Michelle leant backward, bending at the knee, which was being supported only by the toilet seat, until her head almost rested against the window sill behind her.
‘Don’t be afraid, suspicious, confused or whatever you are, please,’ Max said, holding a hand toward Michelle, palm open.
‘I’m not afraid… as such…’ she rather too honestly answered.
‘Suspicious and confused then?’
‘I suppose. Would you blame me?’
‘I can explain’
‘Really? You can explain appearing inside a locked bathroom, within a locked house, whilst most of the eyes of the street are fixed on it, what with that noise outside? That’s quite an illusion Mr Finch!’
She had dismissed Robbie’s singing a little too harshly in the surprise of the moment. Maybe the anger she was feeling from his continued embarrassment was still present.
‘Please, call me Max, everyone else does.’
‘Who the hell is everyone else? Don’t tell me that they’re planning on appearing randomly as well? Are they already in the bedroom?’
Max giggled, quite innocently, ‘as I said Michelle, I can explain.’
‘Please, carry on.’ She never usually had the nerve to speak so forthrightly to a stranger before. This necklace was powerful.
There was a brief pause in the singing outside. Max’s mouth was poised to speak before the silence took even him by surprise, and he froze. There was a second of clarity for Michelle in that silence also. She had a chance to see him, where before she was just looking at him. Deceptively tall; whilst he had been sitting on the edge of the bath she had hardly thought much of his stature at all, but now stood from offering her his hand he was quite a presence. He filled the room. Yet he was slender and slim of build. His short dark hair was not extravagantly cut, as she would have imagined a ‘sorcerer’ to appear. It was in fact quite unflattering, doing nothing for the forgettable shape of his face, she thought. Yet when his eyes turned from the window from where the silence was entering the room, she was taken aback. His stare was imprisoning. It was intimidating and inviting all at the same time. She felt trusting, but knew inside that that was surely a mistake. Then something else dawned. She had a chance to realise that he had already called her by her name. How did he know her name?
She tried to blurt out an exclamation of astonishment, but he had already started speaking.
And she was spell-bound.
As Max spoke about the ‘Community’ and the ‘Rest’ and the ‘Teachings’ and the years and years of solitude and soul-searching (the inner meditation, as he called it), and then the ‘Re-birth’ when the powers that had been developing, deep inside, first exploded out from their bodies, Michelle couldn’t move. He spoke of the ‘Beginning’ and the ‘War’, and ominously, the ‘End’.
He explained that the necklace was an heirloom not of her grandmothers but of his grandmothers. And that his grandmother was referred to in the ancient scriptures as only, ‘Her’.
The sound of Robbie’s voice had dulled to nothing louder than a rustle of a curtain. Michelle, consciously at least, couldn’t even remember he was there. As Max spoke, she felt herself rise off away from the toilet, and stand straight. Her eyes stopped from blinking. She even started to perspire. And her hands were already rising to her neck, her finger and thumb gripping the delicate silver chain, and lifting it from its resting place on her collar bone.