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Black ruffled dress, dark hat and ribbons flowing, one fishnet sleeve on the left arm, the right as bare as all sin, and hands as liquid love. She steps into the fading rays of an overcast day looking out over the baked denizens of aural delight who appear for one show and witness another in the towering goddess and her shorter white escort. The pig-tailed delight grows tall, tall to heaven, and fills the room when there are no walls. Smiles as she mingles in the crowd of onlookers and pauses when one of them wants a memento. They all watch her walk along the path between the bodies, elegantly, and so easily that it makes them wish they could be as tall as a goddess and hopefully half as beautiful in a tattered Victorian rag. They never will, not like her, and she is blessed in this fact.

The trick to the grand show is in the crinkle. No one notices, but that's where it is. She looks down at a child as she looks down at a man and the crinkle at the corner of her mouth catches them all by surprise. The goddess smiles down upon them and they thank her silently. It makes her like them and above them, above them all.

A little girl waves and the goddess slows time as she waves back, left and right and right and left, fingers flowing as threads in space, and she is lost. Visions of blinding sunlight and starshine filling her eyes. A kingdom, far from here, far from now, and she knows that she is meant to be there. She can almost reach it, high as she is. It is there, and she can smell the burning embers of the warm fire that she must deserve for being here, and being beautiful and tall and elegant.

She does not just parade herself--no, she doesn't. She brings such joy into the their hearts, Kevin. She does... she wishes you could see their eyes. They love her so much and you don't understand, you dont. She presents the possibilities of endless beauty and in her steady lumbering stride she brings them all into her bubble, into her world. She's so good to them and they don't demand anything of her because they love her even if they don't say it...

A mere thundering boom cracks the bubble, and a little girl's attention is called to the stage back on the world's surface.

Performers--men with guitars and women on tamborines--on stage to begin their show where the crowd begins to form upon them. The grandest woman walks beside them, unnoticed and a distant memory. A photograph, a smile, a caress of a hand--her remains among the people who dwelled in her space for a time and lifted her to great heights. Her divinity crushed by so much interference and mic checks.

She dawdles along, out of view, and her companion closely in tow until they come upon a barren dirt-topped layover behind the food service tents.

"Hey," says the goddess. "How's your leg?"

The shorter white lovely reaches down, undoing straps one and the other, then lowers herself further until she is mere human. She smiles up at the goddess and touches upon her thigh.

"It's not too bad, just needed time off the poles."

"Yea, well don't push it."

She mustn't, or risk not returning to her place in heaven.

"Yea I know. I'll keep off it this week, I promise." The woman, a deceptively small blonde beneath a curtain of powder, gathers her legs and walks toward the parking lot as she waves goodbye.

"You want to come?" she adds. "I'm meeting Steph for pizza at Tino's."

"No," says the goddess, "no, I'm okay. I need to go to the store and pick up a few things."

"Okay. Call me tomorrow?"

The black-ruffled goddess nods and says goodbye.

The sun rolls along the glass dome and the above the thunder gets louder, and the cheers fill the air all around. The goddess' strands fall free and slide across her face when the wind hugs her and urges her to stay where it can be with her. She glances out across the top of the tents and sees a girl perched atop a young man's shoulders, arms high in the air. Beyond is a woman in a long coat coaxing a high-pitched screech from smoke-choked lungs.

The goddess tells the wind "no" before loosening the straps and lowering herself. The noises below envelop her further, all that she is.

Smiles and screams for the siren usurper.

Dirt gathers along the fringes of her dress; the woman in the black dress yawns. What a glorious dream... what a glorious day. Her feet ache and the red sheen upon her face reminds her what she forgot. She enters an empty tent and lifts her black bag from a pile. The black dress, and the hat, and single fishnet sleeve come off. Torn jeans and a t-shirt that says "Tide" then adorn her and make her more human than she cares to consider. The ribbons in her hair fall to the ground as she shakes her curls loose and sighs through her nose. Beer in a cooler keeps her company until she must leave. Bitter and calming, like a sweet embrace from a hated friend.

When the day ends the workers dismantle the stage and ravel the cords criss-crossing across the grounds where hoppers and dancers and arm flailers bounced to the music and lived for the moment when everything for a while... for a while. And as life resumes and the future beckons the revelers depart and leave behind the sense of wonder and freedom inside the beer cans on the grass and the rumpled paper bags.

The woman in torn jeans and a t-shirt exits the tent and she is Mel. No longer the goddess... no longer above. Long aluminum poles in hand, she exits the tent and waves to familiars on her way to the parking lot. Her brown Honda Accord with the faded hood and red tape for a taillight does not beckon nor carry her on wings of golden feathered silk to the birthplace of smiles and the eternal loving embrace. She drives among people, and cars, and dirty little animals, until she stops at a store near her home.

"That'll be three-fifty," says the clerk.

A bottle of sunblock in a bag on the front seat as she drives to her apartment over the hill on Geary, near the Presidio, where her boyfriend Kevin finds her tired and not in the mood.

"C'mon Mel. Look at you. I don't get why you keep doing this. You come back tired and depressed every time. If this stilts shit is so much fun why're you always like this when you get back?"

"I know you don't get it. There are lots of things you don't get, Kev."

"Look, I don't want to get into a fight about this again. You do it until you realize there's no point. I'll support you..." her hair in his hand, "as long as you like." He kisses her neck and she turns away towards the television; commercial for laundry soap.

"There's always a point. Good or bad, there's always a point."

"Don't get poetic on me now Mel, then I'll really be lost." He sits beside her and holds her hand. "You know I care about you babe. I just want you happy. Is it too much to ask to see you happy?"

She crinkles the corner of her mouth and allows him to kiss her, softly, and as he begins to move his hand up along her thigh his lips move up along her jaw, towards her ear, she pulls away. He pleads and he charms; she relents. Mel stares past his glistening ear and dark hair and she notices that a stain on the ceiling is shaped like a dog paddling along a lake, probably looking for a stick that was never there.

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