Jack of Many Trades


Originally posted: 2021-01-21

It was like when your grandpa pulls a quarter from behind your ear and says it was magic, except if your grandpa was Freddie Mercury and instead of your ear it was your spine, and it really is magic.

The coin, when I get to look at it, seems like copper at first, but it has an oily sheen. At first I think the image on top is Death, but when I look closer I realize I was mistaken. The face is gaunt but not skeletal, and one eye is hidden in the shadows of the hooded cloak. I flip it, and it lands face down. The other side seems to have a number, and some foliage.

Now the back of my neck feels loose, my spine rattling like teeth, and the dragon comes over to inspect it. I fight the temptation to flinch when I feel their claws brush the back of my neck.


"Par for the course. Probably once you get in I'm full of knob and tube wiring, too. Any idea how to do astral asbestos remediation?"

"Stop babbling," they say, but with affection, and I do.

The sensation starts with a gentle rubbing that moves deeper, loosing what was held tight, and then peeling back like I'm shedding skin. It'm warm and then hot, much too hot for a January night. There's a crack like my bones are loose, or maybe like my skull has split just a little, or maybe like hinges oiled for the first time in twenty-mumble years have given up their rusty grip.

I'd swear that was a breeze rifling my hair, though the windows are closed.

"That's because you opened a door," they tell me.

It's just a crack, enough to let in fresh air and maybe enough to get some leverage for further exploration. It's something, and something is always better than nothing.

I move out to sit in the living room and clear my mind, too worked up to sleep yet. The meditative beats help me calm down and take stock, and then as I sit there I see an image.

Imagine a child with a wooden shield, the handle carved in the back for her hand to fit through. She carries this shield everywhere, training with it, letting it rest against her wrist and cover her like a blanket at night. One day she goes to put the shield down, exhausted, only to realize that her hand is grown, and she cannot remove the shield. I know she is expected to cut the hand, not the shield, if she should decide to put it down permanently, and she's no longer sure she likes that trade.

I'm not sure what I'm opening the door for, but it seems to be time to put down the shield and see what else is out there.