We rented a house cast in perpetual twilight regardless of the position of the Sun relative to us. A salt-water pool extended from the side yard to the back yard. It was lined with quartz and igneous rocks. We bathed under moonlight that evening, keeping ourselves hidden from the others down the street. We could hear them pass by the house, buzzing and scurrying like insects. I distinctly remember my gaze remaining skyward most of the night. The leaves of the trees had turned and were beginning to fall.
Sleep was a dream within a dream; we were so gone, like corpses. I remember the haziness upon waking. Our bags were still packed and slumped by the wall, where we had thrown them the day before. Some festive attire, costume wear and strange jewelry spilled out onto the floor. My feet padded over cold floorboards to the bathroom. Looking in the mirror, I noticed that I had left my mascara on all night.
White-blue streaks of morning light filtered in through the blinds. I peered through the slits and saw twilight once more. My fellow traveler stirred in the bed.
It must have been mid-day when we came down to the field, jingling as we walked. We had expected it to be empty this time of year, but, alas, there was a crowd of people to greet us with confused stares and horrified expressions. They seemed not to understand our garments, which were some strange blend of lavish materials, disheveled arrangement and loud accessories. We were intruding on their celebration, apparently. Of course, they were intruders on our occasion as well.
An austere and cold hostess demanded we leave. We did not move for her, but we explained, calmly and politely, our purpose for desiring a bit of space on the field. She would have none of it. A boisterous and hefty gentleman in the crowd suggested the matter be settled by their traditional game of cards.
There were 4 suits with 13 cards a piece: Day, Night, Civilization, and Aztec Gold. The deck contained about 7-9 trump cards. The images on the trumps are too fuzzy to recount.
The game was played in this manner:
The cards were turned face-down on the ground and shuffled or “washed” to mix. When the ref said to start, players began to turn over cards as quickly as possible. A player could only “keep” cards if they managed to find at least 4 cards in sequence of the same suit. If so, they kept that pile of cards. Typically, at the end of the game, the player with the most sequenced suited cards wins. If a player dominates a suit, that person has a far greater chance of winning since it counts as both suited sequence and number of cards. If neither player has any complete suit, cards are counted and sequences are noted. The player with the most wins. EXCEPT… and this is a big one… If the player can acquire all the Aztec Gold cards AND all the trumps, that player wins. It is implied that the player is favored and never has to prove oneself again. No one in that community can challenge the player in the future if the player is able to secure this hand.
We positioned the cards face down. At the time of the preparation, neither me nor my companion was aware of the rules. The hefty gentleman explained the rules slowly to us, even after play time had begun. These were not the noblest of creatures. We had lost a good chunk of play time before we fully grasped the rules. Already, the man had almost a full suit in front of him; he was moving quickly. Once the game was understood, my partner turned cards much quicker. I sat beside and watched, silently rooting and willing our side to win. With every turn my partner made, a flash of gold greeted our eyes. All of the Aztec Gold was taken by our side in seemingly no time. It was like the suit was laid before us for the taking. The hefty gentleman had now secured two full suits and was working on the third. It was our esteemed Fortune that stepped in and practically handed over the trumps to us. One turn after another was a boon. The man on the other side saw what was happening; panic painted his face. He began to reach across the ground for the cards closer to us. Every time he caught something he needed, but he was not able to find the trumps. Before all the cards were laid face-up, we had all the Aztec Gold and trumps placed before us. Every card was caught in sequence; our twisted smiles were an ode to probability.
A good story never provides ALL of the information on a particular subject in one place. It does, however, provide enough mirrors to reflect upon and angle just so, so that infinity spreads out before a merry wanderer. (And we’re all wanderers.)
The morning is cool and rainy, perfect for the day after All Hallows’ Eve. We remembered the dead and faced our fears; we sought out the forgotten and broke some bounds. Be mindful of one’s costume, for like attracts like. Donning hues of violet and perriwinkle in amidst sparkles and elven mimicry, I was perfectly aware of the visitors to come. They move swiftly on winds and through light and shadow, whispering and giggling as they hide in plain sight. Quiet smiles cross my lips as I match their fun and revelry.
“Keep her away from feisty floral life, bright rings and the hedgerow, for we may never see her again,” they would say as I share my apple with my friends, watching many of them float among dandelion seeds and curtains of mist. I do not distrust them in ways that many humans do (even when there is fair reason to). The mix of blood in my veins, my guardian trees and patron cats afford natural protection as well as tight bonds. We understand each others’ desires and whims, dances and games. Playing does require an odd sense of humor, patience and proper guidelines. If you do not know those guidelines, here is not the place to seek those answers. (Not all at once. Remember?) What I can tell you is this: the answers are found in countless stories, many you have surely heard numerous times before. The secrets are wrapped in silk words that move like water in the brook or clouds across the moon.
Stories have great power: power to inspire, power to lull, ignite, placate, woo, usurp, persuade, break, rouse… the list is as numerous as the stories themselves. Pick your favorites wisely. Commit some to memory, and toss others to the wolves or out your window. You are known by many by which ones you choose to tell. This is how they know you.
The smell in the air is different today; it brings the spirit of campground fires, harvested fields, dried leaves, baking breads and root vegetables, the wet cloaking of drizzle, and the spice and warmth of mystery and magic. I hear the precession approaching: the Phoukas and Dark Horses, the Witches of Old and newborn Fae, the Night carnivals and moving statues, the lost Ghosts and wandering Sprites, the Scarecrows and Corvids, the Masked and the Dead, the Legendary and the Forgotten, the Visitors and the Stories from distant lands.
At 5:18pm EDT today, the Autumn Equinox will occur.
May all of you find what you are searching for in the Autumn wind.