Tensions between Emylene and her mother, Vandy, were generally on orange alert and no amount of discussion or mediation by her father, Theo, could ever ease the atmosphere. All three knew that Emyline needed a place of her own where she could rant and rave whenever the world failed to meet her expectations which was often. So when Emyline turned 18 she left home and moved a dozen blocks away  into a second storey walk-up in a business district that hippies, suburban runaways, and Goth wannabees called funky but everyone else called squalid. It was far enough away to give her a sense of freedom but close enough to return to if she ever felt threatened. Contrary to what Emyline believed, the world hadn't failed or forgotten her, it was just waiting.

       To make rent Emylene took a job selling cloth in a textile shop downstairs in the same building, and for fun she took up with a forty year old man named Stelio - a tall, slim Greek with a nose so narrow you could use it to slice open an envelope. Emylene wasn't sure what attracted her to him exactly except that he was different than any man she had ever known. She wouldn't know how different until years later.

       And now it seemed, the world had waited long enough. Trotting downstairs one December morning to work, Emylene found a black rose and a note from Stelio fastened to her doorknob which read, "Is black the sum of all colors or the absence of all colors? Meet me at Bob's Chinese tonight to discuss." How could she refuse?

                                                      ___________________

       Emylene returned to the antique shop the next day to find the picture Stelio was so enthralled with sitting on the floor facing the window. It was a simple sketch of a rural winter depicting a weathered old fence that stretched all the way from the foreground back to a ragged line of trees in the distance. The subject of the sketch was a great cypress tree that stood alone in the pristine snow with which she immediately identified; both entities  rooted in a hostile world.

     The shopkeeper had lived in the district for over 30 years and suffered them all - the druggies, the hookers, and the hustlers. He took one look at Emylene and made up his mind before she said a word: Goths - if they were so in love with death why didn't they just slit their wrists and end it all so that the rest of us could get on with our own miserable lives?

     "Hey, the picture over there on the floor, the one with the tree, how much?"

     "A million bucks," he sneered.

     "Mmm. I don't have that much. Will you take one hundred?"

    "Tell you what; you come back here tomorrow dressed from head to toe in white. You wipe off all that black guck off your nails and your eyes and you come here dressed like..."

     "...like a little lady?"

     "Yeah, and it's yours."

    Emylene curtsied before she left and returned the next day dressed totally in white as requested. It was the one white dress she owned and treasured - an exact replica of the bridal gown Miss Lucy was buried in after Dracula turned her into his vampire consort. When Emylene stepped across the threshold of the shop she looked more frightening than anything she had worn in black and the complexion of the shop owner faded to the same pallor as the dress.....

     Emylene rushed home through the snow carrying her new treasure and hung it on the main wall of her tiny apartment. Then because even Goths get hungry she bounced downstairs to grab a sub. It was 8:15 when she returned, when her world changed, when the glorious mystery revealed itself, when she gazed upon her treasure and noticed for the first time footsteps in the snow that were not there before!

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