The day began just past dawn’s break. The Mother Sun beamed from the North, the Daughter Sun from the Northeast. The people of Zeni made their way from one place to the next on the transportation ladders. Like roads from the old world, these hung at different levels from the ground up. One could walk one ladder from the surface to the 34thlevel in ten minutes, which is where she peered out of her office’s window—a cup of mint tea in her hand.
Her first appointment would be arriving soon. She rolled up her sleeves to gaze at the purple swirls embedded in her chestnut-colored skin. They have dulled in color in the last two days. That was new. Being the only one of her kind, it was hard to determine what to do when that happened. She would make an appointment with a specialist soon. For now, she would enjoy her morning ritual of watching people start their day.
She loved to watch the smaller versions of each being running and playing. The joy that came from them overwhelmed any other sense. All they knew was to do what made them happy. She wondered what it must have been like to be a child. She wondered what it would be like to raise a child. Things she would never know.
Sweat beaded her forehead; her right arm went numb, and a jolt of pain seared up her abdomen. The last sips of mint-tea stained her coconut carpet. Her knees buckled and hit the floor behind it. As quickly as it had arrived, the pain was gone. It left her panting on the floor. Her coily hair went from an organized flower to drooping in sweat.
She found her way to her chaise. Her heart raced as if she had completed her midnight run. Her sleeve still rolled up; she saw her swirls flicker and dim even more. Her eyes grew wide with shock and question. She jumped at the knock that came on her door.
“Madam, your first appointment has arrived.”
“Thank you, Nessa. Give me five minutes and send them in.”
Within those five minutes, she went from a disheveled mess to a presentable professional. Then entered her first client as she smoothed her sleeves down. And her day began with questions much like the others:
“Should I quit my job?”
“Is my husband cheating on me?”
“Am I on the right track for my dreams?”
“Will I die today?”
“Should my toes be painted peach or rose quartz?”
On and on, the questions came, and The Intuitionist gave her expertise. Never once in her 143 years had she been wrong. This is what kept her in business, and again, she was the only one of her kind. She could not tell their future. She had a gut feeling of whether something was right or wrong. It is always best for the clients to know what they want and ask yes or no questions—this or that.
After her appointments, she was left depleted. She called the specialist’s office for their next available appointment. Unfortunately, that came in two weeks. She walked the transportation ladder from her office to her dwelling, ten levels down. She held on to the rail to keep from falling. A fall to the surface would not end her day in pleasure. The three-minute walk became ten. She smiled at the children along the way. She thought of how she would never see someone with a face like hers on a tiny frame. She did not remember how she arrived on Zeni. One day, she just…was.
She made it through the night without any severe pain. She did not take her midnight run. The following day, she was back in her office. Her arms trembled while pouring the mint tea. Forty minutes later, she was still in her office alone. She always had the same person every morning. She walked outside to find Nessa.
Nessa sat at her desk watching a video; The Intuitionist came up behind her. She saw her 3 pm client from yesterday. He was yelling on the screen to an informer. Infuriated. Her clients were never upset.
“What is this, Nessa?”
Nessa slowly turned from the screen and looked up at her before replying, “He is saying that you were wrong.”
“Wrong?” she said, puzzled. She had never been wrong since she discovered her gift. She had been on the planet for ten years, always looking the same. One significant citizen, part of The Ministry, asked her randomly for advice; the rest was history. She watched the screen intently, focusing on her client’s rage.
“He said he asked you if his wife was cheating, and you stated she was not. He went out and bought her favorites and planned to surprise her last night. Only to return to their dwelling to find her in bed with a female pixie. He has been on the news all morning.”
“That is impossible; I am never wrong. And why didn’t you tell me this?”
“Your skin looked so lurid; I didn’t want to bother you.”
“I can’t allow this to go on; this has to be false.”
Nessa’s attention went back on the screen. “Madam, he isn’t the only one.”
Her eyes stared at the screen as she saw other clients in the background screaming at what they saw as false news that she had provided them. That pain in her abdomen had returned. Something had changed, and she needed to find out now. She had Nessa cancel the rest of her appointments for the day and hurried down 22 levels to the specialist’s institution.
Her walk was full of sneers and judging eyes. It didn’t matter that she had been helping people on this world for most of her known existence; they did not care if something had gone wrong. And something must be wrong with her if her gift of intuition was giving false information.
She overheard a centaur say, “I heard she told someone to go with rose quartz toe polish, and it was her boyfriend’s ex favorite color. Who would tell someone to do that?”
A faerie loudly whispered that he had heard that she told someone to quit a job when their position was the only one to get a double raise. She tried to close out the clammer of accusations as she made her way down the ladder. She still mentally protested; she had never given false intuitions.
She walked into the emergency center and demanded to be seen. The first medic did not make any quick movements. She rolled her eyes and clicked her tongue at The Intuitionist. After a few minutes, she slammed her fist on the desk. The medic reluctantly called the specialist on duty. He ran out to her.
“You must check me out this instance,” she pleaded.
Twenty minutes later, she lay on an examination table. They drew her blood and took her vitals. The entire time, the specialist and his medic would swap glares. Unsure if it was because of the informer’s report or something else. They were in the middle of an ultrasound when the specialist finally deemed to speak to her.
“This is my first time treating you. The first time anyone has treated you, Intuitionist.”
“Please, you can call me Madam. But there has not been a need for it.”
He cleared his throat. “Yes, Madam. And it is understandable why you do not have energy records with us. Yet, we are unsure of what we are or are not looking for—your swirls, for instance. I do not have the scientific expertise to know why they have dimmed in color. What do they signify on your planet?”
“I do not know where I come from. Most things, I just know. I know they are connected to my intuition. I should have canceled my appointments when I first saw them dim.”
“This is new for all of us then. Well, what about the being inside of you? Is that connected to your abilities?”
“The what inside of who?”
She sat up on the table. The medic turned the screen so The Intuitionist and the specialist could both look at the image. In the center of her abdomen was a tiny being reminiscent of a feathered creature. The specialist made the image clearer. The ultrasound machine could pick up exact images of internal objects. It was 5 inches in length. Its mouth hung ragged, and eyes drooped low.
“A water phoenix,” she murmured.
“What is a water phoenix?” the specialist asked.
“A dream I once had brought the image and name of water phoenixes to me. I remember spending much time in a swimming chamber. Along beside me, water phoenixes swam. I never knew that I had one inside of me all of this time.”
“It doesn’t look well. Do you have any idea what to do?”
“No. No, I don’t.”
The Intuitionist was taken to her dwelling by the medic. Nessa came by to bring her rose and lemon soup and alkaline water. After having Nessa send out refunds to clients and cancel appointments until further notice. The medic left first, and then Nessa once she knew her boss was okay. The Intuitionist’s known world was crashing, and she had no wisdom of how to rectify it. Her intuition was always right until it wasn’t.
She slowly paced her floor, tenderly rubbing her stomach. “Hey, tiny being. I wish I had known you were there. Maybe I could have taken better care of you. I wish I knew what to do for you. For me. For us.”
She didn’t have a library to visit to gather more information. It had been some time since she had sat and ventured inside. She sat in front of her couch on the floor. She crossed her legs and inhaled deeply. Her hands cradled her abdomen as she drifter into her subconscious.
She flew through her synapsis that mimicked a summer’s electrical storm. Thoughts bubbled up from her mind-sea like plump clouds in the sky. She searched through each thought for something about her tiny friend inside of her. The meditation brought forth knowledge of her water phoenix.
A water phoenix had cycles of life, length depending on nurturing. Without proper self-reflection and love, the phoenix will begin to dwindle. The longest life cycle that a water phoenix had lived was 404 years with appropriate self-care.
It was two days later that The Ministry showed up at her door. They portrayed their questioning as a sign of concern. The people of Zeni relied on her expertise, and things had begun to unravel without her. People had to go about their day without…knowing if they were making the right decision or not. They were accustomed to depending on her.
Meditation had helped bring her closer to her water phoenix, whom she named, Sophia, meaning wisdom in Greek. She had once read about the ancient civilization of Greece. On another planet, in another Galaxy two lightyears away. Fascinating yet infantile creatures that are called humans.
The more she tapped in and took care of herself, the better Sophia had become. It was four weeks, and she had not returned to work yet. Nessa called a few times, but after two weeks, she decided to start working towards her passion for writing. Working for The Intuitionist had made her content, yet she knew something was missing. Having this happen allowed her to go after that dream.
The informer had slowed down reports on the mild chaos that ensued after the day of false truths. People picked their lives back up. It was a shockwave that rippled through the world that now they had to depend on their intuition. They had to go about life in wonder.
The Ministry paid her another visit after three weeks to ask questions about a rival planet’s agenda. She was unable to answer the questions for them. A part of her worried if they would call treason, but they too had moved on without her. They, too, found ways to govern without prior knowledge of an event.
All she had now was Sophia. She ordered an ultrasound machine for dwelling use. Her health had become better. The swirls on her arms had started regaining their color. She was beginning to feel like herself again.
Never in her century of living had she thought she would know the feeling of carrying life inside of her. Though the water phoenix had always been there, something awakened in her now that she was aware. A caring beyond her recognition. A drive to protect and do what is best for a being besides herself.
She felt her intuition had come back, but she had begun to enjoy the life of leisure. A part of her knew that all she ever wanted was someone who could be her own. She felt at peace.
A gentle trickle escaped from between her legs. She sat up in bed, taking the covers off her. Purple stained her bed. She took a deep breath in, and upon her release, a whoosh of purple water was released. Her skin flushed, and the purple swirls illuminated. She felt empty.
She couldn’t make it to the ultrasound fast enough. Slow streams of water ran down her leg like streams of condensation. Looking at the monitor, she saw what she hoped she would not find. Sophia was not there. Her hands trembled, and she felt the bile rising in her throat. She couldn’t stop the emotional affliction.
Hours had passed. She lied on the floor next to the machine. Unable to move. Unable to figure out what to do next. She tried to get answers from her mental, but she failed to recover from her grief to relax.
Days went by. She officially closed her practice. She made money by selling her mint tea every Tuesday at the market. A few of her clients had stopped by to check on her. They heard about Sophia from the informer and brought her gifts. She got to sit and hear about how others were doing. It turns out, depending on their intuition, had worked out for the best.
The Intuitionist never paid attention to days and time before. She had a lot to spare. After Sophia, the days dragged into eternity. Two weeks after, a soft tap rapped at her door. It was late in the day, and she was not expecting anyone. She opened to door to find The Commissioner of The Ministry. He was the one that asked her for advice so long ago. She stepped out of the way to let him in.
She fixed them both mint tea and they sat on her sofa. He watched her intently.
“I am sorry to hear about your water phoenix,” he said.
“Thank you. You didn’t have to come all the way down here to tell me that.”
“I know. But what you did for me so long ago, you helped me get to where I am today. Without you, I would not have gone after the role of commissioner. After I heard, I wanted to try to help you in some way. It took a lot of searching. I had to contact a colleague off planet. But, I was able to find something.” He reached in his coat and pulled out a small book. “I only glanced over it, so I hope you can find what you need. Thank you for the tea.”
He stood up and let himself out of her home. She read the book title, it was in the old language. She scanned the pages and discovered it was a book of her people. It contained her home planet, what happened to her people, and how they were scattered across the Universe. Her breaths were short and jagged. She was never able to reach that far inside of her.
Towards the end of the book, it spoke about the water phoenixes inside of each of them. And she found a ritual. She quickly began gathering items and placing them in a circle in the middle of her home. She lit a candle that she had placed in the center of a chalked circle. The words moved swiftly and firmly from her lips. Her hands together in front of her. The candle’s glow became brighter.
The flame grew and grew until a splash of water put it out. The water seemed to come from thin air. Her purple swirls illuminated like they had the night she lost Sophia. In her mind, in her soul, in her gut. She felt reassurance. She stood up from the spot she was at.
Her steps were cautious, laced with nervousness. She grabbed the wand of the ultrasound machine. The image flickered and became clear. Her eyes lined with silver, and she slowly sat on the floor. A very small being with the same chocolate skin was balled up with its face towards hers. The face was Sophia, but that being was not a water phoenix.
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