Hands reach out to grab Christopher’s feet from the glowing silver disc beneath him, Some of them climb up his legs with roving fingers pulling him down and through a now insubstantial floor.
He slides down into a sea of hands, carrying him down the ceiling to the waiting golden disc on the ground.
The hands release the slender youth with slow reluctance, disappearing into the golden disc on the Navel’s floor.
Christopher: Every time it’s different. (He steps out of the golden circle in a hurry to glance up at the silver one upon the ceiling.)
A moan comes from above, a young man’s groan filled with frustrated longing.
The silver disc glows, becoming misty. Two slippered feet attached to slim, wiry legs in hose emerge from the mist, followed by a pelvis thust out, a torso quivering. Peter’s head is thrown back while he floats from the ceiling.
The golden disc below brightens, pulsing with an almost seductive rhythm. Peter’s eyelids flutter, his lips parted in a dreamy little smile.
Peter: (not opening his eyes) Yes. Yes, that’s me. I’m all yours.
His feet hit the circle. The glow disappears.
Peter opens his eyes, stands up straight. His mouth closes.
Peter: Well. (He allows one hand to slightly cover his groin in a gesture that’s almost demure for Peter.) I’m not sure, but going down is always more pleasant than going up to Gabrielle’s sanctum above the Navel. Wherever that is.
Christopher: (averting his eyes) I’m not sure either. I always thought it was part of the Navel. The private part for those who’ve become part of it.
Peter: Is that so? (He fixes his soft brown eyes upon Christopher.) Am I part of the Navel, Christopher?
Christopher: You’ve been a part from the moment you were able to enter. (He gestures up toward the silver disc.) To rise, to enter Gabrielle’s sanctum, is to become one of us.
Peter: (glancing up in the direction of Christopher’s finger, one hand on his hip) Is it really Gabrielle’s? Or simply part of the Navel as you say?
Christopher: I’m not sure if ‘Brie sees a difference between herself and the Navel.
Peter: She belongs as much to the shop as it does to her, eh? No escape now. She’s bound to its walls and boundaried by them.
Christopher: Now you sound like Damian. If ‘Brie is bound to the Navel, it’s because she wants to be. She loves her work here.
Peter: Or she’s hiding, avoiding something or someone. Like all of us.
Christopher: Gabrielle is the last person in the world who would hide. You’ve seen what she’s like.
Peter: I have. The hearty manner, the odd hats, the way she proudly welcomes visitors to the center of all things bizarre. She wraps these things around herself like a loud cloak, distracting everyone. No one will look too close.
Christopher: (lowers his head) I never thought of it that way.
Peter: Yes, you have. (He takes a step closer to the younger boy, so he’s right in front of him.) You’re just too polite to allow yourself to dwell on your mother’s vulnerability. After all you have plenty of your own.
Christopher: (raises his chin only to find Peter’s face is too close) What of it?
Peter: I’ll wager Damian noticed this vulnerability and picked at it.
Christopher: He didn’t see ‘Brie’s reasons for being here as vulnerabilities. He thought she was wasting her strength.
Peter: (leaning back, giving Christopher space) Perhaps he was right.
Christopher: (raising an eyebrow) I never thought I’d see the day you’d agree with Damian. On anything.
Peter: Just because he was right doesn’t mean he wasn’t a prick. He used ‘Brie to hide from whatever awaited him until he decided to leave, using everyone else to make his exit. Including your need to hide.
Christopher: He offered me the Navel in return for the Shadow Forest.
Peter: Yes, definitely a prick. As if the Navel was his to offer.
Christopher: Do you think the Navel is anyone’s to offer? Even Gabrielle’s?
Peter: A fair question. I’m not sure how Gabrielle and the Navel have become one even if I’m certain they were very different entities once upon a time. I could speculate quite a bit about this. Clever distraction on your part.
Christopher: Distraction? (He backs up another step.)
Peter: Yes. You distracted me completely from the topic of what you’re hiding from.
Christopher: (raising his chin) I might ask you the same. Since you’re convinced we’re all hiding from something.
Peter: What am I hiding from? (He backs up a step, lets out what might have been intended to be a hearty laugh, but it comes out weak.) I would have that was obvious. My own broken heart and frustrated desires. (He shrugs as if it doesn’t matter.) I suppose I need you, you and ‘Brie. Perhaps I need the Navel, too, and its customers. You’re a haven from everything I’ve been through.
Christopher: (softening) We need you, too.
Peter: If only you needed me, Christopher. (He takes a few steps forward, closing the distance betweeen them.) If only I could satsify that hunger of yours.
He reaches out to touch Christopher’s lips.
Christopher reaches up to remove Peter’s hand, but he doesn’t let go of it.
Christopher: You do.
Peter: (sighing) Not in the way I’d hoped to.
He drops Christopher’s hand and shrugs, offering him a smile.
Peter: Ah, well, all I can do is keep on hoping.
Peter: Never mind! Perhaps there’s time for a little walk through Omphalos before the Navel opens, hmm?
Without looking back, Peter marches toward the Navel door.
More slowly, Christopher follows.
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