#RainbowSnippets: Stealing Myself From Shadows

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 sample different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets

For my own, Christopher enters the Navel, once again noticing how different this place is than the Shadow Forest in Stealing Myself From Shadows

 

I crossed the threshold, spotting the wind chimes dangling on the other side of the door. A memory of similar hollow cylinders hanging like flowers tinkled in time for a moment. 

    I blinked, enjoying the sound, allowing my eyes to adjust to the darkness. For a moment I thought the shadows of the store would overwhelm me, but I was no longer on the other side. The darkness was no longer alive and hungry. It was simply an absence of light.

     Damian touched my shoulder, guiding me away from a shelf I was about to walk into. Even in natural darkness, he gleamed, his fair skin providing a little illumination. Did he appear like this to everyone or just me?

Like my style of writing? Want to read more? Here is a link to my published works…

http://www.amazon.com/author/kstrenten

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#QueerBlogWed: Just a Dream

On June 8, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving beans, a gate falling of its hinges and a star.

This Tale of the Navel, Tale of Omphalos, a freebie story for The Hand and the Eye of the Tower was the result…

The beans had climed over a gate falling off its hinges. 

As long as I’d been in Omphalos, that gate had been in a state in disrepair. Never more so now. 

“Does anyone ever harvest those beans?” I didn’t look at my companion. Instead I stared at the star in the sky. 

It shone with a reproachful brightness which reminded me of Tayel’s eyes. How aggrieved he’d be if he knew I was sneaking around with his precious twin. Even if it was just in a dream. 

“Map gathers them. She makes a soup or a stew with these beans.” I could hear the slight hitch in Danyel’s breath, feel his shy gaze. “She doesn’t like to use meat.”

“No, she doesn’t.” I let out a sigh, imagining Map’s furrowed brow at the notion of any living creature having to die to feed another. “She will, though.”

Just because she didn’t like to eat meat didn’t mean she wouldn’t eat it. Or try to feed it to others. 

“Christopher.” Danyel’s small hand tugged at mine. “I’m dreaming of you, aren’t I? Why do I always dream of you, but I can never remember you when I wake up?”

I turned, allowing myself to look at his upturned button nose, the curl of silvery golden hair falling over his forehead. Luminous violet-blue eyes too big for his face gleamed with reflected starlight, mixing with the heartfelt question shining back at me. 

In an unguard moment, I told him the truth. 

“Because I’m selfish. I shouldn’t be talking to you, but I can’t stay away.” I tried to smile. “I’m lonely. I’m only like my former self when I’m with you in a dream.”

“Why?” He tugged at my hand again. “Why can’t you come see me…us…when you’re awake? Why do you hide in a dream?”

“Your brother doesn’t want me anywhere near you.” I pressed his hand with my fingers, delighting in being a physical person again. The price, however, was too high to do this anywhere than in a dream. “He’s right to be protective of you. He’s right to be worried.”

“Why?” He repeated his favorite word, the one he pestered all of his loved ones with in the manner of determined innocents. “Why should he worry about you? You wouldn’t hurt me. Would you?”

I turned away, allowing myself to dissolve into the mists, leaving him to gaze at a damaged gate covered with beans. 

Soon Danyel would be waking up. Soon he’d find himself lying next to Tayel, wondering what happened. 

Tayel would guess exactly what happened. He’d be hurt, worried, and upset with me. Sensing the danger, the truth of me, yet unwilling to name it. 

I was always with them, watching over them, even if it wasn’t as a living person. I was waiting for Danyel and Tayel, even though I hoped they’d keep away. 

I was getting too hungry and lonely to be careful. I’d given up too much of myself to bring Danyel and Tayel into the existence. To let them go, beyond the Door, to find a life as real as the one Damian had given me.

Part of me would always want them back. Part of me counted on them returning to me. 

The other part of me dreaded that reunion. Dreaded what might happen, what I might do when I met the twins in the waking world. 

Danyel was getting more and more persistent about seeking me out in his dreams. He seemed to want to find me as much as I wanted to be found. 

Tayel was afraid of me. Afraid of what I’d do to him, to both of the twins, but particularly to Danyel. Afraid I could take away everything he held dear. 

Alas, I could. This was part of the reason I dreaded meeting the twins in the flesh. Why I contented myself with glimpses in dreams and visions. Watching them through walls of stone. 

They were curious. They couldn’t help but wonder. Not even Tayel, no matter how hard he tried not to. 

Peter had once accused me of being entirely too irresistible. Of invoking a passion to get closer to me which bordered on madness. 

I hadn’t believed him. To accept such a thing was both vanity and undeserved. 

Seeing Danyel’s eyes shine at me made me worry. Just what had I kindled in this innocent life I’d created?

I feared we were both going to find out. 

Like my style of writing? Here are my published works…

http://www.amazon.com/author/kstrenten

#RainbowSnippets: Stealing Myself From Shadows

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 sample different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets/?multi_permalinks=8499083260161661&notif_id=1673661375997982&notif_t=group_activity&ref=notif

For my own, Christopher observes Damian’s own reaction to ‘The Navel’ in Stealing Myself From Shadows

“Come on in,” Damian opened the door, setting some chimes on the other side to tinkling. He ignored the sign completely. 

     Perhaps he was accustomed to the sight of people’s bellies. The thought caused the heat to rush to my cheeks.

     Damian held the door open for me for a slight bow. He studied my face, allowing a tiny smile to dance upon his lips. 

Conversations with Christopher: Peter

Pain. It cuts through his temples, making him stagger. Not even the cool kiss of the Shadow Forest’s mist or the comforting steam of the Cauldron can soften it entirely. 

Christopher breathes in the musty air, dust, shelves covered with items hiding in cracks and corners. Things a customer don’t realize they want, let alone need. A statue of a muscular man with a hen’s head leers at him with beady eyes. 

The shelves are too close. Their smell makes him sick. 

Peter: Here.

A hand guides him through the shelves, to the door. Chimes tingle when it opens. 

That sound is soothing, easing some of the pain. 

Christopher staggers across the threshold into the main street of Omphalos. Thankfully no one else is around. Peter follows. 

Peter: Do you do that often?

Christopher gets a brief memory flash of Damian putting a hand to his temple, groaning. 

Christopher: (lifting a hand to his brow) I wonder if this is what Damian felt in the Navel. When he said he felt trapped in there. 

Peter: Do you feel trapped? Are you unhappy?

Christopher: (shaking his head) This is the happiest I’ve ever been. Even though I still miss Damian. 

Peter: Were you happy when he was here?

Christopher: (pressing a hand to a temple which throbs a little less painfully in the open air) Happier than I thought I could be.

Peter: (smiling a little) Thought you were incapable of happiness, did you?

Christopher: Not incapable. Just not that happy with something so simple. Small things were so beautiful, so precious after the Shadow Forest. Time slowing down to something that didn’t constantly chase my imagination. 

Peter: (licking his lips and swallowing) Ah, so time can actually keep pace with one’s shifting mental imagery beyond the Door.

Christopher: It’s far more terrible than you realize. (He starts walking down the street away from Peter.) Anything which crosses your mind may manifest. Even if you don’t want it to. 

Peter: (following him) Sounds like you must have been a god on the other side. 

Christopher: (with a bitter laugh) Anyone can be a god on the other side. 

Peter stops for a moment with a convulsive shudder which makes him sway upon his feet.

Christopher: (glancing over his shoulder) Whether or not you would want to be a god is another matter entirely. 

Peter: (starting to trot after him) Who wouldn’t want to be a god? All that power!

Christopher: Exactly. (looking ahead) All that power. It comes with responsibility. 

Peter: Don’t assume everyone is afraid of that. 

Christopher: You should be. Wield great power and you’ll make great mistakes. 

Peter: Not to mention accomplish great things. 

Christopher: (stopping) Just what do you think a god is, Peter?

Peter: Someone who isn’t bound by mortal concerns or constraints. 

Christopher: Exactly. It’s overwhelming. 

Peter: To be overwhelmed like that, how I envy you. 

Christopher: Why? (He stops, turns around to look at Peter.) Why do you want to be overwhelmed?

Peter: I’m too easily underwhelmed. Too small. Too powerless. Unable to help or save anyone. Unable to release myself from my own restrictions. 

Christopher: Restrictions can define us, bringing rewards a god is incapable of appreciating. 

Peter: (raising an eyebrow) You think I’m unappreciative?

Christopher: Of the consequences of a god’s actions? Yes. 

Peter: Perhaps you’re too sensitive about such things. 

Christopher: I wasn’t suited to godhood. 

Peter: Don’t assume I’m not just because I want it. 

Christopher: (taking a step closer to Peter) We always want what we don’t have. (He reaches out a cheek to touch Peter’s cheek.) Appreciating what we do is much harder. 

Peter: (taking his hand and kissing it) Is that why you reject me? Once I have you, I won’t appreciate you. Is that what you think?

Christopher: I fear you love the quest far more than the treasure you seek. Whether it’s something you desire in another person or godhood. 

Peter: (dropping his hand) And your beloved Damian? Did he appreciate you?

Christopher: (turning away) Yes, I believe he did. For a while. Only I wasn’t enough. Not enough to satisfy him. Let alone make him happy. 

Peter: Is anyone? Just because a feeling is fleeting, should you turn away from it? I never have.

Christopher looks up at the top of the hill. Sometimes he sees a ruined tower up there. Sometimes a circle of standing stones. 

This time he sees dancing lights, twinkling and twirling around each other. He knows there will be a pond lying beneath them. A pond filled floating colors, disappearing and dissolving into each other. 

Christopher: (smiling sadly) No, you haven’t, have you?

He keeps walking, not looking back.

Peter puzzled, frowning, keeps following him. 

#RainbowSnippets: Stealing Myself From Shadows

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 sample other LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets

The holidays are over and I’m not feeling remotely festive. Not with all the cat concerns I’m facing in real life. Time to open a Door and escape into the Shadow Forest in Stealing Myself From Shadows. Only it’s not the Shadow Forest Christopher is in, but Omphalos. And now he’s face to face with the Navel, the odd shop on the main road through Omphalos…

  This shop had a dusty window, displaying a skull and a deck of cards lying on a bed of purple velvet. 

    The skull caught my eye before the sign. Weathered and in need of painting, it took me a moment before I saw the image of a rounded stomach and a belly button.

    “The Navel.” I felt my face color. The mysterious Gabrielle, soon to be my mother, had a sense of humor.

Conversations with Christopher: Danyel and Tayel

The mist is usually gentle, stroking his skin with cool touches. This time it was wet, slobbering all over him with icy tongues. Rain splashed upon his skin from overhead. 

Christopher: The sky is crying. This is supposed to be a good sign in the scribbler’s world. Her people need the rain. Don’t they?

Something thunders above in a dark cloud. The rain begins to pour, drenching Christopher. 

There’s a light at the window of a cottage in the murky gloom, revealing the shapes of other cottages. They appear and reappear, as if uncertain if they’re part of the landscape or not.

A doorway opens. The other cottages disappear. There’s is only one, the source of the light beaming out from a home. It shines upon the tousled golden waves of the boy in the doorway, beckoning to Christopher.

Danyel: Quick, come in!

Christopher stumbled forward, not as quick as he’d like to be, but he makes it to the waiting doorway and crosses the threshold. Danyel closes the door behind him. 

He’s in a kitchen. Another boy sits at a table, one identical to Danyel in appearance.

Christopher: Hello, Tayel. Thank you for inviting me in, Danyel.

Tayel: Hell followed by an o. How appropriate. (His voice is softer than his words as are his eyes, inspecting Christopher.)

Danyel: Shut up, Tayel. I was about to make us some tea. 

The boy hurries to the kettle humming over the hearth, grabbing a quilted potholder, and lifts the kettle. 

Christopher: (shivering) That’s very kind of you, but will any of us be able to drink that? Even though the fire is very welcome. Holding something warm would be welcome as well. 

Tayel: Getting out of your wet clothes would be equally welcome. 

Christopher: You’re losing some of your enigma, Tayel. That wasn’t much of a riddle. (He pulls off his black tunic, hesitates before revealing bare skin.)

Tayel: There’s is little to be revealed and nothing to be ashamed of. 

Danyel: (his cheeks color as he pours water into a waiting teapot) It’s only polite to look away. Or turn your back, Tayel.

Tayel: (rolling his eyes) Awkwardness will only flourish in such shyness. (He still turns his back, a matching blush to Danyel’s in his cheeks.)

Christopher strips off his shirt and his pants, removes his boots. There’s a waiting blanket on one of the chairs. 

Christopher: You were expecting me. 

Danyel: Aren’t we always?

Tayel: Whether we’re ready or not. 

Christopher: The feeling is mutual, but not unwelcome. (He covers himself with the blanket, leaving his arms free.)

Danyel brings over a couple of cups. Tayel turns around. 

Danyel: You’ll be able to drink this. Some of it at least. It’s made from pixie tears, a flower which grows where Doors appear. 

Tayel: Born between dream and reality much as we are. Able to consume us and be consumed. 

Danyel: Hopefully we’ll be doing the consuming. (He goes to fetch a third cup for himself.)

Christopher: (raising his and breathing in its aroma; a perfume of roses, apples, and the air on an afternoon under a changing sky with Damian nearby) Where did you find this flower?

Danyel: Map grows it. We harvest it. 

Christopher: So this is Map’s kitchen, her home. 

He looks around, sees an archway leading into a cozy room filled with a bookshelves, a few chairs, and cushions scattered across the floor. There’s a space on that floor where a golden circle is painted. 

The circle is exactly like the one in the Navel. 

Danyel: (sitting down at the table with his own cup, near Christopher, across from Tayel) It’s magic, that circle. The little bit of magic Map allows. 

Tayel shifts in his seat, looking a bit uncomfortable. 

Christopher: You stand in the center and it transports you to another part of the cottage. A part that’s hidden from most, a secret sanctuary. 

Danyel: (gazing at him with wide eyes) You make it sound far more magical than it is. This leads to Leiwell’s room. Only he gave it to us. 

Tayel: Revealing too much may be neither welcome nor wise.

Christopher: Perhaps not, but I appreciate the revelation. (He picks up his cup, sips it.) This is very good. 

Danyel smiles, blushing all the more. Tayel smiles, too, but it’s a tiny guarded smile. 

Christopher: Since you revealed something to me, I’ll reveal something to you. I have a similar circle in my former home. It takes me from a shop up to where my bedroom was. 

Tayel: The Navel. Where people coming looking things they didn’t know they were looking for. The center of all things bizarre. 

Christopher: (nods, not entirely surprised Tayel knows this) According to my mother, yes. 

Danyel: You said it was your former home. Don’t you live at the Navel anymore?

Tayel: Too many question open the Door to answers. (He gives an oddly protective glance at Christopher.) Answers hurt. 

Christophr: Yes, they do, but I don’t mind answering. (He does his best to smile. It’s easier than he thought it would be.) I made a choice to leave my home behind.

Danyel: Why?

Tayel: Danyel.

Christopher: It’s all right. I needed to go on a journey, a quest to find something. To find someone. To do it, I had to leave my home behind.

Danyel: You can’t return home? (He leans forward, worry prickling his smooth brow.) Once you find what…who…you’re looking for?

Tayel sits very still in his seat, hands around his cup. He gazes at Christopher from under lowered eyelashes, something gleaming beneath them. 

Christopher: I don’t know. I hope so, but perhaps I’ll change too much. I may not be able to go back. 

Danyel: Is that a good thing? Or a bad thing?

Christopher: I don’t know. (It’s harder to smile a second time.) I’ll let you know when I find out.

Danyel: Promise?

Tayel lets out a sound between a sigh or a hiss. It’s unclear whether it’s directed at Danyel for asking for a promise or a warning to Christopher not to make one. Perhaps it’s both. Perhaps he’s right to be wary of promises which may be impossible to keep. 

Christopher doesn’t want to be wary. Not with these two. 

Christopher: I promise.

Danyel’s bright smile is reward enough for promising. 

Here’s hoping neither of them end up regretting it. 

#RainbowSnippets: Seven Tricks

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday, people participating post and share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. (I usually post mine a little early, but there was a kitty crisis.) It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To sample various LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets/?multi_permalinks=8467018006701520&notif_id=1673107427632096&notif_t=group_activity&ref=notif

Yes, I know the twelve days of Christmas are over. I’m not ready to let them go. I’m not ready to take the tree down. I feel like I was robbed of a few of those days. This is why Mousetrick is going to poke his nose out and nudge with a little more Seven Tricks

I nudged him with my snout.

He rocked on his stiff wooden legs but didn’t budge. The creature stood like a human being, but no human possessed so broad and beautiful a mouth as he. Nor did they smell so deliciously of roasted nuts.

“Maybe you’re a giant nut yourself,” I said in the way of mice, which sounds like chittering to anyone without the talent to understand our speech. “Do you taste as good as you smell?”

Like what you’re reading? Want to read more? Here are buy links!

Nine Star Press:  https://ninestarpress.com/product/seven-tricks/

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/seven-tricks-ks-trenten/1127424849?ean=2940158598838

Amazon:

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/seven-tricks


Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/758279

Conversations with Christopher: Maia

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. 

Christopher: Why?

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!

Christopher: Sorry. 

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?

Christopher: What?

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#/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081LPX2WH/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Wind+Me+Up%2C+One+More+Time&qid=1573974211&s=books&sr=1-1

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/wind-me-up-one-more-time

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wind-me-up-one-more-time-ks-trenten/1134959345

Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1488235515?fbclid=IwAR1_ox2T5jIHibPFBHUqTck0SNaP3pcZIgNM4DS3VAjU47mn3o5iu260bMA

#RainbowSnippets: Seven Tricks

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 sample different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RainbowSnippets

It’s the end of a year, the beginning of a new one, but it’s still the twelve days of Christmas so Mousetrick will continue to squeak in Seven Tricks right where he left off…

The beauty bared his teeth at me in a seductive show of defiance. Never had I seen such an enormous, toothy jaw. The scent of roasted nuts wafted from his mouth, making my nostrils flare with hunger.

I crept up to this still, defiant beauty.

He didn’t move, or acknowledge me, even when I was a paw away from his face. The strange prince just stood there and grinned.

This infuriated me. Who was he grinning at, if not myself? Was he mocking me?

Enjoy what you’re reading? Want to read more? Here are buy links to Seven Tricks

Nine Star Press:  https://ninestarpress.com/product/seven-tricks/

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/seven-tricks-ks-trenten/1127424849?ean=2940158598838

Amazon:

Smashwords

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/seven-tricks

Conversations with Christopher: Iama Part 2

Iama: A year is passing. We’re all changing along with our scribbler. No matter how much we may resist. 

Each Iama, real and reflectled, seems to grow, looming over hall, beast, and person, over Christopher and every shadow caught in a mirror. 

Christopher looks back at her, his eyes swimming with color. Gold is one of them. 

Christopher: Curious how much truth lies in illusion. 

For a moment Iama sees slim dark fingers cupping a golden apple reflected in his pupils. 

A golden apple gleams in the breast of every single Iama caught in a mirror. 

Ashleigh gazes at it with wonder. The dragon blinks in confusion. Damian reaches up a hand to shield his eyes from its light. Tears ran down Tayel’s face, blinded by its the apple’s glow and its reflection in his own eyes. 

Danyel reaches out a hand toward Iama’s breast, the apple there as if tempted to touch it. 

The apples all vanish, including the one reflected in Christopher’s eyes. 

Iama: (drawing herself up stiffly) That fruit is not for you.

Each Iama dwindles, becoming smaller, less imposing. More human. 

Christopher: (in a gentle voice) Neither am I. 

Iama: No. (She turns away. Every reflected Iama turns away from her victim. Or her potential guest.) Leave me. 

Christopher: I hope you find her. Or she comes to you soon.

Iama: (without looking back) Who is this she?

Christopher: The guest you’re waiting for. The one you’ll allow to get closer. 

Iama doesn’t answer. She faces the other direction, leading to deep into her castle with slumped shoulders. 

Christopher looks at himself in the mirror he stepped out of. Yes, he sees him before his reflection and the hall behind him are swallowed by mist. 

He steps into the mirror and the waiting mist and disappears. 

Ashleigh waves at her Iama and steps onto a waiting cloud that envelops her. 

Damian makes a little bow to his Iama before dissolving into a shower of rose petals that swirl around her before vanishing. 

The dragon uncoils themselves and glides off into the air, dissolving into shimmering rainbow light. 

The brilliance of Tayel’s eyes spills out, blazing through his entire form before he vanishes. 

Danyel gives Iama a long look, a sad little smile before walking out of the view of the frame. 

Each Iama is left alone. The actual enchantress gazes in the direction she’s facing, clenching her hands into fists. 

She whirls around, striding back into her hall of mirrors. The other Iama become her reflections once more until she stops and gazes into the mirror. 

Her eyes change, becoming those of a young girl looking at her with innocent curiosity, lips parted. 

Iama drinks in that gaze before the vision disappears. 

Iama: Perhaps I ought to go find that guest I’m waiting for. 

The enchantress turns to depart from her lonely hall, so filled with images of just herself. 

Who is the guest Iama is waiting for her? To read more about her and her Hall of Mirrors in Wind Me Up, One More Time, go to…

Mischief Corner Books/Shenanigans Press: https://www.mischiefcornerbooks.com/store/p161/Wind_Me_Up%2C_One_More_Time.html#/

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