be in this world.
Perhaps the arrival of my last wisdom tooth gave me this wisdom. The pain has now departed.
Lena O’ Connell
Image Source [http://i.istockimg.com/file_thumbview_approve/6447718/2/stock-illustration-6447718-clean-tooth.jpg]