Voices on the Wind
School was good that day (read: no horrible maths assignments and no horrible encounters with Samantha and her likes) and my sunny mood continued. I really felt like I could do anything. Apart from possibly striking up a conversation with Jason. Which may have been part of my intention that morning, but so far intuition had eluded me of how to do it. My aunts would say I had too much ego in the way, but it’s not like Jason is that easy to strike up a conversation with. Fate always seems to give my aunts an opportunity to do what they desire, but I assume they are light years ahead of me in the intuitive department. They know that what they want is coming from the heart and then they use intuition to get it. Me? I don’t know if I like Jason because my ego is into him (i.e. what aunt Agatha calls “a match for who you were moulded into being by circumstances as a child” — she’s big on psychology speak), or my heart likes him. Not the faintest. I mean I like the way I feel when he walks in the door. Or I hate the way I feel when he walks in the door as I go all gooey inside…but I’m weirdly addicted to the feeling too…
My aunts also always tell me that intuition and whatever forces above will only guide you so far — it will give you an opportunity for something, like being noticed by Jason, but it won’t make Jason like you. The only way of doing that is mind control and my aunts aren’t particularly fond of that. Black magic. They are pro learning social skills to an extent (aunt Jenna has followed the pick-up movement with great interest, for example), but once you take it too far, they object (which is why aunt Jenna, when she was about 75, started writing angry letters to some pick-up artists, after making great friends with others in L.A.…yes, she really did go to L.A. to meet pick-up artists in her seventies!).
I never really got into studying the pick-up artists’ techniques, which probably explains why I can’t strike up conversations with people like Jason.
After classes were over for the day, Johanna and I headed to drama club, which, suitably, takes place in the school theatre. I love the theatre because plays capture so many lives; watching a play is like a looking glass into history (and the present, I suppose if anyone can write about it, but the present only tends to make sense once it becomes the past). The darkness of the theatre, the red curtains, the smoke machines…it’s all so…theatrical. Doh. But I like that. Maybe because my aunts are all quite dramatic — I guess I have a dramatic streak somewhere. I just never brought much attention to me in life.
“Look,” Johanna nudged me as we walked into the theatre. Jason and Elbert were standing further down the corridor, caught in some conversation, or other. Jason wasn’t part of the drama club, but Elbert was. Johanna wasn’t really that interested in drama, only in making costumes and being near Elbert.
We went inside and sat down in one of the many rows of red velvet chairs. Apparently we were the first to arrive. A few moments later Elbert joined us.
“Hey guys,” he said and sat down next to Johanna, who had the seat closest to the aisle. “Have you decided what play to vote for?”
We were doing Shakespeare this term and had spent the first part of the term reading some of the plays aloud and learning to understand the language. Shakespeare is actually really entertaining once you understand what he is saying. It’s just the little matter of doing that. Thankfully there’s an app for it.
“Romeo and Juliet,” I sighed dreamily at the same time as Johanna said: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Elbert slightly raised one eyebrow at this.
“So one of you like comedies of errors and the other romantic tragedies?” He smiled, as if silently congratulating himself on having figured out who we truly are.
“I’d go for Macbeth just for the scene with the witches,” Johanna said. “But I think it’s a long and pretty boring play. Much more fun with comedy. And I’d prefer to make the costumes for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” She shrugged her shoulders. “What will you vote for?” she asked him, trying to sound nonchalant, while clearly dying to get an insight into his psyche.
“As You Like It,” Elbert replied, leaning back in his seat. “I would like to play Touchstone. A Midsummer Night’s Dream wouldn’t be bad either if I got to play Puck. I just want the chance of getting some magic tricks in there.”
“Cool,” Johanna nodded. “We could create a special costume to allow for magic tricks if needed.”
“Yeah, that’d be awesome. I could design some new tricks.” Just as Elbert started getting excited, Mr Harvey, our drama teacher, walked in and quieted everyone, because as we’d spoken the theatre had started filling up. Johanna shot me an annoyed glance, but her tête-a-tête with Elbert was officially over.
Apart from Johanna’s chat with Elbert, nothing important happened that day in drama club. That’s to say, if you don’t count Romeo and Juliet being chosen as the play and I as Juliet. I don’t know how it happened, but it did. Johanna was thrilled to style me in the main part; Elbert was thrilled about the masquerade ball scene where he could act a magician; and I was petrified about acting a character in love in front of the whole school.
After drama was over (and it had really felt like drama today) I went to the library to study. I was really happy to get lost in my physics book where everything was straightforward. It followed scientific laws. I almost entirely stopped thinking about what people would think of me acting Juliet. Almost.
Eventually, I had to abandon my physics book as it was getting dark and it was time to head home for dinner.
I unlocked my bike, parked outside the library, got on it and slowly started biking. I enjoyed this time of day here — as twilight gave way to the night the street lights came on and the park glowed in an almost surreal light. It was kind of like stepping into a fairytale. Especially in fall with all the trees turning orange and red.
Today there was fog hovering about as well. It drifted in like slivers of silver and floated around the park. The streetlights themselves, with their yellow glow, were made out of cast iron and shaped like dragons breathing light. It was truly a breathtaking sight.
For some reason, the park felt more surreal than normal. Maybe I was in a dreamlike state of mind, Juliet and all, or maybe there was something in the air.
Suddenly a gentle wind stirred the trees; a rain of different colored leaves fell down and some swirled just above the ground, as if in a dance. It gave me goosebumps. It was so beautiful. Then, as I looked ahead into the mist at the edge of some trees, I could have sworn I saw a dragon, looking just like the ones on the streetlights, moving.
Startled, I looked away, thinking I must have gotten dizzy, which had made a streetlight appear to be moving. Looking again, I couldn’t see anything, but I heard a strange noise coming from where the trees were. The wind. It had to be the wind rattling the leaves again. Only everything else appeared still. And it didn’t sound like leaves moving, more like a sing-song sort of melody… I tried to sharpen my ears, but then a real gust of wind came and all I could hear was the rattling of the leaves.
Without really thinking, I started to bike faster. I felt safe in the park; I didn’t feel threatened by what I had imagined seeing and hearing, but there was definitively something in the air and being a Westwind I’d learned to listen to my intuition. Dangerous or not, I didn’t feel like exploring it right now. It was time to go home.
It was cold by the time I got to the cottage — I could practically smell the dampness of fall in the air; a mixture of rotting leaves, moss, pine needles and earth — and I was pleased to open the door and step into the warmth.
Stepping into Westgate Cottage in fall can probably be described as a magical experience in and of itself. There’s invariably a fire burning in the fireplace in the living room. One of my aunts is usually in the kitchen, brewing some great smelling tea, or concoction (sometimes more medicinal and, uhm, less great smelling). If not, they’re cooking, or Hetty is baking something delicious.
For me coming home is like walking into a warm embrace. The warmth stemming from the care coming from my aunts and uncles. I miss my parents sometimes, or maybe more the idea of having parents, as I can’t remember them much, but my aunts and uncles are my family.
Today I was more relieved than ever coming home. I had enjoyed my bike ride — I’d even enjoyed the magic feeling in the park — but I was still feeling unsettled from it. And if not from that, then from the idea of Juliet.
Stepping inside I wasn’t only greeted by warmth and the welcoming scent of the fire, but also by the sound of jazz music. That old style jazz music that you’d imagine floating out of jazz joints in some backstreet in New York, or New Orleans, back in 1930, or so.
Standing in the hallway, listening to the music and enjoying the warmth, I almost felt transported to another time and place. I could see the dancers in front of me, the tables filled with people, the smoke filling the air…
It was funny, I mused. Twice in the same night I’d felt as if the atmosphere was so intense I was in another place, or in a fairytale.
“Hello, anyone home?” I shouted, well aware that if no one was in the kitchen, they wouldn’t hear me. Getting no reply, I walked into the living room. There, much to my surprise, I found a woman dressed in old fashion clothes, playing the piano.