Christopher walks up a path, a familiar path lined with roses to a white house. It’s not part of his own story, but he’s been here before.
He opens the front door, smiles at how it reminds him a bit of the Navel’s door along with the Old Cottage’s in Omphalos. I have a certain fondness for types of doors. It shows in my stories, something he’s noticing.
He opens it, entering the house.
The setting changes to that of a cozy room warmed by a roaring fire in the hearth. The tea things are still out on the table, a pot and plates in a forget-me-not pattern.
A young woman sits on the couch in front the table, her long red skirts flowing out over her legs. She wears a loose russet sweater with a cowl neck, her coppery-brown hair falling in a cloud over her shoulders. She clutches a green journal with strong fingers dusty with pencil lead.
Nathalie: (without looking up) Hello, Christopher. I’m almost done.
Christopher says nothing. He waits, recalling Damian being in a similar state of concentration. If he allowed it, the garden, the gazebo, the multicolored sky, and Damian at his easel would eclipse this time and place, bleeding into it, replacing it. Christopher holds those memories at bay, waiting for Nathalie.
Eventually she closes her journal with a snap, laying it down on the couch beside her.
Nathalie: Thank you. I wanted to finish that one scene.
Christopher: You have that in common with our scribbler. Making people wait, letting food burn because she has to finish a scene. Whether she’s writing or reading it. (He smiles to take the sting out of his words.) That and you like to write in pencil.
Nathalie: Pencil is transitory. It can be erased. It’s perfect for rough drafts because that state of writing is also transitory. I like using a tool which captures that mood, even if I seldom erase what I’ve written.
Christopher: Spoken as if you were our scribbler herself.
Nathalie: Parts of me are drawn from her personality. Other aspects were inspired by many things, including other people.
Christopher: Like our scribbler’s father?
Nathalie: You’re not the only one who catches glimpses of our scribbler’s past in dreams and visions. (She smiles) Did you know her father told a story about the Greedy Tree as opposed to the Giving Tree? A tree that was taking over half the trees in America until it was chopped down. Afterward it became a Greedy Stump. The tree itself became greedy sawdust, sawdust which became paper. It affected all of the corporations which used it.
Christopher: (smiling slightly yet in a thoughtful way) This would explain a lot.
Nathalie: The Stump of Wisdom in Wind Me Up, One More Time is an homage to this. I guess our scribbler got her father’s love of tale tales as well as fairytales which she passed on to me.
Christopher: I wonder how much of you is in Princess Nathalie? The other Nathalie in your mother’s stories. Princess Grace’s sister, Theodora Bear’s former child, and Iama the Terrible’s beloved in Grace and Theodora: Magic and Mishaps? The fairytale waiting within Wind Me Up, One More Time?
Nathalie: Just because Princess Nathalie and I have the same name and creator doesn’t mean we’re the same person. Any more than either of us are the scribbler’s childhood friend she named us for. (She stands up, moves away from the table to stop in front of the fire.) Even if I do have certain things in common with her.
The light from the fire reflects upon her hair, catching the gold in it. The gold shimmers, sliding and gliding around Nathalie’s form, changing it. Everything turns into gold, swallowing the room.
Christopher stands before a young woman, like and unlike Nathalie. She has the same golden-brown skin, but her coppery hair falls in waves over a peach gown. Christopher and the woman stand in a long hall, captured and reflected by an endless series of full-length mirrors. Sometimes you can catch glimpses of other people in the mirrors, other characters, ghosts drifting through the glass.
Princess Nathalie: Hello, Christopher. Unlike my namesake, I am a character in a fairytale. I suffer mishaps which are mythical in nature. They set the tone for those struggling through their reality. Like the other Nathalie. She and I do share a similar passion, though, a similiar heartache.
For a moment the mistress of the mirrors appears in each reflection, standing behind Princess Nathalie. Iama the Terrible lays slender gloved fingers upon the princess’s shoulder. Such a fragile cloth barrier between the enchantress and the effect of her touch, yet she cannot resist reaching out. Nor does the princess try to prevent it.
The hall of mirrors disappears along with the princess and the enchantress. Christopher is back in the cozy living room with the Nathalie who stands in front of the fire.
Nathalie: Both the princess and I have an Iama the Terrible. Only my Iama isn’t nearly as terrible as she thinks she is.
Christopher: You mean Maia?
Nathalie: Please sit down.
Christopher takes one of the chairs, a handsome wooden one with a creamy pattern of flowers and vines appearing in subtle shades.
Maia leaves the fire, returning to the couch, smoothing her skirts out around her when she sits.
Nathalie: Did you know Maia is an anagram for Iama? I guess Auntie Cassat, Maia’s mum thought she was being clever. Or the scribbler did.
Christopher: Why did Maia named her daughter after Iama the Terrible, the villain of Grace and Theodora: Magic and Mishaps? Isn’t Iama supposed to be, well, terrible?
Nathalie: Call her a villain if you like. I don’t think she’s evil.
Christopher: Which Iama are you talking about?
Nathalie: It’s easy to reduce a strong woman with power over the unseen like hearts and emotions as well as the tangible to a simple label which symbolizes the awe, fear, and attraction she generates. Like an evil enchantress. Iama hid her heart away. Everything she touched turned to gold. There has been times when Maia has done the same. Isolation, loneliness, turning inward makes us all terrible.
Christopher: She took life with a touch. Even if that life was restored, she did steal it. (He looks at his own fingers.) I’ve done the same thing. I will again unless whatever hungry thing inside me is checked.
Nathalie: (looking him up and down with the speculative eye of a writer who’s just sniffed out a potential story…sorry, Nat, he’s taken) Do you think this hunger comes from loneliness?
Christopher: In part. It may also come from being shattered, continuing on in shadow form. I’ve created life as well as taken it.
Nathalie: Really? (looks even more interested)
Christopher: (blushing) Or I will create it. Someone will drink my own energy, flourishing into an existence as an innocent being with the ability to touch things, connect with the world in a way I cannot. It’s too dangerous for me to do. For myself and others.
Nathalie: (considering his words) I can see why you identified with Iama. She feared her power as well. As did Maia.
Christopher: That’s only sensible. Isn’t it?
Nathalie: Iama kept everyone she touched in a collection of golden statues. They were the only company she was allowed or so she thought. In her loneliness she lured away the other Nathalie, out of a wish to connect with someone else.
Christopher: A wish which was granted.
Nathalie: Your wish can come true, too, Christopher. Just don’t expect it to manifest in a form you’d expect.
Christopher smiles at this for what can he say to the truth?
Nathalie smiles back, resisting the urge to reach for her notebook and start writing down ideas generated by this talk, the curse and the blessing of a writer. She hums an odd little tune under her breath, to help remember this talk for when she does have a chance to scribble it down.
This is another trait she got from me.
Hope you enjoyed meeting Nathalie! If you want to learn more about her, Princess Nathalie, their romances with their respective Iama the Terribles, and what part Grace and Theodora Bear played in them, visit these buy links…
Mischief Corner Books/Shenanigans Press:
Barnes & Noble: