Secondary Characters Speak Out: Quartz and Claude

Quartz sits in a chair which is floating in midair, allowing to look straight in the eye of the sleek, immaculate figure dressed in a well-tailor black frockcoat over a frilly dress-shirt with a maroon cravat, dark hair queued back with a little maroon ribbon, black breeches hugging slender thighs, white stockings covering taut calves, feet hidden in a pair of maroon slippers. 

Quartz: Right. I’m not sure about this whole floating thing, even if this chair fits better than any I’ve ever sat in.

Nimmie Nott (disembodied voice coming from the mist) You’re welcome!

Claude starts at Nimmie Nott’s voice for it is Claude, servant of the Lady Ariella and her mother before her from At Her Service…

Claude: I beg your pardon, sir. I thought Quartz and I were here alone?

Nimmie Nott (now his voice comes from right behind Claude) You wish. Don’t think of putting any moves on my dwarf with your seductive servile ways.

Claude: (starting again, recovering their composure, making a bow to where they think the voice is coming from) I wouldn’t dream of it, sir. I’m here to rant and rave. I understand this is the place where secondary characters come to do so? (turning back to Quartz)

Quartz: (raising his eyebrows for you couldn’t imagine a more unlikely person to rant and rave than Claude) Aye. What’s troubling you?

Claude: My mistress. My prince. Both of them. 

Quartz: What’ve they done?

Claude: Driven me mad. My mistress with her tricks. My prince with his…(Claude pauses, their cheeks turning a deep rose) I don’t know what my Lady Ariella was up to but she drugged the punch bowl at the bowl. With my help. 

Quartz: Did she now?

Claude: Indeed. The prince fed me a hearty dose himself. 

Quartz: Wait, the prince fed you this drugged punch? Were you serving your mistress at the ball? Or were you with the prince? 

Claude: I was serving my mistress but I was with the prince. The entire time. (looks away)

Quartz: Huh. I’m sure that Cinders told Christopher in one of his conversations that she danced with the prince at the ball the entire time she was there.

Claude: And I can assure you the prince was otherwise occupied, sir. (They flush even more)

Quartz: Was he now?

Claude: (whose face is crimson) I wasn’t the only one, ah, occupying him. Although I’m fairly certain I engaged his attention completely. 

Quartz: Did you, heh? Good for you. Looks like Cinders wasn’t the only belle of the ball. 

Claude: I did catch a glimpse of the cinders girl. She did look lovely. I wouldn’t have recognized her. She seemed every bit the lady my late mistress feared capable of seducing her daughter along with the prince. 

Quartz: Right. Your late mistress never got over that fear.

Claude: No, she didn’t, sir. I decided to lay those fears to rest and hopefully my late mistress’s shade. (They bow their head.)

Quartz: How?

Claude: (refusing to look up) By seducing the prince myself sir. 

Nimmie Nott: (cackling, invisible) O ho ho ho! Claude, you’re a sly one! 

Claude: (lifting their head) Don’t mock me sir. I never would have done if the prince or my Lady Ariella had shown the slightest interest in each other. 

Nimmie Nott: Oh, I’m not mocking, Claude, not at all, oh no! I’m impressed, yes I am! You’re ever bit as seductive as I suspected you are, yes! Don’t even think of putting the moves on my dwarf. 

Quartz: Ignore him. Seems like you found a way of distracting the prince from Cinders. Hope you and the prince both enjoyed it. 

Claude: He has a very beautiful body, sir. Not hard and muscular, but soft and fleshy. The prince in turn loved mine; the smoothness of my chest, my womanly parts below. This was beyond enjoyment for me, but I never would have done it if the Lady Ariella wished to have any sort of a romance with the prince. I’ve been trying so hard to woo the prince on my mistress’s behalf, but I think I’ve been the one falling for him. (flushes again)

Quartz: So you’ve fallen for this prince. What are you going to do about it? 

Claude: I don’t know, sir. The drugged punch made it all seem like a dream. Perhaps that’s why I was bolder. After we, err, coupled, we both passed out. I awoke in the prince’s arms. No one else was there. The prince was still asleep.

Quartz: What did you do?

Claude: I got up, got dressed as quickly as I could, and returned to my mistress’s chateaux. 

Quartz: You left him without saying goodbye. 

Claude: I wasn’t sure if he wanted goodbyes or any kind of a fuss. He never has from any of the ladies he’s spent the night with. I was a little surprised I was the only one in his bed, but anyone else who’d been with him could have departed. 

Quartz: Think you might have been part of an orgy, eh?

Claude: I’m not sure, sir. I don’t remember anyone but the prince when matters became…intimate. (flushes again) There were other ladies around when the prince fed me the drugged punch.

Quartz: Just why did you drink that punch? 

Claude: Whatever effects my mistress intended for my prince to suffer, I wished to suffer as well. A foolish sentiment perhaps but it drove me at the time. 

Quartz: What do you think your mistress was trying to do, by drugging that punch?

Claude: I don’t know, sir, but I’m certain it concerns the cinders girl. When I arrived at the chateaux, the Lady Ariella and Cinders were about to go to the palace. 

Quartz: Why did they say they were going?

Claude: To search for one of those ridiculous glass slippers my mistress insists upon wearing even though they don’t fit. Lady Ariella says the cinders girl is determined to find it, but I don’t believe it. There’s more to this and my lady is behind it.

Quartz: What do you think they’re up to? 

Claude: I’m uncertain, sir, except that the cinders girl was dressed as a footman. She’s never done that before, sir. Not that I’ve seen her in a gown like she was at the ball either, not in a long time. It’s been all cinders and rags. 

Quartz: Huh, wonder why the dress changes?

Claude: Once again I’m uncertain, sir. For all my late mistress’s fear of the cinders girl being the descendent of thieves and scoundrels, I’ve never seen that in Cinders herself. She almost painfully guileless. Whatever scheme is afoot, it’s the Lady Ariella’s. This is one of the reasons I’m accompanying them back to the palace.

Quartz: What if you meet the prince? 

Claude: (flushing again) I can only hope to avoid him, sir.

Quartz: Is that your plan? To keep avoiding him? 

Claude: I don’t know, sir.

Nimmie Nott: If you see him, kiss him, Claude! That will shut everyone up. And while you’re at it, convince Quartz to kiss me. 

Quartz: (now it’s his turn to flush) Shut up.


#RainbowSnippets: At Her Service

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday, those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To read a variety of samples from other LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

For my own, I’m going to continue where I left off last week in this expanded version of At Her Service, a ff take on Cinderella

“She won’t.” She moved a little closer. I felt the silent message in the way she twitched her ankle. Go. Get out of here while I calm her down. 

I scuttled out on all fours and dashed downstairs to the kitchen. 

Paula’s Prompts: Wednesday Words

On March 3, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving sausage, colored pencils, and an envelope.

This poem was the result…

Feeling nervous about what’s in the sausage

Not wanting to open the envelope

You hide inside your house, shaken and suspicious

Too rattled by everything that’s happened to react

You try to express your fear with colored pencil

Giving a face to your lack of trust

Expressing, screaming on paper your lack of faith

Yellow lightning bolts striking the unwary from above

Orange scowling men incite a red mob to violence

Battering all that’s blue or green in a need to blame

Who knows what they put in the sausage

You don’t want to think about where it came from

Reality waits like a poison within that envelop

A infectuous demand that you be part of it

Your only consolation is in colored pencils

Until you run out paper, are left staring at what you’ve drawn

A scattered mess of colored scribbles screaming. 

Conversations with Christopher: Damian

Christopher realizes he’s standing, not sitting, on a patch of soft green grass between carefully tended rose bushes. His eyes fill with tears to see a familar sky overhead where streaks of gold slide into clouds of purple, pink, and violet amidst the blue. 

Christopher: This is one of my best memories in this liftetime. No matter how stiff I got, standing still for so long. 

Damian: You’ll only have to stand still for a little bit longer.

For it is Damian, crouching over a nearby easel, applying paints to a canvas, never taking his eyes off Christopher for long. He lifts his brush to let it dance over the vision that’s unfolding of the boy before him. 

Christopher: Are you real? Or just a shadow of a memory?

Damian: Yes. I’m worried you’re picking up on our scribbler’s melancholy again. Don’t let her anxiety get to you, Christopher. Just let yourself relax and remember. 

Christopher: How can I? I lost you, Damian. You disappeared into the very painting you’re working on. 

Damian: Did I?

Christopher: Yes, you did. You opened a Door with your art and entered the Shadow Forest. No one comes back from that place. Not whole.

Damian: You did. 

Christopher: I’m uncertain if what I am is any sort of whole being. The Christopher who exists here and now is because of you. 

Damian: I pulled you out of the darkness and into the light. Enjoy that light. Enjoy the air, the sky, and the grass under your feet the way you once did. Take a moment to breathe in the scent of the roses.

Christopher: Curious advice coming from you. Did you enjoy any of these things?

Damian: I’ve never been as wise as you. 

Christopher: You’re the cleverest person I know.

Damian: Clever is not the same as wise. I’m no longer sure if I’ve ever been wise. 

Christopher: You’re not the Damian I remember. He was too fixated upon his goal of getting the Shadow Forest to let doubs bother him, let alone self-doubts. 

Damian: I wonder if you ever knew me at all. I’m riddled with self-doubt. I went to the Shadow Forest to rid myself of that doubt. 

Christopher: I thought you went to gain power. 

Damian. You cannot get something without giving something up, Christopher. Especially in the Shadow Forest. 

Christopher: You wished to give up for your self-doubt in exchange for power? Sounds like a one-sided trade. 

Damian: Don’t be so sure. 

Christopher: Did you lose your self-doubt in exchange for power as you wished?

Damian: Yes, but I paid a price beyond anything I expected.

Christopher: What price?

Damian lifts his head from the canvas to offer Christopher an enigmatic little smile and shake his head ever so slightly. 

Christopher: In other words you can’t tell me. Or won’t. 

Damian: Finding the answers is part of your journey, Christopher, unless you can be content without them. I’d hoped you would be content in Omphalos, at the Navel, with Gabrielle. 

Christopher: Not without you.

Damian: Your loyalty is heartbreaking. You shouldn’t waste it on me. 

Christopher: Do you wish I wouldn’t?

Damian: No. (He looks away.) I’m too selfish for that. One of the reasons I pulled you from the darkness was I wanted you back. 

Christopher: Is it so strange that I’d want you back? Do you think my feelings for you are so much less than yours for me?

Damian: No. (He sighs) No, if anything, yours are stronger. They’ve always been. 

Christopher: I’m not sure if you’re talking to me or the Christopher you knew before you pulled me from the darkness. I’m uncertain if I’m the person you remember. 

Damian: I’m not sure if the Damian you’re talking to here and now is the person you remember. We’re still here together. Isn’t that enough?

For a moment Christopher’s teary, multicolored gaze locks with Damian’s violet-blue one and holds it. They just look at each other. 

Christopher: Why are we so greedy? Why do we always want more?

Damian: It’s our nature, a nature I believe we share with humans. We’re always reaching for what’s beyond our grasp. 

Christopher: That doesn’t sound wise. We should appreciate what we have. 

Damian: True but in the act of reaching, we can accomplish great things.

Christopher: Or terrible ones.

Damian: That too. 

Christopher: I wish I could reach you. (He wiggles his fingers but remains otherwise motionless.) I want to touch you but I can’t seem to be able to move. Holding still has become a locked state. 

Damian: You’re frozen in time along with this moment. When you return from this memory, you’ll be able to move again. 

Christopher: No. This is the Cauldron of Eternal Inspiration where the fourth wall and other rules melt in a deluge from different worlds. I should be able to touch you. 

Damian gazes at Christopher and nods slowly. He puts down his brush. 

The easel, the garden, the sky, the dirty smock Damian is wearing, and the smudges of paint upon Damian’s finger all vanish. He stands amidst the mists, wearing a leather jacket and jeans, looking at Christopher. He opens his arms. 

Christopher runs to him, throws himself into those arms. He embraces Damian fiercely, breathing in the familar warmth as Damian cradles him. 

It only last for a moment. Damian fades away, disappearing from Christopher’s arms, leaving the boy holding mist and smoke. 

Tears fill Christopher’s eyes again as he stands alone in the Cauldron. 

Christopher: I can never hold onto you even when I find you. Perhaps this is why I prefer to lose myself in the narrative of others, the pain of your loss in conversation with other characters. Only the pain never goes away, Damian. Not for long. 

The mist does not answer, but it caresses Christopher’s cheek, kissing away his tears. 

#RainbowSnippets: At Her Service

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To read a variety of samples from different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

For my own, I’m going to continue where I left off in At Her Service last week…

The genuine grief in the lady’s voice softened the hatred. I almost felt sorry for her. I would have liked to like her. My father adored her in as much as he could adore anything more than his own comfort. She was never less than courteous to him for all she detested him. “I won’t have his daughter taking anything from you.”

Paula’s Prompts: Wednesday Words

On January 6, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving an epiphany, three lost men, and a cave.

This poem was the result…

Three lost men seeking shelter in a cave

Each sees a vision in a crystal formation

Bringing epiphany about what he desires

One sought strength but he realized it didn’t lie in muscle

Those whom used their fists against him were afraid of everything

Striking out at what they couldn’t control

One desire wisdom but those who mocked his wits didn’t possess it

Putting him down, boasting about all the things they knew

Not one word they uttered was true or of any value

The third wished be more loving

More like those whom worked tirelessly for the welfare of others

The concern of those workers was limited to a select few

They scorned anyone they deemed unworthy of their kindness

The three men deceived themsleves in what strength, wisdom, and heart were

The first man had taken beatings, standing between others and bullies

Getting tougher and wiry each time he got up

The second researched subjects he was ignorant about

Becoming more educated and delighting in the process of learning

The third man reached to all those rejected by those he’d deemed kind

Offering them support, acceptance, and love

Each man already possessed strength, wisdom, and kindness

Unacknowledged by those they felt needed to accept them

Looking into the crystals, seeing themselves reflected back

They saw everything they’d ever wished to be

Looking into each other’s eyes

They saw all the acknowledgment they needed. 

Conversations with Christopher: Cinders

Christopher sits facing a girl with dusty hair dressed in a smudged dress, wearing one glass slipper. 

Christopher: Well…you look better than you did the time before last when I saw you.

Cinders: Meaning I look worse than the last time you saw me? Thanks. The spell only lasted until midnight. Guess the Cauldron caught me during the time when my fairy godmother’s enchantment was still active. 

Christopher: You have a fairy godmother?

Cinders: I’m not entirely sure. She claimed to be, but she sounded entirely too amused at the idea. 

Christopher: When was this?

Cinders: When I caught her in the kitchen. At first I thought she was a thief, and in a way she was. She stole my mistress’s glass slippers, her pumpkin, and me.

Christopher: Huh?

Cinders: Well, actually she turned my mistress’s pumpkin into a coach which she used to drive me to the ball in, transforming herself into a footman. Or a coachman. She was actually both…right before she gave me a magical make-over. 

Christopher: All right, let’s see if I understand this. Your fairy godmother was also your coachman and your footman. At least she was for the night of the ball. She drove you in a coach which was actaully a pumpkin…and she cleaned you up, using magic?

Cinders: Exactly! She did all of this so I could go to the ball and dance.

Christopher: It sounds like your fairy godmother was going out of her way to be nice to you, even if she was a bit liberal with other people’s possessions. 

Cinders: She was! And the ball was beyond nice. It was wonderful, magical…confusing. It was everything I could want and nothing I wanted. 

Christopher: How so?

Cinders: I thought I’d be seeing my mistress at the ball but it was only briefly. Instead I danced with a prince who was pure charm and enough like my mistress to make me swoon, but he’s the prince. The man my Lady Ariella has nothing but contempt for. She would be beyond hurt if she knew I was dancing with him…and enjoyed dancing with him. There’s a lot of shame mixed in with my confusion. 

Christopher: I wonder what your fairy godmother was trying to accomplish, sending you to the ball. 

Cinders: I think it was some kind of trick. A trick meant to teach me a lesson but a trick nonetheless. I’m not sure if it was meant for me or someone else. 

Christopher: Who do you think it was intended for?

Cinders: The prince? The ghost horses pulling my enchanted coach were once his. My fairy godmother said as much driving me to the ball.

Christopher: You were driven by ghost horses. That sounds like a cruel trick on the horses, harnessed beyond death. 

Cinders: I think the drive was meant to free them. I’m not sure if my fairy godmother was ever cruel, just filled with a mischievous glee. Like she was getting a real kick out playing my coachman and my footman as if those roles were some splendid joke she wasn’t sharing. I wonder…

Christopher: Wonder what?

Cinders: If not only the role of my fairy godmother, but my entire night at the ball was part of the same trick. 

Christopher: Just what do you think this trick is? 

Cinders: I don’t know. I have a feeling I’m about to find out. Only I don’t think there was any ill-will directed at me even if I was being tricked. 

Christopher: Because you had a magical, confusing night?

Cinders: Yes…I got to dress up, go to a ball, experience something magical, yes. Overall it was magical in a good way even if it wasn’t what I wanted. I wonder if this night wasn’t meant to show me that. 

Christopher: What do you mean?

Cinders: I’ve never gone to a ball, danced with a handsome man like the prince before. I never wanted to, but what if my fairy godmother thought I did? Or that I should try it before devoting myself heart and soul to my mistress?

Christopher: You are devoted heart and soul to your mistress, aren’t you?

Cinders: Completely! Only I’m not sure if my fairy godmother knew this. What if I had to experience this night in order to convince her that I am devoted to my mistress? If I did convince her. Perhaps this night was more for her peace of mind than for me. 

Christopher: Perhaps. Do you regret going to the ball?

Cinders: No, but if I ever go again, I want to go with the Lady Ariella. I want to dance with her, not some mysterious prince, no matter how charming he might be. 

Christopher: It sounds like your fairy godmother needed to be convinced you were true to your mistress. 

Cinders: I feel like I’m being punished for being untrue. I think my fairy godmother made me faint when I was searching for my mistress’s glass slippers. She thought they were the perfect fit for me, but they belong to my mistress. The moments when I slip them onto her feet are as magical as anything at the ball…and I went and lost one!

Christopher: I’m sorry.

Cinders: So am I. I wasn’t going to leave without the missing glass slipper, but I passed out. When I came to, I was in my mistress’s pumpkin patch, missing a slipper, the smashed pumpkin which was my coach sticking to my bare foot. 

Christopher: I see why you think this was a trick. 

Cinders: Yes, it does seem like a prank, doesn’t it? My mistress found me in that state. I’ve never been so ashamed. 

Christopher: Was she upset?

Cinders: No, she seemed more amused than anything. (She frowns.)

Christopher: Amusement sounds better than anger.

Cinders: I’m not sure if it is. Anyway I’m finding that other slipper even if I have search the entire palace staircase from top to bottom. 

Christopher: Good luck finding it.

Cinders: Thank you. 

#RainbowSnippets: At Her Service

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday those participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To read a wide variety of samples from LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

For my own, I’ll continue where I left off in At Her Service…

“She didn’t steal my name from me, Mother. Her mother gave it to her, just as you gave me mine.” Ariella didn’t move. “You do remember her mother, don’t you? You were very fond of her until she married the lord of this chateaux.”

“Just one more thing he took from me.” The genuine grief in the lady’s voice softened the hatred. 

#QueerBlogWed: Paula’s Prompts

On December 29, 2020, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving memories, a pebble, and a shard of glass.

This freebie story for The Hand and the Eye of the Tower (Tales of the Navel: The Shadow Forest) was the result…

Danyel gazed at the shard of glass lying on the ground, just waiting for someone in the corridor to find it. A fragment of a broken mirror sitting right next to a pebble. 

Which should he choose? The mirror reflected back his own pale face, his fair hair hanging in tousled curls in his eyes. 

“What good is having a mirror in our cottage?” He could almost hear Map in muttered argument with Leiwell. “We’re trying to live simply and quietly here, not rouse your brothers into primping at their reflections. Everyone who looks into one of these things finds fault with what they see. Regrets and sad memories get caught in the glass, attracting malevolent spirits.”

“Not just regrets and sad memories,” Leiwell had argued, also keeping his voice down. 

“The less I see of myself, the better.” Their mother had shook her head in a stubborn fashion. “Nothing I ever saw in my own reflection ever measured up to the look your mother gave me when she first saw me.” 

“You are our mother, Map.” Leiwell had reached out to touch her arm. “Please, This mirror is a present from our lord. I want to look my best when I go to him.” His brother hadn’t been able to keep out the quaver in his voice. 

Danyel withdrew his fingers from the shard, no longer wanting to touch it. He picked up the pebble instead. 

It became warm, almost hot in his hand. 

Silly Danyel. Something or someone breathed against his cheek, kissed his closed hand. A pebble can hurt as much as a shard of glass if it’s handled wrong. 

“I don’t care.” Danyel shut his eyes, opened them to look up at the darkness of the attic ceiling. The corridor was gone. He was back in his own bedroom, Tayel lying beside him. “I’d rather pick up pebbles than shards of glass.”

Something about the latter reminded him of a knife, ready to slice, perhaps cut little pieces off him or someone else. An image of Leiwell with a bloody cheek blossomed in his head. 

Tayel let out a little grumbling protest in his sleep. He rolled over on his side away from Danyel. 

Danyel tried to relax, closing his eyes again when he felt the soreness in his palm as if he’d scraped it. Or burned it. 

Dream pebbles couldn’t hurt him. Could they?

He sat up, glanced in the direction of the round attic window. Dirty as the glass was, the moonlight provided enough illumination to see the hill on the other side of the garden and the tower. Once more, Danyel got the impression it was watching. Watching and waiting. 

For what? For Danyel to come to it and find that corridor inside? For him to pick up that pebble when he was awake? 

He lay back down, wide awake. He wouldn’t be getting any more sleep tonight. Not with a head full of thoughts. 

A pity no one was awake to share them with. 

Tayel continued to lay, completely motionless, facing away from Danyel. If he was awake, he wasn’t going to admit it. 

Danyel sighed. 

Conversations with Christopher: Danyel and Tayel

Christopher finds his chair disappearing beneath him. The mists of the Cauldron part, revealing a path through a rose garden. On either side of him, the thorny bushes bloom with flowers the exact ruby purple of Damian’s eyes.

Christopher: (His eyes fill with tears.) Am I about to see you again at last?

A slight boy with shaggy golden hair stands on the path ahead of him, wearing a pale blue vest over a white tunic, dove-gray trousers and matching boots. He gazes at Christopher with wide, violet-blue eyes filled with a shimmering silver light.

Tayel: (for that’s whom is on the path) Visions sometimes provide us with what the heart needs rather than desires. 

A small hand reaches out to touch Christopher’s arm. Christopher turns to face a boy whom looks and is dressed exactly like the one on the path ahead, only his vest is a light green and there is no silver light in his eyes. Instead there’s a faint, glowing numbus about the hand touching Christopher. 

Danyel: What Tayel is trying to say is we’re sorry we’re not Damian, but we sensed you needed us. Or maybe you needed someone to talk to from your own universe, your own stories. 

Christopher: Maybe I did. (He places a hand upon Danyel’s, turning to slightly to face him as well as Tayel.) I’ve been talking so much with other people from other universes about their stories. Quartz and Nimmie Nott can be overwhelming.

Tayel (coming closer to Christopher) Everyone overwhelms you. (He narrows his eyes at the sight of his twin’s hand upon Christopher.) And you, you feed upon that overwhelming sensation. 

Danyel: I think this is why you became the regular character, the host of this Monday Cauldron blog. You drew a certain measure of energy from other characters by just talking to them. 

Christopher: I’m not the only character of the scribbler’s whom feeds off energy.

Tayel: (His face softens a bit.) It’s one thing to feed. It’s another to share. 

Danyel: You may be drinking in the emotions of those who talk, Christopher, but you’re also getting them to open up, release some of their pent-up frustration. You’re not just feeding on them, you’re sharing. They’re sharing. 

Tayel: Those whom cook in the Cauldron do not appear to have life or purpose sapped by its steam or its guide. 

Danyel: We’re glad you’re here, Christopher. I’m sure Cinders and everyone who’ve come to visit from At Her Service are glad you’re here, too. 

Tayel: Your presence is a light, beckoning our scribbler back to tales neglected. 

Christopher: What you’re saying makes me think of what Quartz and Nimmie Nott suggested. That we remind the scribbler we’re here, even when she’s working on someone else’s story. 

Danyel: You do that every time you have a conversation, Christopher. You remind our scribbler and everyone else of your story. You remind them of you. 

Tayel: Be the light for the scribbler that Damian was once for you.

Christopher: (rubs his eyes and smiles) That’s a curious task to give a shadow. 

Tayel: Shadows are cast by light. You come from light. 

Danyel: You remind our scribbler of that light. (He squeezes Christopher’s fingers.) Never stop being her light or her source of inspiration.

Christopher: (his smile widens) You know what? I think you just were a source of inspiration. You may have just given the scribbler an idea for her next Queer Sci Fi article. 

Tayel: Illumination comes from many sources. What light we have comes from shadow. 

Danyel: It comes from you. Tayel and I wouldn’t exist if not for you, Christopher. Sometimes we can sense when you’re troubled or lonely. 

Tayel: Silence seldom happens in the scribbler’s imagination. I savour these brief moments of peace but Danyel grows restless and lonely. (He gives Christopher a pointed look.) Particularly if you’re feeling restless and lonely. 

Christopher: (squeezes Danyel’s fingers and smiles at Tayel) Thank you. 

Tayel: (flushes and looks away) There’s no enjoying any peace in all this restlessness. 

Danyel: What he’s saying is he doesn’t like it when you’re lonely either. (He offers Christopher a mischievous little grin.)

Christopher: (giving Tayel a sideways glance) I know.

Tayel flushes all the more and studies his boots.