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Midnight Magic

Chapter 1: The Rythm of the Dance

By Ellen StedfeldPublished about a year ago 4 min read
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The melodies of our midnight dawning

Every night at midnight, the purple clouds came out to dance with the blushing sky.

That was the time when barriers were thinnest between the solid and spirit realms, between past, present, and future scenes. You could hear voices sometimes, of those who had passed on. Feel the warm embrace of a love from long ago. And places, if you wanted to travel between spaces, whisked amongst worlds and amidst existances, that was the ideal opportunity... though there was no guarantee you'd return wholly yourself or roost in quite the same nest as where you'd left.

Midnight, every night. My family used to climb onto the rooftop, and sit to witness the spectacle together. As many others did, where against the rosy glow overhead we could see the shadowy figures of our neighbors, visitors and guests, gathered in small clusters on the rooves and balconies nearby. Observing the lights of the sky, mist swirling and sparkling in the distance. A time to watch, to remember, think of where you'd been and would eventually be, and if you dared - to dance. When a tendril of smoke would brush by, fluttering our hair and dropping sparkles like snowflakes, it was a breathtaking moment, raising a song to your throat and a rhythm to fingers and feet. We would hum and sway, bring out small instruments to play, and could often lure a spirit's trail to swirl and turn before us. But if you chose to dance, oh that's when you could get swept away. Only those who had learned to glide and guide the magic of it dared to join in the dance.

In the day, the streets were full of cars and carts, congested marketplaces, the mundane concerns of living moment to moment. You might think it was like any town beside it. Unless you lived here, or knew where to look. We had our tourists for sure, and our travelers. A sunlit trading point for those who came from afar, but a nighttime transit hub for those who hailed from even farther. Most people had a role to fill in the day, residents settled into their jobs and homes, and the night's array of lights were simply a joy baked into our ordinary lives. But for me, it was always enthralling.

I was careful but confident now, as I leapt from roof to roof, along ledges. With my melodious flute and billowing cloak, I could call and weave small gusts of the magic winds around me at will, summon them to hold me aloft in the spaces one might normally fall. I could find the best views of the glowing midnight festival, see it featured and framed from a different angle every night. I was learning the steps along the way. There were glimmers of other worlds around the edges, shifting movements in the periphery of my vision. Someday soon, I would travel.

"But where will you go?" my cousin asked. We stretched our feet on the balcony's banister, dining and chatting as we savored the fresh evening air. She'd recently opened a shop in the town square, and it was already getting busy with customers, a bustling business that would surely keep her here for years. It was evident how much joy she'd gleaned from a long fruitful day of work. We both loved our home, but she chose to put down roots, slipping her bits of magic into calming chimes and gleaming pottery to brighten people's days, while I couldn't imagine staying in one place for very long, not when there were so many potential adventures within such a short reach. I couldn't even sit still. My toes were already tapping the rhythm. Through my glasses, I could see the ebb and flow of violet energy like gentle waves, even throughout the day. I took them off and wiped the wide round lenses, so I could focus on her face.

This was her destination, already found, and her future set before her. I didn't know mine quite yet, but I didn't need to. "I just need to be ready. And when the time is right..."

She gave me a big hug. "Wherever and whenever you go, in case you don't have a chance to properly say goodbye, be sure to take my love with you." Then she slipped a small box into my hands, carved of wood and inset with colorful ceramic tiles and stones. One of her handicrafts, as small piece of home. When I opened it, the inside was a compass. "So no matter how far, you'll never be completely lost."

"Thanks," I said, wiping a tear and hugging her again. "I don't have anything I can give you, but I'll play you a song." Just as the purple clouds dawned in the midnight sky, as we watched them for what might be the last time together, I composed her a tune on my flute. We started singing into it some lyrics, about the coming and going of the tides, of the times, and through these ever-shifting waters, of the steadfast rock of enduring love. Even as I stayed on the balcony ledge, and she waved from the warmly lit doorway, going to get ready for bed before a long day at the shop, I could hear her humming its tune as she went down the stairs. Like everyone else, I watched clouds and sky swoon in their exquisite dance for awhile longer, then got to my feet.

Young AdultFantasyfamilyExcerpt
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About the Creator

Ellen Stedfeld

Perpetually immersed in drawing, illustration, and creative experiments, at live events and @EllesaurArts.com

Community arts in NYC/Queens -- LIC Arts Open festival May 15-19th 2024

Love participating in challenges to motivate new work!

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