The moon is an island ...
The island of lovers, dreamers
Island, the island of poets ...
We meet up there, in the dream

- Carmen Gavrila

CHAPTER FIVE: PARIS, 1961

As the vast shining staircase carried Emily toward the Earth, she soon could recognize the outline of France, down below. Before long, she could see cities and rolling green hills. The white staircase carried Emily down into a large, open green field, next to a tall structure which Emily right away knew was the Eiffel Tower. Emily strolled away from the greenspace and entered into Paris.

As she entered the city, street lights flickered to life. Everywhere she looked, Paris stirred with creativity, unfolding before her eyes as a city alive with art, music, and literature. Musicians roamed the streets. Painters decorated their canvases. Authors sat at outdoor restaurants with their pens in inspired flight upon their journals. Spotting a newsstand on the sidewalk, Emily walked over and picked up a newspaper which read: "December 29, 1961."

Then, she heard some singing, coming from a nearby café. She walked over to the café and peered in, through a window. She could see a stage inside, where a short woman, covered in shadows, stood singing behind a microphone. Emily entered the restaurant and sat down at one of the many empty tables. After the singer finished her song, she started walking toward the exit of the café – which happened to be in Emily's direction. Now, Emily could see that the singer wore a black dress.

"Pardon me?" Emily said.

"Yes," the singer replied, with a French accent, as she stopped beside Emily and smiled.

"Do you speak a little English?" asked Emily.

"Yes, a little,” said the singer.

"Well, I'm sure you're busy, but, do you have time for a quick question?"

"That is fine," the singer said, sitting down across from Emily at the table.

Emily inquired, "But, are you on your way somewhere?"

"L'Olympia, the music hall. I am due to arrive there soon, to perform tonight. I have time for a question though, my dear. Please, go ahead."

Emily said she was interviewing musicians, to learn more about music. She asked the French singer what she likes to sing about. The singer explained that she sings about what she knows – she sings about her life. The song she just performed in the restaurant is about wanting to live without regret. She grew up in poverty, there in Paris. She told Emily that her grandparents raised her – and Emily chimed in that she had been brought up by her grandparents as well. The singer explained that she first started performing on the streets of Paris, in public squares. In 1935, she got discovered by a cabaret owner who taught her about stage presence. A few years later, when the war began, she got the chance to rescue people from a prisoner camp. She posed for a picture in the camp. Then, she used the images of all the French prisoners in the photograph to make false ID cards for each person in the picture. She pretended that the prisoners were her own musicians, and she helped them to escape using these fake ID cards. Soon, the Nazis noticed that, every time she visited the camp, the prisoners were slowly going missing. By the time the Nazis stopped inviting her to the camp, she had already saved the lives of 175 people.

The singer continued, "...For most of my life, I have never gone too far from Paris, except when I travel abroad to perform. Things have been hard, Emily, but I try to be grateful. The song you heard me sing, when you came into the restaurant, it is about wanting to live without regrets."

Emily commented, "From everything you said, I call tell that you always tell the truth, in your songs. I see that is important to you."

"Very much so," the singer confirmed. "The style I like, chanson realiste, it requires the truth, at all times."

Then, Emily considered, "Listening to you today, I can see now that music always needs to be sincere, if you want to move the listener. Without the truth, nothing reaches the heart, nothing touches the soul."

"You are right, Emily. I couldn't have said it better myself."

Suddenly, Emily perceived that her crescent moon ring was starting to flash from her hand. At once, Emily stood up from the table, and said, "Thank you so much! It was very nice to meet you. Enjoy your concert tonight. I have to go now…"

"Take care, Emily," the singer said, standing up to shake Emily's hand. "I hope your music studies go well. You are a good listener! – this is the most important quality for a student, a journalist, or a friend."

Emily stood up from the table, thanked the singer again for her time, and left the café. Once she started walking down the sidewalk, Emily decided to rest for a moment, before returning to the Moon. She looked around on the Parisian street for a place to sit, until she spotted an alley next to the café. Emily entered the alley and sat down on a pile of wooden crates. Just as she closed her eyes to relax, some scraps of paper began to stir on the ground at the far end of the alley. A darkness crept out from the shadows there, and a faint whirlpool of light appeared in the air, turning in an ominous rotation around the emerging darkness. Emily opened her eyes and tried to stand, but a strange pull from the shadowy darkness beside her caused her to stumble onto the ground. What’s more, Emily realized she was gradually getting pulled in, sliding across the ground toward the strange darkness. She tried fighting against this dreadful force, but it was hard for her to get up. Slowly, Emily was getting dragged across the pavement, edging ever closer toward the murky shadows.

Then, she heard it, coming from the dark shadows beside her: a cold voice, made from the cruelest wind. "Emily…" said the icy voice.

Up on the Moon, the Rabbit and the Star watched in concern as Emily's scene unfolded on a rectangular screen hovering above the table where they were sitting.

Back in the alley, the dark star continued to speak: "Come and rest in my shade. You are tired from your burdens."

Emily glanced toward the murky shadows, there at the center of the dark star, but she quickly averted her eyes. It was the blackest darkness she had ever seen, the very sight of which sent a chill up her spine.
 
"No," Emily said. "I don't trust you." She was lying on the ground, struggling against the pull of the darkness beside her.

Then, the dark star told her: "You never will fulfill this quest. Even if you did, everyone on the Moon would soon forget you."

Back on the Moon, the Rabbit asked, "Why doesn't she use the communicator? We could remind her of what to do!"

The Star explained, "The black hole is distracting her. It wants to crush her spirit."

There in the alley, Emily whispered, "You're wrong. They wouldn't forget me."

"Of course, they would," insisted the black hole. "The moment you finished, they would leave you, banishing you from all memory. After all, who has ever stood by you, Emily?"

Now becoming upset, Emily covered her face with her hands.

Up on the Moon, the Rabbit kept staring intently at the rectangular screen above the table. The Rabbit could plainly see that, when Emily removed her hands from her face, a bitter tear rolled down her cheek.

"Emily!" the Rabbit cried out, abruptly standing up from the table.

"Rabbit!..." exclaimed the Star, turning toward the Rabbit.

Down in the alley, the dark star moved closer to Emily, its ghostly shadows now dangerously close to her. "Emily," said the dark star, the ice in its voice now fiercely cold, "you know of what I speak. Everywhere, all around the world, people abandon and forsake each other, constantly. Why do you think there is no loyalty, Emily? Why is no one faithful? You know the reason as well as I. It is because…"

Emily gazed in exhaustion and terror into the black hole's approaching darkness, as it told her the Coldest Lie in the Universe: "Love does not exist."

Just then, in the sky above Emily, a streak of white light came rushing in. It was a bright white staircase, curving swiftly down toward Emily, right above the alley. From the end of the staircase, the Rabbit – in his green suit -- quickly leapt down, landing right between Emily and the darkness that had nearly captured her. As the Rabbit tumbled to the ground in the alley, he gently pushed Emily out of the way, carefully lifting her up into the air. Emily landed on her feet, at a spot nearly outside of the black hole's whirlpool. From where she stood, Emily could see that one of the Rabbit's legs had become trapped in the black hole's central darkness. The Rabbit merely smiled and told her, "Don't worry, my friend." Emily took a few quick steps toward the Rabbit, hoping to grab his arms and pull him out from the darkness. Before Emily could reach the Rabbit, the black hole began to pull the Rabbit into its shadows. The Rabbit closed his eyes and cringed. Then, he began to strobe in a pulsing light. With each pulsing flash of light, the Rabbit grew smaller as he steadily lost his slightly human traits. He reached out with his paws, urgently trying to grab hold of the ground, but the dark star's pull was too powerful. As the black hole dragged him into the shadows, the Rabbit's paws scraped across the ground. Gradually, the Rabbit shrunk down to his natural small size and oval shape – until, at last, he got pulled out from his green suit and vanished into the central darkness.

When Emily saw the Rabbit disappear in the dark shadows, she clenched her fists, and her arms began to tremble with anger. She stared directly into the black hole's central darkness and loudly declared: "You never will capture me! You're weak and pitiful, and you make me sick!" At once, the dark star's whirlpool flared brightly – its spiral now suddenly vibrant. Bits of cold fire filled the air around Emily, and a howling wind surrounded her. The dark star tried vigorously to pull Emily into the center, but Emily took strong, strained steps against the ferocious pull of the whirlpool. Soon, she burst free from the black hole and ran out of the alley in a furious sprint down the street, heading back toward the Eiffel Tower.

As Emily kept running, she glanced back over her shoulder for a moment. She could see the black hole traveling toward her, its whirlpool icily bright – and it appeared a little larger now. Now, she wanted to recall something full of wonder from her past, to transport herself back up to the Moon. Emily closed her eyes and remembered when she was a child. She used to join her grandparents on camping trips in the springtime, in the hills of Newfoundland, to watch for auroras in the nighttime sky. She envisioned the Moon within herself, and, on top of the Moon, she projected her vivid memory of an aurora made from burning ribbons of green and purple light. Then, on her inner Moon, she remembered an aurora made from giant streaks of yellow light. Next, she saw an aurora made from lustrous, bursting clouds of blue, red, and gold. Finally, she recalled an aurora like a giant rippling sheet of green light. Just as the dark star started to descend upon her, a powerful wind picked Emily up from the ground in a moving basket of light. She could feel herself swiftly traveling away from the Earth, toward the Moon. For a quick moment, she could actually see the Moon approaching as she drew near – and it looked as if the large, dark plains on the lunar surface were shaped in the distinct outline of a rabbit. Then, a radiant blaze of light burst upon the lunar surface, and Emily emerged from the flaring brightness. She had returned to the Moon, succeeding in her first task.

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