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*Chapter I – The Amber Waltz*

A dream or reality, I had no idea at first which one was the right answer. It seemed so unreal and yet I was not asleep, for it to be a dream. This is a story never to be forgotten, forever to be told. It was the last Friday of October and a new chapter was soon to be announced. People gathered with joy and desire of celebration of what was said to be a mantra of war. I was among them enjoying the blast of energy and gazing towards the stage. In a corner however, was a presence I did not sense at first but whose power I would feel by the end of the night. Out of nowhere, fear sparkled in my heart and I guessed that something was wrong. I began to move towards the exit, in order to get out of the room.

All the way there I did not get, as the crowd tumbled upon me. From that point onwards, it was as if we had left the room and ended up in a place where grace had been left behind, a long time ago. I had received an invitation I could not refuse, to the macabre dance of death. The ballroom was of bright amber colour, with chandeliers of fire, flickering in the night. The dancers took my coat as I walked in and then invited me to join them. Next thing I knew, I was the main focus point of their attention, with no freedom of choice. I did not keep them waiting for it was not in my convenience. My breath was short and thoughts were quick. Fear is a tricky feeling, which sneaks into one's mind and hides away so deep, it can easily blend in. The dance was about to begin and so, I reached out with my right hand, waiting to swirl in circles on the dance floor. A few moments later, the waltz began in the amber chamber. My dance partner held me close, my right hand was well clenched in his, so that I would not skip a step along the way. His hand along my back left burns along my skin. Swirl after swirl, the dance slowly yet surely turned into a mesmerizing trance. There was a point in which my spirit and my body were no longer united, but I wasn't able to tell exactly how that happened. Was I dreaming? Was I not? I rested my head on his shoulder in order to catch my breath. If only another pair of eyes were there to see what I had seen. Perhaps then, I could tell just how things turned out to be. The creatures and I continued to dance and only then did I realise that they had death in their eyes. Lifeless figures so alive, ascending from the underworld and taking part in such a spectacular event. Trapped in their masquerade, I danced and sang along with them, not knowing what else to do. I did not have a choice, other than following their lead. As I said before, my body and spirit were no longer one. My spirit had gone to a place where I couldn't reach and decided to mock me for it.

There I was, trapped in a waltz, without the option of skipping a beat. Dead I was not, that much I knew. It was the trance which got me spinning in circles, unable to stop. Dancing and prancing, my body was trapped. With no soul, running away was on option I did not have. Was I alive or dead? How could I ever tell? There was madness all around, with creatures flickering in the night, their eyes sparkling like amber, with no trace of life. At long last, it happened, my soul came back to me, I felt complete and ready to not admit defeat.Luck or not, their glance drifted away from me and to another pair of dancers. I unclenched my hand from the blaze of fire and that was my decisive moment. I felt alive and eager to see tomorrow, so another moment I did not lose. I ran, like hell, from hell, towards freedom. Not a look back did I dare to have, for the waltz had ended and another one was about to begin. One dance was enough for me, I did not want to see their burning eyes again. There was a moment when I fell into that circle of fire and danced the amber waltz, for my body did not have the power to get up and leave the forsaken place. But then my soul was awakened from the trance and I decided to make a move. My time was not then, I was not prepared to go just yet. My last goodbyes were yet to be said and my prayers yet to be told. Awakened from my sleep, awakened from that nightmare, I walked towards the gate, which took me back to life.

Outside, the first breath of air was heavenly. Words cannot explain how relieved I felt and I cannot explain how painless I felt. I managed to escape the amber waltz and was now lying on my back, facing the night sky. It was quiet in my mind and there were restless people all around me. To this day, I know for sure that my time has yet to come and that there still are quite a few chapters in my life, waiting to unfold. I guess I'll know just why the dancers let me come back to this world, when the time is right and the stars aligned. 'Til then, I have a life to live and that's exactly what I'll do. What happened that night was no dream at all. It was real and nothing shall ever be the same again.

*The painting is entitled The Viennese Waltz by Vladimir Pervunensky. The song which lead me to write this first chapter is Dance of Death by Iron Maiden. Amber Waltz is about my experience on 30.10.2015 @ Colective Club, in Bucharest.*

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