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ZOEN

Zoen and The Magic Moonstone

You take what you can find, thought Zoe with a sigh. But right now there was very little to find in the community theater’s wardrobe. How was she supposed to design something “stylish, dazzling, and magical” with the bits and scraps from shows 30 years ago?

Yet Mr. Davies, the director, was used to spinning magic from invisible threads. And Zoe didn’t want to be the one to let him down.

So she went through the racks and trunks once more, impatiently tossing her long blonde hair away from the hooks, buttons, and pins that bristled from the old clothing. “It will be a miracle if I can find anything here,” she muttered.

“Make that ‘if we…’ ”

Zoe turned with a ready smile to find her best friend, Erin, standing behind her. “And I thought you said never in a million years when I asked if you wanted to help with designing the leading lady’s costume!” Zoe crowed. “Well, that’s my first miracle.”

Erin smiled back. “I decided it would be a great first project to launch the Zoen label.”

The Zoen label-their own clothing line. Since third grade, Zoe (Zo) and Erin (En) had been doodling clothing designs on dusty bus windows, prowling consignment shops, and pinning crazy quilt fabrics on each other. It had been the dream of their lives to become fashion designers. And instead of growing tired and ridiculous, the dream only grew stronger. As did their friendship.

“Well, En, welcome to the project. Now see if you can find anything here we can work with.” So for the next half hour, together they turned over the wardrobe collection. A fringed shawl, red taffeta skirt, silk gloves, delicate button boots, and lace camisole all ended up in the keeper pile.

It was as they were revisiting these scraps that they became aware of a woman standing in the doorway. Tall, elegant, raven-haired, dressed in a gorgeous calf-length sheath of velvety green. She certainly wasn’t a member of the theater cast or crew-that Zoe was certain of. Hesitantly, she asked, “Can we help you?’

The woman studied them for a moment longer. Then she nodded. “I believe you already have.” She nodded towards their collection. “I recognize those garments. You girls have quite an eye. Were you thinking of wearing these?”

Erin laughed, grabbing a handful of her waist-length hair. “I’m not brave enough to do red on red…yet. No, we’re trying to cook up a costume for the leading lady.”

The woman smiled. “That’s another kind of brave. And I think you might have something interested started there. At least, I thought so when I wore those pieces in a production I was in.”

Zoe clapped her hands. “No! Really! You were in a play here?” Turning to Erin, she excitedly said, “It’s like a fantastic puzzle. Putting the pieces back together again.”

The woman nodded. “Almost. Except you’ve added a few new pieces-good ones. And there seem to be a few missing…”

Erin sighed. “Yes, well, unfortunately we’ve gone to the bottom of the closet and there’s nothing left to choose from. We’ll probably have to hit the consignment shops to see what we can find.”

‘Have you tried the back room?” the woman suggested.

“Back room?” Zoe asked. “Mr. Davies didn’t tell me anything about that.”

“No? Well, perhaps he doesn’t know.”

Stepping lightly past them, she shifted several racks. Then feeling along the paneled wall, she tapped it in several places. “It should be about…here.” One last tap and a hidden door opened.

It was as though Ali Baba’s cave had appeared before them. For there in the dim light of the room shimmered, glistened, rustled, and whispered a treasure of garments from every era in the last 100-no 150-years.

“Where did they all come from?” exclaimed Zoe. “I can’t believe this theater ever had such an incredible collection! And to think it’s been hidden here so long.”

The woman stepped into the closet and ran her hands through the racks of wondrous clothing. Finally she settled on a brocade jacket, then a silk wrap and brought them into the light. “Try them on,” she urged Erin and Zoe.

It was as though the garments came halfway to meet them, sliding on with the soft, buttery feeling of something crafted just for you, and only for you.

Erin stroked the embroidered sleeve. “It’s…gorgeous! Just…”

“Gorgeous…” echoed Zoe.

“And there’s something in the pockets for you girls,” said the woman.

From deep in delicately stitched envelopes inside the jackets, Zoe and Erin drew out two necklaces.

“Moonstones,” the woman explained. “They’re yours. And they’re a bit…well, yes, I really must use the word magical. You see, you wish something with them-a deep, honest wish-and it’s likely to come true.”

Erin and Zoe raised their eyes, trading doubts, then hesitation. “Oh, you won’t believe until you’ve tried for yourselves,” the woman assured them. “I understand; I didn’t. But believe this. They’re yours. As is this closet. Yours to share, if you choose. But only yours to open and explore.”

“But…” a thousand questions poured through Zoe’s brain.

“But why?” Erin finished.

“Because you have the talent. And the love for design-and for each other. Keep that strong and you won’t fail.”

From the outside corridor, Mr. Davies’ voice came to them. “Zoe! What have you dreamed up for my leading lady?” he shouted.

And in that moment of turning to the door and then glancing back, the woman in velvet green slipped out of their lives. Only the open closet-and the moonstones-remained.

After a day of careful questioning the rest of the theater crew, Erin and Zoe put the last pieces of the jigsaw together. Miranda Fox had been the raven-haired beauty who climbed from their little theater to a marvelous career, carving out her own roles, making magic on stage and screen. Even designing her own costumes.

“Seventy years ago, Erin. She died nearly 70 years ago,” Zoe declared.

With wonder in her eyes, Erin studied the moonstone. “Do you really suppose…?”

Zoe grinned. “Let’s find out.”

 
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