It was Barbara who told me this story first.
I met her through a common friend, and hit it off quickly, and soon became good friends.
I really like her, though sometimes she frightens me; someone who can drink me under the table can't be quite normal.
But maybe that is why I like her so much, because maybe I'm not normal too.
I get the feeling that if i have to describe another situation where I'm having a few beers in a bar with someone, that you'll get the impression that I'm an unrepentant drunkard, when that is simply not true.
Anyway, we were sitting in a bar, just talking, when she tells me the following parable:
"A scorpion was waiting by the bank of a river that was too deep and whose currents were too strong for him to cross unaided. He notices that a turtle is going to cross the river, and so he calls out: 'My friend the turtle! My friend! Will you not take me to the other side of the river with you?", the scorpion asked.
"No", said the turtle immediately.
"You're a scorpion, and if I let you come near me, you will sting me, and then I shall die."
"My friend!", the scorpion said, "Never! Never!", he said honestly.
"Do you know, I'm not like other scorpions, no! I am a civilized scorpion, I would never do such a thing!"
"I don't know...", the turtle replied doubtfully.
"My friend the turtle, consider but this : If by happenstance I were to sting you while you ferry me to the other side, you would die; and seeing as I am not a very good swimmer, why, I fear I should perish too. What gain I? Not a thing!"
"Very well", the turtle said, "climb atop my shell, and I will take you to the other side."
About halfway across, as sure as lightning will strike twice, the scorpion stings the turtle in her head.
With his last breath, the turtle wailed and asked the scorpion, "Why? Why did you do that? I was so young still, and had all this potential ahead of me... I had a whole world to discover, a whole life ahead. What waste our lives become because of your action..."
"Why?", she asked again, "Now we both shall die."
"Son, I'm a scorpion", the scorpion said, without any pride or sadness, or regret.
"This is my nature, and I can't escape it."
As she told me this story, so now do I tell it to you.
And I want you to think about it, little girl.
When you get home, think, and think about what I am going to ask you now.
"Who am I in this story?"
"The turtle? The Scorpion? Or something else entirely?"
"I'm not expecting you to know the answer. I myself took a long time to find it out."
"But think about it."
Days later she met with me and said, "I know who you are, in that story. You are the turtle, because you trust way too much in other people. You let them get too near, and they always end up hurting you."
I smiled softly, and said, "You're close. But that is not the answer. Keep thinking, little angel."
Years went by, and fate made us meet again.
After some hard and cruel truths I had to face, she finally told me, "I don't know how I didn't see it right away. You are the scorpion. There is nothing inside you but poison. You kill. You destroy.
You are without feeling. But you are neither good nor bad. You just are who you are."
"That is your nature, and you can never escape it. You said so yourself."
My hand touched her face, tenderly, and she drew my hand away as if it were the most abominable thing in the world.
"Your touch makes me sick", you told me.
"You're still close, sweet angel. But you strayed a bit. That way you won't get there", I said.
You came to me once, in those small hours of the night, long after you had died.
"It's so obvious what you are. But I was too young to understand it, you see?"
You put your lips close to my ear, and whispered the answer; ghost words echoing in the darkness.
In the quiet of the night, I smiled that secret smile that I used only for you.
Long had my body betrayed me, and my sight had fled longer still.
I couldn't see you, but I saw you clear as day.
"You guessed it", I said.
"The clouds are coming in
like a barrier of sin
the colour of the sky
spells the end for you and I."
Mesh, Not prepared