Tuesday, April 6, 2010

THE FOOL'S JOURNEY ~ By Christina Vincent

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new BIJOU author,
Christina Vincent

Something about the way the smoke seemed to swirl around her doorway drew me closer, and I shivered in spite of the massive bonfire. The air bit at my skin like autumn, as if spring had inverted itself just this once, for tonight only as a limited-time offer. I shook my head and stuffed my hands into my pockets. The music must be getting to me. It was impossible to stay still while bodies swam around the flickering lights and taut strings unleashed golden melodies in minor key that spun through the quickly darkening night. My head swayed back and forth, my legs found the rhythm of the music and walked in time, and I shook myself.

Her door was open but dark, with the faintest hint of rose petals tugging at the edges of my mind as I stepped inside. The candles in the back cast uneven light on the walls that could have been soft ivory or blood-soaked for all I could see. I shoved the glasses up the bridge of my nose and crept around the room’s perimeter, keeping an eye on the cool relief of night just outside.

“What are you afraid of?” The voice sang through the pitch, and I jumped. She laughed, warm and rich like bells wrapped in liquid gold. “Come here, you have nothing to fear from me.”

“I saw your door open,” I offered stupidly. “You were open before but I never… I mean, I was with people and we didn’t…”

“Hush and come here, sweet one. I won’t bite.” As I moved toward the voice, I could just make out her features. Raven hair so deep it sucked the warmth out of the candlelight and reflected it in her rich eyes. Delicate cheekbones, a swan’s neck and supple arms bared of the oceanic dress swirling around her. I gaped, and she laughed again. “I’m not quite the gnarled old hag you were expecting?”

I shook my head, face burning. “I wasn’t expecting… I don’t know what I was expecting.”

“Just not me,” she said, and I nodded. She sat on one side of a small circular table and held out her hand for me to take the chair opposite her. “Her hands were soft where they touched mine, turning my palms toward the ceiling though she barely glanced at them. “What brought you in here to me?”

An itch started between my shoulders. “I dunno. It’s the fair, I thought it might be fun.”

“There are much more entertaining pastimes by the bonfire,” she insisted quietly, and I swallowed hard.

“I don’t believe in anything anymore.” My voice was barely audible, and she nodded again and squeezed my hands.

“Now we’ve gotten somewhere.” She drew my hands closer to her and studied them in the dim light, her thumbs massaging my palms and smoothing across my wrists until my fingers went limp. “Answer my question,” she crooned. “What are you afraid of?”

My eyes stung, and I blamed it on the dry air from the candles. “Of not believing in anything anymore.”

She released my hands and pulled a black drawstring bag from somewhere out of my line of sight. Inside was a deck of cards, rich royal purple backs with a black and gold border. Simple. I couldn’t stop staring at them. She spread them in an arc between us. “Choose,” she invited me, her hands hovering over the edges of the table. I met her snapping eyes.

“How many?”

“As many as you wish.”

I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. That corner of my mind that said this was ridiculous was oddly silent while my fingers brushed along the smooth backs. When I opened my eyes, three cards sat in front of me, with the rest tucked back into the drawstring bag. She smiled at me and turned over the center card. I was staring at a satyr. “The Fool,” she murmured, catching my hand and tracing my finger along the creature’s outline. “This is you.” Her voice held a teasing lilt, and I snickered. She turned over the card to its left.

A dark-haired woman in the flowing white robe stood between two Roman columns. “The High Priestess,” I read, looking back up.

“Your past,” she murmured gently. “Your former guidance. That mysticism and instinct that once led you down a path you thought you were destined to take. But that isn’t the case any longer.” She pointed to the Fool. “You’ve emerged from the cave like a newborn. There aren’t stone walls around you to shield you any longer, and you feel alone.” She tucked a stray strand of hair behind my ear. It was like her hands had been plunged in snow. I shivered. “You can’t rely on a sense of mystical guidance to lead you.”

“So then I shouldn’t even be here.”

She lifted one shoulder in a gesture too graceful to be called a shrug and flipped over the final card. I caught a glimpse of a figure robed in black and grey with a tall sickle before the candles flickered out. 

(c) 2010 ~ Author Christina Vincent
Premiering AT THE BIJOU!

Well  sure, Carrie Clevenger brought CHRISTINA VINCENT around AT THE BIJOU . . . that should tell you that fantasy would fly fast and frenetic . . . pulling you in . . . to want more, more ... and also explain the ruckus with Eddie up there by the BIJOU popcorn popper as supply-side economics increase dramatically.
ABSOLUTELY*KATE:  Hey Christina ~ you snuck up on me there --
CHRISTINA (excitement unsubdued?): I'm a friend of Carrie Clevenger's, and she's been doing nothing but gushing about how beautiful your site is and what a sweetheart you are. She told me that you're looking for "Fool" stories for April, and I thought I'd give it a go. My story "The Fool's Journey" is attached - whoa -- it just ran -- up there under the spotlights. How'd you do that Kate?
ABSOLUTELY*KATE:  *Magic* ~ AT THE BIJOU the shows must go on  -- and your story, well, NCAA slam'dunk aside, it was FOOL-proof for Double*Feature debut. You're up on stage now 'Stina ~ Just go ahead, take the open mic and dance your soft shoe into folks hearts and minds. I know we already like your story-tellin' style.

CHRISTINA:  You're right ~ I am a storyteller as well as a lunatic, former supervillain and occasional human being posting poetry, prose, rants, and other goodies at my site Naps In The Library. Don't go down to the Library Basement unless you have your over 18 membership card, because inappropriate things happen in the basement. Every Wednesday and Sunday, my muse Amelia tells another piece of her story Interludes, for those who enjoy a good bout of wickedness with a criminal vampire. Sometimes I even remember to breathe.

ABSOLUTELY*KATE: Well keep breathin' and coming round AT THE BIJOU. Our writers' hits just keep on comin' too, sorta like Granderson's homer as his first at bat in the Yankees/Sox season opener. Uh, what's that contraption you got there?
CHRISTINA: Kate, I brought a gift for you and BIJOU fools and followers ~ Some folks are as jumpy as me without a caffeine fix so the Library is officially sponsoring a GIANT espresso machine to park right in the nice dark corner AT THE BIJOU I hear Carrie likes to hang out in ... and perhaps a crazy straw.
ABSOLUTELY*KATE: Hope that's not the last straw - we've got a full house on crazy around here.

CHRISTINA: You crazy theater folk. Thank you so much for letting me try my hand at the theatrics. I look forward to seeing more attractions AT THE BIJOU and I'm thrilled to thrill whenever there's a spot for me.

ABSOLUTELY*KATE: Christina, you are most welcome. Now that your espresso cup and your heartiness is full, enjoy a plush red velvet seat for the return of a BIJOU top act of renown, Jeanette Cheezum with an endearing Fool tale to tell.
CHRISTINA: Kate, I have to say, that even before I was officially in the playbill, you've made me feel so welcome and at home here AT THE BIJOU that I just want to curl up and stay here after library hours are up. Good thing you're looking to keep me, because I am absolutely planning to write anything your candy heart desires for as long as you'll have me. Jeanette, I have heard nothing but the finest praise about you, and I am beyond thrilled to make my debut with a feature beside someone so talented and respected! Carrie, I owe you a batch of cookies.
ABSOLUTELY*KATE: Uh, you're gonna get along well with the wise whimsical queen of our concessionaries too. Just bring her Milk Duds and you'll go far. You oughta share those cookies too. Folks are always hungry for more ~ AT THE BIJOU -- Sugar? Got someone here I'd like you to meet - -

Thanks Christina
for fooling around

~ Absolutely*Kate
and our fine staff of renown



Carrie Clevenger said...

Smashing debut Stina, plus Kate who has probably been up all night decorating the place. Her and my husband should play rummy some sleepless night. the way he tromps around the house like a a newborn calf.

Great story Christina, love your style and this is a great April "fool's" story for sure. Welcome the to The BIJOU, where Kate casts a spell on writers and keeps them bringing another offering to the plate.


Anonymous said...

Welcome, Christina, to or star filled theater. Don't be shy, we are no ship of fools. You spun a nice story here.

Marisa Birns said...

I followed Carrie in here and, yep, I'm glad I did.

Great storytelling going on here, Stina. Loved your debut contribution.

And the place looks so nice, Kate.

Paul D Brazill said...

'Raven hair so deep it sucked the warmth out of the candlelight and reflected it in her rich eyes. ' A lovely piece of writing.

Harry said...

Kinda reminds me of getting that fortune cookie that just says, "KABOOM!"
Paul D. landed on the same extra likeable line as me. Great debut Christina!

Anonymous said...

Thank you all so much! You Bijou folk know how to make a girl feel welcome! I'm so glad you've enjoyed my story. :)

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

"Something about the way the smoke seemed to swirl around her doorway drew me closer" ~ is just how your writing took me past seeing/sensing hungry flames a'flicker at the bonfire, into the temps and temptations of the rose-petaly reminiscent cave of pick-a-card-any-card promise. I leaned over your fool's shoulder and glimpsed the little black drawstring bag being pulled out ~ my intake of breath was rooting for the queen of cups or at least the benevolent tarot of knowledge, but you dealt this tale swell from a stacked deck.

Lovely swirls of phrases, descrip and entice-the-further dialogue. Interesting irony that the ultimate empty ("Of not believing in anything anymore.") brought in the fool. Applause to your serious fool-ish debut.

~ Absolutely*Kate, believing in believers (thankfully) ... and the fine staff of renown,

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

CARRIE ~ I'll lay rummy cards across the table with your latenight husband when my adrenaline is keeping me up for readying opening'day performances any time - just leave us out a pitcher of the Mexitinis and cookies - we'll need cookies too, to swap comments between discards and aces and jokers about you!

MARISSA ~ I've been noticing you slink around the theatre and then let out your good appreciative vibes many times. Why not open that big valise you carry and honour us with a showcase tale of your own? We'd love to have you AT THE BIJOU!

~ Absolutely*Kate

Laurita said...

Great story and a killer ending. An all-around fabulous debut - no fooling.

Stina said...

You folks are just the nicest people! I'm glad you all enjoy this style of storytelling, and that my ending worked! I toyed with that ending a fair amount. It's hard to tell when and where to break it off sometimes.