Through the Door (The Thin Veil) - By Jodi McIsaac

Today was the day.

She was finally going to tell him.

Cedar ran her fingers through her long black hair, her stomach twisting with nerves. She was weaving her way through the crowd at the Halifax Busker Festival, her boyfriend, Finn, following in her wake. Anything could happen here, with its cacophony of street performers and artists and musicians, which is why she never missed it. This year, she hoped, would be one to remember. It all depended on how he took the news.

“So? What do you think?” she asked, spinning around and fixing her mossy green eyes on him. He was looking over his shoulder at something behind them, but at her question he turned back to her and grinned, brushing a wave of brown hair off his forehead.

“The festival? I think it’s beautiful chaos. Sort of like you,” he said, his eyes crinkling. Cedar laughed and kissed him. He smelled like honey and lime and pepper, and it made her heart beat faster, even though the air around them was thick with salt air, hot pavement, street kebabs, and the sweat of performers. The crowd poured itself between stalls hawking everything from incense to kilts, and gathered in knots to watch the entertainment. There were bodies everywhere—some dancing, some singing, some drawing, some coaxing music out of unrecognizable instruments, everyone beckoning and beguiling the passersby. Cedar watched, amazed, as a contortionist twisted himself into impossible positions, and a fire dancer spun and leapt and tangoed with the flames. She lingered at every artist’s stall, admiring the work and discussing technique and influences.

“Maybe next year you should bring some of your work,” Finn said.

“Mmm, maybe,” she said. They stopped and talked to a chalk artist creating 3-D images on the pavement, and Cedar’s face lit up when the man told her he had seen her latest show at a local gallery. Cedar and Finn joined in an impromptu swing dance and then continued on to the next street corner where some old-timers were entertaining the crowd with a set of Cape Breton fiddle tunes. Finn winked at her and pulled his tin whistle out of his back pocket, joining in with a tune here and there as the men played and sang. Then one of the old men hauled him in from the crowd and sat him down on an upturned bucket, insisting he put his whistle to good use and join them for a song or two. Finn laughed and quickly complied, his brown waves bouncing as his body moved with the music. The crowd loved it: this young pup who could keep up with every song the wizened fiddlers threw at him. Finally, he bowed his way out and rejoined Cedar, who had been clapping and dancing along with the rest.

“Two years together, and you can still surprise me,” she said, wrapping her arms around his neck and kissing him again.

“Surely not. I’m an open book,” he said, his rich golden eyes widening in mock surprise.

Cedar swallowed. “So, listen, there’s something—” she began, but stopped when she noticed he was no longer paying attention to her. He was looking away, his brow furrowed. She turned to follow his gaze, but didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.

“What are you looking at?” she asked. He shook his head.

“Nothing. I just thought I saw someone I knew, that’s all.” He dropped her hand and continued down the street. She followed him, glancing back at where he had been looking. Maybe this wasn’t the best time to tell him. But she didn’t want to wait much longer.

Finn stopped in front of the theater and looked back at her, his eyes sparkling mischievously. “Want to go see the magic show?” he asked.

Cedar groaned. “Oh, no. You’re not going to try to convince me again that magic is real, are you?” As an artist, Cedar thought magic was a lovely and romantic notion, but lately Finn had been taking it far more seriously, bringing home dusty old tomes from the university library and telling her stories of gods and heroes as if they had actually existed.

“Magic is real,” he answered her. “If you want it to be. You just need to open your mind a wee bit more.” He put his hands on her head and ran his thumbs along her eyebrows, which were arched in skepticism. She laughed and pulled away.

“You’re all the magic I need,” she said. “But, yes, I’ll come see the show with you. Emphasis on the word show.”

The sun had