(Christopher sits across from a young woman with bronze skin, with full, coppery curls which seem to float around her heart-shaped face. She’s wearing a loose, orange-golden blouse, a green pendant, and full, green skirts, keeping a leg crossed with relaxed casualness beneath the fall of verdure cloth. She relaxes her arm on the chair’s arm, fixing a bright, hazel eye upon the slender boy sitting across from her, whose short hair is as bright as hers, even if his tunic and trousers are much more dark and drab than her attire.)
Christopher: You’re a storyteller. (His own violet-blue, rose, and purple irises, swimming with shades of green, golden and silver regard the other character from another universe with avid interest.) I wonder if that accomplishment is impressive in your setting as it is in mine.
Nathalie: Oh, I’d defintely say so. At least I think so. (She grins.) The real storyteller was my mother. She’d collect memories, tales, ideas from all the places she’d visit and turn them into stories. With her partner’s help, that is.
Christopher: You mean Cassat, Maia’s mother.
Nathalie: Auntie Cassat. She was supposed to keep an eye on us when my mother left, but she had her own family to look after. Plus I was almost an adult. I didn’t want anyone looking after Grace but me. Eventually I came to my senses and let Maia help me with that.
Christopher: You, Maia, and Grace live together in a town called Verity. That’s a pretty name.
Nathalie: Isn’t it? Once it belonged to a girl, who was the town’s founder. She was an accomplished seamstress, who wanted to create her own designs for clothes and stuffed animals. She ran away to do it, but she couldn’t do it alone. The factory at the center of town was created by a group of local women trying to help her.
Christopher: This was your mother’s town, wasn’t it?
Nathalie: Born and raised there, until she ran away to see the world. She returned and started writing with Cassat until Cassat got married. After which, she ran away again, only to return to Verity with Grace and myself.
Christopher: Only she left again. Where did she go?
Nathalie: I’m not sure. It was about a year ago. I’d just finished school, but Grace was still very young.
Christopher: You and Grace are living together in Verity during Wind Me Up, One More Time, aren’t you?
Nathalie: Well, the story begins with me recalling a few scattered memories from the village we were born in. We live in our mother’s house for most of the story, only Maia comes to live with us. Marvelous stroke of luck, meeting her at the factory. I’d seen her before, but we never talked. She was Cassat’s daughter, but we sort of noticed each other in a way we never had, when Grace and I saw her artwork in the factory entrance.
Christopher: Sounds romantic.
Nathalie: It was. Maia starts visiting us, bringing food, spending evenings with us where I write, she draws, and Grace colors papers with crayon. These nights became so regular, eventually Maia moved in with us. Only she starts getting more serious when she moves in. Trying to push Grace into going to a particular school, for me to be more serious about my writing. She means well, but the pressure she puts on us make things a lot less comfortable.
Christopher: (sighs) Maia is starting to remind of a young man I know in my universe. (He smiles a wistful smile.) Meaning well doesn’t always turn out well.
Nathalie: It certainly doesn’t. We all mean well, but we make mistakes in this story. We try to fix them.
Christopher: You’ve got a much bigger part in this story than you did in the previous draft, don’t you?
Nathalie: Yes. I begin by talking a little about Verity, my vague memories of the place Grace and I lived before Mama adopted us. After that, I step in from time to time, describing a little of what’s happening from my perspective. It’s still Grace and Theodora’s story, but I’ve got a more active part.
Christopher: Are you looking forward to it?
Nathalie: Yes and no. Happiness and sadness await me in equal measure in this tale. I can’t say too much without spoilering things, but I’m both looking forward to the completion of this manuscript and dreading it.
Christopher: I’ve felt the same many times, believe me. (His sad smile turns into a wry grin) All I can say is good luck in getting through the emotionally rough parts. Savour the happiness when it comes.
Nathalie: The same to you. From what I’ve seen in the scribbler’s imagination, you’d best take your own advice.
Christopher: Yes, I’d better. (He sighs and gives a sideways glare.)
(I try to look innocent and fail.)