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Episode 1: “Unexpected Answers”

It is cold, but all the same exhilarating this frosty February day.  While the cold could, with all understanding, keep the inhabitants of the town of Miller indoors and shut away in their fantastical structures, most mill around the town square, speaking, squawking and giggling, causing their breath to appear as vapor, masking their beings in an utter cloud.

The cloud of conversation is the cover the citizens of Miller have made for themselves this day. And in this blur, most miss the arrival of the man about town, or Miller for that matter, Juan Sebastian.

Juan has been the center of this time forgotten town since the first day he called Miller home, some three years ago. The only person not born in a house in this town, Juan had been found in the forest by a bevy of teen girls who had been out washing linens in the river. He was nearly on the brink of death, and remembered nothing of how he had gotten himself to where none had come in almost a century.

His finding was the biggest event since the town’s founding, and combined with the fact that he remembered nothing of his past, he maintained a sense of celebrity. He had fit in comfortably, assuming a role at the town newspaper and becoming a pillar of the community.

All the same, as of late, Juan had become disenchanted with his adopted home.  He felt his mind getting lazy.  A slow and devastating suffocation had begun to boil in his soul and is what pulled him into the square this day, whether he knew it or not.

Virginia was the first to catch a glimpse of Juan entering the square and ended her conversation with the all too boring and pig like Mr. Quimby, the carpenter and local historian, and set off in quick, but certainly not obvious steps, to cut Juan off before he was captured by another for a brief encounter of conversation.

“Why Juan, I believed you to be ill?  What has brought you out on such a chilly day as this?”  Virginia inquired, painfully attempting to hold back her joy at seeing him.

“My dearest Virginia,” Juan replied, “Thursday mornings in the town square with everyone is an occasion too joyous to miss.  Especially today.  Look at us all!”  As he spoke, a smile mechanically grew on his lips as persistent knots drew tighter in his gut.

“Your spirits certainly have been raised since last evening.  You looked absolutely horrible last night at Mr. Quimby’s party.  I was afraid Dr. Wilkinson would have to aid you.”

“Why, it was only a case of drinking too much too soon.  Sleep seems to have cured all.”

“Well I’m glad you came down to the square then.  I was honestly worried about you.  Come, have some coffee with me.”

Virginia grappled onto Juan’s arm as they made their way through the happy villagers.  Virginia and Juan shared waves and smiles in honor of the daily celebration which had become customary at the Thursday town square.  To those who they greeted, they appeared together as a couple, some even whispering so, but in their souls, they were struggling.

The knots which continued to haunt Juan’s insides were begotten from his decision, made the night before, to leave this town in which he was adored.  He was no longer happy here, he lamented in the blackness of his mind, he had so much more to do and learn.  He had to see what was out there.  He was unable to accept this isolation. He wanted to know who he really was.

More than half of the original 1,000 villagers who had travelled to this place had died on the long march here.

He, whoever he was truly, had barely survived.

Never the less, he was going.  In one month he would be gone into the outside world to live an outside life — if he lived.

But the knots which had been troubling him did not leave on this realization. Subsided perhaps, but they would not leave. But why would the knots not leave? He must be forgetting something.

Yes, he would risk death, but he knew he would survive, somehow he knew.

Attending the town square was an outlet, a hope of forgetting his troubles and finding a bit of the happiness he knew he once had.

The sight of Virginia was a vision. It was her, the only girl who did not make it all too clear that she desired him as her husband who was causing these pains. But why, although they were as good of friends as possible without being forced into marriage, was he in such turmoil at the prospect of never seeing her again?

Love? Was he in love with Virginia but in denial because that meant being stuck here forever?

“Here Juan, have some hot coffee.  Although you say you feel fine, a little bit of coffee will do you some good,” Virginia said, smiling genuinely at Juan who continued with his mechanical one.

Virginia’s struggles had also reached a crescendo the night before. She had loved a boy in the community until he died in a riding accident just months before Juan had arrived. She had not looked at a man the same way since. But last night she worried til the morning about Juan. She drifted asleep denying it all.

“Thanks Virge, maybe you’re right.  I just can’t seem to stay on top of things lately and I’ve been thinking about something very important...”

“Juan!”  Virginia whispered as loud as she could, “You know better than to call me that, that, that name.  It’s disgusting.”

“Sorry Ms. Page, I’m just not feeling myself.”

So the morning went on, and Juan did not mention the knots or let Virginia in on his decision.

He felt himself drawn to her, and was unable to resist the drift into the blur that is the first symptom of love. That unique time when two first meet and become enveloped in a euphoria, thinking nothing about fate, death and hatred, but only the joy that is that lovely person.

No matter who he began speaking with, he kept track of everywhere Virginia went and who she was with. He always managed to find a way to get near to her.

After fixing another cup of coffee he locked onto Virginia and disregarded casual drifting in lieu of the beeline approach. He was afloat and needing to see her closely, to sense her there, to see her smile.

“The puppy is here,” said Debra, a life long pal of Virginia and one of the girls who had found Juan that day along the river.

He again realized the presence of the knots almost immediately, and Juan realized he was in deep trouble. He felt pain pulsing around him and as a few seconds ticked he searched for a reply as he was awakened from the love blur and re-entered his denial. A desire to find solace in his home — and away from Virginia — suddenly exploded.

“I just wanted to tell Virginia that I must make an early exit from the morning square, I have quite a bit to do, and I promised myself I’d get an early jump on things,” Juan apologetically mandated.

Virginia, knowing not what to make of Juan’s sudden and definite urge to leave her and the festiviîties of the square could only nod approvingly and let the man go.

“Well then, if you’re getting busy so early, you’ll be able to attend the surprise party for Mr. Quimby tonight at my parents house?”

Juan was stuck between his heart, his brain and his knots, embarrassingly aware that what had become a private conversation, was being enjoyed by an increasing number of people.

“Why of course I’ll be there.  But isn’t two parties in two nights just a bit extravagant for this town?”

“You should know better than that.  Mr. Quimby’s birthday party is always preceded by a party.  It is the local tradition with whomever is the historian.  He basically gets two parties so the townsfolk can show their appreciation for documenting all of the happenings in the town.  Juan, are you really feeling better or were you trying to calm me?”

“No, Virginia, It’s like I told you, I simply haven’t been feeling myself lately.  But I’ll be there.  The usual time?”

“The usual time.”

And with a bow, Juan was off.  He made the quickest way out of the square, causing an extra but necessary walk, for the knots were getting tighter and his act could continue no longer.  He needed to be alone for a while.  He needed to be free.  He needed to be home.

Juan made it in about an hour.  Pretty good time with all those knots pulling in his gut.  He laid down, grabbing a bottle of wine in one fell swoop, and lay motionless on the floor.

“What the hell am I going to do?” he spoke to himself like he had done repeatedly in his life, looking for something wiser to command him loud and clear.  

And for the first time, he got an answer.

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