The corridor is terribly cold. The lamps shine ever so tired if not worse. She has slipped out into this unfriendly passage to investigate again if there was not after all a way out of this house. But it is as before, no change or indication of change. Or is it? She stops hearing voices coming from one of the other doors. So far she had not been interested in exploring any of them as they did not promise anything she was interested in, mainly how to get out of here. But maybe she is wrong and there is another possibility though not an obvious one. She should at least investigate.
She follows the voices and stops in front of a simple wooden door that lies in the shadow of an already poorly lit hall-way. There is quite a bit of noise and commotion coming from behind. She puts her ear on the wood and clearly hears several voices carrying on amongst the clambering of dishes and glasses. She cannot understand what they say but whatever it is, her curiosity wins over any caution and she pushes the handle down not concerned about the little click it makes. Surely nobody inside would be hearing it!
She opens the door far enough to get a good glance into and is bewildered. There is a fine dining event going on with all the signs of being an upper class affair. Lit chandeliers hang over the long table, crystal glasses sparkle amongst fine china, and servants in posh uniforms run to and fro. The ladies wear glamourous evening gowns and the men are in their formals and very gallant. On the further end the company is vividly engaged in talking with each other, while most of the other are quietly eating and mainly interested in their food. The table is laden with culinary delights. One would be stupid not to want to join such a feast! She spots an empty chair and makes up her mind that it is just the place for her. After all, one needs to party when the opportunity rises. She loves a good party any time. But it does not turn out the way she expects. Firstly the servants try to hold her up. ‘She was not invited’, they say, ‘she does not belong.’ What do they know!
“Hold your reigns!” she tells them. “You don’t know who I am! I am the Comtezza Crème de la Crème!!!”
They hesitate. But as she takes the seat in confident manner and nobody of the company protesting either they finally let her be and serve her as well. Sadly there is another obstacle keeping her from enjoying the feed. The delicatessens of the banquet are inedible. They are in fact made of colored paper pulp. But these people eat them as if they were the real thing! Well they obviously eat with their eyes only, the food looks real enough, but it tastes exactly of what it is, p a p e r p u l p !
She grabs a decanter with water not even considering the whine to be worth the try. She fills her glass and takes a sip. It is water and tastes good, so she empties it in one go. After all, the table offers something valuable though not as expected. She leans back in her seat and pays attention to the gathered company. She listens into their conversations. The current topic is the hunt. Well, this is obviously a society that likes to blunder.
The woman next to her turns suddenly to her. After having been eyed long enough by her she says: “Ah my dear, what an exciting dress you wear! Tres chic, tres chic! You know, in Saturnia this is the latest fashion. Or did you just come from there?”
Femina looks down on her. She still wears jeans and a T-shirt. But if her seat-neighbor thinks this is Saturnia’s dernier cri, so be it. She is not going to argue.
“Ah, you come from Saturnia? How interesting!” The guy seated next to her on the other side takes up the conversation obviously having heard only half of what had been said.
“No, no! I come from next door!” She exclaims, trying to stop any further pointless discussion.
But the neighbor continues undeterred: “That’s good! You are in good luck, because in Saturnia they have currently nothing but troubles, social troubles! They had to invoke a curfew just recently!”
“Ah, never mind!” Madam Bling counters. “You should see their officers! They are so charming, and really strappy!” Her eyes gleam revealingly.
The man being interrupted in his attempt to strike a conversation seems to get nervous. He clears his throat and has suddenly a twitching eye. ‘He’s probably impotent!’ thinks Femina, ‘why else would he be reacting like that!’
She scans the rest of the people at the table for any pretty face. But she cannot find one. Neither the robes, nor the jewels, nor make-up can save them. They are ugly, no matter what they do. No surprise really! Paper pulp eaters!!!
She has enough of them, but just as she wants to leave a little ensemble appears to give a performance. They are the wandering travelers’ kind keeping everything simple and basic, but their cloths are colorful and they are brilliant performers and comedians. They are also beautiful people with passion in their eyes and strength in their blood. Femina can feel their heart beating and somehow she cannot help but think that she knows them. She surges in their faces but has finally to resign to the fact that she has never seen them before however familiar they may seem. Anyway, the fiddler of the troop has caught her particular interest. She definitely wants to get to know him. That is no problem as he is interested in her too.
She is the only one who enjoys the performance and indeed the only one who applauds. Obviously the noble diners find nothing to laugh about. Femina understands them knowing what they eat.
When the troop leaves she joins them and stays with them for the days to come. Strictly speaking it is for the nights to come because during the day she attends the education center to avoid giving rise to any suspicions. But as soon as the night falls she disappears to the city’s outskirts and the caravan park where her friends reside. It is an intensive, beautiful time she spends with them, filled with intoxicating romance and sobering passion. Sadly they have to move on too soon for her liking but council has given them the order.
Femina finds it hard to let go of them. It seems as if they were taking all life with it. Against better reason she says to her violin player that she wants to come with him. He looks at her long and deep but then he shakes his head. “You look for freedom”, he says, “it is not me you want. And how would you be able to adjust to our way of life, live according to our rules?”
He is of course right. No need to answer. Of course, she is a bit disappointed that he does not find a reason to take her with him. On the other hand she is grateful that he keeps his cool. He will therefore always have a special place in her heart. Besides, she certainly has no sympathy for nor wants to adjust to someone else’s rules. So she says her good byes, and waves after them as one caravan after the other leaves the park.