In the channeler's room, which is the exact dank temperature of an underground cave, Margot sits up straight in a red velvet chair experiencing her unusual migraine precursor, the elf hallucination. In her left peripheral vision--(by the curtained windows, if Margot stares directly ahead at the channeler)--a cascade of elves pours down non-stop, like a waterfall sprung from the ceiling. The vision is shiny, light, electric, the elves' faces pointy and animated, their tiny bodies twitchy and giddy as they spill forth continuously. It is the sort of vision that most people would attempt to face straight on. Margot interprets the hectic energy as a scary manifestation of some childhood thing gone wrong, even though she knows it is just a party going on behind her eyeballs to break the tension.
Margot wants to confront this vision about as much as she wants to gaze at a streetcorner flasher. Not much. And even if she were to turn to see the damn elves, she is sure they would slide out of view. She stares at the channeler's face, at his grey skin and chapped lips and the tiny purple spider's web of a a broken capillary beneath one of his pouchy closed eyes.
She can tell he is faking everything. His scaly mouth jerks with the pathological twitch of a kid who is too old to be cute when pretending to be asleep.
"And her portrait is in the Frick right now," says the channeler. Margot finds his southern accent and nasality constantly alarming, but rather than providing a diversion, the disturbance of his voice sets up an auditory counterpoint to the visual torture of the elves, and Margot, in the middle, has to squirm.
"I see a monkey," says the channeler, who sometimes moves from one life to the next without opening his eyes. "He has oily brown eyes and cold little paws and he hops about the street with a silver cup and you are the woman in yellow, frightened of the little monk, crossing the street to avoid him. This is 1912, Paris. You are running. The monkey breaks free of his little red leash, there is sun coming through the clouds, he is running on the sunny, windy sidewalks to you and you turn, you turn to see his face--"
Margot rips her gaze from the creep channeler's whiny mouth, and in the long second before the elves shove their scrambling-down exploding molecule selves to the left, they stop all movement and fey smiles and freeze in a network of light against the curtains. They meet Margot's eyes with the sober hatred of interrupted fanatics.
Her headache begins as a pain the shape of an avocado pit rooting itself into the top of her head.
"I see you are alarmed," says the channeler, his eyes open now. "That happens sometimes." ##
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