Christopher sits in his chair, looking a little disoriented, eyes unfocused, swimming with colors. Opposite him sits a young man with curly auburn hair wearing a doublet, hose, pressing the tips of his fingers together and studying Christopher with solemn brown eyes.
Christopher: After Camp NaNoWriMo, I expected Quartz to stop by and gloat. Not you.
Peter: Aren’t you happy to see me, Christopher? Or perhaps I should say Happily Ever After? (He winks.) I’m sure Quartz will return to gloat, but our scribbler accidentally wrote P is for Peter twice. Thus you get a double helping of me. Enjoy it.
Christopher: Only you’re not here to talk about me. Or you and me. You’re here to talk about Paul. Aren’t you?
Peter: Should there be a Peter without a Paul? This was a part of my background in Tales of the Navel: The Shadow Forest which hasn’t been explored yet.
Christopher: There’s a lot about you which remains a mystery.
Peter: I’ve been avoiding the consequences of change, letting my hair grow out, picking colorful, anachronistic clothes, flirting with any and all to distract me with a little mirth, a little eccentricity.
Christopher: Like ‘Brie and myself.
Peter: It’s funny how you call your mother ‘Brie, not I’m anyone to knock unconventional families. I suppose you and ‘Brie are mine, now. I found an entire new life with you and ‘Brie in Unwilling to Be Yours, one of the preludes to Stealing Myself From Shadows, which appeared in segments here.
Christopher: You could never replace Damian, but you filled the void in our lives left when Damian disappeared, something we’ll always love you for.
Peter: How easy it was to blame Damian Ashelocke for everything, to dwell on what a prick he was! Far easier than remembering what a prick Paul was…or what a prick I’d been.
Christopher: Was it easier losing yourself in the many arms of Duessa Ashelocke, just to make me jealous? Something you seemed to be doing in yet another serialized prelude, Be My Valentine…Snack?
Christopher: I wondered if you weren’t trying to change things, to shake things up for us.
Peter: Perhaps I didn’t want to change, to abandon my feelings for Paul. To give up any hope of returning to Paul. Maybe this is why I sought unattainable objects of desire like you and Duessa.
Christopher: Thus keeping change at bay?
Peter: How’s that for a confession? My love isn’t any truer than Damian’s, if those words are true.
Christopher: You cared enough to follow me into the Shadow Forest, in spite of the change. There’s no avoiding change in the Shadow Forest. You may find yourself discarding parts of yourself you no longer want.
Peter: I wonder what I’ll become after that? Walking my path through whispering trees that transform into something else with a thought.
Christopher: Whatever you become may no longer be Peter. I may no longer recognize you. Paul may not either.
Peter: Ah, but do I want you to recognize me? Maybe I’ll transform into someone powerfully seductive, someone whom you could never let go or forget?
Christopher: Is that your wish? I know you have one, one strong enough to open a Door to the Shadow Forest.
Peter: I may have lied about my wish.
Christopher: Or you were trying so hard to please everyone else, especially me, that your own wish sank into a pool of desire.
Peter: How prettily you put it. I transform into a liquid pool of desire, eh? Sounds sexy.
Christopher: Not if you, Peter are lost in it. If you dissolve into everyone’s else’s wishes.
Peter: Well, maybe I, Peter, won’t be as lost as you think. Maybe I can be summoned by someone. The right someone. Someone who remembers and loves me.
Christopher: I hope so. I truly do.