Here, get this, without it you will get lost often, Kristen said to Julia.
It was a small piece of thick, light brown fabric with something on it that looked like moss.
Do you know what it is?
Julia shook her head.
Let me show you then, open it in your hand.
Julia opened the tissue and looked at it. One side of was covered by a thin layer of brown moss. It was darker in some areas, spread on the fabric in a regular pattern. Julia turned the tissue around but it was clean. The moss’ grid seemed familiar.
Is this some sort of map?
I am impressed, of course it is.
But then why don’t you draw it with a pen on a sheet of paper instead of bringing with you this…moss?
Well, I’ll come to this in a moment. Let us go for a walk, I need something.
They left the building and crossed Campo dei Fiori. Stalls selling honey and fruit and cheese and vegetables were all around them. When they were on the other side of it, they turned to Camminata degli Scalzi and walked for a couple of hundred yards, until they stopped at a store selling masks. Kristen entered, Julia followed suit. Inside, hundred of masks were hanging from the ceiling, from walls or resting on shelves. Each represented a different character in the history of the city, each character protagonist of those legends that are often told, each time differently. Julia looked at a mask of a character with wide, circled eyes and marks running all around his face.
This is Geena, the Queen of Wood, the Maskmaker said behind his desk. He was whitewashing a mask with a long, crooked nose and spoke without raising his eyes. Try it on, you can look at yourself at the mirror down there, he said, pointing out to the back of the store.
Julia lifted the mask from the shelf and tried it on. It was heavy but soft on her face, she made a few steps until a man with a black cloak and a black mask appeared in front of her. His looks were imposing but his movements were slow.
Hello Julia, he said and Julia recognized Kristen’s voice. You look like Geena, the Queen of Wood. Julia smiled behind the mask and looked at herself in the mirror. Her face was wooden but expressive, almost smiling. Now open the map, Kristen said behind her black mask and Julia pulled the map out of her pocket. The moss had moved, taking a different shape. She recognized Campo dei Fiori and Camminata degli Scalzi and the place where they were was exactly in the center of the tissue.
It changed! Julia said.
Of course it did, it’s an organic map, what did you expect from it?