Because ECHO is based on a true story I had to go through a lot of self-evaluation and memory to be clear on it. The hardest part of this project so far was writing the exerpt below as it brought up some painful memories and things I am unsure on how to show in a film. So I am sharing it here with you, Dear Reader, so maybe you will understand.
Now that this is written down I hope ECHO can move forward easily and into the more exhilarating parts of the story, as we have only just begun.
Mercury Rose, Age 18
So, given that the Native groups were a part of the college she was going to, and the history around the area, it was no surprise to Mercury when they told the new students that there would be some Natives doing a ritual at the New Student Orientation.
Happy for her new adventure she was on she went to the orientation. It was in one of the large film studios on the campus, right across from her dorm. When they first entered the Sound stage she was thinking about what films she would make there and all the amazing possibilities that her education would open her up to.
She was expecting the things that happened, for the most part. A lay of the campus, how things are done, the grades, meeting your cohort, working through trust falls to keep the cohort closely knit together as they work through their programs. It was fun if not a little silly.
Then the Native Elders came to the groups, and sat the students in a large circle. They hit the drums and started off a nice melody, a trance like rhythm that heeded what they were trying to do. They lit sage and the elders started to sing to the beat of the drum. They got out feathers and started asking the great spirit for help in giving the new students courage and stamina to get through their studies.
Rose was not impressed. She felt removed by it, and a little on guard suddenly. although she looked around at the other students and didn’t know what they were thinking. Maybe they liked this sort of thing. She had had plenty of meditational experiences with her Mom in Los Angeles before, but this seemed very foreign to her. And she didn’t like it. There was something not right about it. As if the ritual and the race that was doing all this was so far removed from her she couldn’t even concentrate.
She started to fade out of it and think about other things, like what they would eat that night, etc. When suddenly the three Elders got up, continuing to chant. They were wearing varied colorful wraps around their shoulders and had feathers in their long hair. Two of them had feathers and all had smoking sage sticks, the smoke of which wafted up and around each student in the large circle. Some had their eyes closed, most all, including Rose, had their hands on their knees as they waited to be ‘blessed.’
It was then that it happened.. with the air filled heady with the aroma and sage and other herbs, and the sounds of the tribal sounds, of speaking to their higher power and beyond as a way of lifting up the group surrounding them that they would have a wonderful college experience here.
Each Elder came around to each student, smudging them and wishing them on their journey. When it happened to Rose, the elders did the required blessing. It was then that she heard it. She couldn’t say that the Elders actually spoke as she didn’t see their lips moving. But she heard a distinct voice from one of them.. ‘We know who you are…’
She looked up at them but they had moved on. There was no more chanting and the drums died down as they sat back in the middle of the circle. It was then that her eyes locked in with the Elders, all three glaring at her in such a way she couldn’t deny that they did know her.. know her deeper then anyone in her actual life had known her. She wanted answers, but felt a distinct reason not to, as if they would not reason their hatred about her what so ever. They left and didn’t look at her, in fact, nearly avoiding her. And as the orientation ended everyone crowded to get up and leave and she didn’t have a chance… Plus the moment had left and I felt empty, and alone. Maybe it was because I was just me again…
Dave R., Santa Fe, New Mexico 1992
I had become used to being with Mercury Rose off and on. It would usually happen when I had finished the days tasks and was around a fire, or finishing up eating; or the whiskey had taken my mind to someplace less desolate. I didn’t mind these times, and had come to enjoy seeing what she was up to, and how the world had changed, and mainly how it had stayed the same.
So when she was going to college I was excited to tag along. I never had the chance to go. I know she wanted to be a filmmaker and a writer and had all these dreams. I had never had the time for such dreams as reality of the war had shaped my life the way it had. Gotta say though, I wasn’t thrilled when I saw the tribal people standing around during her orientation. I was on guard and wary, as nothing good had ever come from them.
So when they started chanting and drumming with the noxious weed smoke I knew something was up. This may of been standard practice but it made me very on edge. So it didn’t surprise me when the Elder spoke to her in that menacing fashion and I suddenly felt a rush of wind and I was gone, out of Rose and the stage and far away from the city. Time and space seemed irrelevant as I found myself falling fast into Devil’s Canyon, north of town. I crash landed and rolled in the sand for about 50 feet before I finally came to a stop, out of breath and completely discombobulated.
It took me several minutes before I tried to move, and groaned as I did so. I was bruised and battered. And, well, where the hell was I? I slowly got to my feet and saw one of my trusty steeds grazing on some grass nearby. This place looked familiar, as if it was from a distant memory. I was pondering this as I grabbed the reins of my horse and leaned up against the tree to lite a smoke.
But as I did so an arrow parted the air too close to my cheekbone and inbedded itself in the tree, the feathered end of the quiver so close it was blurry in my vision. I didn’t have long to move before there was a shrill cry and I saw him. I recognized the young warrior coming at me at a gallop and anger in his eyes. I knew immediately then where I was.. it was where it all began. And maybe where I, and Mercury both, had been cursed.
Mercury Rose, Santa Fe, New Mexico 1992 – 1995
After that very strange experience at the orientation Rose knew in her heart who she was. This other self, this masculine son of a bitch that helped her through things her entire life, and yet made things very interesting, was not only a haunting spirit or even a guide, but her past life. Reincarnation had been a theme for her all of her life so this was no surprise. But she had to explain it. So she started writing a script to encapsulate the knowledge she had. She met friends at school and with the help of one or two of them they came up with a concept. The idea was simple.. the main characters were in modern day Santa Fe walking down many of the dirt roads that were somewhat off the beaten path; and unwittingly stepped into the past. Mary and Rose wrote this together, playing off each character and really working through some characterization issues that seemed to stem from Rose’s other life. She swore she must of known Mary in the past. Mary, for her friendship, went along with this, but to this day Rose wonders if she was ever fully understanding the true experience Rose was in.
She also found a friend who understood her or at least tried. Mary and Rose got along well and would pow wow around for awhile during those college years. She was also in the film program, and not from New Mexico. So when they had any free time they were either getting onto film sets to hang out with actors and crew, or hunting down the strange circumstances that Rose had explained regarding Dave and her past. They went to a hypnotist at one point, who was a native. They mentioned Dave but wouldn’t go into detail. But everywhere Rose went she felt she was being watched and judged. It made college and all of its experiences have a whole other meaning.
During this time her past life was in the back of her mind, but his personality was much more distant.. letting her take the lead, as he had other things to deal with.
A year or so later during this time Rose’s Mom became deathly ill and she dropped school to be near her for her last year of life. It was horrendous for her and this was when Dave really came to the forefront of her consciousness, giving her the strength to have a life throughout all this. But she didn’t give up her search for the truth.
In between her bouts of heavy grief and loss she found solace in the strange thoughts her outlaw friend would say. She needed his help and didn’t know it at that point but he was there for her. He had had losses and had turned them into hatred and violence, but that was his place in the grand scheme of things. He knew she had to take a different tact.
He helped her sustain her life, and your courage to continue in the life. But as her Mom lay dying she lost the everyone be damned attitude that she had taken towards her career, and utterly gave up.
When her Mom had finally died and the grief was real.. and the world had change permanently, .. they would find each other again, in the frozen tundra of the great white North.
by SMB & DR @wickedlydrivenmedia 2/12/19