“Welcome back, Danny.”
“Um, glad to *be* back? Hmm.”
Plunger at side, he looks toward the open door.
Lapara. But soon: Astarte. What would happen?
Bettie/Tonshi and Buster had made it all the way down past the first falls now in their inner tubes. It was not Wednesday but it was time. Timmy Time.
They stood up. “What now my love?”
Buster told her his plan as the inner tubes vanished, one then another. “Follow me.”
“Hold on Tonshi!” he called through the floor.
“I’m going to have to start over, Bettie,” exclaimed an all wet Buster. “I got stuck in that rock down there under the bridge before.”
“I couldn’t see you. I thought you floated all the way down to the falls. Without me!”
“Nah, I wouldn’t do that.”
“You’re such a *bad* little man, hehe.” Buster’s cheeks turned slightly red. He rezzed the inner tube again just off the tiny island on the property of the Moai Shinto shrine and hopped in.
Soon: “Ahhh! Help Tonshi. I mean Bettie. It’s happening again. I’m *drowning*!”
Turns out this wouldn’t be the day they floated all the way down to the falls and entered the Lapara underground the secret way. They’d try again Wednesday.
For their 5th date, Nancy decides to take Danny to Collagesity, to dine at the exclusive Blue Feather Club. Bettie had told them of Baker Bloch’s open offer to come live here if they ever tire of Olde Lapara Towne. However, upon teleporting in, Danny becomes scared of what’s outside the window and tries to run away. He’s never seen an actual forest with real Linden trees before. They have to return to OLT.
“Don’t you ever get tired of eating cake and dessert?” Nancy asks.
Bettie and Buster sat, heads down, at another table in the Clownski establishment. Not praying, but just sharing an awkward moment. It was their first “date” in 771 years.
“We should eat the rosemary sprig that comes with our plates,” Buster then suggested. “Else we won’t get any vegetables tonight.”
“Where *am* I??”
“There, that’s better. Hi Rocky!”
“We found an Ickle,” the raccoon mumbles, half asleep.
“What’s that Rocky?”
His eyes open. “Two of them, Bettie. A blue one, then a green one. East and west. Directly.” He turns into the walking version of himself and goes to her. “Down there. Just in the other sim.”
“What are we waiting for?” she asks rhetorically.
“We wait,” states the raccoon.
“Rocky is playing a wonderful tune tonight. Cage, you say?”
“Yes. John,” answers Bettie. “‘Suite for Toy Piano.’ Debuted 1948 in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Not far from our user’s home. Very close, say, if it were 5, 6, 7 years down the road. If users are even around. We may be on our own by then. Us down here, alone with our actions, our consequences. Might be nice, Nancy. Just us, this town, its inhabitants. The Atoll Continent as a whole. Sansara can go to hell.”
Nancy frowns. “I don’t know. I like the old continent. We should go visit the climbable beanstalk (in Welsh) sometime.” Rocky’s piano tinkling ends and he gets up.
“Babble,” replied Bettie. Then: “Shush. The rant part of Rocky’s performance piece is starting. Let’s dance while he speaks.”
Each one of us must now look to himself. That which formerly held us together and gave meaning to our occupations was our belief in God. When we transferred this belief first to heroes, then to things, we began to walk our separate paths. That island that we have grown to think no longer exists to which we might have retreated to escape from the impact of the world, lies, as it ever did, within each one of our hearts. Towards that final tranquility, which today we so desperately need, any integrating occupation–music and writing are two of them, rightly used–can serve as a guide.