Sunday Morning: Tell us How

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Stuffing my headphones into my pocket, I climbed the steps and pulled the front door, which jarred against my grip, locked. Again, locked. Not too worried, I headed down the ally, but found the side door also locked up tight. I tried banging but no one came, so I headed back to the front.

I’d just lifted my hand to knock when the door opened in front of me. Two men in suits filed by without a second glance my way, engaged in a conversation with each other in a language I didn’t recognize. One complained, irritated, while another seemed to reassure him. A third followed behind, scanning the street intensely. I felt his eyes on me only a second before he decided I didn’t matter. I whisked myself inside before the door shut behind them, burning with curiosity to know who they were. I found no one to ask in the dark, deserted lobby. I followed light from the main theatre, where I heard Trix’s tone but not her words.

As Trix’s voice got louder and clearer, something stopped me short of entering the theatre. I felt like I was intruding on a ceremony. Cautious, I stood just outside the door with a limited view. Trix spoke in sermon-like tones – stylized, expansive. She used length and pause deliberately, creating a groove. I felt my body wanting to sway, and saw the crowd of kids around her doing just that. She paced slowly in front of them, demanding and receiving their rapt attention. Her feet hit the ground in rhythm with her words. Her arms invited understanding.

“They think they are the flowers, and we are the weeds. But who decides which is which? We are a field of dandelions. Beautiful, delicate petals of gold, calling, calling to the sun!” Her arms curved to take the crowd in, then rose, rose, tugging all their spirits upward.

“See, I am you, you are me, we are love. They mow us down, but we grow and flourish, even while they struggle to bloom their precious, expensive blossoms. And when we have soaked in all the sun and earth’s goodness, felt the bumblebee’s clumsy love, we become seeds that spread far and wide, propagating. As the wind takes us, we spread.” Trix’s arms undulated, her wrists loose and hands shaking seeds to the wind. I heard murmurs of assent from the group that gathered around her.

“We live our lives, every day, spreading love like a weed. Tell us how, Lizard?”

“Use hands to build.”

“Tell us how, Jez?”

“Be clear, be bold.”

“Tell us how, Paul?”

“Think, ask and choose.”

“Tell us how, Duggan?”

“No win, no lose.”

“Tell us how, Seth?”

“High expectations.”

“Tell us how, Lit?”

“Through celebration.”

“Tell us how, Milo?”

“Give what we can”

“Tell us how, Moffat?”

“Offer our hands.”

“Tell us how, Rails?”

“Fight when it’s right.”

“Tell us how, Stan?”

“Words backed with might.”

“Tell us how, friends?”

“Build strength, build calm.”

“And for how long, friends?”

“Till love’s day comes. Respect myself, respect each other, respect this place!”

The kids shouted these last responses en mass with determined vigour, absolutely no joking around. They took this ritual seriously. As Trix called each one’s name, I saw the others thinking about what they would reply, trying to stay in the rhythm. I watched carefully, sure I’d catch a few eye-rollers, non-participators, in-the-back whisperers. But the only one I found wasn’t in the crowd. Jamie also watched the proceedings, from the stage-side door across the theatre.

When he caught my eye, Jamie shook his head at me, eyes wide, motioning for me to go. I pulled back around the corner just as the crowd in the theatre started breaking up.

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