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Scene Title Moonlight
Synopsis Hokuto Ichihara invades the dreams of her houseguest…
Date October 1, 2009

Vague impressions of trees in firelight greet the perception. A golden-red light is over everything. Perceptions shift and flow as if made of water, or quicksilver. People and music and the lights swirl together to create a confusion of images. Tzigane is in the center of it, things swirling around her as she sits and tries to make sense of things. The only stable and non-shifting thing is her perception of herself.

At least in the way anything is stable amidst firelight. The particular glow of hot embers and licking tongues of flame against a backdrop of black creates stark, dancing shadows. Bare bark and foliage-laden branches hang low, and in the gloomy depths between the knotted bark of old, lichen-covered trees, an indistinct figure observes the misdirection of light and shadow. In a way she belongs here, but yet is still more intruder than not.

The black she wears blends soundly into the shadows, that same inky coloration of night that the spaces between the trees offer. What stands out, especially against the firelight and shadow, is the soft patches of snow white fabric that trim the hem and collar of the unusual robe the intruder wears. A wide cloth sash winds around the waist, folded into a flat bow in the back, and nearly parchment pale skin seems almost as fair against the dark, save for the framing of black ink strokes of dark hair, and a blindfold of equally dark cloth over her eyes.

Yet despite — or perhaps by dream-logic because of — the blindfold, she takes a too-silent step forward, wooden sandals making no noise despite crunching down on deadfall at her feet. One pale hand slides out from within a voluminous sleeve, brushing against the bark of one tree, her face turned towards the source of the firelight, and the one truly discernable form beyond.

Stepping into the circle, Hokuto is surrounded by confusion and disorder.. swirling colors and impressions of people, yet you see no human beings. Bears and flames and flowers and china dolls… each with a name, each with a clinging feeling of security and love and home. For all the chaos, this is home. The names are intuited, rather than spoken, and voices blend in a cacophony of sound that drowns out everything else around Hokuto. And in the center, in a little circle of calm, sits Tzigane, looking at the swirl and smiling.

Indistinct, difficult to read and see, for all of it the dreamer looks perplexed, but the crook of her lips does not quite match the furrow of her partly hidden brows. She is amused in equal measure of confused, and her emergence from within the treeline comes with a swish of that dark fabric of her robe around her legs, sandals crunching down the branches as she walks, now suddenly offering up their sounds to the popping crackle of flames, like a two-part harmony of natural noise.

Hokuto's head downturns, blindfolded eyes focused on the dolls, flowers, flames. She's silent still, for a time, watching Tzigane's calm complacency and serenity. Then, it becomes her turn to step into the swirl of chaos. Like a downdraft of air parting a great thunderhead, she pushes thorugh the blurred haze of indistinct forms, distant voices and jumbled sounds. They blur, bend and flow around her the way water flows around a stone cast into a river. Her smile changes from wry amusement, to one of warmth, a more gentle and understanding expression.

Coming to stand beside Tzigane, Hokuto folds her pale hands within the deep sleeves of her robe, shoulders rolling forward as her head tilts down, a lock of dark hair coming to hang in front of her shrouded eyes. "This is home?" She asks in a hushed voice, one that despite its lowered tone undercuts the susurrus of other ephemeral voices. "For you?"

There is no surprise in her voice, or in her manner. '"Yes." she says quietly, still smiling. She points, "Papa and Mama, my brothers, my sister…" Each is pointed out, and each dips out of the circling as his or her title is called, no names, though. The names are there, just out of perception, still intuited, there but -not-. Tzigane doesn't seem to be as chatty here as she is everywhere else. Not as hyper, not as … something. Something different, but the same? The feeling is confusion. This is where she wants to stay, but she can't, yet she is here now, but something is wrong?

The smile turns bittersweet as Hokuto watches the images pass by, her hands moving to pull up the hem of her robe slightly to allow a graceful fold of her body to kneel down on the ground, hands folded in her lap, sitting on her heels. "They're a wonderful family…" she intones in that quiet voice, pale gray lips returning to that bittersweet uncertainty after silence comes.

But when Hokuto's head cants to the side, focus shifting from the figments to Tzigane beside her, that furrow of her dark brows deepens some. "If you cling too tightly to the past— afraid to let it turn to smoke between your fingers— you won't ever have hands to hold the good things of the present with." It's not something the dreamer needs to explain in words, the suggestion is there; not quite let go but more step back. "I keep my parents close by as well," one pale hand moves to to settle at her chest, "I lost them both…" for a moment, darker and more unfamiliar shapes dance thorugh the blur, long black hair, a man in a suit, nothing distinct, "…just three short years ago. I still have trouble, at times, dealing with the idea that they're gone from my life."

With her voice taking on a distant quality, Hokuto turns towards the glow of the fire, hands folding in her lap again. "I don't think I could ever let my mother or father go— not wholly. It wouldn't be true to them, or myself. But neither can I be weighed down by their memory, unable to take up root from the past they belong to now, and that I've moved on from. If… that makes sense."

The shapes continue to dance around, noises, voices, music of fiddle and guitar and harp. Tzigane doesn't move her eyes away. "Don't have a choice really. They are gone, I am alone." she shrugs and watches, smiling still. "Not our way to hang on. Everything is gone." And as if to illustrate the point, the smoke and confusion of voices and images vanish. She is left alone, in the dark. Hokuto can still see, in that contradictory way of dreams, but the light is gone. No more fire, no more warmth, no more home.

One dark brow lifts slowly, Hokuto's head quicking to the side where she submerges into the black of the dream. Seeing, but not seeing, being, but not being — she sublimates into the gloom, re-emerging behind Tzigane in a standing position, pale hands down on her shoulders. "You're only alone, because you're looking backwards." Her tone of voice has something matronly to it, chiding in that gentle way a mother can be. "Turn around."

The order is simple enough, and even before the suggestive motion is completed, lights begin to come on again. Warm like the firelight, but higher and more constant. The glow of the filiments of ceiling lights casts a warm golden glow down on the old, wooden bookshelves and musty hardcovers and softcovers lining them. The hardwood floor is scraped and scuffed, and the blurry shapes of industinct pedestrians browse past the large bay windows.

"If I do recall," Hokuto says with that soft, guiding tone, "you're not alone. Not unless something happened to me, that I'm not quite aware of." The teasing remains, along with a gentle squeeze of her hands on those shoulders, and the shop begins to fill with motion and life all its own. The faces and forms of customers are nothign but speeding blurs, but Tzigane sees herself, seated on the high stool behind the front counter, chin resting in the palms of her hands in the warm light of an autumnal afternoon.

"Lonliness is like silence, it only persists where it is allowed to. Silence abides the noise of laughter, of life, and so does lonliness. I put myself away from the reach of people, after my family passed, but the distance puts me at ease." Now, the dark forest behind is gone, replaces with the open back door of the bookstore and the paved back lot where Tzigane's old van resides. "But from time to time, I tend to take in a stray or two. Provided they need to find their way." Her hand moves, swiftly, producing a piece of card-stock in one hand that displays the image of a robed figure with a hunched back. The title card below it reads, The Hermit. "Think of the Fool's journey. This card— " she turns it over, showing the back pattern, then snaps it around again to reveal that the image has changed. Where once was the hermit, now is a shining yellow moon flanked by a pair of towers, with a dog baying up at it. The card is marked with the Roman numeral XVIII and is titled The Moon.

Hokuto offers it out, one brow raised slowly. "Find your illusions, your spark of creativity. Let this place," she gestures around at the bookstore, "for as long or as short a time as you wish it— replace the lonliness with your mind's desires. Here, and in waking. The world — Tzigane — is often what you make of it."

Tzigane blinks, "I … am a stray?" She seems to find this disturbing. "Animals are strays.. I am a stray?" She looks to the card, "I know this. I make my own reality— I… don't understand." She looks to Hokuto again, this time and the confusion is back. "I am no stray. I am Romany. I do not need illusions. I am the illusion." Then, she smiles again, sadly. "It is how we survive."

There's just a smile, no real answer, "Strays are wanderers," her hands finally come from Tzigane's shoulders, "people can be strays too. Strayed from a path, or those yet to have found one. The metaphor fits more than most realize. Then, quietly, Hokuto tracks her way across the store as an unnatural darkness falls on the street outside. Clouds of ink darken the windows, making a sea of pitch blackness beyond snuff out anything visible. Turning slowly, the dreamer rests her hand on the doorknob of the front door, watchinf Tzigane carefully. "The Moon is all about illusions, personal or otherwise. What you choose as your reality, can change. If you choose to be alone, so you will be alone, if you choose to allow others in— " she shrugs one shoulder, and turns the doorknob, pushing the door open to reveal not the street outside, but the empty and desolate clearing in the woods with the burned out fire pit smoldering duskily beyond the treeline.

"You make your own world, just as you said. You can either choose to stay the course, and return to what you know…" Hokuto nods her head to the unlit woods, "or you can choose a different course, take a risk… and see where the cards fall." Moving to the side, away from the door, Hokuto quirks her head to the side and arches one brow.

"What I'm saying is… You can learn to trust, and to move on. But only you," she nods to Tzigane, or the card — it's hard to say which — "can decide. So…"

The look of momentary hope on Hokuto's face falters some, brows furrowed as she watches Tzigane. But then, she merely gives her head a small shake. "Everything can change," she adds in a less than helpful cryptic tone. She motions to the door, to that lonely, dark place within the trees as the fire flickers back up, alights with the swirling chaos of memories, people and places just beyond the threshhold. "If that life, is what brings you happiness, then I will not attempts to sway you from it."

Gesturing into the doorway, Hokuto's brows crease together behind her blindfold. "Go be with them, and the world you've made for yourself. If ever that fire dims, though, if ever the shadows behind those trees grow too dark, and the warmth too cool— know that I am what you see. The world is the illusion, to me, and I am exactly as I show to you. I needn't be anyone else."

Tzigane actually laughs, "You think— Wait. I don't know what you want of me, but I do as I please. I could join a kumpania, I could marry." she shrugs, "I do not because I do not wish to. I am Romany, but … I struck out on my own. This is… well, not really usual. I wish to be alone. I wish to be as I am." She shrugs a bit, "For now. If I remember my family, then I do. If I remember my home, my old self, then I will do so. What do you wish of me?? Why … are you doing this?" To her, that clearing isn't lonely. It isn't anything. It just is. Just as she is.

"I want what anyone wants," Hokuto admits with arms folded and head bowed, "for those without true happiness to find it. To find it for themselves, or for others. You said you were alone," the fire beyond the doorway flickers softly, "I offered you a chance to change that. Here, in this place, unconditionally. I cannot ever hope to replace your real family, but if a place to belong is what you seek, or a place where you can be accepted and treated like family…" Hokuto is silent for that moment, allowing the notion to roll around inside of Tzigane's head, "That is what I offer."

"I do for others, as I would have wanted done for me in their stead. I offer a chance at change, but I do not expect it, or force it. "You said yourself, you are alone. I contested the point, to show you this place… where it could be different. But," her brows rise, and she begins to walk, this time past Tzigane and towards the back door, leaving that door of choice across the front of the store open to her, "you are what you are."

Tzigane sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose. "Is that all?" she shakes her head, smiling. "I still do not understand why you feel this was necessary? I am Romany. To be Romany among gaje is to be alone. I have to explain everything." She smirks. "I am here. What more do you wish? I do not lie to you. You want me to lie? I don't understand gaje sometimes…" still shaking her head she turns to go back out the back door. "you wish to be family. You cannot be. Family … you do not have to explain why certain things just are. I would not have to explain to my people why there are two bath bags in the basket I bring to shower. I would not have to explain why I will not read cards indoors. I would be understood if I cursed in my own language.' she throws up her hands as she turns to face Hokuto. "You cannot. Just as I cannot understand you. You can be my friend, you can be close. But you are gaje. You can't understand."

Tilting her head to the side, Hokuto keeps her back to Tzigane, shoulders rolled forward and arms crossed over her chest. When she does turn, it's only her head and only subtly, affording a slim view of her profile to the Romani girl. "You are what you are," Hokuto notes in a quiet voice, "the rest may not ever be as obvious to you. But I welcome you to it," whatever it is, "That, as you say, is all. As for why this," she looks around the library, then over to the door, "is necessary?"

Hokuto's smile turns somewhat impish, "You're right, it's not easy to understand me…" one dark brow continues to rise higher than the other, "but I welcome you to it."

There are two things an 18 year old girl knows implicitly. The first is that she'll never die. The second is that she is the bearer of all knowledge, of everything, especially what is good for her. "Uh… huh." is her eloquent response to that. She throws her hands up as she turns to head back to her vardo and what she considers to be the night's rest. "Gaje si dilo…." is heard as she shakes her head, chuckling.

And that leaves Hokuto standing amidst the towering stacks of too-tall bookshelves that do not quite match their real world counterparts. Her brows furrow in thought, arms drawing closer together, and like a card-trick of some roadside charlatan, she produces The Moon with a flick of her wrist, turning the card over and over between her fingers before folding it back into her palm again. Her sightless stare turns towards Tzigane's retreating form, and the illusion of comfort it offers in the conversation's end.

"Tomorrow will be another day," she says quietly, then turns to look towards the open door and the hcoice left untaken. Her head quirks to the side, subtly, and the door slams shut.

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