I was walking through the hallway of my new dormitory. I had just seen my room and I wanted to check out the common areas. I saw a girl coming, pushing a cart awkwardly in front of her. Just as she reached me, the wheels caught on the spot where the carpet and wood floor came together. I instinctively offered to help and guided the front wheels onto the wooden section of floor. I continued along with her, guiding the front of her cart to her room as we chatted about our majors. She was in her second year as an art student at the school. That caught my attention and immediately made me curious as to what was under the tarp on her cart. I helped her maneuver the cart into her room, secretly hoping she would remove the tarp so I could see what was underneath. I wasn’t disappointed.
When she removed the tarp, I saw the eyes of an angel looking up at me. It was possibly one of the most beautiful carved statues I had ever seen. Seemingly part angel, part Madonna, her arms reached out as if to embrace anyone who approached. “No wonder the cart was so heavy and awkward!” I thought just as the girl lifted the Angel Madonna effortlessly off the heavy cart and placed her on the floor. I helped her move the cart to the side of the room, keeping my eyes on this carved wonder that had almost no weight. The girl noticed my expression and lifted the statue again, handing it to me. She was light as a feather and smooth to the touch. Not cold stone, as I had expected, nor squeaky bright plastic, but some material I have never seen or felt before. I cradled the Angel Madonna in my arms, turning her this way and that, studying the intricate carving and searching unsuccessfully for tell-tale lines of a pour mold. My jeweler’s instinct kicked in, wanting to know what she could be made of. “What is this material?” I asked, touching the statue as if I were caressing her.
“It’s a new material we’re working with in the art department here at the school. It’s experimental so I’m lucky to get to try it out. Yes, there’s a mold, but there’s no need for 2 parts, so there will never be a line. Isn’t it amazing?” I nodded and handed Angel Madonna (as I had come to call her) back to the artist.
“Now I wish I’d chosen art as a major instead of literature,” I joked. The artist led me around her roommates’ beds to a plaster mold the size of her statue. Lifting the top off, she placed the statue back inside and laid the mold down on its side. My eyes widened in amazement and almost horror as the mold, statue inside, collapsed in on itself, not crumbling as plaster would, but almost melting back into the cavity of the mold itself. All that remained was a faint outline of the statue’s shape — the intricately carved details gone forever.
“It’s so experimental, we’re not allowed to keep our work after it’s been completed and graded,” the artist explained. While we were talking, her roommates entered the room, talking and laughing with each other. Four girls shared each room and I hoped to have girls as friendly as this in my dorm also. We were having such a good time, I almost didn’t even notice the phone ringing until one of the roommates held it out to my artist friend saying “It’s for you.” She dove across her bed to take the phone and we laughed quietly that she was expecting a call from a boyfriend back home. Her expression and tone changed however when she heard the voice on the other end. “No I am NOT coming home!” she shouted into the receiver. The dark-haired roommate standing nearest to me explained, “It’s her sister. She’ll be on the phone for a while.”
“It’s ok. I really should be getting back to my room,” I said as I started to walk back around the beds and suitcases still out as the girls hadn’t all unpacked yet. The other two roommates were standing in my path to the door, passing clothes back and forth to each other to try on. Not wanting to interrupt them, I saw another door behind me, slightly open. I asked the dark-haired roommate, “Where does that door go? Will it get me back out into the hallway?”
“I don’t know,” she replied. “We’ve never been able to unlock it before…” Her voice trailed off as she saw the door standing open. “Let’s go find out!” she exclaimed and we eagerly went through, being careful that it didn’t lock behind us again.
We found ourselves in an unfamiliar common area. Knowing the girl with me was a 2nd year student, I asked if she’d been here before or recognized any of the students sitting around on the green leather couches chatting and laughing with each other. She shook her head as she kept her eye on one of the cute boys sitting on the arm of the couch. I smiled and nodded my good-bye to her as something else caught my eye. I eagerly hurried to what appeared to be an indoor bazaar.
Leaving the dorm-style common area, I was now standing in front of rows of vendors hawking their handmade goods. Each vendor was pleased to speak with me, and more than one commented that few people find their way to their little bizarre bazaar. Being indoors, tents were not needed, but many used them to set their space and style apart from others around them. The smell of homemade pies blended with incense and hand-dipped candles. I closed my eyes and could almost feel the soft, green grass of Scarborough Faire beneath my feet. Opening my eyes again, I made my way happily down row after row. One gentleman, dressed in Gypsy attire, called me over to his multi-colored tent. “You’ll never find finer tables than mine!” he touted. “And they’re even more special because they’re magical,” he added with a glint in his eye.
I stepped inside the tent to see fine hardwood furniture, and just as he promised, beautiful handmade dining tables, set with an equally elegant table setting, food, linens, drink and all. I touched the smooth, unstained wood, admiring how his work brought out the beauty of the wood itself.
“Have you ever spilled anything off a table before?” he asked me.
Feeling as though he knew me a little too well, I blushed and nodded.
“Never again!” the Gypsy proclaimed. “Watch this!” He quickly knocked over a full wine glass on one of the tables. The table itself sprung to life before my eyes, tilting this way and that to keep the wine from spilling out of the glass. Once the glass was upright on the table again, it settled back, having never moved a single dish or other wine glass out of place.
Watching my expression, the Gypsy told me, “Go ahead! Try it yourself.”
I reached out and pulled one of the placemats, attempting to pull it and the plates along with it off the table. Again, the table sprung into action, tilting and leaning all the way on its side to catch the wayward plates before they fell. I was certain that the full wine glasses would surely spill out with the table at a 90 degree angle to the floor this way, but each individual board tilted back on their own, almost instinctively keeping the glasses upright. I watched in stunned silence as the table — and each of the boards — slowly righted itself once again, all of the food and drinks still in place.
Knowing I could never afford such a table, I thanked the kind Gypsy and went out of his tent just as he enticed another shopper in to see the show. I turned and watched for a bit while he climbed onto the table and sat in the center, knocking more wine glasses and plates as he did. I laughed, seeing the table twisting and turning again, this time also keeping the man himself from falling off.
I continued along my adventure in the bazaar, rounding another tented corner where my senses were struck with another familiar scent. Turkey legs and sausage on a stick! My stomach grumbled even as I hurried forward to buy a favorite Faire food. I happily smothered my sausage on a stick with mustard, knowing much of it would end up on my shirt. I smiled to myself as I wondered how the table might stop food from spilling onto clothes as well. I decided to go back and speak to the Gypsy again to see if any of his napkins possessed the same magical qualities as his tables.
Going back around the corner again, I was suddenly surrounded by dozens of vendors. “Where did you get that food?” they asked. “We’ve been here so long without food. We’re starving!” That was when I realized that even the pies I had smelled earlier were on the opposite aisle, with a curtain between the food vendors and the handmade shopkeepers.
I showed the hungry shopkeepers that you could get to the food aisle by rounding the tent at the far end. I felt like Moses leading the people to the promised land (or possibly the Pied Piper?) as I guided my group of hungry shopkeepers to the food stands with turkey legs, sausage on a stick, baked potatoes, spiced ham, corn on the cob and other great foods. I couldn’t help noticing that each of them bought the same thing I had — sausage on a stick, smothered in mustard. Smiling, I led my group back to the other end of the food aisle to get some homemade pie.…
Don’t you just hate when the phone wakes you out of a nice dream?
The end. ?