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Isaac Wheeler
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm

Joined: 02 Aug 2013
Posts: 32
See this user's pet
Can Be Found: Behind the Blade
1975.34 Silver Crowns


PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 7:11 pm    Post subject: Sketches Reply with quote

(The following posts come from moments of Isaac's past which found their way into his sketchbook. All credit goes to the original producers of the artwork.)

Perceptiveness. The trait could be as rare as hen?s teeth and as valuable as gold from time to time. Isaac had it?it?s what made him good up on the stage?that ability to read people with a glance. His father had said he?d make a helluva lawyer someday, pick the good clients, get the sympathetic juries. Course that?s what law really was and, when he caught himself thinking about, Isaac figured he?d have done alright as a lawyer?but he knew he didn?t have the malleable integrity necessary for such a career.

Isaac had always been perceptive; always the quiet one, the one who?d listen first and speak last. He supposed he?d had the trait all along, born with it maybe, but he first remembered it manifesting itself the summer of the year he turned eight. The same summer he?d gotten Delilah, the Bluetick Coonhound. He remembered it like it was just yesterday, the scene so jarring, so obvious when merged with the greater wisdom of adulthood?

?Come along Isaac?? Isaac?s mother chastised as her eldest son fell a step or two behind.

?Coming Mama.? Isaac answered and gave a little tug on the leash he held in his hand. The Bluetick Coonhound had been a gift from his father, a puppy that Isaac was supposed to train and rear into a proper hunting dog when he was old enough to accompany his father in the fall and winter several years away. His father had said the puppy was his but Isaac had never felt right about that. Delilah was alive?a companion?but never a possession. ?Come on Delilah.? Isaac drawled, the first hints of that slow, antebellum accent weaving through his voice.

He gave another tug on the leash and the hound came away from whatever interesting scent had gotten its attention to lope happily alongside Isaac as the pair caught up to the matriarch of the Wheeler family. The Dogwoods were in full bloom and the air was still and lazy with summer heat. The buzzing of cicadas accompanied mother and son as they walked through their neighborhood, the multi acre estates set amidst small forests of pine and oak trees.

It was the first week of summer vacation and Isaac?s thoughts had been full of ice cream, swimming holes and cane pole fishing when his mother had summoned him, told him that they were going over to the Redfield?s house several streets over. His mother had baked a pineapple upside down cake and they were going to deliver it. Isaac?s mother didn?t bake?their maid and nanny, Auntie, had baked it but Isaac?s mother, like all Cotillion Queens, kept up the fa?ade of housewife and mother.

?You be a good boy and don?t say anything when we get there.? His mother reminded him for perhaps the ninth or tenth time. ?And you keep that dog on its leash.? The accent, like most of his mother?s traits, subdued and polished to a high gloss. ?Mr. Redfield is still in the hospital and I don?t want you or that dog making a mess for Mrs. Redfield.?

?Yes Mama.? Isaac answered obediently. She had a name but Isaac?s mother wasn?t a fan of dogs?they dirtied the house up, carried fleas and ticks and generally made a mess of perfectly crafted home. Just once Isaac would have loved to hear his mother call Delilah by her name?but to this day he couldn?t remember anything other than that dog.

Isaac remembered his mother saying something about Mr. Redfield having an attack of the heart and that it was very sudden but such things were proved difficult in penetrating the imaginations of a young boy with summer on the mind. He followed dutifully, lagging behind every so often as Delilah tried to explore such a big world with all kinds of smells in it only to have to hurry to catch up before his mother chastised him again. By eight, he was a pro at figuring out just when his mother was about to chastise, the look on her face, the way her shoulders squeezed together just so. He hurried to catch up as they walked up the wide driveway of the Redfield?s.

The house was big, almost as big as the Wheeler?s and done in a similar style with plantation pillars and a wide wrap around porch. The yard was well manicured and the trees towered high above the roof?the place (like so many homes in the neighborhood) looked as if time had simply passed it by, leaving it as a remnant of a bygone era.

?Look at these flowers.? Isaac heard his mother say. ?I?ll have to say something at the homeowner?s meeting next week.? She had that disapproving look on her face?like when he and his younger brother, Derrick, had tracked mud across their hardwood floors after playing in the gulch back behind their house. Isaac sensed that his mother almost seemed pleased as he walked past several rows of dying flowers, the heat taking its toll and wilting them at the stems and making them look like wet pieces of rope.

Isaac gave a tug on the leash as his mother shifted the tin foil wrapped cake to one hand and rang the doorbell at the front door of the Redfield?s house. ?You be polite now?my little gentleman.? She said to her son, that subtle shift to her public face was like a chameleon changing its color as she turned Isaac into a prop.

?Yes Mama.? Spoken quietly as he stood up straight and put a smile on his face. Well versed, Isaac was forced into this role every Sunday at church and whenever his parents had guests over. Always the well behaved and silent scion, he was the mute prince of the Wheeler kingdom.

It took several moments before Mrs. Redfield answered the door. There was the sound of barking and paws scratching at the inside of the door before it opened and Mrs. Redfield appeared. ?Alexandria.? Isaac?s mother exclaimed, a smile on her face weighted down with just the right amount of gravity. ?How are you??

?Caroline.? Alexandria Redfield answered, an equally weighty smile for Isaac?s mother. He?d heard his mother talk on the rides home from church, heard her gossip about this family and that, what this person was doing and how that person wasn?t a good Christian. Heard it all while his father merely drove in silence, an occasional ?uh-huh? just to let her know he was listening. He?d heard her talk about how Alexandria had married for money and how she didn?t belong?whatever that meant.

?We were so sorry to hear about Jeremiah.? Caroline Wheeler said, voice a diabetic concoction of sweetness and pity. ?How is he?? She seemed to almost relish the perceived superior position. Her husband wasn?t laid up in a hospital somewhere after all.

Isaac glanced down at Delilah as she strained against the leash, a flash of yellow behind Mrs. Redfield before their Irish Setter, Duke, twisted between the door and Alexandria?s legs to come nose to nose with the Coonhound puppy. They both stood there for a moment, sniffing at each other?trying to figure one another out.

?He is much better.? Alexandria said as she stood straighter, refusing to reveal any sort of family weakness or shortcomings. ?The doctors say he is going to be okay.? She looked down to Isaac and the two dogs. ?Don?t mind Duke, Isaac?he?s real nice.?

?Oh thank God. I?we?ve all been praying so hard at the church.? Caroline answered, that Stepford smile still pulling at her lips.

?Thank you.? Alexandria said stiffly as Caroline pressed the cake into her hands.

?Just a little gift.? Caroline said. ?And I just love your flowers. So very natural looking.? Delilah gave a little growl as she stood nose to nose with Duke.

?Thank you. How?s Jonathan?away on business again?? Alexandria taking the cake to quickly set it inside on a table before crossing her arms over her chest. There was a tone there?something Isaac realized that his mother didn?t like. He saw the bunch of the shoulders. Duke began to growl back as Isaac tugged on the leash to try and ease Delilah back.

?He?s in France actually. The firm is working on some big case with an international conglomerate. Jonathan?s being kept very busy.? The implication that he was also being very well paid obvious in that elitist tone his mother could slip into as fast as a jackrabbit on the run.

?How nice.? Alexandria answered and an uncomfortable silence descended over the porch.

Duke came forward a little, bumped Delilah with his chest. He was bigger than she was and his weight knocked her back on her haunches. Isaac reached down to scratch behind the puppy?s ears.

?S?ok girl?he?s just saying hello.? Isaac tried to calm the Coonhound though he sensed on a level he hadn?t quite learned to access just yet that the animals were picking up on the tension which existed between the two women, that they reflected the unspoken feelings hanging in the air. Dogs could always feel the undercurrents of what people won't say.

Duke growled again as Isaac?s mother crossed her arms and spoke, ?Is it true?what?s being said? That Jeremiah was with??

Delilah gave another growl and came forward to put her paw up on Duke?s shoulder to try and push him back while giving another growl, her puppy teeth coming to nip at Duke?s neck. Duke gave a sudden bark which interrupted Caroline?s veiled accusation of an affair and that?s when the heart attack happened.

Caroline turned to watch as Duke and Delilah suddenly went at one another. The Irish Setter was trying to bite at Delilah?s snout and Isaac cried out, gave a sharp tug on the leash to pull Delilah back who gave a growl while nipping at the Setter?s ear.

Alexandria gave a shout of surprise as Caroline jumped back from the two dogs that were suddenly going at one another with vicious intent. She pulled at Duke?s collar as Isaac pulled at Delilah?s leash to try and separate the two. There was a moment of fierce growls and snarls, snapping teeth and skittering paws before the two dogs were finally separated. Duke was shooed inside as Isaac collected Delilah up in his hands and held her close against his chest. ?Shhh?s?ok girl?? He stroked at the back of her head, scratched behind her ears and the puppy seemed to settle almost instantly.

?Well I think it?s time that we left. Do enjoy the cake.? Carline said as she put her hand on the back of Isaac?s shoulders. ?Come along Isaac.? The sweetness was forced, her shoulders were pinched again and her teeth were clinched?Isaac knew he was in trouble. He?d been there plenty of times.

?Thank you for stopping by.? Alexandria said as she shut the door behind her amidst Duke?s scratching and barking, the Setter still amped up about the presence of the other dog just outside the door. ?I?ll make sure to tell Jeremiah you came by. And tell Jonathan I hope his firm wins their big case.? The two women, both proud matriarchs, eyed one another in silence for a long moment.

?Thank you. And he will. Jonathan always gets what he wants.? Caroline Wheeler gave a squeeze to her son?s shoulder as they walked back down the driver. ?I told you not to bring that dog, Isaac. It?s nothing but trouble. I?m going to talk to your father when he gets home??

Isaac fell inward, his mother?s droning sounding less like words and more like the buzz of that wild bee hive he and Derrick had found last summer?got stung to kingdom come trying to get that honey too. Isaac gave a squeeze to Delilah who twisted in his arms to give a lick to his face and suddenly all seemed right in Isaac?s world again.

He didn?t know how short lived that feeling would be.
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Isaac Wheeler
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm

Joined: 02 Aug 2013
Posts: 32
See this user's pet
Can Be Found: Behind the Blade
1975.34 Silver Crowns


PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 9:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

?C?mon?trade me the Nolan Ryan rookie?? Derrick Wheeler tried for perhaps the sixth time to cut a deal with his older brother Isaac.

?Nah?? Isaac drawled from his perch on the top bunk of their shared room. The elder Wheeler was propped up shirtless on his pillows against the wall, holding his treasured baseball cards like a game of Texas Hold Em. ?All you got is trash.? He ran a hand over his freshly shorn buzzcut, a sign of solidarity to a girl laid up in a hospital room.

He'd cut it by himself when he'd gotten home from seeing Josie and just about given his mother a heart attack. Course she was already bowed up like a Halloween cat when she'd gotten a call from the school informing her that Isaac had cut class to go see Josie.

?Don?t be a buttsuck, Isaac?you?ve got two of them.? Derrick answered from his bottom bunk, shoe box full of cards on the bed, the younger Wheeler in the process of putting the good ones into plastic sleeves.

?I know.? Isaac answered with the mischievous grin only an older brother could master. ?I raked ole man Ehlers yard for a month straight?and walked Mrs. Ehlers dogs to save up the money. And she smells like Mama?s medicine cabinet too.? Isaac made a disgusted face as he explained for the tenth time at least how he?d saved up the money in order to buy the treasured packs of Topps baseball cards. ?Maybe you shoulda been out rakin leaves too.?

?You know Mama wouldn?t let me go?she?s always goin on about my studies.? Derrick fired back and punched up into the top bunk to try and jostle his older brother.

?Cause you don?t pay no attention?I told you Mrs. Boatright wasn?t gonna take any lip.? Isaac had been in Mrs. Boatright?s class two years previous and was pretty sure he?d set a detention record while also inadvertently (though years later he?d think it was pretty funny) damned any chance of his younger brother getting a fair shot in class. He ignored the jostle?that was another big brother trait?he?d act like Derrick didn?t exist and it would drive him as mad as a box of frogs.

?Just gimme the rookie card, Issac.?

The scion of the Wheeler family remained silent, swore he could feel the heat of Derrick?s frustration seeping up through the mattress.

?Gimme the card?? Derrick growled and leaned onto his back to kick both his feet up into the top bunk. ?Gimme the damn card or I?ll tell Mama why you really shaved your head?that you did it for that girl up in the hospital.? And kicked up against the bed again, this time hard enough to shift Isaac?s weight and cause him to spill his cards.

Isaac cursed as the kicking of Derrick?s little tantrum sent several cards flying and put a crease through one of the Nolan Ryan?s cards. Delilah, Isaac?s coon hound, lifted her head up off the hard wood floor of the bedroom at Isaac?s outburst and then lay her head back down?she?d seen this scene a hundred times. Isaac threw the cards into his own box and leaned down over the edge of the bunk. ?Gonna be hard to say anything with a fat lip.? Thunderstorm colored eyes narrowed as he settled that heavyweight glare upon his brother. Most times it?d make him wilt like a weed. But not this time.

?How bout you come down here and give it to me then baldy.? Derrick responded by throwing a handful of baseball cards into Isaac?s face and the row was on in full. Isaac slithered off the top bunk faster than a rattlesnake bite. Nut brown skin flashed as he came at Derrick and began to pummel him with a flurry of open hand slaps.

Derrick gave a yell of surprise and tried to turtle up beneath the sudden and rapid assault of hands. ?Mama?s gonna skin you??

The fuse might have gotten longer as he got older, but that temper?oooooo that temper had been there since birth and ran as hot as pepper?d brandy. Derrick had accidentally on purpose touched a nerve with his comment about that lil girl laying up in the hospital.

?You think I can?t take a whoopin?? Isaac questioned and gave his brother a rough shove which crashed him against the wall. ?You aint got no idea what Josie?s been through??

Isaac had caught back a fist only to get spun around by the Wheeler family housekeeper?who just happened to be one of the few people Isaac was actually just a little afraid of.

?Boy?I outta take you outback and tan that hide with a switch. Get offa him!? Isaac was jerked back by the elbow only to be grabbed by the ear, the twist putting a grimace of pain across his boyish features as he was drug away amidst a litany of promises of endless chores since his hind quarters would be far too sore to sit down.
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Isaac Wheeler
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm

Joined: 02 Aug 2013
Posts: 32
See this user's pet
Can Be Found: Behind the Blade
1975.34 Silver Crowns


PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2015 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Once upon a cage...

?Yo Wheeler!? The guard?s booming voice joined the wrapping staccato of the night stick against the bars of the cell. ?You got your phone call.?

?Bout time.? The dogwood drawl of words slow and lazy amid the sweltering heat of the prison. He set his copy of The Consolation of Philosophy on the bed as he swung his legs from the lower bunk.

?What did you say?? The guard rattled the cage with the nightstick as Isaac scraped his foot across the floor of the cell and wiped away the little symbol his sister had left in the dust the last time she?d wandered out of the physical to try and come see him. He could see pulses of her light everywhere she had been through the dust motes. She?d been trying for awhile now, ever since he refused to see her through the glass wall when she?d come to visit in person. Ain?t no way he was gonna let her see him in here, physically or otherwise.

?Said it?s about time." Been askin for awhile now.? Antebellum accent slipping through the bars a beat before he extended his hands through the opening in order to receive the handcuffs. He wasn?t about to share why he needed to make a call--he just needed to speak with Josie.

?Guess its your lucky day then ain?t it?? The guard quipped as he snapped on the cuffs and ordered Isaac to step back from the cell. ?Open 42!? Calling out towards where another guard sat in a glass both, the eye at the center of Focault?s panopticon--always watching. There was a loud buzzing sound as the gate rattled opened and the guard gestured for Isaac to step forward. Since Josie's visit, an unusual, eerie calm had settled on the cell block and its inmates as if a weight had been temporarily lifted.

He?d settled into the routine relatively easily and early, suppose he just had that kind way about him that resisted a rattling of the soul. The sentence wasn?t that long--chopped down because it had been his first violent offense. He hadn?t made it difficult on local law enforcement either, had turned himself in the following morning and refused his father?s hand when the phone calls started coming in. Two years, eight months for good behavior.

Isaac shuffled forward alongside the guard who kept a tight grip on his elbow at all times as he led him down the hall of the prison and directed him into a small room with pink painted walls and a phone. ?Shirley?s gonna be listening in.You know the rules.?

?Yeah.? Isaac answered while sticking his hands out for the cuffs to be removed. He rubbed his elbows and sat in the uncomfortable plastic chair before picking up the phone and dragging the rotary dial around to dial the first number of a place he, unfortunately, long ago memorized.

Rain pattered upon the window of the hospital room window in a gentle, soothing lullaby as Josette opened her eyes before the first ring filled the room with its trill. The connection already established in such a way that the phone was an added bonus more than a necessity.

The phone rang once, twice--three times. She always waited for the three. There was something magical about the number that she relished. Exhaustion had settled into her bones from the previous evening's journey. Then energy of the place that held her brother had not been kind. On the tail end of the third ring, the phone was lifted with more effort than she would care to admit to herself. The hospital phone was cradled against her cheek, the smile already birthed in her voice for she already knew who it was.

"I knew you would call today."

"Josie? Thank f--. Are you ok? Your Mother said there was an emergency. She'd never call me in here unless it was serious."

Josette paused, her brother's use of a particular word more than a little jarring to her. She refashioned the syllables till it more to her liking and softer to her ear. "Emerge-and-see."

"What?? Isaac asked and wiped a hand down over his face before blowing out an exasperated sigh. He glanced at the clock, knew his time wasn?t his own in here anymore.

"You were saying the word differently, I could tell. Why do you sound so angry?"

"Do you have any idea what could have happened if they thought--"

"I needed to see you." Josette interrupted him in a rush before he could go any further. "You haven't answered my messages. I know you felt me there next to you, Isaac. You wouldn't even look at me."

"They couldn't find your heart rate, Josie. Do you understand, me? They thought you were dead for three minutes. Don't do that again. " Distance and circumstance impossible to remove a big brother?s orders.

"I know where my heart is. I do not need them to find it." A soft reminder. She shut her eyes and focused her attention outward to the music of the rain again, hoping it would cleanse and wash away some of the weariness she felt.

"Dammit. It's all I can do to keep my head right in here. I worry enough about you without you doing this Jos-. I don't want you seeing me in here." Isaac ground out as he switched the phone from one hand to another, pressed his thumb and middle finger against the edges of his brow while staring at the circle of numbers on the phone. It was good to hear her voice. But that weariness--he felt it as much as he heard it.

"I--" There was the faintest tremor in her voice. She truly hadn't meant to cause any kind of alarm."You won't meet me halfway--won't use our language or your own gift." There was an undercurrent of hurt in her tone. "It's that cage. It's changing who you are. I don't want you to forget."

"Jos--. I need you to promise me. I don't want you anywhere near this place. Never again. Not while I'm still serving my time.? He knew the language she meant--they?d been using it since they were kids. A secret only the two of them knew. Ever since then she?d always leave little signs, little pieces of that secret language lying around whenever she wandered out of her body into the astral to see him.

"Be careful which illusions you choose to serve, Issac." Josie murmured.

Isaac sighed in a long, slow exhale. His head leaning against his hand as he battled in his head to find the words to try and make her understand that there were many people on this plane that would not understand what she is.

She could not only hear the long sigh at the other end of the line, but feel the chaos of static in his thoughts. Even now she felt him drifting further and further away from her in that exhale.

"Fine." The word fell from her lips, not as the harsh fall of an ax, but as softly as the feather of a bird that just had its wings clipped.

"I'll call you soon, ok?" Isaac finally answered after her clipped response. His sister had a beautiful way about her, but it could also red line his frustration in a heartbeat. He knew she saw the world differently, but always hesitated to make the leap with her. He felt he had to give her a certain amount of grounding to the physical world she lived in.


?Time?s up Wheeler--lock down.? The guard shouted over the alarm. Something had happened somewhere in the prison and the whole facility was going into lock down.

Josie pulled the phone from her ear at that discordant buzz of activity in the background, voices that were harsh to her ear over the blare of the alarm. "Isaac?"

Isaac's next words barely escaped through teeth that were ground together when he spoke again. "I gotta go." He typically told her he loved her before hanging up, but this wasn?t a place that housed such an emotion.


The phone was set gently back in its cradle next to her bed. Josette thought it such a funny thing to call it a cradle, a word that carried too much life for something to go when connections die.

((Many thanks to Josette's writer for the excellent collaboration.))
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Isaac Wheeler
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm

Joined: 02 Aug 2013
Posts: 32
See this user's pet
Can Be Found: Behind the Blade
1975.34 Silver Crowns


PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2015 12:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My Momma don tol me?when I was in knee pants?

The slow crooning of Cab Calloway?s Blues in the Night filled Isaac?s tent as a soft misting rain fell outside. The knife thrower sat on a small, three legged stool alongside the ole World War II era Indian motorcycle, a half smoked cigarette dangling from his lips. His hands were forearm deep in the guts of the bike, grease and grit smeared over both flesh and the white cotton of his sleeveless undershirt while suspenders hung loosely around his hips. The record turned, the crackle and pop of the antiquated delivery only adding to the ambiance of the sound as far as he was concerned.

The fight between he and his sister over her joining the ballet had evolved into a cold war of tension and clipped, defensive sentences. Isaac did what he always did--retreated into a world he felt far more comfortable in and in control of. He turned the socket wrench, the rapid clicks sounding with each rotation as he tightened the bolt and tossed the tool down next to the box. He pulled the cigarette from his lips and blew a slow exhale which hung in a gray haze.

Eyes which matched the gray color of the weather outside shifted to Boomer who lay on the cot, the mutt simply staring back at Isaac as if in silent judgment. Isaac knew it was the last day of the show and hoped that it would pass without incident. Just let it blow over and things could go back to the way they used to be. He tipped his head back as he sucked down another drag, gray eyes cast to the heavens through the canvas top of the tent. ?Guess you ain?t in the business of listenin.? Remembering when he had made that wish, begged for his sister to not be taken away and now she was slipping away from him with each passing day. Isaac too blind to see that Josie had never felt better since starting at the ballet. All he heard was what the doctors had said--focused on the danger and limitations.

Fia had been to see him and unsurprisingly the conversation had quickly descended into a stalemate of wills. The carousel operator trying to urge him to go and see his sister dance before the show closed. An unstoppable force had met an unmovable object when she came by, and not even Fia's fire could burn away that cold and stubborn resistance Isaac had towards his sister?s actions.

He just couldn?t condone what his sister was doing. The doctors had said she shouldn?t dance again--that the risk was just too high. That they?d never been able to adequately explain the causes for Josie?s condition was irrelevant to Isaac. They were the experts after all. Isaac had disconnected from a large part of himself when he?d left home--the reality of the world and simple survival not allowing time or space to see the world any differently and so he set aside even his own intuition. He was grounded in the physical, while his sister seemed to float effortlessly and carelessly in her own, private world beyond the structure of reality.

Isaac had heard his fellow carnies celebrating when they?d returned from the ballet, every single one of them, even Benny, praising Josie?s performance. They?d all trickled in in their own way--Lucille, Mouse, Andre and even Boz. The giant of a man even going so far as threatening Isaac. He knew Boz had held a special place in his heart for his sister, that he was trying in his way to protect her--which was why Boz had left with no new scars.

He swapped the cigarette for a sip from his mason jar of sweet tea. Boomer gave a sigh and rolled onto his side in answer to Isaac?s words, the canine far more sensitive to the energies which swirled about Isaac, Josie and the others than his human counterpart. ?See? Nothin.? Isaac answered with a defensive sniff as he took another drag from his cigarette and returned to working on the motorcycle while Cab Calloway?s song faded away and was replaced by another classic from the 1940s.

After a while Boomer hopped up from the cot and trotted over to a worn, rickety looking shelf stuffed full with boxes and bags, no longer looked at keepsakes and other assorted junk. He began to paw and root around at a stack of boxes at the bottom, the cardboard worn and in danger of becoming brittle in route to ruined brown scrap.

?Hey!? Isaac snapped as he looked up from the bike to see Boomer tugging on a small box, the mutt using his entire weight to slowly work the box free from the pile of other stuff gathered up on top and around it.

Isaac pitched his cigarette to the ground and rushed around the bike. ?You know better en that.? Reaching down to grab at the box Boomer seemed so intent on pulling free. ?What?s gotten in ta ya huh?? The antebellum accent lifting in question as he eased the box free and carried it to the cot.

Isaac opened it to find it full of old sketches on loose leaf sheets of paper, various cards, letters, homemade movie ticket stubs and the like. Time had yellowed the edges and the dust and dirt of years gave them a rough, grainy texture. The lead had faded, the colors receding to paler, less vibrant ghosts of their former brilliance but Isaac knew instantly what he was looking at. He unfolded one sheet of paper and saw it to be an early sketch of his, one he?d done for his sister so long ago to make her smile. There she was, Josie front and center hanging onto a several balloons as they lifted her high above the hospital, Isaac having sketched a child?s version of freedom and escape. Had the bottom he had scrawled Wherever you go I?ll love you forever. A child?s way of making promises in the face of things he couldn?t possibly comprehend at the time.

He set the sketch aside and lifted a card out of the box. It was from his sister when she?d been in Europe and he?d been traveling with the carnival. Her neatly scripted words explained her new school, how excited she was to going back in the fall, inquiring about the carnival and so forth. They?d always had their secret language, but Josie still sent him cards, usually funny ones to ?light up his smile? as she was fond of saying. Isaac, caught as he so often was in the past, went through every sketch and card, every letter and connection which had existed between him and his sister. There had never been a time when he had not been there for her, had saved every one of her cards and note--even the envelopes. The box was full of them and represented, in their own way, a lifetime commitment of support and love. And, more importantly, she had always been there for him as well. Wandering across time and space to check in on him when distance separated them--even at the expense of her own well-being.

Isaac shifted his eyes down to Boomer, the rock-slide of slate seemingly impotent when it came to affecting Boomer?s mood, that little stub of a tail wagging as if the say See?. Animals, Isaac intuitively knew, existed on a different wavelength than humans--their intentions never misleading or selfish. ?I know, boy.? Isaac sighed and pressed a thumb against each of his eyes to smear away the wetness which had formed as realized that too much of his relationship with his sister was contained in the box on his lap. Too much time isolated in his own world drawing sketches than making new memories with her while she was still here. What he hadn?t realized was that the blinders which had distorted his vision had been lifted as well. ?Think she?ll forgive me?? Asking his oldest and truest friend as he glanced to the suit Josie had gotten him for the art gallery opening. It was the only one he had and still hung in the clear plastic from the cleaners on an open rack at the back of his tent.

Isaac stepped from the cab outside the Shanachie Theater and glanced around the empty park, fearful that he was already too late. He checked his watch again as he moved towards the theater house, that slow, southern,mosey moving at a mighty clip. He ascended the stairs to enter the foyer and found it equally empty as well. The Showman tugged at the collar of his suit, the attire still stifling and choking no matter how good his sister said he looked. He approached the ticket booth and relief washed over him when the person behind it indicated that there was indeed still a ticket waiting for him. It was so like his sister to hold out faith when all signs should have pointed otherwise.

Isaac took the ticket with a dogwood drawled thanks and moved to the level it indicated. He shifted past those who had more good sense than him and arrived early, mumbled "pardon mes" and apologies as he nearly walked over and on strangers? feet until he could, at last, sink into his chair just as the orchestra announced the beginning of the ballet and the curtains swung wide to reveal the world the fairytale.

Isaac felt his chest tighten when his Josie first took the stage. She looked as if she moved without touching the stage--just simply floated like the butterflies they?d chased when they were kids. There was an immense pride in that moment while watching her dance. Josie?s performance as Gerda carried a deeper meaning as his sister was not just the heroine of a fairytale--she was the reborn heroine of her own life and his own blindness had nearly caused him to miss such a metamorphosis that was unfolding before him.

Isaac watched the ballet in a quiet silence as he realized that his sister had been right. His hand drifted over his chest, that uncomfortable tightness passing as if something had been dislodged. He had never seen her so full of life and possessed of the happiness he saw radiating from her on stage. Ballet might be a narrative through dance, telling a story through the movements of bodies alongside stirring music, but Josie was telling their own story with every step as well--a story of rebirth and return.

Isaac waited for the rows to empty, the knife thrower having uncharacteristically cheered himself momentarily hoarse as the curtains closed for the last time. It was only after some time had passed that he finally moved. He hadn?t known if his sister had seen him and he wanted to see her immediately to congratulate her and celebrate with her. He didn?t need to sketch her escaping anymore--she?d found her home.

(In reference to The Snow Queen)
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