The Bubble-mistress

By

Accipiter G. Goshawk

This story came to me on a hot summer’s day, while I was walking by the lakeside. It is also features, by pure coincidence, the origin story of Edward, the man from “My paper lady.

Edit (06.08.2019): made a few adjustments and minor edits.

Also, I posted an audio version! Go check it out—> here!

Enjoy!

The quays of the city bustled with life, as countless tourists strolled under the shady pathways that lined the lake. The sound of traffic could be heard farther off, as people took advantage of the sunny weather and drove to the mountains to ski. In the park, cotton-candy sellers had chosen their spots and were now happily calling the passers-by, peddling their wares in the morning warmth. Farther along, jugglers and acrobats twirled and skipped for the delight of a small group of children.

Miranda danced down the steps of the crowded tram and immediately drew in a deep, refreshing breath. She smiled as she moved towards the lakeside, her long rainbow skirt swishing in the gentle breeze. She passed her free hand over the bark of nearby sycamore, revelling in its rough texture even as her eyes took in its silvery hues. A large green leaf floated down and barely missed her head; she was almost disappointed at being cheated out of a rather fetching hat. Her sandaled feet hovered through the grass and she laughed as the green blades kissed her toes.

Eventually she arrived at the water’s edge; thankfully, her spot was free. With easy practiced movements, she unpacked the small stool that she kept strapped to her backpack and set it down. Then, she placed her long rigid case on the ground and unlatched the three brass clasps. Today she chose two steel rods and an inch-wide blue cotton ribbon. She quickly assembled her instrument and then went to get water from the lake. Once the red bucket was full, she added a small splash of her own special concoction. The water frothed and seemed to twist within the confines of its container. A stray spark leapt from the liquid and became a butterfly. It fluttered happily around Miranda’s head a few times and then flew into the sky, a shard of colourful life dancing with the world.

Still smiling, the small woman wove the line of hair on her head into a series of long braids, which fell on either side of her otherwise clean-shaven scalp. Once she was finished, she delicately lowered the long ribbon-circle into the soapy mixture. Breathing deeply, she stretched, slowly drew the ribbon up and over her body, and began to dance.

Her movements were soft, a gentle combination of poses and sways; her bare feet caressed the earth even as her extended arms hugged the sky. Above and around it all, she twirled her rods in complex rainbows of steel, ribbon and soapy mixture. She hummed a familiar song to herself, as people began to edge closer, curiosity getting the better of them. When enough of them had gathered around, she knew it was time, and grinning, she separated the rods.

Air flew through the wide circle of soapy ribbon and drew the suds outwards in a perfect snake of polychrome wonder. The bubble grew as Miranda fed it more air and soap, until finally she let it fly through the crowd. People cheered and applauded as more bubbles joined the first, countless spheres and oblongs of ephemeral colours and twisting visions. A small shower of coins began to fall into the wool cap she had set on the ground in front of her.

She smiled at her audience’s ignorant generosity; the cap was only there to keep up appearances. She wasn’t here for the money, or for the admiration of strangers; her task was far nobler and very personal.

She drew a long breath and began to sing a soft prayer in the old language, blessing the bubbles and those who looked within them. She could feel the presence of her god within her, their sparkling love accompanying her movements and lining the suds with flames of silver. As the final verses echoed away, she launched into another evocation, weaving the small strand of sacred magic that was her gift to the world into the fabric of her creations. With a quick skip, she sent a cloud of minuscule blue bubbles zipping through the crowd. Children squealed and adults laughed in surprise as the spheres whizzed around their heads and tickled their noses.

Miranda paused in her dancing as she felt the blue projectiles fill with the worries and cares of the people they touched. She carefully removed the cloudier bits of mental garbage swirling in her audience’s mind. She was an old hand at this, and her small interventions never left anyone feeling reckless or devoid of thoughts. Her job was to help others and ease their journey through life, removing what darkness she could.

The bubbles had now turned opaque. She skipped lightly and twirled on the spot, letting her rods fly into the clear sky. The shadowy spheres immediately soared upwards and as the sun’s rays touched their soapy surfaces, they vanished out of reality. Another smattering of applause greeted this artistic display and after having caught her falling instrument, the bubble-mistress bowed.

She performed for the rest of the day, taking only a short break around lunchtime. More crowds passed by and she filled more bubbles with negative energy. Countless people left her presence feeling happier and within her, the god smiled.

It was two in the afternoon and for about an hour, almost nobody came by her corner of the park. It was at this moment that she noticed the pale-looking man sitting alone on a park bench, staring down at his leather shoes. He looked haggard, even though he was impeccably dressed; dark bags hung under his eyes, which were red from crying.

Miranda quickly looked around and seeing that they were alone, she began to dance over to his seat. She trailed her rods behind her, creating a long silvery tube of water and suds. The man didn’t even look up as she swayed around his bench, drawing the bubble over his head and through his thoughts.

Darkness immediately clouded the oblong container, as his memories surfaced, terrible demons of guilt and anger. They tore at his mind and heart, roaring his name in an endless drone, listing his sins one by one and hissing his faults from beyond the doors of time.

“Edward Jameson, you are guilty of being an impostor, a false friend, a liar, a cheat…”

The list was endless and the darkness filled the bubble like a small storm cloud. It threatened to break the delicate soapy barrier, but Miranda knew better. A line of silver fire seared through the surface of water and soap, forcing the demons back. The man on the bench sighed heavily and from the depth of his broken heart, the image of a woman appeared. She soared through the bubble, smiling timidly at a younger version of Edward himself. He smiled bashfully back and ducked behind a small hedge.

“Tara…” he breathed. Miranda twisted her wrist in a complicated pattern and the bubble filled with more memories of the woman. Tara riding alongside Edward through a green field, Tara running through a stone corridor, Tara reading a book by the light of a crackling fireplace…

Tara’s broken body lying on the ground in front of him.

This shadow was darker and larger than the rest and looked at Miranda with eyes as dead as the man’s soul.

A strangled whisper came from Edward.

“I…I-I killed…”

Tears streamed down his clean-shaven face and his hand clutched at something in his pocket. Miranda however simply danced up on to the bench, still smiling down at the broken man. Edward looked up startled, seemingly noticing her for the first time.

“Edward Jameson, I bestow on you my blessing. Let light fill you and take from you all pain and hurt, so that you may begin to heal.”

She drew from him all darkness and suffering. She took his memories and surrounded them in a silver fog, hiding them from him until such a time as he could face them again. She took his mind, his identity and his past. The bubble grew heavy and when she finally closed it, it hovered low on the ground. It refused to budge until she’d tapped it with the crystal she kept hanging around her neck. The purple rock easily pierced the stormy shape, sending it swirling into nothingness.

Edward was now smiling, a confused expression playing on his face as he stared up at Miranda. She smiled back.

“It’s ok Edward. You can go now. Find your way, unimpeded by guilt or the past. Walk the forgotten roads until you are ready to become yourself again.”

He nodded once and then got up, walking off in the direction of the city centre.

Miranda watched him go and sighed.

Then, she danced away, trailing her rods behind her in a delicate display of colour and magic.-

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