The Page

A tale of intimacy and loss

Category: Avatar

Stars

Misty Morning This evening, near the fire, as the storm rages again and a furious wind shakes the trees in the garden, I relive through the events of last year.

I should see myself as lucky: a beautiful and loving wife, a charming and ever so helpful sister, a handsome son. And there is Melissa: a tender ghost from my childhood, whose protector may be an alien from another galaxy. What more could a man wish? Moreover what more could a writer in quest of stories wish? In my mind I have revisited Gabrielle’s old house many times. But I have not been invited back yet: could it be that Melissa’s teacher has changed her mind?

Sarah has asked me the question, as only her could identify the most logical explanation for the charade: isn’t Gabrielle a good proxy for an older Melissa? I think not, whoever Gabrielle is, she is not Melissa, but her own “person”, from out of this world or not. We talked about this last night, Sarah’s view was that Gabrielle/Melissa explains quite a few remarkable facts about recent events: Gabrielle’s evident knowledge of the little town, of Melissa’s youth, her apparent control over Melissa’s actions, at least with regard to me, Julian. And so far I have only “really” met Gabrielle, with Melissa’s apparitions, either second hand, or as in a dream… It is true that I have only “seen” my friend through Gabrielle’s suggestions, or should I say under her influence?

So, as of last night, our conclusion is that we wait and see, as we have done so far. Sarah agrees that I should not seek to visit the house again without a clear invitation from either of them. As a matter of fact I don’t think I could even find the place again… The sky tonight is too cloudy to see Andromeda, so I am merely imagining that world, remembering the immense structure Gabrielle showed me that night: was it as old as the pyramids of Egypt? Older perhaps? I then remember what Gabrielle said about her, or her species’s presence on this world.

I did take a look at Melissa’s page though, and noticed that she and Jane, my sweet sis Jane, are now friends. There is even a picture of Jane, or rather of Jane’s avatar, in a building that looks like an art gallery. The strange thing is that I don’t think it’s on Chi: is it that Jane and Melissa have met again, elsewhere? Did Jane asked to be “added”? I will ask Jane when I next speak with her. And if I get a chance to see Gabrielle, or Melissa, I will ask them how they “edited” the screenshot Jane had taken of that beach.

As I look out of the bay window, listening to the rain falling in the night, battering the flower beds, I am thinking back of the old town, the narrow streets, the medieval houses… I am thinking of a girl waiting for me at the school gate.

Reflection

She comes to us whenever she is in the country: my sister never misses an opportunity to see me, and, perhaps, even closer to her heart, Sarah. But those visits are now far and few between, for Jane is a busy lady. So it is a real, deep pleasure to be with both of them tonight, soaking the warmth of the fire, admiring them, my mind slowly drifting to pink clouds and sunsets, helped by my whisky’s glass.

“The funny thing, Jane is saying, is that I did take pictures, several shots of the shore, where “she” was – and none of them came out: there is no-one there”.  She shows us several prints of a sandy beach in the sunset: the waves are leaking the sand, shiny silver beads with reflects of gold, nearby surfboards have been left, in good order, lined up to dry on the beach till the next day. Jane explains that Chi is a surfer’s paradise. Competitions are held there almost every week of the year. There is an entire community which is very active: young and beautiful residents who can express their passion at several spots around the island. “I came in through the main teleport, explains my sister, in the temple area. There was no-one around, or so I thought.” Sarah is listening, her sight firmly fixed on Jane’s lips, smiling.

“Then, I ask, how did you know she would be there?” Jane remains silent, reflecting, and after a few seconds, then says that she did not know, it just happened. “I walked along a little path that leads from a statue of the Buddha, on the edge of the forest, towards the beach. As I walk down a flight of steps I was looking at the sea and the sunset reflections. She was standing there, at the edge of the water, and she said that she had been there for some time. Maybe it was luck?” Sarah looks at me and asks: “Could it be that it has nothing to do with the phone call, Julian?” “Hardly, I reply, if it had been a chance encounter “she” would not have known Jane’s name”. “Besides, Jane agrees, “she” mentions you immediately.”

We remain silent, I look again at the beautiful beach on Jane’s pictures. After a while I become aware of the two of them chatting quietly: I must have drifted into some dream. “You must have friends there who know Julian, and that you are brother and sister, Sarah’s saying, so it may have been a silly prank. As to the pictures, those are screenshots, and what they show is that at the time you punch that key, there was no-one there. It must be explainable…” Jane remains silent. Suddenly it occurred to me that I may have exposed my sister, my beloved sister, to some danger. “Did you feel threatened?” I ask Jane in a quiet voice. “I got a fright when I first saw her, I did not expect to see anyone. And then “she” did not appear “solid”, more like a mirage, and “she” grew more tangible as we spoke.”

A bell chimes in the kitchen. “Dinner must be ready, says Sarah with a smile, Julian, have you got the wine sorted?” We laugh, and stand up, Jane hugs me tight, as if to reassure me…

We forget Chi and, at the table, chat amiably about Jane’s travels, our summer plans, and my novel. Jane wants to know about the plot, the characters, the style. Sarah smiles and tell her that she, Jane, must be in it, as the muse of the poet. Jane laughs: she is not sure she would qualify! Then Jane asks Sarah if she figures in the novel too. Sarah turns to me: “Only Julian can say about that” she teases. “I think they may be a few ghosts in there too” she adds and then kisses me on the cheek.

And then the phone rings. I hesitate, feeling Sarah’s gaze toward me. “Do you want me to answer?” she says after a time. “No, just now I don’t want anyone to disturb our evening”. And we continue chatting, and the caller quickly gives up.

Dinner was perfect, the wine sumptuous. We retire to the back room, facing the garden and the full moon. The fire is burning bright. In the quiet of the house, the only sound the logs crackling in the flames, as Sarah and Jane indulge in a chaste cuddle on the sofa, my anxiety of the past weeks leaves me. The cloud somehow dissolves in my mind. We can hear an owl hunting in the garden, near the oak trees, I expect a sharp frost tonight. I won’t visit Chi anytime soon. I am too old to learn surfing now…

A small island

She did it for her brother, as she could see he was anxious, without knowing why. So she came to Chi. She was aware of the location, a small island dedicated to meditation and peace, open to surfers and the devoted. Once she had visited a temple there, with a friend.

Hesitantly she looked up towards the statue, the dark bronze of the goddess, dominating this corner of the island. In front of her the jungle. Behind her she could hear the distant sound of waves. Now she forced herself to walk towards the shore, her bare feet light on the cold stones, smooth and ancient, polished by centuries of footsteps. She was feeling the evening chill through her light dress. On both sides of her stood statues and small temples. A torch was burning at the end of the path, below a tall wooden portal. Steps led down to the beach. Near the portal she saw a small teleport. She walked down the steps, soon feeling the sand still warm under her feet. The sun was now a red disk low on the horizon. She heard the waves crashing on the shore: big rollers that the surfers must enjoy riding during the day… She walked a bit further, now in semi darkness, shivered a little… She was on her own, or so she thought. She let her eyes adapt to the obscurity around her. Then she saw the dark silhouette, on the water edge, a hooded figure, immobile and softly shimmering in the dying light…

“Come closer Jane ” said a woman voice, as if from a far distance behind the hooded shape. Jane  felt a sense of dread but obeyed, as if in a dream. She saw a tall woman wrapped in a black robe, who soon lifted her hood a little. A mass of red hair framed a beautiful sombre face still in the shadow. Jane saw the eyes, fixed on her: a deep darkness, black on black, absorbing all light. The woman smiled, Jane was petrified. Who was that woman? Her brother had been so unspecific.

She was aware of a small fire burning brightly further down the beach, in the distance. Looking up she saw the woman’s eyes, now two soft emerald orbs. The face was smiling, a woman’s gentle smile, and looking deep in Jane’s eyes. Jane observed the full lips. Gathering her courage she said: “ That’s a cool avatar you got there, but you really frightened me”

Silence followed. Seconds, then perhaps minutes passed. The voice suddenly said: “It was not my intention to frighten you, you see, I have been standing here for sometime. But I will share a secret with you, Jane: this is not my avatar, it is me”.  And then she added: “You should know your brother and I were once very close, a long time ago.”  Jane realised the shape looked now more solid, more human. The woman moves slowly closer to Jane. “Is it you who are stalking my brother?” Jane daring to ask. Those bright emerald eyes were now close to Jane’s face.

“My name is Melissa” the woman said, smiling. “Your brother and I have a date, are you his messenger?”