Scrolls is a new 'experimental' collaboration in progress by James C. Hopkins and Yoko Danno. One of us writes the first half of a sentence and the other follows up the rest of the sentence. The latter begins the next sentence and drops it halfway, which is taken over by the former. Writing thus in turn we draw 'picture scrolls' with words. There is no rule except that a scroll should consist of five paragraphs. When we start a scroll we never know how it will develop and end. We have set out for adventures in an unknown land without a map or a compass.

♥  Scroll 3

Sometimes it is better not to leave the house at all. Yesterday it rained until suddenly a clap of thunder cleared the sky. Then afterwards it poured down again from a completely clear sky. This is the kind of weather we can expect, now that all the leaves are falling. Today I saw a white flower turn into red as the dusk deepened and night came upstairs from the damp cellar with another bottle in her hand. My hair is falling out, even before turning grey, and my hands are shaking uncontrollably.

The woman said out of the clear blue, "show me your hand and I will show you the future." I held out my palm, and she read it carefully. "Your future depends entirely on whether or not you can refrain from drinking red wine." Then she added, smiling, "Don't be afraid of leaving before the party is over." This makes sense to me, since I needed to walk my dog before dinner. I felt relieved, and the woman was gone before I knew it. But the dog seemed determined to make a daily beat around the charnel ground.

The full moon was above the house by the time I returned. I reached the door just as a car pulled in and a woman in dark glasses got out. In no time I stepped into the house and closed the door behind me. There is nothing that frightens me more these days than black nail polish and purple lipstick. There was an urgent knock on the door, which I ignored, and loosened the dog's collar. Sometimes animals are better at sensing disguised visitors. Especially when your own senses can't be trusted any longer.

But what I was saying about fortune tellers and make-up has nothing to do with my true colors. What I really want to say is that I wear night and day with equal abandon, and that the lies of flowers have no say in my wardrobe at all. If you pour wine and expect calamity, then the worst that will happen is a horde of dead cockroaches. Flowers will sometimes change color for no reason because that's what they do. People, on the other hand, turn pale because they are made to by natural or manmade disaster.

The dogs are still barking, and someone is knocking on the door again and again. I can keep ignoring the inevitable for as long as the clothing moths are unhatched. In due time I must open the door and get out of here, but for now I'll stay put. Sometimes persistence is just an excuse for boredom, and right now the weather is stable. Yesterday I came across a woman in a red sari, pinned with a rusted safety-pin. Why should I worry about sleep when all I really want is to be awakened to total abandon? I will sprinkle salt on my doorstep, tomorrow!

(Photo by James C Hopkins: Rajasthani festival)