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What's New
by Yannick Ford
Not For Sale
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The music of the dance filtered through the open window, the tunes weaving and turning and spiralling together, and he wanted to go out and join the celebration, but the Shade would not allow him.

The Shade was much in appearance these days. Ever since he had understood that the Deliverer had chosen him, the Shade seemed most concerned to keep him in the room. Not that the room was unpleasant – it was a large room of an old dwelling, with faded but comfortable furniture, and windows of small glass panes, individually sealed with black lead. Those windows were curious – they somehow twisted and altered the light, so that it became a half-light, and nothing was really distinct. But the Shade could not prevent the music from filtering in, and the music of joy made him want to escape from the Shade’s unwanted hovering, and to walk out into the brightness of the sun, and to see distinctly, and to join the dance.

The Shade did not object to books about joy, and explanations of musical theory, as to why one tune was pleasant and another was not, but to experience it for himself seemed impossible. There was a door, but the Shade blocked it every time he rose and went towards it, and the half-light prevented him from seeing it clearly, although it was only across a room, as when one cannot achieve a simple task in a dream, and the hindrances and frustrations arise continually.

The Shade was in appearance very like himself, and he sometimes wondered whether he himself was the Shade. The Deliverer had said that the Shade was dead, so he wondered too why the Shade was so active. Why did the Deliverer not come into the room and bring him out? He knew that the Deliverer had not forgotten him, because He would send snatches of song through the window, that seemed momentarily to enlighten the book he was reading, and to give meaning to the words that he had not seen before, but the Shade would darken the page by his hovering, and the half-light obscured the door. The hope would have left him completely but for the frequency of these snatches of song, that seemed to increase.

Today the music seemed more inviting than ever. As he listened intently to the tunes weaving and turning and spiralling together, he pictured himself in the sunshine, in the light, in a large space, and no shadow, no Shade, no half-light, no obscurity. The air was still and warm and heavy, and he drifted off to sleep, but he continued to hear the music. In his dream he found himself walking towards the door. The hindrances and frustrations arose immediately, but he had caught of glimpse of the Deliverer. It was as if the dream were familiar, but that somehow he could control the events, and alter the outcome. And yet it was not him at all, but the glimpse of the Deliverer. The Shade had once said that the promises of the Deliverer could not really be true for him, though they might be for others. And thus he had tried to stifle hope and sow the seeds of resignation and despair. But he saw now that the Deliverer was all that He had said He was, and he realised in an instant that the Shade was wrong. The confidence of the Shade was a deception, and the shame and disgust of having suffered a deception arose in him. He turned to find the Shade, but he was not, and he stumbled into the doorway, and then awoke.

It was now quite dark, and the music had ceased, but the memory of the tune lingered in his mind. He thought about his dream, and marvelled that he had been able to control the events, and to alter the outcome, and yet it had not really been his doing at all, but rather the glimpse of the Deliverer. He wanted to think again of what he had seen. As he did so, the darkness lifted, and a bright shaft of moonlight pierced through the window, and was not corrupted by that treacherous glass. It shone upon the bookcase, and he remembered the books of promises that he had read many years ago, and yet somehow had been lost to him in the half-light of that room. They were in their place, and the familiarity of them surprised him – how was it that he had not seen them for so long? He took them from the case, and read again that which was true about the Deliverer, and rejoiced to see the engravings, exactly picturing the glimpses he had seen in the dream. All the while the moonlight seemed to grow brighter, and the air, previously so still, became alive with breezes, carrying fragrances of hope that awakened memories of many years ago.

He drifted off to sleep again, and it seemed a dreamless sleep, but not oppressive as had been so much in recent days. When he awoke, he saw with distaste the half-light, but he could more or less see the door. The Shade arose to block it, but he looked intently, training his eyes to focus beyond, through the Shade, through the door, and into the open square outside. As he did so, he heard the music again, the tunes weaving and turning and spiralling together, and he arose. He fixed his focus in the distance, and stepped towards the door, trying to remember the way had had taken in his dream. And so it seemed that he was at the door in an instant, and the room and its half-light were fast fading away. He turned to find the Shade, to demand of him a reason for his execrable deception. But he saw in great surprise that the Shade was already dead. He saw his own face in that still, dusty, silent body, fading into the half-light.

The Deliverer caught him, and led him out into the brightness, and the tunes weaving and turning and spiralling together lifted his spirit in an ecstasy. “Why did You not come earlier to deliver me?” In his anguish when in the room, he had thought that he would ask this question, but now it seemed irrelevant, inappropriate. Indeed, it could have been asked of him – “Why did you not come out to Me?” But the Deliverer spoke only of welcome, and he did not ask his question, which faded from his mind as when one tries on awaking to recall a rapidly departing dream. The tunes weaving and turning and spiralling together led his feet to dance, and he realised in surprise that he knew the place he was in, and that he knew the joyful people there. They rejoiced to see him there, and drew him in, and on, and the joy he felt only increased, and he knew that it would increase for ever, and never fade, and that the half-light was gone.

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