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Hop to your own, friends.


Giuseppe looks up to the balcony above. Bryce has turned from the banister and is moving towards the doors behind.

The old man is suddenly hit with a bolt of exhaustion. He droops, starts, blinks away the sudden forming sand and looks toward the staircase yet again. As if echoing his very thoughts, Ciaraen passes him from the hallway entrance and begins making her way up to the second floor. Drawn, he ascends the stairs and finds eleven rooms, entering the one which bears his name.

Going through the door he finds nothing but shadows and the smell of old wood. The hallway behind him is the only source of light; the room was dark, cavernous and unfriendly. Barely visible was the outline of an oil lantern, not far from him on the right side of the room. Giuseppe casually takes the few steps toward the lantern and searches his pockets. He pulls out flint, steel, and lighter, frowns, continues to fish through his pockets unsuccessfully, places the items on the lantern’s table then happily notices the outline of a matchbox. He strikes one, drops it down the narrow opening of the lantern’s mantle, and it alights.

The room, illuminated, is small and simple. The small lantern leaves the room still rather dim, and the corners are touched with shadow. The walls are a golden brown and the floor is hardwood without finish. Giuseppe’s gaze moves to a framed picture in the middle of the back wall: it is a weathered map of the world, dated in the early fifteenth century. The small table he stands by rests at the middle of the right wall, with a basic wooden chair sitting beside it. Farther to the corner of the wall is an old grandfather clock; not the sort of artisan antique like the one outside the door, but a more basic craft of the same era. The other far corner holds a bed which stretches to the middle of the left wall. Giuseppe sits on it for a moment, the hard surface creaks. There is no mattress, only cloth above the frame.

Getting up again, Giuseppe goes to a low cabinet in the bottom right corner of the room. In the top drawer he finds a couple of sets of clothes, lain over a cloth. The contents of the bottom drawer catch his interest: a music box. The outside is made of cedar, scarred and scratched. Opening it revealed a miniature tent with shoddy, vibrantly striped walls. In contrast, it is topped with a dome would which looked like ornate stone, and higher still the bottom of the lid was lined with beautiful dark blue silk and gems for stars.

The tent begins to twirl, and the music plays. It is a simple tune, sad and nostalgic, with a circus-like theme in the background and sombre but strong melody. Giuseppe’s eyes widen as he recognizes it: it was the song that Hadi, his ringmaster,would sometimes hum to himself. It was a touching, soothing song which had whispered in the air through difficult times and quiet moments. Tears began to leak from Giuseppe’s clouding eyes, though his face remained as still as carving.

The music goes on and gradually begins to dwindle. Slowing and slowing, the melody seems to be near its finale when it suddenly stops. Almost entranced, Giuseppe blinks and comes to his senses. He knew that couldn’t be the end of it…though he couldn’t seem to place what it should be. He picks the box up gently and begins to wind it. An aged little thing, it takes a long time to fully wind up, far longer than the song itself. Another man might not find it not worth the effort. Enraptured once again, he listens through the song to the same effect: an abrupt and unfinished end. He frowns sadly, and falls into memory- but shortly gives up, defeated. He carefully places the box back onto the dresser and looks again at the room.

He takes a second look at the map. All his life he had never had any experience with them. The date on it was forged, he realized, however he could tell that it was far from new and that age had rendered it inaccurate. Giuseppe thought back to the portrait which hung in the living room. He had never seen a photograph of the Earth before. That is where it all happens, he thought. It was a very strange thing to take in, and he wasn’t sure if seeing it made the world less mysterious or more so.

Focussing again on the picture in his room, he thoughtfully corrects it by taking it off the wall and hanging it the right side up, as it was in the room below. He steps back to look at it and frowns: now the labels are upside down and useless. He puzzles at the Earth in this fashion for a while longer.

Finally, he grabs the picture and sets in on the floor face up. Satisfied, he once again notes the fatigue that had brought him here. He walks to the table; snuffs the lantern, and lies back on the creaking bed. Passivity and old age guarantee a full slumber, however a mild discomfort fills him as he lies in bed, reflecting on what exactly had happened that day. Thoughts of past and present spun in his head and danced to a sombre but strong melody. For the first time in years, he was sleeping under a real roof. For the first time in fifty, he was homeless.