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Where Glamorgonia’s finger alighted briefly on the shimmering ectoplasm, a circular ripple flobbled into nothingness, a pair of eyes moved towards the surface, took on form – and Petunia stepped primly onto the ground before the startled Ado. 

A young girl of the same age as Ado, stood before him. She had brown unremarkable pigtails tied with bright red ribbons. Dressed in an optimistic purple robe that looked as if it had been purchased from a second-hand clothes shop in the hope that it might, in the correct lighting, be considered to be of classic Greek styling, Petunia stepped a little closer to Ado, her hands clasped behind her back and stood rocking backwards and forwards on her sensible shoes.

All eyes turned towards her and Petunia seemed to cringe a little under the weight of attention.

“Err, humm,” she stuttered, “Hello Ado, I’m Petunia and I’m terribly sorry. I feel I have to apologise from the outset. Or,” the girl put a finger to her mouth and looked to the infinite realm of question, “I suppose and assume I have to, although, in reality, I am not that sure.”

Ado, still reeling from the spectacle of the watcher wall watching him tried to focus, his eyes like saucers not knowing in which direction to look. Fefe snuggled up closer to him and slid his hand into Ado’s, comfort transmitting warmth that spread through him like butter melting on hot morning toast.

“What I am trying to articulate is that I am the component of our personality that will imbue us, err you, with confidence,” said Petunia, attempting a bright smile, “but I am not too sure of myself or what is expected really. I know that in Fefe, this has never seemed necessary as he is but a simple bundle of responses and consequences and has never needed encouragement, but I’ve been practising in private and I think I’m getting the hang of things and, now that the transition has been passed, I am, err, raring to go. I think.”

She looked imploringly towards Glamorgonia who silently urged her to continue, even if it meant that she did not sound all that convincing.

Petunia took a deep breath and, like sun streaming through a window from which the curtains had suddenly been thrown aside, her eyes filled with determination, “Confidence is that component of us that will allow us to meet different situations and make them work in our favour. At least that is the theory,” she said none too confidently. “Glamorgonia has told me that I am one of the most important components of your personality as it is me who will help you to face situations which may result in, well, in Steinfrank. I can make all the difference in…”

In mid-sentence, and at that very moment, she was rudely pushed aside from behind. Joslin stepped out of the eye-cloud and looked around imperiously from above a nose upon which round glasses had been precariously balanced. He was dressed in the approximation of a roman toga, badly pressed and trimmed with what looked like hastily applied purple felt-tip pen that had run out before it got off the floor, and the ragged ends of which cascaded over his right arm; a feature that its young owner had obviously thought emulated that of an ancient roman senator.

“Oh,” chortled Joslin, pretending to have just seen the unfortunate Petunia who had stumbled and was sitting on the ground, arms crossed, eyes flashing daggers at the new arrival, “I poo adologise.”

Then, turning his back to her, his eyes almost crossing as he nosed down at Ado and in his most deprecating voice said, “My name is Joslin Ponceflop,” said the newcomer, “and I am here to inform you that you do not need any confidence when I am around because I/you am/is?/are always right, I have all the necessary attributes to ensure a smooth passage through any eventuality and, as is as obvious as this masculine olfactory mechanism protruding from my cheeks that we are already highly intelligent and supremely competent in every aspect. In fact, Steinfrank, and,” he turned his back and raised a hand to his mouth and lowered his voice so that Petunia could not see or hear his words, “let’s face it, the young, old before her time bat, should be considered aberrations and banished to the well of the forgotten.”

With that, he looked down his nose again at Ado, gave a grimace of distaste and turned his toga enshrouded back to Ado, “Is that all that is required?” queried Joslin over his shoulder in the general direction of Glamorgonia, “I have rather a busy schedule and cannot afford any more time on inconsequential tête-à-têtes with someone who is, quite obviously at this stage in his development, far below our fettle.” 

“Yes, thankyou Joslin,” said a bemused Glamorgonia as she extended her shapely hand to Petunia and helped her to her feet.

Petunia dusted herself down and glared after the disappearing ripples where Joslin had stepped into the octoplasmic wall.

“I am sorry about that,” said Petunia, “as I was saying, I am the side of your personality that generates confidence. That, in case you were wondering, was Joslin, your ego and tendency towards arrogance and, although I am not too sure of myself yet, I will not be ignored, not by him or by anyone!” With that she stamped her feet, clenched fists at her sides, hair still slightly dishevelled and looked defiantly at Ado as if waiting for a response.

Ado sat back, his eyes widening a bit guiltily. He had felt a glimmer of camaraderie with Joslin and had thought he was fun. Petunia seemed to be a bit stuffy for his liking although he would never have dreamed of saying anything to hurt her.

“Thank you, Petunia. I am sure that you will know how to interpose yourself with the unfolding of time,” interjected Glamorgonia as Petunia started to say something else. Then, turning to Ado, Glamorgonia continued, “I hope you will have plenty of opportunity to get to know Petunia as your time passes. It is important that you know that she, as well as Joslin and Steinfrank, whom you will no doubt meet in due course, will be very important in embroidering your journey with light or,” she hesitated, “a little darkness.”

Petunia gave Ado a nervous smile then, much to his consternation, blew him a little kiss that seemed to float across the space between them and land smackingly on his nose, resulting in a deep blush spreading across his cheeks very much like a generous helping of raspberry jam on a freshly baked muffin. And with that, her form was subsumed back into the wall and her sad, yet determined eyes were lost in the turbulence of blinking, jostling frogspawningly-packed eyeballs.

Ado nervously raised his hand, half hoping that Glamorgonia would not see but, being an all-seeing and all-knowing Guiden-nymphen, she looked at him expectantly and, when he opened his mouth without any sound issuing forth, she queried, “You were seeking elucidation, Ado?”

Ado plucked up his courage, looked down as if to double check on something then uttered in a quiet voice, “But I’m a boy,” he observed.

“Ah, well spotted,” said Glamorgonia knowingly, “and, as you progress along the road of experience, your doubts will undoubtedly be clarified,” she added, “The only thing you need to know at this early stage in the proceedings is that we are all, my kind included, a wonderful array of complexity, a fabulous salmagundi of flavours, a veritable spectrum of passions and an intriguing gallimaufry of all types of colour. We are, all of us, a spectacular continuum from girl to boy and, mixed within us are as many different varieties of sensibilities as there are stars in the sky; well, perhaps not that many but certainly a jolly good few!

“You, Ado,” said Glamorgonia, “are no different. The many, many personalities that make up you psychoswarm are girl, boy, man, woman, a mix of the two and two parts of the same, so to speak.

“And do you know what?” she enquired, raising a shapely eyebrow as her hand gently caressed Ado’s hair.

Ado instinctively knew that the question was rhetorical and that she was going to answer it anyway, so he looked directly at her and adopted what he thought was an anticipatory demeanour.

“It is completely normal, and an integral part of the wonderful embroidery that is sentient life. You should embrace it and enjoy the plenitude of wonder that comprises contradiction!”

“Now,” said Glamorgonia, as if the answer she had given was the definitive resolution to the perennial battle of the sexes that had resounded, a never-ending circular echo bouncing off the mountains of hostility, throughout the millennia, “pay attention.”