Christopher, even paler than usual after his last Conversation sits facing a woman with long golden hair spilling down from under a veiled, broad-brimmed hat. Beneath the veils a mask covers her nose and mouth, only revealing her bright, lively blue eyes peering back at Christopher. Loose, flowing tan sleeves with an intricate pattern laced within them hang from a loose, tan-colored blouse falling below the waist over long, full skirts. If you look at the pattern closely on the woman’s sleeves and shirt, you’ll detect the shape of roosters.
Christopher: (smiles, relaxing a bit at the sight of the woman) You don’t know how glad I am to see you. It’s been too long.
Gabrielle: Yes, it has, or has it? It’s hard to tell in the Cauldron, when we are. I’m still glad to see you.
Christopher: Very. I think we’re meeting for the first time in the Navel in this particular draft of Stealing Myself From Shadows our scribbler is writing.
Gabrielle: Quite the surprise it was to realize I was a mother and you were going to be my son. A surprise I never regretted.
Christopher: I’ve always wondered at how you accepted me without question. Damian just dumped me on you at the Navel, introducing me as your son, but you made me feel as if it were the truth.
Gabrielle: It is the truth. Just because I didn’t give birth to you doesn’t mean you’re not my son.
Christopher: Do you remember who gave birth to you?
Gabrielle: No. I was raised in the Temple of Heavenly Directions by Raphaelle, Michael, and Urielle because they needed a Gabrielle. I’m not sure why or where I came from. We weren’t encouraged to ask questions about such things. It wasn’t until I met Mireille I started questioning everything. You’re looking at me as if I’d sprouted a second head. (cocking her own veiled head in an almost hopeful way) Have I?
Christopher: (grinning a little through his bemused expression) Sorry. I’m just aware of how many stories you have to tell which you haven’t shared yet.
Gabrielle: There are always stories to tell, Christopher, even if they’re not your own. Stealing Myself From Shadows is your story. I simply play a small part in it, saying goodbye to you as you say goodbye to the Navel, myself, and everything we represent to you.
Christopher: I also say hello to you. In the rewrite, I get to say hello for the first time. Or something better than hello.
Gabrielle: Yes, we do.
Christopher: I never wanted to say goodbye to you. The Navel became my home. As far as I’m concerned, you’re the only mother I’ve ever had.
Gabrielle: You may have had others.
Christopher: I don’t remember them.
Gabrielle: Perhaps you will on your journey. Even if you don’t, you’ll always have me. You haven’t lost me, Christopher. You can always come home to me.
Christopher: How can you say that? Even if I open a Door and find Omphalos, the Navel may not be there.
Gabrielle: We will be. In one form or another.
Christopher: I may not recognize you. I may not recognize Omphalos. There are so many versions; town, village, empty field. You and the Navel are in one. The twins are in another.
Gabrielle: We grow, we flourish, we fall, we are razed to the ground, only to be reborn again. It’s happened many times to Omphalos.
Christopher: What do you mean?
Gabrielle: Come, come, you wouldn’t want me to spoil your story, would you?
Christopher: I guess not. A warning of some sort about what’s to come would be appreciated.
Gabrielle: There will be many warnings. You’ll just have to recognize them. You or someone else.
Christopher: That’s what I’m afraid of…