From the famed Nepenthe Gate at the southern edge of Rosehaven, Princess Merry Gouldbusk stared out at the void separating her almost-queedom and
Caledon Caledonia. She thought about the rising water that would result in the re-merger. Tomorrow! “2 meters, Sandy. What harm could be done? I can re-terraform the little coastline that might be flooded.”
“None atall, my dear,” spoke Herbert Dune behind her, ignoring the botched name again. I’m still under contract! the actor screamed in his mind, however. *Herbert*. Herbert Dune. Dummkopf.
The actor playing Merry Gouldbusk realized her gaff. “Oh, let me start again on that.” She turned toward the camera. “Can I just start again?” Her face was turning red.
“Well. I guess we’ll *have* to now,” groused Sandy, thinking the name could have been voiced over in post-production later on, along with a good number of other mistakes made by his co-star only in the last several days. But not now. And time was short… the snow was almost gone! But he must *affect* love again. Because Herbert Dune truly loves his soon-to-be Queen. The actor playing Herbert Dune despises the actor playing Merry Gouldbusk, though: one Lilly Frame, fresh off the bus from Ontario. That was a little disguised fact.
Director Eraserhead Man sets the scene again.
Cameraman Blinky was ready to roll. “And… action!”
“2 meters, Sandy… oops!”
It took them half a day to reach another of those clear spaces where they could make enough sense to each other for more of the story.
“A railroad oval. An engine runs into a caboose. Tale before the tiger,” Marion explained. “A race between beginning and end, she said. Tale wins.”
“Maybe tails win,” Billy Jean King said while sitting on a small bed in the corner of the otherwise almost unfurnished and undecorated cabin. “As in a coin. Flipping a coin — heads and tails.”
“She said to always pay attention to the blue roses. They always indicate something. We looked west now. Two thrones — blue roses to side. She said these were the Prince and Princess of Rosehaven, but only when Caledon is Caledonia.”
“See?” BJK nudged Philip sitting beside her in the ribs. “I *told* you it was Caledon. Maybe we were in the wrong place to start with.”
“No,” insisted Marion. “We were definitely in the right place. Caledonia. And then — get this — they removed their, er, masks. Actually the Prince had on some rainbow swirly globe or something — over his head. The princess just shed her golden skin, like a snake. ‘Let the waters rise,’ they said in unison, then. I looked around but didn’t see any water, let alone water rising. But something had changed. I could feel it.”
I also noticed there was a tiny bit missing from the Prince’s fin-foot, like it was bitten a little bit.”
“A little *bite*,” BJK insisted. She turned toward Philip knowingly. Philip just stared back blankly.
“The Princess’ shoe was right there.”
“Achilles heel?” BJK offered, visualizing it backwards in her mind.
“Slowly but surely, Spring is coming to Rosehaven, Sandy. The snow is melting. The old link with Winterfell is weakening once more. Eversnow.”
“Herbert, please,” spoke Sandy Beech, still under contract. “I suppose that will have to be one for the blooper roll of this novel.”
Merry Gouldbusk skips over Herbert’s breaking of the 4th wall in her reverie. “And castles… they are changing too. I’m not sure for the best. Homogenization.”
“Still sulking about Murdock’s Castle, eh?” Herbert Dune looked at his nails. “There’s still Dog Island.”
“No. (The essence of) that’s moved too. I consulted the Oracle yesterday. It spoke of a Pineapple Island where the true savior of Our Second Lyfe was born. One Daniel. Or Jackson — the Oracle couldn’t specify.”
“The Tiger Oracle,” clarified Herbert. “How is DJ anyhoot?”
“He’s doing fine. He’s looking forward to spring too. When the rest of Rosehaven will homogenize with his evergreen, everliving Borderlands.”
“It’s a nice anchor,” declares Herbert. “A tale that wags the dog — something.”
“Something,” agreed Merry Gouldbusk.
“Top of the line, my Queen.”
“Princess please. I haven’t been confirmed yet.”
“So sorry. My Princess.” He looks toward the doll house again. “Just rolled out last month. 11 rooms for this baby.” He was counting the 3 bathrooms and the crawl space but didn’t mention this fact. Always the pitch person.
“Sandy. May I call you Sandy?”
“Of course my highness.”
“Sandy. If you don’t mind me saying, you have quite a reputation following you around. I read the reviews online. It seems…”
“Say no more. I’ll pack up my wares and move on. I am greatly humbled by even your interest in our fine products.”
“No, I wasn’t implying that I’m not interested. I am.” She winked one red eye at Sandy, who understood what he had to do — once again — to make a sale. So golden and glinty this one is. Better make sure the lights are dimmed way down.
Afterwards he had one of those strange 1/2 doll house 1/2 real house dreams where the sprinkler system went off by accident.
“This is *not* the centre of Rosehaven, dear sister.”
“Sshhh,” she implored in a lower tone. “Keep it down. They could be out there… watching.”
“Father’s people. Maybe even mother’s.” But she said these almost as questions.
“Both are dead. Both are gone. We must move on. Mother only lived on through the father. We must be in the now and present. Meditate with me, sister. Learn my wise ways. You won’t be so anxious.” His voice was slightly muffled and watery; hers clear and metallic.
“You shouldn’t be so talkative if you’re so relaxed,” she shoots back, then peers through the window again.
“The cave should have been the meeting point. I told you to meet me at the cave. You’d feel safer there. But no, it had to be the peasant’s village. Father’s old hideaway where he went to woo his wenches. Maybe that’s why we’re so different. Two different mothers. Maybe even two different fathers.”
“You *know* why we’re different.” She didn’t have to finish the rest. Both knew that Merry Gouldbusk physically took after the father and he after the mother. But inside, roles were reversed. For the boy (Ingo) was in danger of becoming as cold as the father given time. For the girl: only melancholy futures.
Merry Gouldbusk stared at the sphere encapsulated face of her brother. “Do you ever remove that thing?”
“Not even to eat,” he replied quickly. “I… get insights. I want to share some of them with you. About the dividing.”
“All ears,” she said, folding her ears toward him with her golden fingers. It was an old game they played. Ingo still smiled at this, which was comforting.
It was not an *incredibly* bad looking house from the outside, April Mae Flowers thought while standing in the snow. But the insides were all wonky: crazily placed stairs, doors that won’t shut, and, perhaps most irritating of all, the transparent on transparent wall overlaps, which made parts of the house practically see-through when viewed from certain angles. She had told her newly wedded husband at the time that the Princess (who was in charge of such things then) rejected it after giving the matter serious consideration, citing some of these same issues plus tacking on a couple of her own — lighting; bedrooms that aren’t linked to the interior; plumbing. 300 linden dollars a month was all it was back then for a nice parcel, perhaps a 1024 like this, albeit without the double prims. But Herbert insisted that his “mansion” go along with the deal. It is understandable in that this was the place he helped raise Lisa and Bartholomew with his first two wives, Marg and then Madame Silver. What disastrous marriages! As bad as her own to retro-guy Septimius Felton, now 3 1/2 years dead in his grave. Marg as well — going on 9. Only Madame Silver remains among their exes, and apparently she’s gone bat-ass crazy over on the Omega continent, vowing to destroy Lisa and keeping brother Bart in limbo. She tries to avoid her part of the continent when visiting Septimius’ grave over there. Which reminds her… she needs to ask Mssr. Gold for the narrow boat-plane again tomorrow. She dreads the moment.
transparent on transparent
“What troubles you my friend,” she imagines the statue asking her after the funeral. This Angel of Death.
“Oh, just a decision looming. Whether to connect to a motherland. Or fatherland. The separation happened a number of years ago.”
“I remember,” states the statue in her head. “Caledonia. But you’s guys have moved your kingdom — or queendom — forward. Caledonia has essentially stayed the same. It would be like connecting to the past. This Winterfell.”
“Rosehaven now,” says Merry Gouldbusk, soon to *be* Queen. And with that the fantasy was over. She was alone again.