Merida And The Princess DollMerida and the Princess Doll
By John Paul Dodds
As the cameras stopped rolling, Mickey Mouse came dancing out of the eponymously named House of Mouse.
Some primal mouse instinct warned him and he jumped back a second before a pair of hands reached out of the bush to grab him. “C'mere ye lying wee rodent, ye”. The heavy Scots brogue was instantly recognisable. Mickey backed up as a rather peeved looking Merida clambered out of the bush she'd been hiding in. “Errr... Hi... M...M...Merida”, Mickey mumbled, trying and failing to sound his normal, cheery self. “Err... What can I do for you”, he sounded brighter, but it was a brittle, false brightness. As if he already knew why she was here.
“Whit d' ye call this?!”, she demanded, thrusting the foot long cardboard box into his hands. Mickey looked down at the box, and through the clear plastic window, at it's contents. “H-heh”, mickey laughed nervously, “Well, it's y
Benjamin Francis died. The register of his death is written for all to see. All who bother to look that is. There was a funeral, a head stone, and a grave site...
...but there was no body to lay there in the cold, cold Earth, for none had been recovered. Star struck and mournful fans flock to his grave. To weep, to lay flowers, and to ponder the many films that may have been.
I didn't waste my time thinking about what might have been. I had a choice to make and I made it and have no regrets. I gave up on an audience of millions for a far bigger and better audience of one.
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When I opened my eyes I found myself staring at a field of white. It took me a moment to realize what it was. A plaster ceiling. I felt something beneath me, something like a cot. Along the top of the walls by that ceiling I noticed some blue stencil work on the white plaster walls. A Greek pattern. The familiar smell of sea water filled my nostrils.
The sea. My thoughts returned to the sea. It was the last thing I remembered before waking up again. I was drowning. Death was nigh.
And now here I was, staring up at...some ceiling, in some strange place I...
I gasped as my face blushed a bright red. Somehow, though I didn't want to imagine how, somewhere along the line I had lost something very important.
I curled up into a self-conscious ball. I noticed a toga that hung on the wall across from the cot. Quickly and, as covered as I could be, I hurried over to that opposite wall. I dressed faster than I had ever done before.
Once I felt a little more secure I decided to survey my surroundings. It was a very plain room, somewhat of a box. Other than the cot and the hook on the wall there was nothing there. No windows and no doors. There was not a light in the space and yet the room was well lit. There was a real sense of history about the place, though it wasn't something that I could really put my finger on.
As I stared at the wall with the hook on it I heard a strange sound. Like stone being dragged over stone. The wall to my left was receding as an opening slowly appeared. I peered around the corner and saw another room beyond. A room that had no windows or doors. A room that had no lights but was well lit. A room that had a simple, low, wooden table and a very plush looking cushion.
The table was loaded with a wide assortment of food, food that quickly reminded me about the missed meals I had over the past few days.
I didn't hesitate, such was my hunger that, after a quick prayer I began to eat. The food was delicious, the best that I'd had in a long, long time.
I glanced around the room as I ate. The wall I had come through had closed behind me, a fact that my hunger had hidden from me all too perfectly.
When I had finished eating another wall opened revealing yet another room. A room with row upon row of tall wooden shelves. Once I had stepped into the room the wall behind me closed. At first glance they looked like wines racks until I saw what was inside each slot. There were scrolls. Hundreds upon hundreds of scrolls.
I glanced down each isle. No one was there.
“Hello?” I tentatively called out. “Is anyone there?”
I waited for response.
And I waited.
There was no response other than silence.
Again I called out:
“Is anyone there?”
I was rewarded with a series of loud, booming BANGS! The sound reverberated off of the walls again and again and again! I covered my ears...but the pain was intense! I could feel the vibrations down to my very core. I waited until the sound had died down before I slowly uncovered my ears. The palms of both hands felt warm and wet. I glanced down at my hands and saw the blood. My ears were bleeding. I glanced up at the roof.
Clearly, whoever, or whatever was up there, did not want to hear me speak.
Time soon lost all it's meaning for me. Each day was the same. I began in the “bedroom”, then moved to the “dinning room”, then to the “library” , and back to the “bedroom”. Day after day...
Of course, without any way to measure the passage of time I'm not really sure how many real days had passed. Day turned to night and into day again. Days without the sun and nights without the stars.
It was all so strange.
The whole place was strange and its effects on me were even stranger.
Countless days and nights passed and I never felt the need to go to the bathroom, or any pain from not going either. I was grateful for that since there was no place for me to go...at least no decent place!
Every day my mind was awash with questions.
Just who built this place?
Who left the food?
Had they saved me from the sea?
Was I a prisoner?
Were they watching over all the time?
Why hadn't they shown themselves yet?
Why did I have to remain silent?
Was this a some kind of test?
Or a punishment?
I sat on the “library” floor with my back to one of the walls and my head resting against my knees. I felt a fear, a panic driven fear slowly surrounding me, wrapping around me like a giant constrictor. A fear that was palatable. A fear greater than when I was drowning in the sea.
I was alone...
...but I wasn't.
I was somewhere...
...yet I wasn't anywhere.
Each day was the same. Though they weren't really days. They were Day-less days.
Time passed. It dragged by like a dull rusty knife...slow and painful...
...and yet it zoomed ahead with terrific and frightening speed.
And time sat still.
Day after day.
Day after day.
Day after day.
Day after day!
DAY AFTER DAY!!
I felt tense. I felt that someone or something was out there...watching me. I felt like a prey animal awaiting the strike of a hidden predator.
Days without sunlight and nights without stars. The future was the past and the past was the present. I was stuck. Stuck in a place where time held no meaning and meaning held no clear definition. My nerves were raw and ragged.
I wanted to run away!
Run away from that place!
Run away from myself!
I began to rock back and forth, over...
I was on the verge of tears, on the verge of a panic attack when I heard her voice. A sound that was like water to a man lost in the desert. Her sweet voice lifted me from the iron grip of an encroaching despair.
“I am so, so sorry!” She sweetly called from the ceiling above. “I never meant for this to happen! I just...I just...” I heard her sigh. “I just let my fear get away with me.”
I looked up to the ceiling. Still hesitant to move, still reluctant to speak.
“Oh please!” The voice tenderly pleaded. “Don't shut me out! Please, speak to me!”
With great caution and, some apprehension, I spoke:
“Did...did y...you save m...me?” I stuttered.
There was a long pause before she answered.
I let her answer sink in for a while before I spoke again:
“Thank you. I owe you my life...” I stopped as another thought occurred to me. “...where are you?”
There was a painfully long pause before she replied:
“Then...why don't you show yourself?” I asked. “Are you...afraid of me?”
“No.” She replied “I am afraid that you will fear me!”
I thought about her reply for a while than said:
“I would still like to see you. Might make it feels less...”
“Lonely?” She interjected.
“Yes.” I solemnly replied.
Then there was silence. A long unbroken silence.
Then, slowly inch by inch and foot by foot the ceiling slid aside...
...and there she stood!
The figure of a young woman, a giantess!
A long dress like toga hugged her slender feminine frame. Her jewel like eyes stared curiously down at me, her golden blond hair was tied up in a conservative bun behind her head.
“It is considered very rude to stare you know.” she chided. Then I remembered.
“That was you!” I excitedly exclaimed. “On Lilliput! Your the one I met on the beach!”
She nodded with a warm half-smile.
I stared up at her in awestruck wonder. I could see her face far more clearly now. Her ivory skin was flawless. Her emerald eyes were all the more captivating, all the more lovely. Without really thinking a question escaped my lips.
“What...what's your name?”
“They call me Cali.”
“Cali...” I repeated aloud. “Is that short for something else?”
She just sort gave me a knowing sort of half-smile. Clearly she wasn't planning on telling me her full name right away, so I decided to drop the subject for now.
“Where are we?”
“The island of Ogygia.” She replied with a somber tone. “I...have been here...alone for a long, long time.” She paused as a deeply sorrowful look crossed her face. “So very, very long.”
I thought about asking her how she came to be one the island...
...but I thought better of it and decided to wait for her to tell me. So I changed the subject.
“My name is Benjamin Francis. I'm...well I was an actor...”
“An actor?” She interjected the excitement in her voice was somewhat obvious. “What have you performed?”
“Well...I've been in two movies to far...”
She stared at me a perplexed look on her face.
“What is a moo-vie?”
I was stunned silent...
...but only very briefly.
“Well...its a way to...show a story to a bigger audience! A much, much bigger audience.”
“Oh...” she replied with a long sigh. Then she looked to me with the same confusion in her eyes. “Just two?”
“Well as I was on my way to film a third when...”
A look of sorrow crossed her face.
“So your...career...was...just beginning?”
She rubbed her chin thoughtfully.
“Was it...” She stopped and swallowed hard. “Was it...a good career?”
“Well...I was good at it.” I sheepishly admitted.
“And...do you miss it?” She tentatively asked. “I mean really miss it.”
I thought about it for a while, a long while before I answered.
“It's hard to leave...any life behind. I am good at it...or so I've been told anyway! I guess...I'm more...curious.”
“Curious?” She repeated quizzically.
“As to what I would have...could have done next.”
She seemed to reflect on my response and by the look on her face it seemed that she wasn't to pleased with the sound of it either. Again I tried to change the subject.
“So...what were you doing on Lilliput, if you don't mind my asking.”
“It gets so...lonely here on the island.” Cali replied with a sigh. “Lilliput is...the only place I can reach. The only land within my reach.”
“Well that makes...” my first encounter with Cali popped back into my memory. Our roles were reversed then: she was small and I was tall. “Did you...how...” I stopped and took a calming breath to collect my thoughts. “ Can you...you know, change sizes? I mean on Lilliput you were...”
She sighed and gazed up at the ceiling far above her.
“You have a lot of questions Mr Francis. A lot...” She held her silence for a long time before she looked down at me with a gentle smile on her face. “I'll tell you what. For every thing I tell you about me and my world you have to tell me something about you and the modern world. Deal?”
Life on the isle of Ogygia had changed dramatically from those first terrible weeks and countless weeks of days. Day by day she escorted me across her island as day by day we exchanged our tales of the worlds we knew.
“So Arachne won that contest?”
“Truly!” Cali happily replied. “Athena beat her to death for besting her that day.”
She took me to her garden, which grew truer and greener than any I had ever seen before.
“Truly?” she asked, with her eyes wide.
“Yes, it's true! It happened back in 1969 with two men named Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin!”
She took me to her map room and showed to me the 3-D model of Mount Olympus.
“Yes only once was the great Heracles bested in a feat of strength.” Cali had explained. “By a strong man of the east. A man with long black hair.”
Each day we ate in her dining room and every night she shared an additional story about her world of magic and wonder.
As time passed, day by day, week by week and month by month the bond between us grew stronger and stronger. In time she had taken me all over the island save for one place. One room in her house was off limits. It was a room that she very rarely entered and when she did she always came out with a glum sorrowful look on her face. A look that faded quickly, but still had me worried. What was in that room? What wasn't she telling me?
Her smile warmed me heart and soul and her laugh made me blush. Though I had tried very hard to dismiss the possibility, the truth became clear. I had fallen in love with my hostess.
It was one night at dinner that I decided to tell her. Wait for the right moment to tell her how I felt.
As she buttered the flat bread she spoke.
“It'll be just a few days now.” She longingly announced a bright smile on her angelic face. “Just a few more days and he'll be here!”
“Someone's coming?” I asked my hunger abated for the moment. “You mean...you get vistitors on this island?”
“Not just visitors!” She Merrily giggled. “HE COMES! OH, YOU'VE JUST GOT TO MEET HIM, YOU'VE REALLY GOT TO MEET HIM! THERE'S NO ONE ELSE LIKE HIM IN ALL OLYMPUS!”
“WHO? WHO IS COMMING?” I excitedly asked. “WHO?...IS IT ZUES?'
A bitter frown briefly crossed her porcelain face and her smile quickly returned.
“Why the gift giver of Myra! The Sinterklaas...Father Christmas!”
It took a moment for me to catch up, but just a moment.
“Santa Claus? He's...he's...REAL?!”
“Of course he's real!” Cali gently chided. “I did say that he was coming here right?”
I figured that Christmas was near...nearer than I thought.
“And...does he bring you...anything?” I tentatively asked.
She wrung her hands nervously together.
“I hope this is the year. I hope this is the year!”
I didn't know what to say so I didn't say anything.
It happened on the Eve of Christmas, she stayed far too long within the forbidden room leaving me waiting anxiously outside. When she came out tears were flowing down her face and a pained look was in her eyes. She ran from me without saying a single word.
There was silence for the remainder of the day. Cali never spoke to me and never left the isolation of her room. As midnight drew near I heard the sound of bells ringing in the night air. Then came the sound of something up atop the roof high above. I was curious and wanted to see if this was the famous Saint Nick...however I just couldn't get myself to leave Cali's bedroom door.
“So you're the latest to be drawn to Ogygia?”
I was startled and very nearly fell over. There he stood before me a GIANT of man all clad in fine red clothes trimmed with a rich brown fur. He was a burly man, with a powerful, but gentle face. He wore a hooded cloak adorned with woven images of the Advent all over. In one hand he held a Crook like staff and in the other, just over his shoulder a great big sack. He stroked his great white beard with his gloved hand as he stared down at me with warm compassionate eyes.
Again I found myself at a loss for words and simply stuttered.
He beamed a great smile at me which set my heart at ease.
“What is that you want Ben?” the jolly old soul tenderly asked. “What, in this wide world do you really want from life? Are you happy with what you have? Is Hollywood really what you want...what you think you need?”
“I...I don't...I don't understand...”
In the blink of an eye he shrank down to my size and placed his hand on my shoulder, and I felt a peace that I had never before known.
“You care for Cali don't you?”
As I stared into his eyes I was compelled to answer without any deceit or deception.
“I love her.”
“And that...” the old man kindly replied. “In that love there is hope.” He took a deep breath and continued. “Your choice will make or break the dear Cali.”
“I don't understand.”
“You were on Lilliput.” Father Christmas continued. “You heard of the Promethean fire?”
“To save mankind Prometheus stole that “fire”. He took it to Lilliput and cut off the isle from the world of men and Olympus. But,” He sternly added. “It was not his idea.” He looked to Cali's door. “It was his daughter plan...”
“Calypso!” the name escaped my lips as the truth dawned on me. Cali was Calypso. The Titan fated to await her true love, cruelly fated by Zeus to fall in love with every man who washed up on her shores. Men who would be called by the lives they left behind, lives that would take them from her. Forever.
“You,” he said as he gazed upon me once more. “Are only the latest to find here here. You are her last hope for I fear that her heart can not take another rejection...” he paused for a moment, perhaps to let his words sink in. “...however the choice must be yours.” He held out a crystal ball to me. “The life you have left behind calls to you...” Tentatively I reached out and touched the ball. Images of awards and accolades flashed before me. There would be bigger and better roles if I returned. Greater fame, fortune, and opportunities behind the camera.
I released the ball and stared at the gentle old soul, my mind awash with the sea of possibilities.
“So you know.” Calypso interjected.
I looked back to the door. She stood there her hands clasped firmly together a somber look on her face.
“And now I must ask, as I have had to ask so many before you...” She gazed into my eyes with uncertainty in hers. “What will do? Will you stay here with me, or reclaim the life you have lost? The choice is yours...”
|He's more machine now than man...No one knows from whence he came. He is an enigma, to all who have met him, and few can recall having done so. No one knows just who...or what he is. man? Machine? Or something else entirely?|