The Laser Fiction - The Formative Interval









In Memory
Sean Pettibone



The Formative Interval

Staring at the array of unmarked pages, nothing appeared to bring forth anything my hands could coalesce. Their vast colorless expanse formed an unintentional invisible line that kept my fingers from marking its surface. I stood with residual determination, unwilling to concede to its defensive structure. Taking additional tentative swipes to the page, the pen felt heavier with each stroke. I felt my hands begin trembling as my resolve evaporated, replaced with an uneasy determination; there was little I could do that would allay the diminishing inspiration. Looking towards her for any direction or elaboration offered little that would help me move on. Her distinctive lack of involvement was subtle.

She held her head back; looking past me while deliberately averting her eyes from my direction. There wasn't much she could do to help arouse the hibernating surface ahead of me. Examining the boat's elaborate pool of instruments and elaborate entanglements of metal and wire provided little inspiration, its declarations were silent, offering mute response to my inquiries. My gaze returned to the forsaken page, now crowded into an incomprehensible mishmash of squabbles, stay lines and random dots that ran into itself without meaningful realization.

It became an increasingly hopeless task, there was no way I'd be able to manage to manifest anything remotely like I'd attempt, let alone something that would meet their expectations. Looking further past the boat, I noticed we were floating aimlessly down the river, any specific destination appeared lost beneath waves of non-committal forces. They seemed to overwhelm our position, knocking us off any defined course until the subsequent path was no longer visible. Floating down the river without purpose, we found ourselves stranded without clear direction.

Standing in place, I suddenly felt lost, deliberately left unaided I declared the mass of lines and figures on the page a lost cause in my mind. I took the top page off the canvas and bunched it up into a small ball, then thaw it off the side of the ship, watching it sink beneath the waves without fanfare. I looked around and watched as the anticipation in her face succumbed to disappointment. My heart sank beneath my feet; I knew I'd come up empty. My mind felt completely spent despite having barely begun before giving in to malaise. I resolved not to surrender so quickly, and replaced the page with another; this time

Deicing with determination not to jump around so much and focus on the immediate surroundings wasn't simple, and required a degree of concentration I didn't anticipate. I pondered my next move and decided not be so hasty. I resisted the urge to start filling in something right away; I wasn't going to limit my options again. I waited patiently for an interesting idea to come to me and the blank page began to resemble something, but I couldn't quite figure what it might be. I was able to block the temptation to jump right in by looking towards the skies above. The first moon was beginning its strong ascent, while the circumference of the second was just becoming visible as it peered over the distant horizon. I stepped away from the easel and moved towards the opposing side to gain a better view of the complimentary lunar forces. I wasn't confident what would transpire from that point, but felt instinctive relief. I'd found a welcome respite from the unnatural pressure deriving from filling a blank, motionless page without guidance or assistance.

Attempting further entrenchments wouldn't have made much difference, the cluttered page had become oversaturated. It would better to start fresh. Explaining this to her wouldn't necessarily be worth the trouble, so I decided not to pry deeper. Instead, I decided to soak in the rolling waves, inhaling their oddly reassuring atmosphere without further elaboration. Leaning over the boat's railing would hopefully provide enough reaffirmation that I hadn't wasted effort on the truncated render.

I carefully watched the currents flowing beneath the boat, maintaining a consistent pace both relaxing and energizing. The steady, unbroken lines of water swirled around endlessly, while the air above flowed at a languid pace, allowing us to move forwards without facing excessive pressure. I looked in her direction, and she wasn't particularly engrossed in anything in particular, instead deciding to make an advantageous repose from the lull. He maintained his steady position in front of the steering wheel, not budging noticeably, taking his time without becoming complacent.

Looking back over the seamless water flowing behind the boat, it rolled endlessly with a strange consistency. The currents appeared to flow calmly, effortlessly reflecting the calm moons above serenely. Twisting clouds floated far above us, gently motioning alongside our journey without leaving permanent marks in the skies. Watching their transient journey beneath the intertwined spheres quickly engaged my attention. I found myself unexpectedly transfixed, concentrating on their random patterns, looking for any resulting signals that might point me in a productive direction. The pressure I felt from my work remained pulsating beneath the surface, but it wasn't nearly as prominent, slowly fading into the background. Concentrating focus on the lunar surfaces, I noticed a difference in their appearance. The first moon that rose displayed an uneven surface, marked by streaks of rocks and long valleys, interwoven with masses of rocky peaks and sharp cuts into its atmosphere.

Its recalcitrant movement appeared defiantly unpredictable to a noticeable degree; it was deliberately avoiding following a consistent orbit, but managing to stay on a general path. Conversely, the secondary lunar object provided contrast. Smaller than the first, its smooth surface unblemished by any impacts or disfigurements, it maintained a similar green hue but didn't appear nearly as aggressive, following its predictable path faithfully without causing undue distraction. Alternating focus between the moons provided a welcome distraction, observing their silent maneuvers, they slid past one another as they began reaching a point of ascent, until they'd managed the achieve approximately the same height in the sky. Both seemed to pause, securing their place before releasing their accumulated worries when they arrived at their secure locations.

Their calm exterior light was surprisingly docile. I felt eyes drifting down into their sockets, before they closed, the moons provide a half-awake accompaniment that felt safe and secure. My mind drifted further from the empty pages, depressuring their demands without putting up much effort. In my subconscious, I knew she'd be there looking vigilantly, guarding our position while giving me a brief moment to internalize the alien atmosphere without undue expectation. Allowing some room for the nocturnal blanket, I didn't fully fall under its spell, maintaining a firm grip on the boat's surface, never letting it slip far from my grasp. Standing on the boat's edge, I maintained a determined effort to ensure I wasn't going to end up trapped beneath its deceptively comforting glaze.

Using my breath to time the maneuvers carefully, I spaced them consistently in order to make sure I didn't get too far off track. However, my eyes were closed making any approximate measurements inaccurate. Before realizing what was happening, I found myself awakened by a steady noise at a loud frequency and volume. The undefined sound was inconsistent, moving in and out at unpredictable intervals before switching direction. Hearing the echoes reverberate throughout the boat. I couldn't place their origin when I opened my eyes and looked around the vessel. I struggled to locate their source without success; it wasn't immediately clear where the incomprehensible bursts of sound emanated.

Apparently, he also heard the sounds and finding them important enough, quickly left his position to investigate their origin. I watched him walk across its surface carefully, looking through every small portion for the signal's emergence. He didn't appear to locate anything upon first inspection, the darkness seemed to shroud its determinative place. Listening carefully for clues, the sound seemed to submerge without prompting, seeming to sink beneath the waves quickly before it could be located. She stood silently across the way, not responding to its reverberations, displaying a resolute focus on the more immediate task of forging a practical navigation path through the river's sudden turns and shifting bends. Maintaining focus despite its distractions didn't dissuade her in the slightest. It only seemed to reinforce her resolve; she was increasingly determined not to falter from taking her clandestine route.

My attention was drawn back to his search, I waited as he stumbled around over the decks beneath the moons' glow. It had diminished to until the surroundings had come to a complete silence, the sails above blocking any further revelations. He went around in small circles, repeatedly searching the same areas in vain to little resolution. After several minutes, he appeared to give up on the search, returning to the vessel's controls with a visible sense of dejection. Having been defeated by the muted defense, he resumed command of its direction, handing the mysterious sounds back to the currents below. I restored my position and stood alongside the back, watching my group of carefully positioned switches percolate across the surface. They hadn't budged despite the transient noise and its distraction. I inferred that they needed continual monitoring, resolving not to lose focus. Neither one of the figures were overly concerned by the inordinate sounds. It seemed like their sudden burst represented a random occurrence.

I watched the surface carefully, while keeping track of them had become tedious, it allowed me to divert energy from the draining task of searching for inspiration and direction. The easel stood towards the back of the boards, remaining glaringly unfulfilled while I set my attention elsewhere. The waves surreptiously swelled at the side of the boat, I listened carefully as they swept the sides awaiting something that might not be audible if I wasn't paying attention. After several minutes, the lilting forces became prevalent, and they quickly washed away any lingering noises. I turned and they were both preoccupied with their tasks.

The resilient boat moved down the uneven river-banks effortlessly, seeming to take an automatic path without need for much assistance, but I maintained a careful watch regardless, unwilling to concede to its command. She watched silently and kept a strategic point firmly in hand, the onrushing wind and water responding to her assertion with steady obedience. A sense of calm eased the residual pressures, with only the waves accompanying our deliberate movements. Without warning, another loud bang peered the night skies and this was immediately followed by a series of loud grinding noises that resulted in an immediate sense of danger. She stood up immediately, and he quickly sprung into defensive mode. He nearly jumped over the bridge, landing back on the center panels, commencing an instantaneous search for the renewed disruption's origin.

The bangs only got louder, increasing in length and volume as they scratched deeper across the surface, any damage they caused unseen. He jutted quickly over the boards, quickly moving across the surface attempting to locate the point of conflict. Searching both sides quickly he remained unable to find the source of the trouble. The loud bangs intensified and the subsequent clashing noises destabilized the night, giving a clear signal of distress. She responded to their resumption quietly, surveying the situation quickly before deciding maintain her position in relative security.

Another series of bangs and crashes followed with even greater strength and velocity, surrounding the boat's vicinity, completely overwhelming the previous calm. I felt the surface buckle and shake from the pressure, the vessel's boards and planks appeared to sway and nearly sinking beneath the waves. An unknown force was assaulting us; surrounding us with intensifying danger. As the crashes, screeches and reverberation grew ever louder and more threatening, it was clear they needed to be countered without delay.

He reinforced his position on the deck, imploring something to happen by stomping his feet. Working quickly beneath the shrouded sails roiled by the sudden surge of discomforting noises, the ship veering slightly off-balance, appearing to tilt against the pronounced force. His efforts were momentarily disrupted by additional series of loud bangs that shook the surface. They were loud enough that they threw off my balance but quickly dissipated. It wasn't clear what was happening but he seemed to have come to a determination about what was causing the loud bangs. After more shudders coursed through the ship, we both decided to take refuge near the front of the boat to position ourselves at the edge of the resulting waves. He walked the middle and back of the vessel, moving around in rapid lines, surveying the vessel until he seemed to knock into something. It wasn't immediately clear what it might be.

Moving closer, I managed to see a long metallic pipe that appeared solidly welded to ground, allowing it to rise directly upward without impediment. It formed an unobtrusive yet distinctive marker rising from the mostly wood surroundings. Planted nonobstrusively, and easy to overlook, forming a relatively nondescript appearance from that distant angle. Standing straight up towards the back. He moved in front of it, blocking our view, it wasn't immediately clear what process he'd use to defuse its ongoing bursts of noise. Moving several feet closer gave me more details and a clearer angle to observe his actions.

She followed quickly at this point and I noticed her standing alongside me. We gained additional insight from that angle. The object appeared to form a large, metal mast jutting straight upwards from the boat's boards, appearing to act as support for stabilizing the vessel. After an intense foray examining the vessels surface, he finally discovered the problem's source. Several additional loud bangs followed, with the same intensity as the others. The sails retreated, bowing before the pressure, before beginning to wave furiously in the opposite direction.

They appeared to silently implore him to put a delay to the proceedings, their clandestine voices grew louder with each word. Looking back in his direction, he'd already managed to pinpoint the precise location of the problem and had already begun the process of resolving the ongoing impediment. His arms extended into the piling, quickly pushing a series of small buttons in rapid patterns until there was a loud click. A small door opened at its center and a flat tray slid out of is container. I recognized the shape and form of an antique record player, hidden within the long pipe. There appeared to be something stuck on the surface, colliding with another object. When they struck each other, they made a loud scratching noise that was amplified by numerous hidden loudspeakers placed unobtrusively far above the sails where they wouldn't be seen.

His eyes concentrated on the object in front of him and it quickly became clear that it was an odd, antique record player. It had remained silent and hidden but somehow it had accidentally been turned on without being tuned, resulting in the loud crashing, noises it made. It stuck out of the metal pipe at an odd angle, and its position made it tilt slightly. Quickly reconciling its position, his hands balanced its the ancient record player came to a halt, quieting immediately. He knelt over its surface and appeared to find something amiss. He motioned towards its left side and a closer inspection revealed its needle had been knocked off its position and was scratching against its bare surface. She appeared relieved by this unlikely situation, it sounded like something much worse was occurring. Walking back over the boards with renewed confidence, it seemed the gathering pressure lifted from her almost instantly.

The impatient fingers moved quickly as he continued fine tuning the record player. It was surprising that it still managed to work at all considering its age and accumulated wear. He worked carefully until arriving at what sounded like a decent position. He turned his attention to a small lever beneath it and a secondary lower tray slid out haphazardly. It bumped against the edges at certain points, and needed some nudging, but eventually opened. I was surprised to see it wasn't empty but filled thee-quarters with records neatly piled on top of each other.

Despite being somewhat dusty and noticeably worn, it was complimented by a neatly-stacked collection of old albums. He picked one out at random, placed it on the surface and slid his fingers on the front side. Placing its needle on the surface, there was a noticeable pause, a slither of feedback before an unknown piece began unfolding. It sounded oddly out of place given our situation, it sounded restrained and sedated, somewhat over-dramatic and elaborately orchestrated. He stood back a few steps and allowed it to play out for several minutes. She walked towards the middle of the boat before standing alongside him, allowing herself to completely fall under its spell. I joined their circle and we stood silently before the revived component, quietly absorbing its undulating sounds without visibly responding.

After allowing it several minutes to converge, it was clear that something wasn't right. He knelt down a second time in front of the machine and began twisting its dials and knobs, attempting to arrive at an acceptable tempo. He worked steadfastly and quickly arriving at the right position by slowing it's rhythm a tad. He replayed the song at it seemed to pick up a noteworthy infusion of energy when it played at the right speed. He turned back to her seeking her approval, but she remained unmoved despite his effort. The music was too dour and overly elaborate; it definitely wasn't her style. Disappointed by her conclusion, he stood up in front of the machine and listened forlornly. She was right, and he reluctantly decided to turn it off. He didn't give up, and waved at her with surprising defensiveness. She didn't need to worry, he was testing the machine to check that it still worked.

He returned to the pile of records and sorted through them looking for a specific song. Flipping through the albums didn't take long, he quickly settled on a record with colorful, convergent artwork on its over. I couldn't see precisely what it attempted to convey from my distant, odd-angle. it words seemed unintelligible. I recognized some of the symbols on its cover but couldn't remember exactly what they signified. He carefully took the album from its sleeve and looked it over. The record looked a bit worn but seemed mostly intact. He slowly placed it on the record player before somewhat cautiously placing the needle on its surface. At first, it let out only garbled feedback.

There were several moments when it felt like it wouldn't recover, but it appeared to skip over the early minor scratches without much effort. After several moments, a strange song began to play. It sounded slurred, confused and disorienting, like it was moving through muddy quicksand, slowly sinking in place. It picked up the pace suddenly, giving way to a rapid pulsing series of drum beats. Momentum trailed off just as quickly before it slowed in place before pausing at awkward points. This by design; there were structurally engineered deliberate pauses in the action that allowed the listener room to contemplate.

He stood over the record silently, not moving. He began attempting to reconcile his disappointment. He took a few steps back and began attempting to swing at its direction but couldn't find a proper tempo to follow. He appeared to have a difficult task despite his efforts; it looked like the process would be in vain. He stopped trying to find its rhythms and moved back to the machine. He leaned over it and began adjusting its unlabeled dials slowly, making minor changes before taking few steps back to listen carefully. It came closer to arriving at the proper speed but he couldn't quite get the right speed after several tries. Finding the correct speed proved elusive. His arms motioned to her for assistance but she didn't appear exactly sure what more she could do, Shrugging her shoulders, she stood back and waited patiently, unsure what a second set of hands would add.
Turning his attention towards the machine, he made a series of small adjustments to its momentum before standing back to listen. It took multiple tries but he wasn't satisfied after repeated attempts. The sounds slowly began to converge after awhile and he gradually appeared to achieve a tentative balance. After making one last, seemingly insignificant change, the machine finally arrived at the correct speed. The shrouded song revealed itself to with a surprisingly upbeat opening.

I'd never heard that particular theme before that point but as I listened carefully, it beckoned with an undeniable energy. Unfocused on any particular sound, it alternated between surreal jazz, cool blasts of temporal blues and indescribable bleeps that sounded like they'd jumped out of a computer, This quickly descended into a strange waltzing march unfolding like e paper, with multiple layers that built on each other, the strange energy of its insistent horns and pipes reached a peak before quickly changing direction. The waltz continued with each section turning over itself, unfolding into countering yet strangely complimentary forms.

Its clashing emotions created a strangely appropriate accompaniment to our disconcerting yet invigorating and engaging situation. Its competing notes and contrasting moods marking a complete divergence from the dour song he'd begun playing earlier. Visibly pleased that his persistent efforts had worked eventually, he managed a quick smile before returning to double-check his work. Standing over the machine triumphantly he followed the strange music precisely.

The undulating sounds encountered no further disputations or delays, and played without further breaks or gaps, despite the erratically-timed throttles and instinctive approach that permeated its untraceable notes. He watched carefully for any further breaks or scratches, but the remaining surface was unobstructed, allowing the song to reach its conclusion uninterrupted. Relieved that he'd found a successful rhythm and speed for the machine to follow, he moved away from the cluttered, Claus trophic machine's radius, encroached by a disheveled pile of records, further hindered by rows of dials. He escaped the claustrophobic array that allowed him little room quickly, moving with earned resolve into at the open area in the boat's unobstructed middle section.

I watched him stand in place silently alone in the center of the vessel. He endured a sudden burrs of doubt. Hesitating for a several moments, he appeared to focus on the song intently, attempting to decipher its unwieldy styles with little success. I wasn't sure what he was planning, but he surprised me when he began to dance, following in tandem to its beat with tentative gestures. Initially, he signed though the air wish his arms. Extending his hands outward, he began shifting alongside the music, reflexively marking the empty space around hissed. Attempting to further maneuver, he shuffled his feet in the same deliberate manner.
Cooperating with the indescribable song's rhythms faithfully only resulted in unbalanced stumbling. It defied initial efforts, concealing its underpinnings as it unexpectedly shifted between divergent styles repeatedly at odd intervals. He'd take time, gradually learning its quirks before it unexpectedly veered in another direction. It played through several time on the player, and each time presented another challenge that he hadn't anticipated. He maintained his calm demeanor but I could tell after a few minutes that his frustration was rapidly intensifying. I thought he might need to change to a simpler track but he appeared determined to conquer the challenging song. He persisted in the task with obvious determination but there seemed to be something missing in his arsenal. It wasn't clear initially what it might be, but the gaps in his movement seemed to grow more pronounced as he father engaged his efforts. It quickly became obvious that something was missing. He needed a partner.

He looked past me, directly in her direction. He waved his arms at her stridently, but she didn't seem to notice or care about his invitation. Her eyes didn't acknowledge his struggles with the complex music; instead appearing to focus on the river currents flowing beyond him. His exhortation unanswered at first, he waved his arms with greater intensity and began to yell, hoping that he'd be able to dislodge her unwavering disinterest with greater effort. Resolutely unmoved, she eventually nodded back negatively, indicting that she wasn't interested. He appeared to grow insistent, and began stomping his feet on the boards, infusing greater insistence with each defiant stomp. This appeared to shake her stony edifice and she turned in his direction and began following him more closely. He remained stuck in certain points in the song, unable to come up with a satisfying rejoinder to the music and these stifling breaks stopped him in his tracks repeatedly. Appearing to become aggravated by his struggle, she made several steps closer in his direction before she was standing just outside the perimeter of the vessel's central boards. She was reluctantly observing, but remained a noticeable distance apart, unwilling to join his futile task.

He managed to make seemingly inconsequential compromises with the impalpable song's unyielding structure, but his desultory moved during its sporadic lulls were only placeholders. He admonished her again after another repeat to at least attempt to help him. She stood her ground, crossed her arms and kept him at a remove; she reiterated that she was only watching him out of curiosity. She pointed across the boat and back towards the seas, someone needed to monitor the waves in case something happened. He remained adamant, patiently returning to uncover the song's intricate layers regardless of her divergent focus. Interrupting his efforts made it more difficult to resume.

After pausing briefly, he quickly regained balance and found himself retracing his flawed motions again, detracting from his frustrated earlier efforts. After watching him battle the unbalanced flow, she appeared to grow sympathetic. Apparently deciding that working with him instead of ignoring his efforts would make things go faster, she walked stridently towards his position. He extended his arm in her direction and she somewhat reluctantly grasped it. The remaining moments of the song played and faded beneath the waves. Looking around, she took a few steps forward, awaiting its next rotation. She paused for a moment, unsure if this was the right time, but decided to somewhat reluctantly, concede to his determined effort before taking a deep breath. Moving tentatively, her feet stretched over the boards, with her arms anticipating a somewhat extended foray into what appeared to be a needless distraction.

As the seemingly impervious, densely-layered song began another rotation on the turnstile, I noticed his eyes visibly focus. He began to narrow and squint; his primary focus determined to sway any of her lingering recalcitrance with his undeniable energy. She moved swiftly towards his direction, creating a complimentary path of her own. A counter-intuitive force came to prominence quickly. Without further hesitation, she moved inward assuming leadership of the dance. She exchanged the role intuitively, allowing him to resume his pace without interfering.

Watching his movements closely, she never completely let her guard down. Her reserve maintained a subtle but noticeable deference. Her eyes never completely connected with the surroundings, but she did concede a few tangible aspects to compliment his strenuous efforts. I had to look veer carefully and observed her feet remained active, gently responsive while remaining closely perched during the his active sections, but responded with forceful motions during the fallow portions that he'd rest or sleep-walk through. She determined intuitively to focus on the sections that troubled him, allowing them to alternate their portions of the complex song without prompting. Initially, he didn't seem to understand what she hoping to accomplish. His confusion led to several awkward breaks during the song when he stood still, unsure what to do. Watching carefully, he quickly figured out what she was doing and took over the lead when she stopped, marking the sections with his footsteps.
It took several attempts for him to figure her methods. This caused him to stumble around initially but his steps eventually arrived at an appropriately consistent flow. As he caught up with her methods, they began switching lead position between themselves with intuitive smoothness and greater dexterity. Their arms began to sway in parallel to their feet, slowly building momentum, their elbows began jutting in direct response to the song. They took surprisingly little time perfecting the basic structures of each move, they became increasingly confident. After several turns over the vessel's boards, they began switching leadership effortlessly. It gradually became apparent that I'd been misinterpreting their actions. My initial assumptions weren't accurate. They weren't learning new steps for an unfamiliar song, instead remembering long-dormant responses to a half-forgotten composition.

As the reconnected duo resumed their partnership, they became increasingly comfortable with each another's nuanced moves. hey swirled around the boat's surface easily with increasing ease and resplendence, effortlessly switching leadership with increasing dexterity. They became more experimental and intuitive, their movements intertwined as they synchronized their movements with increasing skill and agility. As they danced together with invigorating energy, a previously hidden yet undeniable connection between them became obvious. They didn't talk to each other but it was perfectly clear what they were saying as I watched. There was initial reluctance and hesitation, but once the defenses fell, there was no mistaking an undeniable bond that created an unbreakable bond.

Their intricate dance unfettered by unspoken limits, managing to fill-in the song's breaks. She moved across the deck with increasing grace. Her formerly deliberate steps that followed rigid lines, fragmented. The man in the crisp suit relaxed while she allowed herself greater freedom to move outside the fixed path. With each step forged together, their resulting combination strengthened, their shared emotions quickly awakened from an extended hibernation. The song repeated in a frenzied loop, increasing its hold with each play. They became increasingly untethered from their closely-defined roles. The pair effortlessly re-established a hidden, yet durable partnership; jubilantly signifying an unarticulated yet loudly pronounced reconciliation.

It was an unlikely combination, they appeared miss-matched in some aspects but perfectly aligned in significant ways. Both shared a dissimilar, yet complimentary style, exchanging forceful entreaties deriving from the unpredictable music's overwhelming instruction. They moved graciously over the smooth wooden boards with determination and inspiration. I noticed his feet begin to swing and sway. His burst of resilient strength decisively transcended the demonstrably stifling, heavy burdens of expectation and self-awareness that truncated his earlier efforts to reach equilibrium with the song. She watched his stiffing reserve crumble without pretext.

His reluctance quickly replaced by an ebullient energy that seemed to infuse her movement. Their expressions warmed from a reluctant approach stymied by reserve to warmly embrace each other and enjoy an unencumbered, unapologetically resplendent moment. Watching the two of them, I was surprised and relieved that she'd finally acquiesced, and reconstituted her relationship with an appropriately adequate partner. Her natural grace was unrivaled, her energy untethered from the immediate pressures of the tense surroundings. It served as a welcome relief for her energy, she didn't have to worry about navigating the unforgiving river currents. His counter-intuitive approach appeared to work brilliantly, unraveling the accumulated strain, allowing her to channel her energies across a different field of invisible yet tangible space.

Clearly relieved, her feet danced across the boat's open berth with increasingly apparent energy alongside refocused attention. Her intrinsic style revealed itself, releasing an unexpected force held closely, hidden beneath a guarded demeanor. She appeared reinvigorated by a newfound reserve of inner energy that simultaneously released deferred passions. She gradually diverged from her assumed reliance straight lines with a series of increasingly unexpected, elaborate flourishes. She began turning in unanticipated directions, switching her center in response to his advances, deliberately crossing his path with unexpected abandon.
Her intuitively performed gestures and distinctive moves became increasingly unpredictable, her movements playfully extended around the invisible barriers surrounding the circumference, she purposely continued challenging his expectations about which maneuver she'd perform next. Shaking off the accumulated residue of time and malaise, he responded in kind, purposely ducking out of her path, forging unexpected lines of his own, countering her paths without premonition. I'd nearly forgotten some of our earliest encounters but was reminded that she was a gracious dancer, generous at many points but more than capable of throwing an unanticipated maneuver onto the floor in countervailing fashion.

With multiple rounds spent working through the same song, she decided it was time for a change. She walked towards the stack of records and changed direction. Replacing the record, she looked in his direction and smiled broadly. The following song came at them with another discordant beginning, but it was slower and contemplative, almost romantic at certain points. Its more emotional pace was decidedly easier to follow, allowing them to resurrect their deeper connection. They swooned and rocked around each other fearlessly, becoming increasingly bold.

I found myself unavoidably drawn ever further into their mysterious, unspoken conversation. It was impossible to explain what they were saying to each other, but I understood every word. My eyes were subsequently directed towards the floor. I found myself mesmerized as their feet surreptitiously lifted from the constrained gravities holding them to the boat. The recalcitrant surface reluctantly released its firm grip on their feet until they were freed. Without encountering further imposition, the entrancing figures appeared to rise unimpeded, effortlessly gliding beneath alien skies.

I knew better than to impose myself into their field. They were far above my skill or talent, there would be little point in interfering. Watching them move around one another, covering the vessel with residing energy, the pair formed an inseparable partnership that would be foolish to interrupt. Watching closely, I silently admired their unrelenting energy and elaborate technique, their feet maintained consistency of purpose even as they energized and challenged each other without holding fast to any specific patterns. During this extended excursion, I didn't neglect my duties to maintain a close watch. Quickly looking upward, I noticed the moons above had slipped to a noticeable degree from their apex.

Their shadows cast slightly smaller and dimmer forms across the surface as the night grew longer, but ample time and space remained. He walked back to the record player and switched the song by flipping the record over. It maintained a similar feel but with a calmer, smoother flow. It wasn't choppy like the previous music and allowed them to relax a little. He quickly walked back and she held out her fingers before quickly folding his arm into hers. I watched as they embraced each other warmly, their glowing silhouettes prominently standing against the nocturnal glow. They began swaying in unspoken harmony; dancing flawlessly across the vessel's floor. I sat impassively watching them, worried that I'd never match the skill and talent their perfectly aligned figures conveyed.

The burgeoning song built velocity and momentum before reaching a frantic yet measured apotheosis. When it converged at this relative peak, an unlikely denouement occurred. I felt a unexpected surge of energy pierce and remaining doubt hovering overhead. It wasn't completely clear what was happening. It wasn't long before I arrived at an unmistakable realization. I quickly concluded what the a sudden jolt of energy meant. Its surprising force inspired a robust response on my part. I sprung up from my docile position immediately. Spotting the forlorn canvas standing expectantly, yet mostly unattended in the darkness, I felt a secondary force overflow my position. I ran towards the half-forgotten canvas, quickly following an unimpeded path across the boat. Determined to not allow the renewed inspiration pass, I picked up the pen. Hastily placing a fresh page on the easel's base, my hands commenced work without further hesitation.

My lingering trepidation evaporated instantaneously, I knew precisely what to draw.

- Michael Palisano