Conversations with Christopher: Map Part 2

Grass crunched under Christopher’s feet as he approached the vine-covered cottage. There’s nothing but the fields and the distant forest. The garden at the foot of the hill is behind them. 

He can’t risk a glance over his shoulder.

A ruined tower perched upon the top of the hill. 

Christopher feels the hairs rise on the back of his neck at invisible eyes looking back at him. The breeze whispers and murmurs, tugging at his hair, his clothes. 

Map: Pay it no mind. Don’t let it do anything more than watch and whisper. It’ll feed on your attention. 

Christopher: What?

Map doesn’t answer. She marches up to the door of the cottage and opens it. She glances back. 

Map: You coming inside or not?

She enters. Christopher follows. 

Once he crosses the threshold, the whispering stops. He looks around at the sunlight streaming in the kitchen window, illuminating the wood of the long table. Five chairs are arranged around it. 

Map toward the table, dumping her bag of vegetables upon it. 

Christopher begins to follow, but pauses at the sight of a familar golden disc upon the floor. Directly above, a silver circle mirrors it. There are cushions upon the floor, a couple of comfortable chairs. The walls are covered with book shelves. 

Christopher: Is this the Navel?

Map: Like I said, this was Omphalos. Omphalos is another word for navel. Some believe the navel is the center of one’s being. (She turns her back to the hearth, to a row of knives and spoons hanging from the wall.) I suppose you could consider it my center. It’s always been my home, even as the village around me comes and goes. Right now it’s gone. 

Christopher: You said it would return because of folly. 

Map: Folly, greed, loneliness, the need to create a community, to draw back those who’ve wandered from the fold. They’ll return with their taverns, their shops, and their temples. (She scowls.) Your Navel wasn’t a shop or a temple, was it?

Christopher: It was a shop. An unusual shop. Nothing like this place except for these discs.

Perhaps he shouldn’t but he’s curious. Christopher steps into the golden disc. 

Warmth fills his hands. He looks down at them, sees them glowing with a green light. He sees Danyel, cocking his head, looking at him in enquiry. 

A chill runs down his back. Danyel is no longer there. Tayel gazes at him, violet-blues glimmering with silver triangles, fierce in their brightness. 

Tayel dissolves into light and color. Christopher feels himself rise into the air. Shadows swallow the light, enveloping the color. 

He stands in a a dark little bedroom. The only illumination is from a dim little window. Stray beams gleam upon the golden waves of hair of the two boys sleeping upon the bed. Their eyes are closed, their mouths are open. It’s Danyel and Tayel.

Christopher doesn’t have a chance to even say their names before he’s sucked into the silver disc upon the floor. Once again he stands in the gold disc, stinging pains prickling through his body, surrounded by cushions and book shelves. 

He steps out of the circle. The pains stop. 

Christopher: So this is where Danyel and Tayel live. Don’t they?

Map is now chopping vegetables at the table. She doesn’t even look up at him. 

Map: You would have found them, even if I tried to hide them from you. Don’t disturb them any more than you already have. 

Christopher: I wouldn’t dream of disturbing them. 

Map snorts and continues to chop. 

Christopher: (moving toward the table) This place seems so familiar yet it’s unfamiliar. 

Map: You used to live here, Christopher. As uneasy as you make me around the twins, this is still your home. 

Christopher: Was this cottage once the Navel? Or will it someday be?

Map: There you go talking about navels again. Get your mind out of your belly button. If you have one. I told you. It’s my home.

Christopher: The Navel is…was…my home. It may have been a shop as I said, but it was also my home. 

Map: It’s good to have a home. A place where you can settle down and grow roots. Makes you more attached to the world around you. 

Christopher: How long has this place been your home?

Map: I’m not sure. Time has a way of slipping away in this place.

Christopher: Have you lived anywhere else?

Map: I’ve tried. It never ends well. Not that things always end well here. Not when people come bringing their folly and their greed.

Christopher: You keep mentioning that. 

Map: It’s not a bad thing to build a village, but they keep wanting to get bigger and bigger. To become something they’re not. To make other people something they’re not. Eventually they disappear. 

Christopher: What happened to them?

Map: You tell me. (She pauses in her chopping to look at him.) What happened to you when we lost you?

For a moment Christopher recalls a hand holding his, only to release it. Two women walking away from him into the mists. 

He thinks about calling out to them, but Damian’s rose-purple eyes fix upon him. He cannot look away from them. 

Christopher: I found someone. Someone who needed me. 

Map: Hmph. We’ve got that in common. We keep finding people who need us. They break our hearts. Every time. Only we can’t turn away. Can we?

For a moment she looks up at Christopher with those dark eyes. He can see the green glimmer within them. He feels a warmth, swimming up from within him. 

When he meets Map’s gaze, the same green light flickers within the many colors caught within his own. 

(To be continued next Monday)

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