The Alchemist: Lost Chapter

After reading The Alchemist, my head was spinning with ideas for a quick and easy Top 10 blog (Top 10 lessons, quotes, unexpected treasures, etc). But, that wouldn’t have honored the novel as deeply as I intended.

Instead, I decided to write a “lost chapter”. This has become one of my favorite creative writing practices. After finishing an inspiring book, the assignment challenges you to invade the imagination of the author and aim to adopt their voice.

In a familiar allegorical style, I attempt to share a different, yet powerful lesson. Enjoy!


Introduction:

The girl’s name was Clare. Dusk was closing to dawn as she began to feel the warmth of the summer morning spilling into her bedroom.

She had the same dream again. She reached for her journal in an attempt to put it to words. She paused, grasping faded images that quickly turned to gray.

As she wiped the sleep from her eyes, she sighed deeply. Her room was now flooded with light. “Why must the nights escape me so quickly?” she muttered as she tucked her journal safely under her pillow.

Clare was the daughter of a farmer. Her summers were never like those of the other girls at her school. And as she grew older, she began to resent the dirt under her nails and the freckles that stained her nose.

She kept mostly to herself. From a young age, she knew of blistering heat and calloused skin. She didn’t find joy in complaining about petty troubles as many others seemed to.

She collected eggs each morning, cleaned the coops shortly thereafter, and fed the horses and other livestock until after noon. She’d tidy the barns, tend to the home, and pull dinner from the oven as her father’s tractor would reappear in the distance.

Clare’s mother wasn’t well. On a good night, she could be seen peeling potatoes on the porch. But on a bad night, Clare no longer watched to see what unfolded. Instead, she’d skip dinner, bury herself under her covers, and pray for the return of that treasured dream.


The Dream:

The room was filled with the blue of midnight, and Clare could hear the crickets singing in the distance. A cool breeze danced under the window, beyond the curtains, and along her sheets.

As she reached for her wool blanket, she found the warmth of his body instead.

With her eyes still closed, she nestled into his chest. In that moment, the universe assured her she was complete. “I’ve never known comfort like this,” she thought. She fell into a deep sleep as their breaths slowly synchronized.

As the warmth of the summer morning began to resurface, she opened her eyes slowly. She saw glimmers of green and gold.

When her vision focused, she met his emerald eyes lovingly. His eyes glowed as the sun stained the room. And for a moment, she felt a sacred sense of peace with the world.

And just then, the window slammed shut. Clare awoke to find herself alone, in a pool of sweat, and surely an hour behind schedule. There was no time to write.


The Intuit (Part I):

That afternoon, an unfamiliar woman visited the farm. This was uncommon, as Clare and her father, James, knew all customers by their first names. He was out repairing a fence beyond the haze, so Clare figured she’d greet the new customer herself.

“Welcome to Esmerelda Acres,” Clare said, motioning towards the branded, and slightly wilted green barn in the distance. “How can I help you today?”

The strange woman smirked. “You’re a special woman,” she said with a twang that reminded Clare of her grandmother long past. “I’d like to learn more of what you have to offer first,” she finished.

“Today, we have several dozen eggs, a few gallons of milk, and some homemade blueberry muffins,” Clare answered, shifting the gravel between her feet.

The strange woman stood silently. “And what about elusive dreams? Any of those?” she asked pointedly.

Clare felt the blood leave her stomach. “I’m sorry, I’m not sure I understand,” she lied as her cheeks began to flush.

“Personal Legends aren’t reserved solely for men,” the woman teased. “I’ll take a dozen eggs. Thank you.”

As the woman drove off, Clare noticed a sliver of green sprouted between the pebbles. Without pause, she yanked it by the root and tossed it aside.

While preparing a casserole dinner, Clare stared through the window above the kitchen sink and into the distance. She wondered if she’d ever see that woman again. If she did, she’d ask a very specific question.


The Intuit (Part II):

As summer began to close, Clare forgot about the woman. The dream had returned a few times, but all that survived pen and paper was the piercing emerald glare of the man’s eyes.

She’d sometimes find herself pausing while sweeping the barn, squeezing her eyes shut to summon the image once more. “I know I’ll find him one day soon,” she’d reassure herself. “Then, I’ll leave the Acres and only return on Christmas,” she laughed.

That night, a particularly strong storm rolled in. Much of their property was damaged. Even their treasured sycamore tree had been split in half.

The following morning, James retreated to mend the twice fallen fence in the distance. As Clare gathered the feathers strewn about, she heard a car door slam in the distance.

“Sorry, we’re closed for business today,” Clare yelled over her shoulder.

“Good, I was hoping you would be,” the woman purred.

Feeling guilty for slowing, but relieved the moment had come; Clare agreed to sit with the woman at the picnic table in the shade.

Within the next hour, she learned of the woman’s interest in Clare’s dream. The woman explained she was an Intuit.

The woman explained that she’d seen Clare a few times throughout the years. While driving along the county road; she’d catch images of a young girl carrying twice her weight in firewood, pruning the garden in sweltering heat, and admiring fireflies from an open bedroom window. The woman remembered the girl regularly and felt compelled to share her insight.

“You can trust me,” the woman explained. “I predict all disasters with great certainty. And you… well, you’re going to be okay.”

She continued, “The dream you have. The one of warmth. Of peace. Of wholeness. It’s your Personal Legend.”

“You were placed on this Earth to give love. You will find the perfect one to share this with. You will see the green in their eyes.”

“And when will I find him?” Clare asked.

“When the stars align,” the woman answered. “And he’ll appear just as you imagined. Be patient. Follow the omens.”

Clare laughed to herself. She wondered, “could the woman have arrived a day sooner and saved my chickens instead?”

Then, she remembered her father warned her to stay away from those that spoke of the cosmos.

James’ tractor revved in the distance, hauling mounds of splintered wood towards the main barn. “I must go,” the woman understood.

Autumn settled in with ease. The days and nights were hard to discern. None remarkable, Clare grew sure she’d usher in winter as lonesome as ever.


The Journey (Part I):

The following spring, a young man from a neighboring town asked James’ permission to take Clare to dinner. She hid behind the barn door, listening nervously.

“I’d like to drive her into town, treat her to dinner, and have her home before sunset.”

The boy was nice, and so were the few that followed. But their eyes weren’t green and she wasn’t sure they’d keep warm at night.

And so began the journey of her Personal Legend.

The following year, James allowed Clare to attend college nearby, as her male cousins grew older, stronger, and capable of tending to the Acres.

Her first year of college, she met Daniel. He spoke softly and slowly. He’d ask about her studies and pack them sandwiches to eat near the creek that ran through campus. His hands were soft, and she often wondered if he’d noticed hers were not.

As the months passed, she knew this was not the love she had dreamed of. While he tried to hold her close at night, he was restless. He’d often wake on the far side of the bed. Most importantly, he never looked into her eyes for very long.

When she decided to end things, he proclaimed he’d offer her a love that would last a lifetime. In that moment, she remembered what the Intuit said, “you were placed on this Earth to give love.”

How could she have forgotten? She’d been longing to receive love, so much that she’d forgotten she was supposed to be compelled to return it too.


The Journey (Part II):

In the middle of her second year of college, Clare met Samuel. From the moment they met, she knew he was the one.

A hint of his scent would drive her wild. His hand on the small of her back felt like a cog fitted for an engine. His voice soothed her to sleep, and she’d hold onto him through the night.

For an entire year, they shared every meal together. He’d take her to see the latest films, and she’d make the finest homemade pasta.

She was glad she’d found the one. She was sure she’d never be lonely again.

One evening, Clare had a dream of a snake shedding its skin. It smiled devilishly and implored her, “Follow the omens.”

As if hungover, she awoke the next morning with great reluctance. Her head pounding, she began to see their apartment in slow motion.

He was still sleeping heavily, wrapped snugly in the entirety of their comforter. “Huh,” she thought “I must’ve rolled to the far side of the bed last night.” She couldn’t remember with any certainty when she last slept in his arms.

An empty whisky bottle sat on their dresser. It was the same brand her mother drank. Shivers went down her spine.

Through the next year, Clare lived in denial. He’d return late from all appointments, and grow angry with any resistance.

She’d find lipstick on his shirt, similar in fashion to their early days.

“Why are the wandering eyes the most enchanting?” she’d ask herself.


The Journey (Part III):

Leaving Samuel was the worst pain Clare had ever known. She’d grown apart from her family, compromised her values, and abandoned all sense of self. She was broken.

She tried to leave him three separate times. The final time was nearly fatal. His pupils dilated and whites blood-shot, Clare knew this face was no longer a twin flame.

He’d drained all the love she had to give. So much that she had none left for herself. She found it hard to eat and impossible to sleep.

Many weeks later, while settling into her new apartment across town, she remembered what the Intuit said.

“You will find the perfect one to share this with.”

Clare wiped a stray tear away. The omens of selfishness and dishonesty had been there all along.

“Why do we invite others to drain us, when we know they have nothing to give in return?” she pondered.

She settled in for an afternoon nap, as she’d been running on fumes for longer than she could remember.


The Lesson:

The Intuit visited Clare that evening. Apparating in her dream, the woman asked “What have you learned?”

Clare’s lucidly answered, “Of what love is not.” The woman motioned for more.

“I learned one cannot fool oneself into falling in love.” The woman nodded.

“I learned one must not toil with what a depraved man may do to betray her, as he’s already done it and he’ll do it again.” The woman nodded again.

“Finally, I learned warmth, peace, and wholeness are within me,” Clare confidently continued, “They’ve given me comfort my whole life. I know that now.” The woman smiled.

The window slammed shut. Clare had overslept past dinner. As she slowly regained consciousness, a cool familiarity showered over her.

The room was filled with the blue of midnight, and Clare could hear the crickets singing in the distance. A cool breeze danced under the window, beyond the curtains, and along her sheets.

She felt warmth radiating from her body. As she opened her eyes slowly, she found a green and yellow glare through stained glass left behind from previous tenants.

In that moment, the universe assured her she was complete. “I’ve never known comfort like this,” she thought.

She reached for her journal and smiled,“Emerald shines as far as the eye can see. It always has and it always will. That is the Soul of the World.”



“You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say. That way, you’ll never have to fear an unanticipated blow.”

The Alchemist. Paulo Coelho, 1988.

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