Requiem for an Elf

The Continuum Cafe is open! Pull up a stool in the one place where writers, readers, and characters interact. Courtesy of your Bartender, Eldric, and the Piano Player, Dylan, and the Delivery-man, Jake.
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Requiem for an Elf

Postby eldric on Thu Feb 08, 2018 1:33 pm

"You are a coward," Eldric, the Continuum Elf faced a female of his species, who resembled him strongly, "and the Continuum Café is dead because of you."

She watched him without speaking, debating whether she would respond.

"Because of your cowardice and self-absorption," Eldric announced loudly, gesturing in her direction, "Dylan Clearbrook has left this place. Even Jake rarely visits anymore. And no one else has crossed that threshold anytime recently!"

She ignored him, stepping away from him and walking around the café. She stopped at the bar, glancing at the neatly stacked glasses, pulling one down to inspect it for cleanliness. Satisfied, she put it back. She stepped towards the fireplace, checking it for damage and adjusting the damper.

"Dylan knew just what you are!" Eldric crowed as she stepped away from the fireplace, walking towards the piano. It had not been played in some time and the dust had accumulated. She grabbed the dust rag that hung behind the piano, making quick work of the dust. Stepping towards the front door, she unbolted it long enough to shake out the rag. She debated whether to tune the piano, but realized that was part of its charm. She tried to visualize a trained pianist playing it. The image brought a smile to her lips. No...some things were meant to be the way they were.

"Get out of this place!" Eldric bellowed. "You have no right to be here! Even your own mother won't talk to you, you freak!"

She let him rage while she continued her inspection. She stepped towards Hipkarma's kitchen. Even she had never been inside...a very wise move on her part, she considered.

"People like you are mentally ill and completely misguided!" Eldric charged. "You don't exist; you just think you do!"

That last brought a smile to her lips.

"Wasn't it Descartes who said 'I think, therefore I am?'" She turned to walk through the door that led to the private rooms on the lower level. They were all open, vacant, abandoned. She shook her head sadly as Eldric approached once more.

"You caused this!!!" Eldric charged, angrily. "These rooms are empty because of what you did!"

"Are they?" She asked.

"Even Jenny and Linda left because of you," Eldric announced angrily. "Everything that happened here happened because of you!"

"Yes," she responded with a touch of pride, "that is absolutely true. This place is my responsibility and my actions helped birth its existence. And I am at least partly responsible for its future."

"You little bitch..." Eldric howled. "Dylan was right to say that you can't exist...you are just a delusion."

Her eyes narrowed with annoyance. She turned back to her task, using her powers to open all the windows across the level at once, bringing sunlight into the rooms. She focused the wind, using it to clear out the cobwebs and the dust. The rooms appeared clean and livable once more.

"I do believe in clearing the air," she announced confidently. "I have lived too long in the shadows. I am done with that; I am the child of day." A stray thought brought a chuckle, "...even if I believe a sunrise is the last thing I want to see before going to bed!"

"You have no power here!" Eldric bellowed. "It is time for you to leave, to return whence you came!"

Ignoring him, she flew up the stairs, opening the doors and windows of the upstairs rooms, allowing the clean air and sunshine to bring new warmth to the rooms as she used the wind to clear the dust and debris from those rooms.

"Sometimes," she spoke as he reappeared, "things and people are not as they seem or as they, themselves, believe." She stepped down the corridor, remembering the residents; Jake the adventurer, Stee the historian, Hipkarma the Amazon, and of course Dylan himself. She shook her head, sorrowed by their absence. "You are right," she announced, "so much of this is my doing." She glanced at him. "Had it been truly your doing, the lead characters of our Realms would have been Superman, Batman, and a litany of other male characters. Instead, Linda, Faith, Kara, and Lannie lead so many of the stories. Why? Because I can't write male characters worth a damn."

"The first of so many of your crimes!" Eldric accused, but not as loudly as before. "This was meant to be a place for real men!"

She ignored him, continuing with her thought.

"Instead, my heroes were Kara Zor-El, Linda Danvers, Helena Wayne, and Jennie-Lynn Hayden Scott," she emphasized. "Why do you think that Kara called to me? She knew what I was, even if I did not want to believe it."

"She called Dylan Clearbrook and me!" Eldric retorted.

"No," she counseled. "I am Dylan's natural counterbalance," she assured him. "That was why things worked...we kept each other from going too far off the deep end."

"You killed off 'Dark Earth,'" Eldric accused.

"The good gardener tends the garden," she smiled. "Dylan taught me that. And I did not kill 'Dark Earth.' I simply wrote its epitaph."

"And you destroyed me, destroyed the Continuum Cafe!" He trumpeted. In an earlier day, he could have successfully baited her. But now she felt only a certain calm.

"We have been through all of that," she addressed him without emotion. "I have been through years of counseling to resolve who I am. Why do I not let you continue to take the lead for our life? Because it doesn't work. It never did, not really. I may not be what you or anyone else wants me to be. But I am for the first time, at least, a real person."

"You use drugs to make you what you want to be!" Eldric argued.

"True," she agreed. "But those drugs are properly and thoughtfully prescribed by medical professionals. As well, I also must use lenses to correct my vision. We are not young, my friend. But now I can see and think clearly."

"Ella, you were born a man!" Eldric accused. "God doesn't make mistakes!"

"God allows diversity," Ella stated flatly. "And I was never quite a man. I have a failed endocrine system to thank for that. But thankfully, Hormone Replacement Therapy has, at least, provided what I needed for my body to heal, even as it puts me through the opposite puberty."

"You look like a girl!" Eldric sneered. "Stop this idiocy and obey me!"

"And do what?" Her left eyebrow rose. "What dreams do you have? What would you do with our life?"

He glanced at her curiously, puzzled.

"What drives you?" Ella pressed. "How about that atrocious suicide rate among transgender people? The astronomical murder rate, especially against transwomen of color, and the violence against those who can't pass?"

"You think you are so privileged!" Eldric accused her. "You are not real! You are nothing but a..."

"Passing transwoman?" Ella nodded her head. "That I am. And I know that not everyone is so lucky or can find the strength and resources to transition safely. Very few have the resources of a Caitlyn Jenner. One of my friends once said that 'Trans is a club no one wants to belong to.' And that is true. But I am indeed a member of that club and I can only go forward with my life." She stepped out of the private area and onto the part of the balcony that oversaw the main room of the café. Calling her power once more, she flew down towards the fireplace, lighting the logs that awaited her. As the flames began to burn, she smiled with satisfaction.

"I know you don't like this," Ella assured him as he watched. "It's probably a bit like the Twilight Zone episode, 'The Man in the Mirror', where the reflection in the mirror took over the body of the man who glanced into the mirror."

"But in that case," Eldric recalled, "the reflection was a far stronger person, much more able to take on the world."

"Yes," Ella agreed confidently, "exactly! And I will."

"Then why didn't you before?" He posed a question to which they both knew the answer.

"I was born into a world that did not allow me to exist," she related with sadness. "I was treated for my 'personality disorder' by mental health professionals who felt I was 'too sensitive'." She shook her head with regret. "Drugs, behavior therapy, and instruction to withdraw at the least sign of conflict. They submerged me and created you. But you were never able to fully function because you were never real...You were Pinocchio turned back into a puppet."

She glanced at him sympathetically.

"You functioned well enough for their purposes, I suppose," she conceded. "You went through the motions, but you never lived. But, you functioned well enough for society and, had it not been for Kara, you would have remained in control. But, you see, she knew who I was."

"Ella," he protested, but not loudly, "that isn't true."

"Isn't it?" A sparkle came into her eyes. "I started off trying to write Alan Scott. How long did that last, before Linda Kyle broke loose and took over the stories? And then Faith? While you remained the surface personality, I was growing stronger, more focused, and far more able to script and write a story. And then came the relationship with Vena that could never last because you were not real."

"That was my life!" He protested.

"That was the beginning of your surrender," she proclaimed, frowning, "as you struggled to submit yourself to a relationship that you were not strong enough to withstand. And then it all came crashing down. And, for the first time in far too many years, I knew who I was."

She saw sorrow in his eyes as he seemed to accept what he had not wanted to admit to himself. She glanced at him, nodding with appreciation.

"I do thank you, Eldric. You shielded me until I could take care of myself and find the help I so desperately needed." She nodded gratefully towards him. "But this life is now my journey and my responsibility." Ella glanced away from him, looking around the Cafe. "I do hope our friends will come back. I believe we still have a lot we can do. And I will be sorry if they don't. But either way, I must move forward. And I do have plans for my life! I am not done."

Eldric glanced once more at the Café, considering her words as she watched patiently. Her sense of purpose was evident to him and he had to admit that he believed in what she stood for. He envied her confidence, sorry that it had never been his. Finally, he glanced at Ella, nodding with certainty.

"I envy you...you know who you are, Ella. I never really did," he admitted, before smiling mischievously. "But you really are a bitch!"

She broke into laughter.

"Absolutely!" She agreed, "I have to be, to hold my own around here!"

"You do, and you will," he nodded with a smile. "Just do the one thing I could never figure out how to do. Make this life count for something you can believe in!"

"I will," she assured him. And then he was gone.

She considered him, remembered their life together. And she appreciated his final words of wisdom. Then she turned her gaze towards the Café. It had been closed for so long. Just what could she do?

Well, there would likely not be much entertainment or food, but she could at least open the bar. That would at least be a new beginning. And then? Only tomorrow would tell...in any case, it would be her tomorrow. And she could ask for no more.
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Re: Requiem for an Elf

Postby Nomad on Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:39 pm

"Hey!" came the voice from the kitchen. "The soup ain't ready yet! I'm still perfecting the recipe."

Jake stuck his head out and took a look around, seeing only Ella and the dusty stools. The apron he wore was stained badly, some fresh, others not so much. A wooden spoon in one hand and a well used carving knife in the other.

He grimaced as he looked out the front window and saw the sun rising...another new day in the cafe'. He pointing the spoon at Ella before motioning to the rest of the place.

"You might wanna get those chairs dusted and put out some new tablecloths. We got customers coming."

Ella looked around, knowing that it had been quite some time since anyone had been here, but then was equally surprised when she looked out the front window and started seeing people congregate. Something was starting to draw them closer and closer. She looked back at Jake who just huffed in amusement at her confusion.

"What is it?" he asked, confident that he already knew the question.

"How?" she pondered, near flabbergasted as people drew nearer. "Why are they coming?"

"Sister, you got a lot to learn. This place was never supposed to be bar. Ya go to a bar to drown your sorrows. People dont wanna remember the times where they had to do that. But you cook 'em a good meal, well, people remember that. They remember that good taste, that feeling of being full and satisfied. They remember the conversation. They remember the people they were with."

"But everyone has been gone for so long..."

"Oh, horse crap! None of us were ever gone. I've been in the kitchen cooking and Dylan is out back bottling up what he has been fermenting all this time. I think he just got confused on how to label it, is all. Too strong to be a beer...maybe a nice ale or even a good stout. I guess we will see, huh?"

Ella grinned and started to tidy up the place before a thought hit her. "Do you think people will understand? Ya know, about me?"

"What's to understand? It aint whats on the outside that counts. Only a fool looks at just the surface. They are gonna recognize who ya are deep down. Thats what really matters." Stepping behind the bar, dusted off the portraits of those that had been memorialized here: Michael, Jason, Hipkarma, Bob, Chip, Andrew, John, DTO, Brian, Kyle. Pondering for a moment, he pulled down two of the three pictures that were in the center: Himself and Eldric.

Tossing the ancient picture of himself to the side, he hung up a new one. It showed the lines etched into his face, the greying of his beard, the lack of innocence so apparent in the original.

"There we go. I dont think the old one shows me anymore. Too damned naive I think."

"It still looked like you though," Ella said as she replaced tablecloths.

"Gotta look deep down, remember?"

"Touche'."

Jake pondered the picture of Eldric for a moment, wondering if he should place it now with the others memorialized. Instead he put up a picture of Ella in the old spot, symbolizing the change and not a retirement. Satisfied, he adjusted the apron and headed back for the kitchen.

"Looking good out here, girl," he quipped. "I gotta stir the soup some more, then we can start serving the customers. If ya got the time, maybe you can whip up some of that dessert your famous for. I think it would go great with dinner and a drink..."
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