Quicksilver Holds a Promise (1)
Series Info | Table of Contents

Story one/Part One                                        

                                      Quicksilver holds a Promise


                                               Alexander Duncan


There is quick silver filled with promises that are as empty as a dry glass.  It is a strange image caught between a bright day filled with the joyous spirit of life and the bleakness of demise. My imagination is playing games with me. This is not a usual occurrence. But, I have known it to happen from time to time. And I am on the Staten Island Ferry; a place where my imagination is most susceptible to odd fancies running from talking birds, to sail boats appearing out of the mist, and whispers that I can't quite make out. On that day, I heard a soft voice murmur in my ear, “Do not lose the epiphany.” There was a pause, and then for a second time a husky female voice whispered, “Do not lose the epiphany.”


The voice seemed to vibrate in my head. Faded memories flickered and came into focus. A school boy lost in endless day dreams wanders down the well lit hallway of a city high school. He was quite similar to a butterfly floating from flower to flower. He took in the sight and scent of his surroundings, and gave little thought to what it might or could mean. However, underneath – deep in the recesses of his mind – he was absorbing and filing away each moment that affected his being. For a great many people life is a guessing game. The guessing game for our butterfly boy was about to end.


That day as in a dream, he wandered – and wandered is the correct description. Our butterfly boy was floating on a cloud of dreams. Considering his cloudy disposition, it is ironic that he was on his way to an algebra class. In algebra everything is logical and absolutely clear. Certainly, there is no space for cloudy.



I was the school boy lost in the clouds, and on that day a door loomed in front of me. I didn't want to enter. Did I have to listen to that gray dry mouthed teacher drone on and on? His weedy flat voice sounded like a nail scrapping across the chalk board. The sound sent a quiver down my spine. The second I entered his classroom, I wanted to turn and exit, and run down the hallway as fast as I could.  Somewhere, there must be a haven where I could escape.


I walked past the desk of the flat voiced gray teacher, and sat down slowly at my desk near the front window.  Sitting in my desk, I was very still.  His monotonous voice bore into my psyche. The tension in my body and mind was building into a desire to a scream. Closing my eyes for a few seconds I breathed and attempted to relax. I was partially successful.


Nonetheless, his voice droned on with an insistent monotony. Turning away from him was automatic. No thought was given to whether my action was rude. It certainly was, and it was inappropriate. Especially, considering that I was a student in his class. Supposedly, I was learning algebra. However, there was a problem. Algebra gave me a headache, and my teacher bored me out of my wits. So, I stared out the windows.


It was then that I had the epiphany, or was it a visitation.  The word doesn't matter – it was definitely a turning point. Life was never the same after that day. More accurately – life was never the same after that moment. While looking down at the lawn and the steps leading into the cafeteria, I was captured in a vortex of magic. How else can I describe what happened, except as magic? The landscape became wavy. How can I describe this phenomena? It was definitely a phenomena. It was as though the landscape – the lawn and concrete stairs – were floating on water. And I felt uplifted – as though I were gliding with wide spread wings, and observing the earth below. I felt light and removed. The reality surrounding me had no meaning. My world was entirely focused on the shifting world outside the window. And then I heard a whisper - a husky female whisper. 




“Tom, Tom.”


I had the urge to reply, but I didn't. I was transfixed by a vision, and stunned into silence. My ear was filled with whispers, and moments flashed in my mind. “You know, you know,” she whispered insistently. I quivered slightly. 


A montage of visual sensation and emotions reeled across the window of my mind. I saw and felt the heat of bright lights. The lights dazzled me with tints of red, yellow, and blue.  I crossed from one pool of light to another and another. And a wave of rustled emotion lifted me up to the light, and I floated weightless above the lawn. Joy filled my whole body. I was in a state of ecstasy. A montage of theatrical scenes of color and action filled my vision. I crossed a stage, brandished a large sword, and cried out to the rafters. The experience was overwhelming. The universe of the stage was calling me. The husky female voice whispered insistently, “you know, you know.” And, I did know. 


And thus the world of the stage – the theater – became my life. 


Although I was quite disoriented, I slowly returned to a normal state.  Turning my head, I could not help but notice the gray voiced teacher staring at me intently. His expression was markedly disapproving. I didn't care – for I had received a revelation.  


I fixed a slight smile on my face and pretended to listen to the grey voiced teacher. As my algebra instructor droned on, my smile broadened. I couldn't 


I couldn't help myself, for now I carried a sacred secret within my soul. That day changed my life. I was no longer the cloudy boy. I had begun an exciting journey to discover the nuances of living. I had begun to ask why? Why was this happening? Why did it happen? What are or where the surrounding circumstances? The possibilities contained in creating an artificial world that could be molded into something more compelling than everyday life – took hold.


When I left algebra class, I was flying with the wind. I felt powerful. My destination was tightly held within the circumference of my hands.  


I walked with a quick bounce in my step to my next class, which ironically was drama. I had only recently enrolled, and I couldn't wait to arrive. Amazing. Or maybe, it wasn't so amazing. Years before, as a young boy, I was taking a drama class at a church. Although my memory of that time is dim, I do remember one particular day. Our instructor set a scene where ai was to guard at a palace. Behind me in the palace were various high functionaries and ryalty attending a social engagement. It was a special event in which only the elite were invited. And certainly, as the I was very aware of this situation. No one was going to pass me, and no one did. Numerous times various members okf the rabble tried to pass me, and I did not allow it. 


"No you are not among the listed," I said.








The children in back of me giggled, the children in front of me giggled, but I did not giggle. 


Clearly our instructor was unnerved, and stopped the scene. He cleared his throat and squeezed his hands. 


"Tom is obviously the only one who understands what is going on."


He looked over the room, and said very slowly, "Each of you is part of a pretend world, that world should be more real than the world you live in. Tom was focuksed on one act - making sukre that you are on his list. If you are nkokt - he will do everything he can to make sure that you - an interloper - do not enter the palace. 


With the exception of Tom, each of you failed to enter this realm. This sphere is a place of magic. When you step on a stage - you are to create magic. 


That long ago boyhood memory is always with me. It is part of by being. It was the fierst indication of an artistic bent. This is the moment when I became aware okf whjo I am. Undoubtedly, the seed was planted long ago - probably at birth. Nonetheless, this was that special moment. I had little idea of where this might lead. But the pattern of my life was already set. So, there was no doubt that I was about to find out. 


My emotions were heightened on the day of the vision. When I walked into the drama class, I was aware of everything that surrounded me. The light sifting throiugh the window seemed to dance. Oukr instructor had her own table. The classroom was arranged in a semi-circle to create informality - an intimacy. Certainly the atmosphere was open and encouraged collaboration between the participants. I do not remember the specifics of that day, it was a long time ago.



I do remember - that after the class tyhat my instrukctor motioned to me. I walked toward her, and shared a smile that was filled with secrets. There was a moment of silence - then she motioned with her hand. 


"Sit down Tom," she said to me with a surprising gentleness. It was surprising because she was rather rough in manner. Her presence was austere, and there was something boyish in her appearance. This was true even though she was in her mid-forties. 


There was a moment of quiet. She smiled and nodded her head. Her tenderness amazed me. It was unexpected. I was suspicious of why she would extend herself towards me. I found her behavior reassuring. 


She smiled in a way that suggested a shared secret, and said, "I've been watching you."


"Oh," I replied. I didn't know what to say. Why should she watch me?

"You're a gifted performer. You have a gift for the stage - for theater. When we do a scene in class, you become lost in the scene. You vanish and become someone else. You enter a different world, which is what the theater is about. Very few have this capacity - to vanish from reality. Coupled with a pleasing appearance - and a supple voice.



She paused for a moment. I think she was looking for a reaction. But, I didn't know how to react. It seemed that the earth had shifted under my feet, and that it was necessary to renegotiate my equilibrium. I was on a new path, and obviously - I had no idea where this path would lead me. 


"I think you should try something," while looking intently into my eyes. Her voice startled me. For a moment, I had entered my private world and was far removed from the concerns of this classroom, "Tom, did you hear me?"


"Yes, it's been a strange day. Everything seems to come back to this class."


"What does that mean -- everfything comes back to this class?"


"No, I can't explain," I said apprehensively. For I couldn't tell her about my vision. I embarrassed. 


She smiled in an understanding way. On some level, she understood what was happening. This was true  even thoiugh - neither one of us coukld articuklate his understanding. 


There was a long pause before she said, "maybe you should imagine an event - something you can - mold into a scene. Do you think you could do that?"


Yes," I answered with great confidence - a confidence that surprised me.


She looked at me with piercing blue eyes and smiled. And while smiling, she said, "You know, don't you?" "Yes, I know," I replied. 



I spoke out of instinct. I knew in my bones that I had the making of an artist. And I knew - that she had the same understanding. She saw into my soul.


My instructor continued, "It's instinct - an instinct that can be developed further. But if it is not there at the beginning - nothing in the world can put it there. Nothing. You have a developed instinct. It is a gift. What you do with it is up to you. There was a long pause. She smiled at me, and I looked down and away. Finally, she spoke - "bring me back something. Let me know when you're ready."


"Yes --," I replied, and ambled out into the hallway.


That evening at supper, I was unnaturally quiet. Father looked at me quizzically. My brother shrugged his shoulders, and decided that I was having a sever case of day-dreamitis. My little sister thought that I was a little perculiar anyway - so, whatever I did was normal big brother behavior. Only my mother was concerned - concerned in the sense that something unusual was happening. She wondered what that unusual something was. Nonetheless, she was certain that it was positive. And then she smiled, and she smiled as though we shared a very sweet secret. And I returned her smile. 






I'm going downstairs. My drama teacher wants me - to create a scene - to play."



"How wonderful."


"Yes, it is."


"That she believes in you."




I got up slowly and moved away from the table. As I walked to the basement stairs, I could feel their staring at me with intense curiosity. I edged my way downstairs and into the party room. 


When I entered the party room, I felt elated because I thought I own this space. I may not have articulated that exact thought. But, it does express how I felt.


There was a small desk against the wall. Inside the desk was a notebook, on which I often wrote random thoughts and observations. I pulled the notebook out and turned to an empty page. Staring at the white sheet with pale blue lines, I began to envision myself in a cell. It was frightening. I was alone, and the cell was dark and arid.   

A stream of conscious scene evolved:

Trapped in a cell - angry and afraid - disoriented. Organically, the scene grows. I am guided by an inner demon thaty questions and questions - why am I here? How can i get out? I feel like clawing my way through the bars,but I know this cannot be done. It would be a futile gesture, in which I would play a clown. Do I want to play the clown? No. It would be better to howl at the moon - if I could find the moon. Perhaps the moon would free me? After all - there is something mystical about the moon.



Obvioiusly, I don't remember exactly what I wrote. The writing of my youth vanished into a drawer long ago, and most likely the beatles devoured paper and my boyhood dreams. Nonethelless - that day I stepped deeply into the realm of the imagination, and to this day I continue to explore and create visions molded into moments. 


The next day I informed my instructor that I was ready - and when the moment arrived every distraction vainished, and my space was a new reality. I found myself in jail, and wondered how I would escape. My whole being screamed - "let me out, let me out." I dropped to my knees in despair. I am never to leave this prison. And then, she appeared - my angel. She opened the prison gate and I walked into freedom. I was stunned. I could not speak. And yet, I had in the grasp of my hand a chance for a new day. I was free.


On the day I performed my scene, I was as nervous as a jitter bug, and in the end as quiet as still water before a storm. And I was in control of a world I created. Every turn, every gesture, and utterence guided me further and further into the nuances of this world. The experience was intoxiating. When my performance ended, I felt absolutely shattered. 


And yet, I had gained. I had gained enormous profit from that performance. I leapt beyond day-to-day reality into the magical world of the imagination. I had discovered a gift. No - it wasn't a gift of gold or silver, or any material wealth that you could attach an economic value. It was a wealth contained in the soul. And as such - it's value could not be measured. And yet - this gift was mine, and I mine, and always will be mine.



Tears cross my face, as I gaze across the bay. There is a haze over the water, and floating above the mist - she is whispering in a hoarse women's voice - "remember, remember." Yes, I will remember. I will not forget ever.










Next: Saaa and Maaa (1)

Table of Contents

Series Info

Your Channel