It’s ‘Me Me Monday’! Time to promote, strut, and celebrate my me-ness. Only this time, it’s him-ness. We’ll begin with Juno in today’s segment of ‘Waiting for Rebirth’, but we’ll end with Damian. He’s not happy at the Navel, or with the person Gabrielle pretends to be…
“Well, one of them turned into a cow,” she said with the sweetest smile. “It was only appropriate, since the wench was already a cow. My proudest moment, though, was when I convinced some hussy to look upon my husband’s true shape!” She giggled, as her eyes lit up with malice. “Talk about scorching passion!”
“Or scorched passion,” Gabrielle said with a smile, as if it was no matter. “Would you like your usual tea?”
“Oh, absolutely!” Juno gushed. All malice seemed to depart from her in a rush. “You know me so well, ‘Brie!”
Indeed. Gabrielle seemed to know whatever her customer needed, no matter how small it was. The only person she couldn’t seem to please was Damian. She cared about him, but her goofy side seemed to depress him.
“You’re so much more than a mere shopkeeper,” Damian muttered, tapping his fingers against the counter with a restless energy. “I don’t know why you hide your true self.”
“I don’t want to frighten people,” Gabrielle said, arching an eyebrow at him. “Besides, isn’t it better to be underestimated, rather than overestimated?”
“It’s better to accept what you truly are,” Damian said, staring down at his own fingers. “When I first met you, you were the bravest person I’d ever met. You convinced me to be brave, too.” He raised his head to look at ‘Brie with glistening eyes. “To walk away from everyone and everything I’d ever known.”
“It was a brave choice, but it was yours,” Gabrielle said. “This is mine.” She spread her arms out to embrace the confines of the store. “Everything I need is within this shop and town.”
I studied Gabrielle, seeing a little of what leaked through the persona ‘Brie projected in the shop. I wondered how much of it was real. My eye was caught by the fluttering motion of one of her billowing sleeves. There were tiny, smiley faces embroidered upon them.
“This is the real me. Not the woman you met at the Ashelocke estate.” Gabrielle fixed her steady blue gaze upon Damian. “Don’t assume the illusions you project will change what I choose to be.”
A look of pure fury crossed Damian’s face. His rose purple eyes turned redder. It was as if blood was actually rising within them.
Gabrielle didn’t move, or back down. She met his gaze without flinching, without anger. Her blue eyes were calm, compassionate, and had a hint of something like pity.
It was Damian, who looked away first. “If that’s true, I’ve truly wasted my time here,” he said. He bowed his head, while his lower lip trembled.
I trembled right along with him. Never had Damian seemed so defeated. If only I could say something. Just a few words to banish the unhappiness between Gabrielle and himself. There had to be something which would at least ease the tension between them!
I couldn’t think of a single thing to say. All I could do was stare at them, feeling useless.
Gabrielle turned her back on Damian to head behind the counter out of sight. Damian watched her go. He reached up to hug himself, shoulders shaking.