This is a continuation of the story Meeting Morningstar.
Juniper sat at the bar counter of the Pirates Pub nursing a whisky and thinking about all that had happened on that day. Another day had passed, the Visitation room showed no mercy for such a simple thing as Time! And when she went to bed tonight, tomorrow will present Halloween… and Oscar.
She played the experience like a movie in her head and watched it over and over and over for something more to present itself. For it to start making some semblance of sense.
**laughing** Why don’t you rather go get some sleep? This worrying is getting you nowhere.
I am always here, Juniper. Go to bed!
Juniper didn’t argue and dragged herself out of the pub and across the town of Crimson, to the House of Keahak and her bed.
Juniper awoke with a giggle. That tickles UA, she thought.
Are you ready for Halloween?
Juniper jolted upright in her bed! Oh no! She’d almost forgotten. No! No, I am not ready, she thought as panic started setting in.
Breathe Juniper! Juniper breathed and instantly settled down again.
Juniper got out of bed, walked to the window and opened the curtains, only to get another shock almost instantly! The sun was already hanging low on the horizon, the sunset was only a couple of hours away. UA! It’s already late! Why didn’t you wake me?
You’re going to need the extra rest. Tonight might be a long one. So you know what they say… if you love them let them sleep! UA’s giggle rang like a bell in the room.
But I haven’t even decided on a costume for tonight, she thought, as she sank into a heap on the floor.
Well, I was kind of hoping you would allow me the honour of imagining your costume for you…
I love Halloween!!! UA was practically gushing, so Juniper simply smiled and said, I allow.
Almost immediately the energy in the room changed… Stand, please.
Juniper got up off the floor and stood to face the mirror. Might as well watch the transformation, she thought.
What happened next could easily be imagined as a scene from an upcoming Tim Burton remake of Cinderella.
UA moved the imagining energy in spirals around Juniper, transforming her flannel pyjamas and bed hair. A full black velvet skirt reaching all the way to the floor appeared first. Juniper looked down and touched the exquisitely embroidered flowers on the skirt. The flowers took on the hues of autumn. Next came a crisp white off the shoulder blouse with a huge frill running along the neck. Around her waist appeared a belt corset of black leather. Say when…she heard as the corset started tightening and tightening… WHEN!
The finished product was great, but wasn’t really a costume, Juniper thought. Where are you going with this UA?
UA appeared nose to nose with Juniper. Close your eyes!
Juniper huffed but did as requested. A moment later she felt the tip of what felt like a paintbrush sweeping across her face, then another and another…. It tickles!! Hold on, nearly done! There…now you can look.
Juniper opened her eyes and hardly recognised herself…
Catrina Calavera, UA whispered in Juniper’s ear. Perfect, do you like it, Juniper?
Juniper was still staring at her own image in the mirror. Yes, I think I do, UA! Juniper smiled now, before turning to look out of the window. We’d better go then UA, wouldn’t want to make Oscar wait.
With a last look in the mirror, Juniper sashayed out of the House of Keahak. Interesting that a costume could have sashaying effects, but there you have it, she thought laughing as she walked. With the sun now preparing to set, lights started twinkling on all around her. Shaumbra take Halloween seriously; so you would struggle to find even a corner that didn’t have at the very least a strategically placed spider’s web; ripe for anyone trying to find a quiet corner to walk face first into it. Carved pumpkin faces lined the walkways, with a variety of expressions.
As she walked slowly through the forest she noted in the distance that a fog was starting to creep in from the edges. To encourage more eer in the eeriness, she thought giggling. I must be nervous, she thought as she reached the safety of her favourite oak tree. Breathe Juniper, she thought, as she absentmindedly reached out to lay her hand on the oak’s trunk. The energy of the tree enveloped her. I am an oak, she thought… and I exist and Oscar is waiting, so get on with it already! Juniper shook her head to clear it, then took another breathe, lovingly tapped the oak once more before moving out from its shadow into the clearing of the circular lawn.
As she walked to the Elder she found she was still sashaying… this stopped her in her tracks. Stop that, she thought. I am to chaperone Oscar, this is not a date for goodness sake. Taking another settling breath, she set off again towards the tree, this time focusing on seeing if Oscar was already there.
At first, she thought he hadn’t arrived, but then she saw the heap of rags just to the left of the tree. The heap was quite high almost a meter and it seemed to be breathing. Then he looked up and Juniper stopped dead in her tracks again. Oscar wasn’t dressed as a Pirate. Oscar was a Pirate! And it was frightening and dirty…. And oh dear… smelly!!! Juniper took a step back from the smell.
All this happened in a split second. As Juniper was acquainting herself with the smell, Oscar stood up, exposing more smell to the world. She fought against the urge to raise her hand to her nose…and lost. Now giggling, she turned her eyes to his and saw he was staring at her! And then… in the meeting of eyes and surprise, he morphed! First, the smell disappeared, then the dirty clothes and the grime on his face to be replaced with a perfectly matched appearance to her own. A black velvet suit with a crisp, white shirt and on his head a towering black top hat with flowers to match her own. His face painted to a skull.
With a bow, he said, “Catrina Calavera should be accompanied by a Calacas.”
Juniper had no idea what this meant, but it so didn’t matter as she was desperately trying to control her heart rate right now. “Charm!” she blurted. “Down!”
Oscar turned down the charm. “Better?”
Juniper breathed, “Better… Thank you. Sorry, it’s just you know… you’re very charming and it’s a tad unsettling, considering, eh.. you know!”
Oscar laughed! “You are a delight Juniper Tree! And yes, I do know. Please continue to let me know when I should turn it down!” he winked.
Juniper relaxed a bit and moved closer to Oscar. “The dreamwalk is about to start,” she said as Shaumbra from all over were gathering in the clearing around The Elder. Picnic blankets spread, baskets of Halloween appropriate snacks were shared, and of course, copious amounts of wine. This was Shaumbra after all.
Juniper found her Keahak friends under the pre-agreed upon Oak Tree. Like hell was she going to do this by herself, she had roped in TADAH!, Flow, Fantaghiró, Eleazar and Liebeslicht to help with the babysitting duty.
Immediately sinking down onto the awaiting blanket, she ushered Oscar to sit next to her, “Ladies, may I present to you, Oscar.” Oscar leaned forward to greet each of them in turn. Juniper noticed how he was turning up the charm with each handshake. Oh well, she thought, I tried. “Give me that bottle! And a glass, Flow!”
It was time for the Halloween dreamwalk.
Prof Adamus had taken centre stage. He just stood there, waiting. The gathering soon settled down, all eyes fixed on the professor. He closed his eyes and began:
Dreamwalk ended, Juniper found herself standing under the oak tree, the commotion of the ending of such a large gathering of Shaumbra was always a bit chaotic. And then you add all the visitors, fairies and the souls of beloved pets and you get the real meaning of chaotic.
Eventually, things cleared out as the night’s festivities were continued in other venues. The House of Keahak was hosting a party, open to all those on Theos. A rare occasion. The House was going to be the place to be tonight.
“Let’s go, we should get to House.” Juniper said to Oscar who had just finished saying goodbye to TADAH! in what could only be described as an alarmingly, conspiratory manner, considering TADAH!’s love of the practical joke.
Together they walked through the now “haunted” forest, it was a good start to the evening. When they reached the perimeter of the House, Juniper took Oscar’s hand, turned to him and said, “Let’s see if the House will let you in” and stepped rather dramatically across an invisible barrier. Nothing happened. “It appears you’re in!” Juniper couldn’t help but smile. At least in the House, Oscar would be … shall we say… contained. Nothing could possibly go wrong in the House.
They walked up the front steps, the doors of the House stood wide open. Keahakers from across time were all there, Brother John waved at her from the far end of the porch. Even Clemens was there, although Juniper noted, he wasn’t wearing a costume. Juniper relaxed some more leading Oscar up the stairs and into the extended arms of TADAH! In each hand a ridiculously large foaming, sparkling rainbow cocktail!
“Here!” she said as she shoved one in Juniper’s hand, and one in Oscar’s.
“TADAH! I’m not so sure that’s a good idea…” Juniper said as she tried to reach for Oscar’s cocktail before he could put the straw to his lips.
Oscar simply danced around Juniper as he lifted the glass to his lips, and drank the entire thing before ending the performance with a swift bow. It was all going so well, Juniper thought as she watched Oscar still in the bow position, tip over.
“You broke the devil!” Juniper said to TADAH! in a surprisingly calm voice.
TADAH! simply burst out laughing, “Oh he’ll be okay in a minute. Best not fall behind. Drink up, I’ve got the next one brewing in the back!”
Juniper looked at the frothing, sparkling cocktail in her hands, then moved her eyes onto the crumpled heap that was Oscar. This is going to be a very interesting evening, she thought, as she placed her lips to the straw and drank it all!
To be continued…