Remaining at her terrace rail, the Chocolate Raven lights a cigarette, pours a final glass of wine and lets her face sink into her hands, with her eyes closed.
The air is heating fast, as the morning sun slides up another busy city day. The night is gone entirely. And now that it’s gone, she can see a truth that she hates and despises with a vengeance as soon as she catches sight of it.
In effect she’s seeing the nature of the same Great Lie that she half-glimpsed on the occasion when she drove to the mad-faced tower. Then, she had the option of postponing apprehension, by burying her head between her knees on the back seat and wailing to the driver to drive away at high speed. Now, she doesn’t have that choice. It’s too late, for now she’s seen too clearly what nobody deserves to see.
What this knowledge comes down to, in her case at this moment, is that when she lifts her head again, then not only will her visions a minute ago of Scorpio and the Platinum Raven in the sky have both vanished in the glare of day—but the mad-faced tower will have disappeared from the rock-slopes too, with what she recognises as a senseless but inevitable f**k-up that she should have seen coming.
No more Amber.
No more Scorpio.
And no more Platinum Raven.
And maybe this will sound strange, or maybe it will not—but either way, this freight of brand-new but familiar knowledge leaves her miserably desolate.
It isn’t that her mad-faced tower was all roses; for it wasn’t. Nor could that trio of characters in the tower be fitly regarded as friends of hers, whom she has now lost. If they were somehow to materialise here in real life, in Dubai, then would she trust them? Would she even like them? Quite possibly not. In any case, would they have any interest in her? Would they even notice her? They might very well ignore her altogether, choosing instead to spend their time with others who would doubtless have a clueless lack of perception regarding how special this trio really was. She rubs her eyes in weariness. She cannot answer these questions … but they are beside the real point, which is this: she is desolate, quite simply, that her tower full of magic has vanished into thin air, leaving her just standing here prosaically alone on a weekday morning, halfway up a building in a city.
And yes, by the way, today’s a school day, let’s remember: in just a couple of hours there’ll be paying work to do, with computer screens, corporate bookings and financial responsibility. In a moment, therefore, she will make a move. She will do the requisite. She will navigate herself through these things, just as she is practised at doing.
But oh, how desperately sad and desolate the Chocolate Raven is to have been forced back down into such quotidian drudgery, when she knows that in reality there’s ALL THAT, living up there in the mountains!… Oh, why couldn’t she just live forever in that tower of wonders?
Not that she’d pretend it was the most reassuring or relaxing of places, up there. There were nightmarish elements in it, for sure, and even its wildest heights of beauty had something of the colour and poison of a nightmare somewhere beneath their surface.
But how electrically alive and happy she was, nonetheless, for as long as she was up there in that tower on the rock-slopes!
And why should she now be compelled back down to answer questions from all those tired, ordinary businessmen and all those soul-dead, wearily superficial, exhaustingly trivial and soporifically privileged Jumeirah Janes who populated her normal working days? These were the working days and pleasures that used to fill her life exclusively, that she’d assumed were pretty much the only kind of days and pleasures to be had … but that was a time before she had discovered the mad-faced tower and thereby found herself plugged into such a voltage of brightness and passion and excitement as dwarfed any other she had ever known.
She steps out of the shower, sleek and dripping. […] And if that corrupting empowerment had continued into an indefinite future, then might she even have become something monstrous as a result—just as leaders, if long unchallenged, have a tendency to morph into dictators? […]
Laying down the comb, she runs her fingers through her damp-darkened, chocolate-coloured hair in the mirror.
She dries between her toes, one by one, with the towel.
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