A castle made of gold shimmers and straightens in the ever-changing mists. It becomes a sparkling skyscraper, a tower made of glass, flashing and teasing amidst the fog.
Its light becomes a beacon, beckoning Christopher, luring him out of the mist onto a waiting patch of grass with a clear view of the skyscraper, rising into the heavens like the ambitions which formed it.
A woman with short dark hair gazes up at its walls, a slight smile playing upon her face, a dark cape fluttering from her shoulders. She fidgets with a top hat in her hands as if she isn’t quite sure what to do with it.
Christopher: Maia, isn’t it? I’ve met you before, but I’m not sure if I’ve been here.
Maia: Here? This place doesn’t exist. I dreamed while slaving away in an old-fashioned factory which was the heart of Verity.
Maia: (laughs, transferring the hat to one hand) Why? For I am Iama the Terrible! (She flourishes her hat in the direction of the skyscraper.) And this is my castle of gold. Or perhaps I should say tower?
Christopher looks up at the sparkling walls, gleaming with golden light. For a moment, its glass turns a brilliant, hot white with a bony crown reaching out of the top with skeletal fingers.
Maia: (shielding her eyes with her hat) Ow! Stop that!
The stones darken with black tears, whimpering. The sky grows dark, filled with rumbling clouds, outraged at the spokes daring to reach for the heavens.
Maia: That’s not my tower.
The clouds part, revealing the sun. The darkness drips down the walls of the skyscraper, pooling at the base, leaving it golden and gleaming once more.
Christopher: (not looking at her) What’s the difference between a castle and a tower?
Maia: (giving him a sideways glance) Well, I suppose they’re both fortresses. You can barricade yourself inside either. Only a castle somehow still feels like a home. A tower is a prison.
Christopher: A tower can be a home. A tower can part of yourself, but yes, a tower can be a prison. Locking you inside, making you feel powerful and safe.
Maia: It’s just a feeling. You’re not safe. (She looks back at her tower.) Isolation is not safety.
Christopher: (offers her a sad smile) No, it’s not.
Maia: The white tower, the black tower. Which one did you hide in?
Christopher: Both and neither.
Maia: You do like your riddles.
Christopher: You like your tower.
Maia: I used to like it. I let it go, along with with the ambition that created it.
Christopher: Leaving it behind in the Shadow Forest where it bubbles up once more in this Cauldron.
Maia: Those are your words, describing your world. Not mine.
Christopher: Why are you here? Why do you still call yourself Iama the Terrible if you’ve left your castle…tower…of gold?
Maia: (letting out a sigh) She’s still part of me, even if I’ve left her dream behind. I’ve got her princess. My princess. I’ve found I’m weak without her.
Christopher: Are you?
Maia: I thought I was the strong one. The provider. The one who took care of her and our sister. Nathalie and Grace ended up having to save me.
Christopher: Does that make you weak? Or wiser?
Maia: (chuckles again) Wise enough to realize I’m weak.
Christopher: That’s something, isn’t it?
Maia: Yes, it is. Like saying goodbye to the tower. I have something better now.
Christopher: (turns to gaze at her as if he’d just seen her) Something better?
Maia: Sure. I have my girls; Nathalie and Grace. No tower can compare to them.
Christopher: No. (He looks up at the walls, not really seeing them.) It can’t, can it?
Maia: You have something, don’t you? Or rather someone?
Maia: Someone better than the tower. I never would have dreamed of this place, desired to build it if not for them. Only it kept me from them, from being parts of their lives.
Christopher: (looking down) I suppose it does.
Maia: Beware of your own walls, Christopher. Don’t let them come between you and the ones that truly matter.
Christopher spins around to stare at her, startled, but Maia is already backing into a cloud of mist, blowing him a kiss. She disappears.
He turned to look up at the skycraper which turns white, black, growing luminous with colors. Its windows are no longer opaque. He can see faces in the window, looking out at him.
Christopher: Thank you…Iama. I’ll keep that in mind.
He starts walking toward the tower, the mist rising beneath his feet.
Want to read more about Maia/Iama and her girls? Here are buy links to Wind Me Up, One More Time; their story…
Mischief Corner Books/Shenanigans Press: https://www.mischiefcornerbooks.com/store/p161/Wind_Me_Up%2C_One_More_Time.html#/
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wind-me-up-one-more-time-ks-trenten/1134959345