Drabble 143 – Pythoness

An image of a Paestan vase, showing a female soothsayer with snakes on her shoulders and in her hair.

One of the strongest ways that anxiety manifests for me is in the ways I think about the future. I’m generally an optimist, but when I’m feeling anxious, I imagine myself with a sort of reverse Midas touch: everything I do, everything I’m involved in, everything I know and love, will crumble by virtue of my involvement.

I’m not a Cassandra; most of these things don’t come true, and if they do, the consequences are never as bad as I imagine them to be. I am, as it turns out, terrible at predicting the future. If anxiety were rational, my acknowledgement of this fact would make it disappear. It doesn’t.

Instead, I have to recognize it for what it is. I don’t know the future. In fact, I don’t want to know the future. I prefer to let things be a mystery, anxiety be damned.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

PYTHONESS

(n.) from pytho, an older name for Delphi

A woman with the power of soothsaying, often possessed by a god or spirit.

It is dangerous to know the future. The soothsayer twines snakes around her body, venomous ones, strangling ones, harmless ones in vibrant colors to scare off those who approach her with anger or covetousness. Her gift draws generals, draws kings, all of them desiring ownership of her visions of the future, and they die to the choking force of a python or the quick flood of rattlesnake venom through their blood. But the snakes do not bite her; she speaks their language, too, and they slither closer to her lips to hear it. She whispers prophecy with a forked tongue.

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