Ancora Io (Part 17)

  (this is a continuation of a novel, Ancora Io, started here. The full text can be found here.)

Annapurna looked at Maxwell's drawing: a small dragon draped around a book.

She pursed her lips and then relaxed, "As we have been talking, you have been drawing the Library's..." she hesitated, "I am not sure what you call it. No, wait, Maxwell, do you call this a gargoyle? You know, the little statue that sits atop the Town Library."

Maxwell looked surprised, "I can't draw for dimes. Did I do that?"

Annapurna cocked her head and said, "We were talking about my story. I want to write a story about the Town Library, but while I was telling you about it, you drew the Library's... gargoyle."

Maxwell shook his head, "The Library?  There are no gargoyles there. This picture is a book wrapped in a dragon, not a gargoyle. Gargoyles are pudgy and made of stone. Did I draw this?"

"Yes, Maxwell, you did. And it is lovely. The scales on your drawing look like they are shimmering. Can I use this to inspire my writing?"

Maxwell looked a bit confused, "Of course. But I don't think there is a dragon on the Library. I grew up here, and we don't have those sorts of things in town, except for Halloween, or the kites old Hang ties to the Chinese Café come Chinese New Year."

"Perhaps it is something new that our librarian has added to the Library - I saw it there tonight on the way here, and I think I have seen it before. When you walk me back to my apartment, I am sure we will see it there. But first, it is your turn to take the stage. Please outline the plot of your writing."

Maxwell said, "Well,..."

Annapurna quietly but sternly added, "Without any of the froth or bubbles."

Maxwell sighed, "There is hardly any foam and bubbles. But, put simply, it is the story of two people who meet in happy times and fall deeply in love. But then, through a stroke of cruel fate, they are separated, and try as they might, they cannot get back together. The whole thing is very frustrating. As I come up with a fail-proof plan for them to meet, fate steps in and sends one off to the wrong bus stop."

Annapurna shook her head, "I am a bit surprised, Maxwell. When last we spoke, it seemed that your characters were going to be stuck in their mountain hideaway forever."

Maxwell's eyes flashed, and he banged the table with his hand in frustration, waking the cat. "Yes! That was the whole idea. But one day, they had to go get provisions and..." A tear started to form in his eyes, and Annapurna noticed that Maxwell had attracted the attention of the young couple nearby. She gave them a reassuring nod and said, "There, there. You are the writer, and you can make it happen. But, in the meantime, their attempt to reconnect is itself perhaps one of life's great adventures. I can see the passion in your eyes, and you tell me that the words are coming easily to you. I am sure your readers will experience all you are feeling."

"But..." he said and then choked a little. The cat stretches out on the seat next to him, wondering how to love the cream experience suggested Maxwell had left behind.

Annapurna smiled, "Why not write the ending first and gradually work your way back to where your story is now?"

Maxwell hesitated, and took out his notebook, turned a couple of blank pages over, and said, "Like here?"

Annapurna smiled and put out a reassuring hand, "Right there."

Maxwell fished out his pencil and wrote "The End."

As he finished writing the two words, all the lights went out. The Diner was pitch black.

There was a low mumble of voices until one of the cooks found a torch and came out into the Diner, "I am sorry folks, there was a storm over Newtown way - a linesman warned us that the circuits might get overloaded."

There was a murmur from some of the other diners, and Annapurna spoke calmly, "It is all fine, Fred. Please put our bill on my tab; we had finished here."

Fred came closer, "Let me help you folks out. Might be an idea to get back under cover before..."

As his torchlight traced their outlines, it fell briefly on the table, illuminating a cat with a mouth full of cream and the drawing of a very lifelike dragon with shimmering scales. The cat saw the dragon and hissed and clawed its way out of the Diner, leaving a trail of destruction behind it.

Annapurna said. "Oh my!" as Maxwell fought to bring his scattered papers back into some semblance of order.

A little later, Annapurna paused outside the town library. Walking had been a little more complicated, but they managed to make headway in the moonlight. She pointed and said, "Look, Maxwell, up there."

Maxwell's face drained of all color.

The moonlight picked out the vines leading to the mantle of the highest window of the old Library. The window was open to the sky. Sitting atop the window was a small dragon, its scales shimmering in the moonlight. Maxwell grabbed her hand as the dragon took a bite out of the book it was holding.


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