How the Fates Fell Out – Part II: Clotho’s Song


 “…what she wanted was something money couldn’t buy.”
“Happiness?” Ruby asked.
Olivia shook her head. “No, she wanted satisfaction.”
“Aren’t they the same thing?” Ruby asked.
“Not necessarily,” Olivia answered.


[Author’s Note: This is an excerpt from the Year of the Numen]

Synopsis: On the threshold of old age, Avery and Olivia renewed their friendship after thirty years. Due to scheduling conflicts, they find themselves calling each other during Olivia’s morning excursion by shuttle to her new job. Over time, the regulars on the shuttle become involved in their daily conversation.

Avery, a writer, now working as a TV news editor in New York, admits he is bored with his work. Olivia, his cousin, encourages him to return to writing. He says he’s out of ideas. She reminds him how they used to create stories together when they were children. Avery asks her to begin a new story. Olivia obliges him with the tale of The Year of the Numen.


The Memory Palace and Clotho’s Song


Monday morning on the shuttle –

“Should we make it a garden or a cave?” Avery asked soon after Olivia answered her phone.

“I think it should be a temple,” she said.


“Because they’re goddesses, Avery.”

“Oh, yeah, right. But how should we mark it out? We can’t go back to the field…” Avery’s voice trailed off.

“No, we can’t do that,” Olivia agreed. “We need to make something else. I don’t know. It’s been so long since I used a memory palace that I’m out of practice. I’m sorry to tell you that I became convinced for a time that it was an evil thing.”

“What? How did that happen?” Avery asked.

“Well, you have to admit it’s a common practice in the occult,” she replied, lowering her voice so that Ruby did not hear her.

“But, it didn’t start there – you know that.”

“I know. But, I was… confused for a time. It’s a long story. I’ll tell you about it someday. Just choose a common template, but it has to be something based on 12.”

“We could use a circle…it gives us 360 degrees.”

“Don’t make me do math, Avery.”

“You just said you needed 12 loci,” he complained.

“Let’s just use the calendar,” she suggested. “I know it’s old hat, but it’s easier to move around in it.”

“But then it’s 7 instead of 5 and 10 markings.”

“I’m okay with that. Besides, 7 is easier to remember than 10. That’s the maximum number of things one can keep in one’s head without counting.”

“True,” Avery agreed.

“Hey, what are you two talking about now?” Steve interrupted them.

“We’re discussing a template for the story – kind of a structure to keep backstories straight. It’s a way to remember them correctly,” Olivia answered.

“Tell him I’m dialing in,” Avery said. A moment later he appeared on the shuttle’s monitor.

“Good morning all,” he said and then diving right in, he continued, “So, Steve, being a comic book aficionado I’m sure you know what a memory palace is.”

“Yes, sir. I’ve heard of it. That’s what you’re doing?”

“What’s a memory palace?” Ruby asked.

“It’s a way to remember things by associating them with a place you are familiar with,” Olivia explained.

“I thought only geniuses could make memory palaces?” Steve asked.

“That’s a common myth,” Avery answered. “Some people have more talent than others – Olivia has an exceptional visual and echoic memory.”

“What does ‘echoic’ mean?” Miguel asked loudly from the back of the shuttle. Everyone was a bit startled. It was the first time the young man had shown any interest in the conversation.

“The ability to recall the sounds one hears – like a piece of music or how water sounds running in a shower,” Avery answered.

Miguel gave him a thumbs up. “Thanks, man.”

“You must have a good memory, too, Avery,” Ruby chimed in. “That must come in handy with your job.”

“Oh, God, no. My visual memory is almost non-existent, and my echoic memory is only a little bit better. I remember being so depressed when I realized this growing up. In fact, it was Olivia who came up with that idea that I draw it all out.”

“So, you’re an artist, too?” Steve asked.

“No, I’m no artist, but I can scratch out some reasonable images that work well enough.”

“Wow,” Steve said, “you’ll have to show me how you do it. Does it work like they say it does? You can remember everything you ever saw or heard? I could use that kind of thing right now – I’m thinking of going back to college,” he explained.

“Some people have nearly total recall,” Avery answered. “If I concentrate on the things I draw long enough I can recall most things without referring to my notes.”

“But, that’s the odd thing,” Olivia spoke up, turning to her side so that Miguel could hear her. “Avery has a good memory – but it’s different than mine. For example, if he sees a person he’s met before he’ll recognize him even if he’s wearing a disguise. I can’t do that. And, he can do math in his head and I can’t – though we both did well at math at school. Apparently, memory is more than images and sound. We don’t know very much about how it works.”

“So, you’re saying that anyone can make a memory palace?” Miguel asked. Olivia noticed he had moved up a seat from the back of the bus.

“Miguel,” Jalessica said, “It ain’t a white thing, child. In fact, white men stole it from Africa – from the Egyptians. No offense,” she added to Olivia and Avery.

“None taken,” Avery said, laughing. “Yes, it’s very possible that the Egyptians used memory palaces, though most of what we know about it come from the Greeks and Romans. Jalessica, you’re always full of surprises.”

“It’s true. I can’t deny it.” Jalessica smiled. “Well, Olivia? Is there a story today? Or are we going to talk about ancient history all morning?”

Olivia smiled. “Well, I have been thinking about the arguments the Fates used to convince their father…”

“Ha!” Jalessica burst out. “Girlfriend, this is the whitest story I’ve ever heard.”

“Why is that?” Olivia asked.

“Growing up, I didn’t ever have no father around to argue with. None of my friends did.”

“I get it,” Miguel said, “My dad would kill my sisters if they ever thought of going off to live on their own.”

“Good for you, Miguel,” Jalessica said, “I bet you can do whatever you want every night. That’s one good thing about not having a father around.”

Olivia exchanged glances with Avery, then said, “I’m sorry. I could change it…”

“Don’t change anything on my account. I don’t care.” When Olivia hesitated Jalessica added, “Well, go on. It’s your story not mine.”

“Yes, tell it, Olivia. I have to get off soon,” Ruby said.

“Okay, so Clotho went in first to talk to her father. She’s all about beginnings. And being level-headed…”

“She’s Prudence, then?” asked Avery.

“Oh, no, she’s Memory,” Olivia answered.

“So, we start with a triad then and the temple is Prudence?” Avery asked. Olivia nodded.

“I don’t understand,” Ruby asked while Avery wrote down some notes. “It’s like you’re speaking a different language.”

“Yes, sorry, Ruby.  Avery, we’ll discuss the codes later. Let me get on with the story or we won’t finish today.

“Sure, just one more question: Clotho appealed to Zeus on what basis?”

“On experience,” Olivia answered.

“I’ll buy that. There is be a song, right?” Avery asked.


vibration“We can do that. Let me think… Okay, I have one that Jalessica will like. In this song, Clotho sang to Zeus about her need to experience freedom. And, of course, being her father, he countered that she had everything anyone could ever want and what she didn’t have she needed to acquire it. She objected to this saying that what she wanted was something money couldn’t buy.”

“Happiness?” Ruby asked.

Olivia shook her head. “No, she wanted satisfaction.”

“Aren’t they the same thing?” Ruby asked.

“Not necessarily,” Olivia answered.

“That means drugs can’t buy it, either?” Avery asked, grinning ear to ear.

“Nope,” she answered, “I see you think you know the song now.”

“I can think of a few along this line. More clues, please,” he said.

“Okay. She told him he couldn’t buy it for her, either,” Olivia answered carefully. “Then she appealed to his vanity, singing:  ‘I believe in the power of creation. I believe in the good vibration.’ Then she explained how that she believed that love was the source of his great power.”

“To which Zeus responds: ‘What do you want me to do? Kick down the door and throw away the key?’” Avery said triumphantly.

“Very good, Avery. See? Your memory is excellent. She wants a new creed built on ‘love alone.'”

“Anticipating Annie Lennox by several millennia,” Avery chuckled. Olivia could see he was drawing something now.

“But he didn’t buy that, did he?” he added after a few moments of silence.

“Of course not,” Olivia replied. “Do you have a picture yet?”

Avery held up his sketch notebook so they all could see it.clotho2song.jpg

“Why is she blue?” Ruby asked, looking to Olivia for an answer.

“I assume it’s because he’s using a color triad for the sisters,” she answered.

“That is correct,” Avery said. “And it’s January.”

“But it’s July!” Ruby exclaimed.

“It’s a code, Ruby,” Steve said.

“I don’t get it either,” Jalessica said, in an aside to Ruby. “Some dumbass secret society writing that white people do.”

“It’s not a secret,” Avery objected. “It’s just forgotten.”

“But, she’s not wrong,” Olivia defended, nodding toward Jalessica. Then turning to Ruby she said. “It makes sense. Avery is using a color code so that we can remember things. I’ll explain when we’ve built more of it.”

“What’s with the towel on her head?” Jalessica asked.

“Fortunately, I have recently seen the video for that song,” Avery answered. “Annie wore an enormous white towel on her head.”

While Avery wrote down some more notes, Olivia pulled up the video on her phone and showed it to Ruby and Jalessica. She waved at Miguel to move to the seat behind Jalessica so he could see the video with them.

“Do you think that image will work?” Olivia asked.

“Absolutely,” Avery answered. “Annie is so very memorable. I hope we’ll hear more from her.”

“It’s possible. Did you know that the sisters were identical triplets?”

“Interesting…” he mumbled, adding that information to his notes.

“She was gonna leave all that wealth for love?” Jalessica asked in astonishment after the video finished playing. “Is she crazy?”

“Maybe or maybe she was simply trying to manipulate her father,” Olivia answered. “In any event, it didn’t work. Zeus said love wasn’t the cure all she thought it was and that she had a lot to learn about it.”

“Amen,” Jalessica agreed.

“Well, we have to end it here for today, folks.” Avery said, closing up his notebook and putting his pens and colored pencils inside his jacket pocket. “My minions are calling me. Olivia, I’ll expect  tomorrow we’ll hear Lachesis song?”

“I’ll work on it. Have a good day, Avery,” she said.



Previous excerpt: How the Fates Fell Out

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