Christopher sits, facing a girl who looks very like Nathalie Morisot, only she’s a little younger, dressed in a gauzy peach gown, which one could easily imagine a princess wearing at a ball, or getting torn on the briars of an enchanted wood. This young woman’s hair falls in waves rather than curls over her shoulders, although it’s the same coppery brown as Nathalie Morisot’s.
Christopher: Hello. I understand you’re the other Nathalie.
Nathalie: Where am I? (She looks around with frightened eyes, much greener than the other Nathalie’s.) Am I still in Iama’s palace?
Christopher: No, you’re in the Cauldron of Eternal Inspiration. It’s a space between stories characters from different worlds come together within.
Nathalie: And you? (She draws herself up in her seat, looking Christopher up and down, sounding less frightened and more like a princess.) Are you from another world, another story?
Christopher: Yes. I’m part of our scribbler’s Tales of the Navel: The Shadow Forest series, the protagonist of Stealing Myself From Shadows. I’m in a lot of other Tales of the Navel: The Shadow Forest stories, too, both of the unfinished, unrevised novels our scribbler plans to publish and the freebie stories she shares in blogs.
Nathalie: Only our creatrix placed you here in this Cauldron, asking questions of other characters. Why?
Christopher: (He shrugs.) I’m not sure. I think…I worry that it may be to remind herself that I’m here while she gets distracted by other stories.
Nathalie: At least she’s reminding herself. (She relaxes a little.)
Christopher: How about you? You’re a character in the story within the story of Wind Me Up, One More Time, aren’t you? Grace and Theodora: Magic and Mishaps?
Nathalie: I’m trying to remember. Everything is a blur. All that remains clear…shining…is her.
Nathalie: So golden. So beautiful. She filled my vision, my mind and heart, leaving space for nothing else. Only I could hear my sister calling me. My sister and my stuffed bear.
Christopher: You mean Grace and Theodora?
Nathalie: Yes. Only sometimes I get images, visions in my head of another Grace and Theodora, a life I never had.
Christopher: It sounds like you’re getting visions of the main story in Wind Me Up, One More Time.
Nathalie: I didn’t get these visions in the story. (Nathalie rubs her eyes.) All I could see was Iama the enchantress. All I could hear was her, until I started to hear Grace and Theodora.
Christopher: You may be getting visions because you’re here in the Cauldron. The fourth wall blurs here.
Nathalie: I think these images are important, that they connect somehow with my story. Or I connect with them. The visions are part of my story, even if I’m not aware of them. Does that make sense?
Christopher: Not exactly, but that’s normal for me. Most of my own existence doesn’t make sense.
Christopher: Well, perhaps I should say my existence is a riddle which I myself am trying to make sense of.
Nathalie: A riddle you’re trying to make sense of, yes, I think I feel the same way. Only I’m so caught up in the magic of the moment, in what’s happening to me in my story, I don’t see the riddle.
Christopher: It happens. When you’re overwhelmed with someone else’s light, that light becomes the illumination for your very existence.
Nathalie: You’ve felt this, too? You’ve been overwhelmed by someone else, dazzled by someone else?
Christopher: (His cheeks colour.) Oh, yes.
Nathalie: We may be different characters in different worlds, but it sounds like we’re very much alike, you and I.
Christopher: I hope we are.
Nathalie: You’re not sure?
Christopher: You have your happy ending. I’m not certain if I will.
Nathalie: You can’t just expect a happy ending to come to you. (She sits up a little straighter, seems a lot more sure of herself.) Look at me. I may be confused, bewildered. I may even be a damsel in distress, but I understand this much. You can’t just wait around for a happy ending. You can’t expect our scribbler to provide you with one without prompting her. You’ve got to make your own happy ending. You’ve got to grab her and never let go.
Nathalie: Well, it doesn’t have to be a her. In my story, it is.
Christopher: Mine isn’t, but you’re right. You’re absolutely right. How my story ends is up to me. It depends on how tenacious I decide to be.
Nathalie: If you’re tenacious, our scribbler will respect that, no matter how much she may torment you.
Christopher: You may be right. Thank you for your advice, Nat-, err, Your Highness.
Nathalie: Please call me Nathalie. It was my pleasure…Christopher. Good luck in holding onto the light in your life.
Christopher: I’d wish you the same, but I can see luck has little to do with it…Nathalie.
Princess Nathalie simply smiles in return.
Intrigued by this meeting with the other Nathalie? Want to read her story; Grace and Theodora: Magic and Mishaps within the pages of Wind Me Up, One More Time? Here are some buy links!
Mischief Corner Books/Shenanigans Press: https://www.mischiefcornerbooks.com/wind-me-up-one-more-time.html#/