I Carry Your Heart - Chapter 12

~ Closing Argument





“Jamie was afraid Mouse would be too embarrassed to speak to her,” Catherine offered. "For days, maybe."

“Mouse worried over the same thing. Apparently their fears have been overcome.”

“Vincent ... sit with me. I need to talk with you.”

With a wretched sigh, he complied. “I can sense in you such conflict. All the while I was away, I felt the clash of your emotions. At times, I believed I could hear your laughter ... and your tears. That you were so concerned for me brought me both pain and a strange comfort, an unbearable lightness of being. I am ... a burden to you.”

“Hush, Vincent. Look at me.” She bit her lip in concentration and reached to turn his face to hers, his chin in her grip. “Keep looking at me.”

He acquiesced with a slight inclination of his head. The joyous sounds from the lower pools receded.

She began again. “Not that long ago, here in this place, I asked if you believed we would ever truly be together. Do you remember your answer?”

“Yes.”

“When we understand the sacrifices and conquer the fears. That's what you said. I told you then I wasn't afraid. And I’m not ... stop! Stop resisting me, Vincent!” He was shaking his head, turning away. “You have a seriously stubborn streak. I need you to listen to me ... really listen.” Catherine turned his face to hers again.

“You said I was a woman of both worlds. You knew, you’ve always known, that I have a reason to be above. My work, yes, but more than that ... it’s what I can bring to you ... to us, to my family down here. But I’m not a woman of both worlds.

“Without you ... truly ... in my life, I’m ... fractured. It's more a half-life, either place. I want both. I’m sure. There can be no other for me. Ever. There is only you. And I know we are strong enough, tenacious and forcible enough – that we love enough – to make it work.”

“Catherine ... you make it sound as if ... as if we are just any man and woman, deciding whose home to live in and whose to sell. It is ... more than that.”

“We are something that has never been,” she replied.

He fought for words, his conflict undisguised, but the image of having swamped his overwhelming fears. In the vault of his brilliant, fruitless dreams, a fissure opened; the light slipped out, timorous and shy.

“We have certainly gone with care,” she murmured, riveted by the desire irrefutable, crystalline in his eyes. She touched his face, the tips of her fingers tracing a line from brow to jaw, and with her thumb, brushed his lips, a slow stroke of the bewitching cleft. He closed his hand over hers, pressing her palm to his cheek. A distant pinpoint of light flickered ... steadied ... strengthened ... a fragile, ribbon bridge between them. But he blanched and shuddered and jerked his hand away, rocketing to his feet.

She scrambled after him, forcing him to pass her on his rutted path. “I’ve examined each sacrifice I might make for you," she said. "For nights and mornings and years with you. I’ve countered each in my mind and heart and what I receive from you, from being with you, far outweighs any loss. Each choice any of us ever makes takes us down one road and not another. Remember the lines ‘two roads diverged in a yellow wood?’ Ours is less traveled but it will make all the difference. I’ve searched for fears and, apart from losing you, I have none. So what remains between us then are your fears, your sacrifices.”

“You know what I fear. I told you ... Lisa ... these hands.” He spread them before her, palms up, nails flashing in the odd light.

“It’s unhealthy to obsess so about her. You must forgive yourself, Vincent! It was simply an accident. And it was mean on her part ... don’t argue! Girls at that age begin to recognize the power they wield but aren’t necessarily aware of its consequence, and we are not always kind or merciful. Once a boy I liked was chasing me in the park. I let him catch me. I jerked out of his grasp laughing but he fell and broke his wrist. A park policeman called his mother and it was all very embarrassing. Oh, we both received lectures from our parents, but it ended there. I signed his cast with a big heart. He took another girl to the school dance. Would you have me berate myself still?”

“It is not the same.” He edged away from her but she followed, close on his heels.

“No, it isn’t the same, but it’s ... close. I don’t discount what you felt, how deeply scarred you were by the incident. You take all the transgressions, all the fault into your heart. But some of the regret belongs to Lisa. And some to Father.”

“You were not there,” he said, sagging against a rocky outcropping. His fingers worried a sharp, chiseled ridge.

“Yes, I was. You took me there. I felt what you felt. This connection, at least in some small way, runs both directions.”

“Her face ... the fear of me ...”

“I’m not so sure it was fear of you. She might have been worried about the trouble she was sure to be in. She understood some of what she was doing, but she didn’t care.”

“If I were ever to see that fear in you, it would destroy me,” he whispered, head bowed.

“I told you I wasn’t afraid. You will never hurt me, Vincent. I know that. I need you to know it. You must let this go. Now.”

“How can I?”

“By trusting me, if you won’t trust yourself.”

“That is but the surface of the darkness in me. You know, Catherine. You've seen me, seen what I am capable of doing.”

“Did you open the gift I left for you in your chamber? Did you read the note?”

He looked up at her. “A gift? No. I ... only dropped my pack at the doorway. After speaking with Father, I came straight to you.” After a brief flicker of surprise, his lips compressed and he frowned and turned away.

“Well then, I’ll tell you something about it. In the note ... I copied an e.e. cummings poem. You know it, I’m sure. ‘i carry your heart.’ There’s a line ... it applies to us ... anywhere i go, you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me, is your doing, my darling. I go into that darkness with you. I am part of it”

“NO!” he cried, balled fists knuckling his temples.

Yes!” she countered. “I should never have left you alone ... after ... and in such pain. You’re right when you say no one can understand the shadow that overwhelms you, the instinct, the nature of the force you wield, but your ... impulse is only to protect, never to aggress. You don't lose control. You make a conscious choice to act each time. Yours are the actions of a warrior.”

He flinched at her words, but lowered his hands. Silent, gathering his cloak closer, he stepped to the edge of the bluff and stared into the distance. Jamie was in the water at the edge of the pool, coaxing Mouse to make a short jump. The currents of the chamber air carried her assurances to the ledge – that she would be close enough to keep him safe, that Mouse should just commit ... just jump.

“The way I see it,” she persisted, “I’ve answered your fears. All that remains is for you to accept those answers. But the issue of your sacrifice ... we have not begun to address. What must you give up for us to be together? Can you name it?

“You’ve become ... practiced in denying yourself pleasures. Whether Father planned it or not, he chose a path of emotional austerity and he taught you that same asceticism. His misery over Margaret and all that he lost colored what he taught you about your ... possibilities.

“He turned that self-denial into a majesty, a triumph – the creation and leadership of your world – and he sees you as his successor. As dedicated as he and as alone. So your sacrifice, one of them anyway, would be to choose against Father’s dream. Another would be ... to leave the safety of what you know and where you are comfortable, even if it is a lonely place. You would have to trade autonomy for a partnership. If there are others, tell me.”

Vincent whirled on her, close to the edge, his hands wild in the air. “My sacrifice? My sacrifice would be your happiness, Catherine. If I ... choose ... this life you suggest to be possible, then I sacrifice knowing you will have all you deserve! Choosing me means you hide from your friends, you are constricted in where you go, in what you do, in what you say. You will grow to resent me and I will have lost what I have ... perhaps only a dream, but a beautiful dream!”

“Don’t choose for me, Vincent! You can’t do that! You told Father ‘only Lin knows what is best for Lin!’ Don’t I have the same power? Choose for yourself, choose against us if you must, but don’t decide what’s best for me!”

His breath came in great heaves, the only sound in the long, terrible silence between them. "I'll walk you back now."

In the distance, Mouse jumped.

_______________________

Click Here for Chapter 13




12 comments:

Brandy said...

Argh! Great writing; I want to kick Vincent for being such a stubborn ass. And Catherine's assessment of their verbal sparring was spot-on. What a joy to discover your work.

AT44 said...

Brandy, you made such a difference in my day - thank you very much for your kind words and for taking the time to comment. I so hope you enjoy the rest of the story.

Vincent could use a good...talking to...every now and then. ;-)

Brandy said...

How funny! This was the first chapter I commented on originally.

And I still want to kick Vincent. :)

Your final words are so perfect: "he jumped." Reminds me of this quote:
“Come to the edge, he said. They said: We are afraid. Come to the edge, he said. They came. He pushed them and they flew.” ~Guillaume Apollinaire

Was that deliberate?

Sonia Who? said...

Ch. 12

Love how tenacious Catherine is in her counter arguments with Vincent. Vincent is so stubborn when he thinks he's right! Aack! Why does he keep pushing her away when he knows that she loves him and want to be with him?! I'm glad Catherine can be just as stubborn and doesn't give up.

Good for Mouse to jump.

Carole W said...

Brandy, I don't know this quotation, so I can't say it was deliberate based on it, but I had this boyfriend once ...

We went rock-hopping in the mountains and he was much braver than I. I'd get on a rock and start to assess the water rushing around it, the distance to the next rock and panic, sure I'd never make the jump and then I'd be stuck out in the middle of the river.

He said to me - Don't think so much, just commit. Just jump.

And that's stuck with me all these years.

Carole W said...

Vincent has honed the art of stubborn resistance, hasn't he Sonia? I could pull his hair myself. Catherine is much better suited to him than I! LOL.

Krista said...

*Sigh* I love this chapter (though I'm with Brandi and the others, in that I think Vincent needs a good swift kick here ;) It's lovely to see in Catherine someone who is just as stubborn, as fierce, as he is...and who is willing to fight for their love when he can't or won't.

AZLadyWolf said...

*Tears running** Kiss a Fat Dog, Vincent! Let yourself be Happy -- you are fighting your Destiny!!!

Go, Catherine, Go!!!!

I love the ending of this Chapter - Mouse shows Vincent the way...

Carole W said...

AZLW! That's a good one - you tell him! He really should listen to all of us.

Catherine is a strong woman. I want them to be happy.

Carole

Anonymous said...

"He fought for words, his conflict undisguised, but the image of having swamped his overwhelming fears. In the vault of his brilliant, fruitless dreams, a fissure opened; the light slipped out, timorous and shy." This is brilliant, how do you write this? No, don't tell me, just keep doing it. Cathy S

Carole W said...

Cathy, you're really boosting my spirits.

It's funny - that particular line is one I considered deleting because it's outside the established point of view of the scene. It's a technical flaw, but I just couldn't do without it.

Thank you for liking it. :-)

Carole

NYC Utopia said...

What stood out the first time I read this chapter and the next few was how difficult it was for Vincent, how tenuous his willingness to hear Catherine out and follow her reasoning was.
What stands out now is how right and likely it really looks. I suppose too many of the other stories I'd read before took a fast shortcut through wishful thinking (which my own wishful thinking thought just fine!)