Christopher sits facing two different women. One wears a long, black gown with a high collar, which literally covered with gold. The other wears a tight red suit with golden buttons. The latter keeps glancing at the former, stiff in her unease.
Christopher: So. You’re both Iama the Terrible in Wind Me Up, One More Time.
Iama: (the woman in the gown) Wrong. I am Iama the Terrible. (She stabs a slender finger with a long fingernail in the direction of the woman in the suit.) This is just some little girl pretending to be me.
Maia: It’s easy to pretend when your name, or nickname belongs to someone imaginary. Hello, by the way. I’m Maia Cassat. Fascinating to meet you outside the pages of Grace and Theodora: Magic and Mishaps.
Iama: Yes, fascinating. You’re not real any more than I am.
Maia: Some of us experience more slivers of reality than others. Such as having a job, working in management, experiencing heartbreak, never living up to our mother’s expectations. You know. Or would you? As a fairytale villain, you have a certain immunity to certain real life frustrations.
Iama: I am no stranger to heartbreak, little manager.
Maia: Please. You threw your heart away. Literally.
Iama: You did the same. Figuratively.
Maia: What would you know about me and my heart?
Iama: What would you know about me and mine?
Christopher: (in a soothing voice) That’s what we’re here to discover. After all, we’re all fictional characters here.
Iama: Yes, you offered some intriguing insights for both myself and the other enchantress when I last saw you. (She turns to Christopher.) How curious to see you again.
Maia: (also turning towards Christopher) Hello, Christopher. I recall getting a measure of insight myself when we last talked. What do you want to talk about now?
Christopher: The two of you, the parts you play in Wind Me Up, One More Time. Maia, I thought you were Iama the Terrible in the original draft of this story.
Maia: (She squirms a bit in her seat.) Well, not exactly.
Iama: Not at all. I was always there, a presence in the stories this one’s mother illustrated. (She gestures to Maia.) This one chose to use my name to impress her Nathalie. (She lifts her chin.) I did not need to impress my Nathalie. She was under my spell the moment our eyes met.
Maia: And this is better how?
Christopher: Only that moment between you and your Nathalie wasn’t part of the previous version of Wind Me Up, One More Time, was it? The one our scribbler first submitted to publishers?
Maia: Hah! I’ll have you know the scene where I impress my Nathalie was in it!
Iama: And that version was rejected. (She allows a tiny smirk to play in the corner of her mouth.) Clearly that draft lacked something. Perhaps a little enchantment?
Christopher: Meaning your enchantment?
Iama: Along with myself. (She allows her smirk to grow.)
Maia: (brindles) I’ll have you know the scene where I use your name is still in the story. Clearly neither the scribbler nor the publisher thought it needed cutting.
Iama: While I whispered to the scribbler’s imagination, inspiring her to shape the scenes from Grace and Theodora: Magic and Mishaps, scenes which got your story flowing again.
Maia: (glowers at Iama) I was in the story first.
Iama: As I said, I was in the story long before you, little manager. I came to life when the scribbler wrote its very first draft when she was eleven years old.
Maia: And she was so ashamed of what she wrote, she didn’t touch it for over twenty years. When she began rewriting it, I was part of Wind Me Up, One More Time. Not you.
Iama: Yes and she rewrote it again with me as a character in the final draft. Clearly our scribbler needed to illustrate the difference between you and me n its pages.
Christopher: Which brings us back to the subject. What is the difference between the two of you?
Iama: I’m an enchantress living in a palace where everything and everyone I touch turns into gold.
Maia: I’m a girl, growing up in her mother’s shadow in the little town of Verity, struggling to be an artist, yet struggling to be successful, even if it means working long hours at a job which takes me away from my art. Thus I get caught up in the gears of industry, as Grace would say. My Grace, that is.
Christopher: Yes, there are two Graces, two Theodoras, and two Nathalies; the ones in the fairytale within the story, Grace and Theodora: Magic and Mishaps, and the ones in the main body of the plot. Just as there are two of you. It might confuse some readers.
Iama: There is only one of me. This little manager can only dream of being me.
Maia: Yes, I wasted a lot of time, dreaming of being you, Iama. Only that was before I started figuring out my own dreams, discovering what I wanted. After that, I only played at being you.
Iama: A pathetic performance. What would you know of being me?
Maia: What would you know of being me?
Christopher: Ahem, about that. Maia, what did you discover that you wanted?
Maia: I wanted to be an artist. I wanted to become a part of Nathalie Morisot’s family. (Color rises in her ivory cheeks.) And I wanted Nathalie.
Iama: In this, we are alike. I wanted Nathalie, too, my Nathalie. Perhaps I even wanted her family as well, once I met her little sister.
Maia: Yes, I suppose we have Nathalie in common. Even if our Nathalie are different.
Christopher: How does your passion for Nathalie bring the two of you together in your respective stories?
Iama: It doesn’t. Grace and Theodora: Magic and Mishaps is a fairytale which reveals itself in segments at the beginning of each chapter of Wind Me Up, One More Time. This girl and I never meet within the pages as we are meeting here and now in this Cauldron.
Maia: Maybe we never meet, but I think love for Nathalie brings us together. At the very least, it puts us on parallel journeys.
Christopher and Iama: (at the exact same moment) How so? (Enchantress and shadow glance at each other)
Maia: We’re both lonely. We’re both unsatisfied. We’re both adding to our own unhappiness with the choices we make. We both need Grace and Theodora to show us where we went wrong and what we truly want.
Iama: (gazes at Maia with dawning respect) Perhaps you are right, little manager.
Maia: I’m an artist. Artists can be insightful about these things. What’s more, I’m the scribbler’s artist. It gives me a measure of insight into her mind.
Iama: I’m the scribbler’s enchantress. I have as much insight into her hopes and dreams as you.
Maia: Perhaps you do when you bother to look at them.
Iama: What do you mean?
Maia: Lack of insight can lead to isolation, something you and I know only too well. Did you even bother to consider there might be a connection between us? Or did you dismiss me as simply a little girl playing dress-up with your name?
Iama: You are a little girl playing dress-up with my name. At least you were at the beginning of Wind Me Up, One More Time.
Maia: There’s more to me than that little girl. Use your insight and maybe you’ll see the rest.
Iama: (considers this) Perhaps you have a point, little manager.
Maia: I told you. My name is Maia. Not “little manager”.
Christopher: Ahem, well, that was…insightful. Thank you, Iama, Maia, for stopping by.
Iama: Yes, our conversations are insightful, if nothing else, little shadow. (She fades away into a golden mist, which slowly thins and disappears.)
Maia: I guess everyone is little, compared to her.
Christopher: Don’t let it bother you. I’ve lost track of how many visitors called me little. Some of them were smaller than me.
Christopher: Oh, yes…
Wish to read more about both Iamas? Here is the novel they appear within…
Mischief Corner Books/Shenanigans Press: https://www.mischiefcornerbooks.com/wind-me-up-one-more-time.html#/