Here is the beginning of Purnima (Book 7 of Waldmeer)!
Seeing the Totality
A full moon evening, late in May, in Waldmeer:
Purnima means full moon. Full moons are auspicious occasions for new beginnings, and so we begin; again. Merlyn and Gabriel stood awkwardly at the entrance of Twenty Mile Track. Awkward because they barely knew each other, and this seemed too big an adventure for virtual strangers. Nevertheless, there they were, brought together by some unknown force.
“Weak latte (no sugar). Hot chocolate,” yelled the Waldmeer barista.
Merlyn grabbed her coffee and headed for the door. They put sugar in my coffee, she thought as she sipped it. Hang on,that’s not sweet coffee. It’s hot chocolate. The orders have been muddled.Oh, well, it tastes delicious. She thenturned her thoughts to the recipient of her latte who would be missing their own order of hot chocolate. Looking around for a likely suspect, she easily spotted a woman, about her age, staring at her drink. Merlyn wondered what her reaction would be. The woman seemed to be weighing up the benefits of caffeine versus sugar and, like Merlyn, decided to go with the flow. Merlyn then realised that the mixed-drink-recipient was Esther, the psychologist.
It was Monday morning. As Ben walked through the glass doors of the State Ballet building, he came across one of the older professionals of the company, a friend of many years.
“Morning, Ben,” said the man. “How’s Store Creek going?”
“Morning,” said Ben. “Fine. I suppose.”
Truth be told, two weekends had passed since Ben had seen Merlyn. More, he hadn’t even spoken to her. Nor had he messaged. Every day, if not many times a day, he checked his messages to see if she had messaged him. She hadn’t.
Seeing the look on Ben’s face, his friend said tentatively, “Look, buddy, I thought you were back together but if things aren’t going quite to plan, I have a suggestion.” He waited to see Ben’s reaction. As there was no obvious displeasure from Ben about a suggestion, he continued, “The missus and I have had our ups and downs over the years. I think most people think that we have been very fortunate with our marriage and we have been but, the thing is, everyone has their problems. God knows, we’ve had many.”
After six months of living in Store Creek with the cold weather, it was good to finally arrive at spring’s doorstep. Merlyn wondered if that was why Ben had decided to visit today. He said it was a rental inspection. But that was just a joke. At least, Merlyn hoped it was a joke. Although it was two years since their separation, they had been married for three years. Nothing needed inspecting.
Spring had come and gone in Waldmeer and it was well into summer. As Waldmeer is in the Southern Hemisphere, summer carries with it a new year. Gabriel and Aristotle were travelling in the car to Waldmeer from Gabriel’s apartment in Darnall. It was Aristotle’s idea. Gabriel didn’t like going to Waldmeer anymore. Since Amira had mysteriously disappeared in early spring and her nasty cousin, Eve, had taken over the house, the whole of Waldmeer felt different. It was as if a light had gone out and a dark cloud had spread over the town. Nevertheless, Aristotle wanted to visit, so Gabriel said yes. Gabriel said yes to almost everything Aristotle wanted. They had been inseparable buddies for the last three months even though Aristotle was only twelve and Gabriel was forty. Aristotle was probably the child Gabriel had never had. What an exceptional child he was – intelligent, kind, quick-witted, and altogether delightful to be around. When Gabriel looked at Aristotle, a thought often popped into his mind – Look after my boy. He could not remember that they were Lady Faith’s parting words when he and Aristotle entered the frame which transported them from Borderfirma to Waldmeer.
Two months had passed. It was still winter but no one in Gabriel and Amira’s Dementia Unit dance class was cold. Everyone was hot and pumping jive. The class had come to an equilibrium of its own accord. Gabriel was given notes from the “proper” dance instructors, although, somewhat begrudgingly. The notes were enough to give a loose direction and Wolfgang and Madeline would demonstrate the technical elements of each dance for anyone interested. Although Madeline’s mind could not remember the technique, her body remembered perfectly well the movements she had practised for so many years. Lacking in technical knowledge, Gabriel and Amira decided to go with transferring the feeling of each dance and giving their students an immersive experience. Basically, all that meant was turning the music up and dancing enthusiastically with the class members in, more or less, the appropriate style.
A few years ago, when Amira first returned to Waldmeer from Eraldus, she had an unfortunate experience with a Waldmeer couple, Oswald and Billy. They were domestic and business partners and owned the upmarket Hattery in the main street of Waldmeer. It wasn’t exactly in the main shopping strip. A narrow path between the brick walls of two buildings led to a plain, black door which was the entrance to the exclusive shop. It didn’t have a sign.
In Long Hill, at the entrance of the Outer Circle (interdimensional):
“When you enter the Outer Circle,” said Lan-Lan to Vera, “the most pressing problem is recall. On moving into its atmosphere, you will forget who you are and why you are there.”
“If I cannot remember who I am, I will be very vulnerable,” said Vera as she backed away from the entrance at the top of Long Hill.
“Don’t worry,” said Lan-Lan. “The loss of memory is only partial. If you can grasp onto some of it, its return will be hastened.” He stepped through the archway into the Outer Circle saying, “I will be with you.”
Vera glanced backwards to Long Hill but, instead of being inviting, it looked misty and impenetrable. She recalled Mullum-Mullum’s initial instructions,
Think not you can return on the path that leads to the fork. Taken once, it disappears as the choice lies ahead.