Iron Behind the Velvet ~ Chapter 37

~ The Rest Between Two Notes 1


Every hour, every step led her deeper into the labyrinth.


She left the sun room with the tramp-art box snugged close, turning from one corridor to another and then another. More than the way to the lobby, the path seemed a mirror to their lives ... a circuitous route to a luminous center. Milestones passed ... junctures met ... their energies bundled, conspiring – like a winter tulip, the blood-red flower yet furled within its brown bulb – in undeniable design.

First Flynn – whose case Joe could have as easily shared with another – and Eimear, the bloom of recognition between them immediate and precious. Then Rosie. Drawn into the spiral, Vincent found music and Martin, found more than that ... found healing, found affirmation. Now Sam and Seamus – friends – and between Seamus and Martin this box of secrets. She imagined handing the box to Vincent, imagined the delight of memory across his features.

What will ensue ... 2

The chiseled wood warmed in her hands and the container grew heavy, brimming not with toys and keepsakes but with what could only be magic – a magic she could no longer gainsay. If she knelt before the chest and opened it, coincidence would well and spill over in runnels of liquid gold around her.

Not coincidence, she thought, but destiny ... emancipated one dark April night. She felt for the hasp, one finger hooking underneath the tarnished metal. No, she corrected herself again. This ... we ... began long before that.

“Ah, here she is, here she is.” Sister Felice looked up from her game board with a satisfied smile and capped her marker, giving it a final whap with her palm. “You’re off to Vic and Bill’s? The first time for you, Catherine? You’re in for a treat.”

“May I bring you something?’

“Will you join us?”

Martin and Catherine spoke at once and laughed. “Tis the Monday special – your favorite,” he said, tucking his wallet into his jacket pocket.

Sister Felice closed her eyes for a moment and raised her chin. “Sadly,” she said after a contented sigh, “I’ve had my lunch. And besides, I need to make a new grid since someone took the last squares.” With a fluttery wave of her fingers, she bent below the desk and opened a drawer, a hummed melody drifting up.

“Well, then,” Martin said, as he relieved Catherine of the box. “I’m just out front.” He reached past her to push open the plate glass door. “I’ll get this in the boot,” he said, following her through.

The hood raised and clanged shut and the car shivered. Water-rills streamed the windshield. His movements reflected in the side mirror, Martin rounded the rear fender, stopped short with a two-fingered tap to his chin. He spun and disappeared from her view, opened the trunk again.

“We’re off,” Martin said, sliding in, fitting the key, shifting into gear.

_______________


red and white vinyl booths

He led her to an empty booth, the last in the long window row, standing until she’d settled against the wall, against the stark white -V- set into the red vinyl upholstery. Her gaze roamed the room, savoring, saving every detail. If it were darker, if the table-to-ceiling glass was replaced by solid stone, William might walk the counter line, cloth in hand, comfortable in the collected clutter lining the walls, its meaning long forgotten but cherished nonetheless. Perhaps in the life he’d known above, this had been his dream.

Oh, Vincent, you should ... She swallowed words nearly spoken aloud. I’ll remember ...

diner counter and stools
The countertop was scalloped; its stools scarlet. The floor was patterned in emerald diamonds and the wall in a mosaic of bright yellow squares. Along the ceiling, looping chain swags linked decades-old hobnailed glass lamps that burned a determined, fiery orange-bronze. A dented steel door swung open and the lone waitress burst through, plates arrayed down her arm, elbow to fingertips, growling 'Yeah, yeah,' over her shoulder.

“It’s right out of a movie!” Catherine exclaimed.

“You’d be right in saying that,” Martin agreed. “And there was one filmed, so I hear. Years ago and an ordeal to hear them talk. There was some controversy, you see. Their sister Sophie – the youngest, of course – left with one of the crewmen when he packed up his camera and they’re not yet reconciled to it. That’s Gus at the register and his brother Nick you can hear from the back. And the other sister – Nessa, we call her – she’s coming our way.”

“Who’s Vic? Who’s Bill?”

“I’ve not a clue,” Martin said, handing her a menu. “Made up, I’m thinking, to avoid a fight when they couldn’t agree on the order of their four names on the sign, even if they’d have fit. Nessa’s really Clytemnestra, and Sophie ... Sophronia.”

“Gus is ...?”

“Gennadios. And then Nicephoros. So you see ...”


signs at kitchen pass
Taped around the pass-through, white paper plates were scrawled with the specials of the day, breakfast to supper, and wooden signs hung above the window declaring the perennial offerings – Roumanian steak, filet of sole, franks and beans. Catherine studied her menu, then the wall. “What are you having?”

“Oh, ‘tis Monday,” Martin said, brushing at his lapel. “And I fast on Mondays. But,” he said as he tightened the salt shaker’s lid, “if you order a thing and offer a bite or two, then it doesn’t count.”

“Isn’t that cheating?”

He shrugged and his cheeks bunched beneath a quilt of wrinkles. “‘Twould be rude to refuse ye, and then all the day have my conscience burdened the worse for it and it’s but an arbitrary rule of my own devising.”

“O-kaaaay.” Catherine stared at him for a few seconds, then mimicked his shrug, lowering her voice to a conspiratorial level. “What should ... I ... order?”

“Ah! Well, I’m happy to make suggestions! The hot eggplant parmegiana hero is tasty and my last visit I found the open-faced roast beef with fried onions memorable, memorable indeed. And you can’t go wrong with a cheeseburger, particularly if it’s accompanied by a milk shake.”

“Made in one of those silver cups?”

“Oh, yes. All whirled together pearly smooth and you get the whole thing – a full glass at hand and the extra at your plate.”

“The Monday special Sister Felice likes ... what’s that?”

“Another excellent choice. ‘Twould be the Monte Cristo.”

“Isn’t that a sandwich stuffed with ham and fried in butter?”

“And with turkey and with swiss cheese, dipped in egg batter, you know. Like the french toast.”

Her eyebrows rose. “Anything else?”

“Triple grilled cheese and bacon club? Or the Mediterranean sandwich – roasted peppers, tomatoes and onions with melted mozzarella on a garlic roll? Linguini Carbonara with prosciutto and scallions in a ...” His voice halved, then quartered with resignation. “Hmmmm.” He fiddled with his knife and fork, tapping out a crestfallen rhythm. “Cottage cheese and fruit salad?”

“Let’s not go that far!” she cried.

Martin chuckled and closed his menu, pointed to a section on the back. “The feta and spinach omelet is nice. And the chicken salad plate divine, truly, studded with the sweet raisins and toasted walnuts.”

“So,” Catherine mused, reaching for a small slate propped behind the ketchup bottle, chalked with the day’s desserts. “If we ... I mean, if I ... order the omelet ...” Looking up, she found him watching her. “The apple pie here ... how is it? As good as the one you didn’t bring Sister Norberta?”

“There’s none so good as Mrs. Finley’s tart. You might ask–” A slight flush rose from his clerical collar but he kept her gaze.

“Who?” Catherine asked. “Ask who, what?” Something important was left unsaid she knew, but Nessa arrived at her elbow, bearing a tray laden with the house compliments – shallow bowls of sliced, pickled beets, of chickpeas topped with onions and a bronze thermal carafe of coffee for the table, steam escaping from the threaded stopper. Cream in a miniature milk bottle. City Dairy, the red, flowing script read, painted on the glass.

“What’cha having, hon? I know the Father’s not ordering, Monday and all.” Nevertheless Nessa set both places with silverware and napkins and slid a bare, single plate before Martin. The empty tray under her arm, no pencil or pad in hand, she nodded as Catherine made her order. On her way to the pass where the counters divided, she collected an empty pitcher from one table, a finished carafe from another ... affirming requests with that same sure nod.

In the entry, two men stamped rain and the clutch of leaves from their work boots into the waffled, rubber mat on the floor. Their damp orange slickers soon drooped from the coat rack’s pegs; stools were claimed.  “Had us a big mess over on Hollis Ave ... took all morning,” the man said, righting a coffee cup to a saucer. “We’re not too late for our pie, are we, Ness?”

“Saved ya some,” she said, her words cut short by the already-swinging door.

__________


Alone at the table, anticipation their first course, their shoulders rose and fell in a choreographed sequence. “Well,” they said, each an echo of the other. Martin felt his face warming again.

What shall I say? he worried silently. I know a thing she doesn’t know I know and ‘tisn’t a fair advantage.

You know more than one thing.
The Twelve Bens - mountains in Ireland
Not so still, not so small, the voice he heard was his own ... yet rounder, weightier and rich with assurance both childlike and ancient. Not the judicious, sober Reason or his winged and favored Fancy, in his mind, this voice was Music, resonant behind a massive door of worked silver set into the stony barrens of the Twelve Bens. He could almost feel the cool, ridged metal beneath his turned cheek and flattened palms, could sense the shining presence behind. With eager fingertips he traced the patterned design to the imagined latch, lifted it and entered the chamber. Ahhh, he sighed. The Other.

Twasn’t a confession he made to you after all, but a sharing. Do you believe his words were reluctant? the Other asked. Coerced?

 No, he answered. Chosen, I’d say. Well chosen. Hardly a word, I’ll wager, passes unweighed.

And you’re hesitant to tell her. Why? 

I ... I don’t know, Martin stuttered. Certainly all the coincidences suggest–

What have I told you about that word?

But there is a secret ...

And a purpose! Must I draw you a map and connect the dots myself? Open the door, man! Can you not feel the energy, the necessity? The offer? The possibilities?

I do! I do feel all those things. And yet ...

“ ... tell me?”

What? What was that? Shaken from his ruminations, he wondered if he’d closed his eyes overlong or perhaps muttered aloud, but she didn’t wear the A-ha! look as Eimear might, or lean forward with nosiness as would Rosie. Her forearms rested on the table, crossed behind her plate and a beguiling smile beamed his way. “Pardon, pardon me, my dear. I was ...” He summoned his beatific look. “Come again, would you?”

“Tell me,” Catherine repeated. “What Seamus said. What you said. I’m dying of curiosity.”

Ach, he thought, searching the still-grey skies through the translucent half-mirroring glass. From a distant peak, the sharp snap of fingers resounded – Get on with it! Do your part! Aye,” he said, mentally dodging a thump to his forehead. “I will, yes. Of course I will.” His hand strayed to his jacket pocket. “But first I need to make a call. A baby born last night to Flynn’s teammate and his wife. A visit I must make this afternoon.”

“Is everyone all right?” Catherine asked.

“The wee one is born too soon and with difficulties before her. But her mother is strong; her father brave. She will survive, I believe, and thrive, cherished she is for all her differences.”

Catherine pulled her arms back, dropping her hands to her lap, a sudden intake of breath held for a moment as if against a deep pain. Martin watched her face, alert to the sheen of anguish in her eyes, but just as quickly, she smiled again and nodded. “I should probably call work too. Joe said a long lunch but ...”

“If he’s still the man I met and spoke with Saturday, then once food is ordered ... ‘tis a sacred pledge to stay and have it.” Martin slid to the edge of the banquette, stood and smoothed a lapel. “He’ll understand the call coming after our, umm, your pie.”

His path to the telephone was one of fits and starts. Patrons on their stools downed silverware and settled cups to the counter as he approached, swiveling to offer their hands. He stopped for each – a word, a touch to the shoulder – all the while knowing the bore of her gaze at his back. He saw himself  as if from a distance, poised on a stony point, a jetty in a stream. She floated toward him in a boat, a wide, flat-bottomed boat. Eager for the current, the vessel rocked on lapping waves. With no look either downstream or up, he stepped aboard.

_________


“Need anything else? Hot sauce? Tzatziki?” Nessa asked. She stepped back to allow Martin in at the bench, a large, round tray tucked flat to her side.

“I think we’re set,” Catherine said, squaring her steaming platter, the black olives on it, the diced ruby peppers, the fresh green herbs like strewn jewels.

“I’ll check back. And bring your boss in some day. We’ll show him lasagna. Greek lasagna.” She kissed the tips of her fingers. “Moussaka!”

Ignoring his protest for less, Catherine slipped half the omelet onto Martin’s plate. “Ummm,” she said after her first bite, “this is good.”

“Light and oh, so tender, isn’t it? Nick, for all his bluster and ham-handedness, has the touch with the egg cookery.” As if on cue, the kitchen door blew open on a bellow and an aproned man appeared, a towel over his shoulder. He strafed the room with a glare, whirled and disappeared, the door swinging in his wake ... fwoomp, fwoomp, fwoomp.

“I know someone like him. He stomps around the kitchen too and when he’s really aggravated you can hear the pots clanging all the way down the–” She hurried a sip of coffee. “His specialty is pastry though. You’d love his scones.”

“Sweet or savory?”

“Oh, both. My favorites are the raisin and the cheese.”

“Does he use the white raisins? The sultanas?”

When he can, she thought, adding a line to her shopping list. “He likes those best,” she said.

“You’ll have to give me the address then, in case the restaurant’s in the pathway of business.” With a scrape of his fork, Martin cleared his last bite. “Is he open Mondays?”

She’d skated close to the edge and she imagined Father’s remonstrance, but Nessa arrived to test their coffee carafe and the question sailed past. Nessa snapped her fingers for Martin’s empty plate and added it to the stack on her tray, winked as she moved to the next table.

“You look tired, Martin,” Catherine said. “Were you at the hospital all night?”

He took a long time to answer and her instinct sharpened in wait. She reached for the coffee urn and refilled their cups, watching his face through a veil of bangs. He smiled at her; his hands were folded innocently on the table, but his eyes seemed focused just over her shoulder ...

“I was up till the dawn and after, yes. But no, not at the hospital,” he said at last. He fished in his jacket pocket and brought out a a closed fist. After a moment she understood, opening her hand under his. The angle-scope dropped into her palm.

The rosewood finish was smooth like glass and warm to the touch. In just the last weeks, she’d seen Vincent’s borrowed – by Kipper and Geoffrey, by Eric, Ezra, Jodie and Corinne – and his admonishment had been curious. This does not substitute for common sense or good judgment, he’d said in perfect semblance of Father. It is a toy, not a tool. Keen to dispense with their young visitors, to be alone with him, each time she’d forgotten to ask the reason for his caution. Sam’s story must be its foundation. Carefully, deliberately, she set the scope on the table, cupped both hands around it.

“... he’s been good for Seamus,” Martin was saying. “Your friend Sam, spending the time, talking with him, drawing him out. We’re losing him, but in the last months, there’ve been moments when himself he is again. He was once ... a force.”

A force. There was no other explanation. The circling, the tightening spiral, the great gathering energy moving nearby ... 3

“When I put this first to my eye,” Martin continued, “I was taken aback, seeing to the side of me rather than in front. I’d expected a magnifier perhaps, or another kaleidoscope. But you and your Sam ... you’ve seen one before.”

“How did Seamus come by these things. The scope? The chess set? The kiddush cups?”

“I’ve no idea and now I’m doubting he can tell me. There’s a story for each treasure, I’m sure of it. How I wish I’d thought to ask him sooner.”

“The man he spoke of – Lev. Did you know him?”

Martin shook his head. “Today’s the first I’ve heard his name. Twenty years ago Seamus moved to Maryfields, always a bit fey, already fading, leaving me all this unexplained but for a fanciful story. A world of wonders he described, deep beneath this city – bridges and waterfalls, secret passages – and gave me only one instruction. To guard the doorways. Guard them well, he said to me. And wait.”

“Wait for what, Martin?”

“For what or for whom, yes?”  He ran a hand through still-thick, white hair, nodding his thanks to a retreating Nessa who’d slipped their dessert to their table without a word and hardly a pause. “At the time he said it, I was still too miffed to ask questions. Just that morning, Seamus had given me the once-over, crown to toe, with those woolly eyebrows of his touching over his beak of a nose and his mouth all screwed up. ‘You’re not ready for this,’ he said. ‘Not ready at all.’ When I found the box I unpacked it but could make neither heads nor tails of its contents and put it away. But there was something more in the box, things I went back for in time. Five keys. Curious old things. Two unlocked the dormitory rooms in back of the garden, two the doors of the archway, where we sat the two of us after the ceilidh.”

“And the fifth?”
Entrance in the old sacristy

“The last freed a door in the old sacristy – a forgotten room and passage through the churchyard wall. ‘Twas just this morning I removed the lock.”

“Why, Martin? Why this morning?” Her heartbeat suddenly loud in her ear, she felt a rush of wind ... as if she’d topped a hill running and downside surrendered all to gravity. She uttered a small laugh as a loose page of memory drifted to and fro – a roller coaster, the Matterhorn at Disneyland, her hands in the air, her mouth wide in terror and triumph.

“Because as Seamus said, someone might be coming up.”

“For a game of chess?” she asked, her last clutch at cover.

“I’d be a disappointment in that, I expect. Regularly and soundly trounced. I taught both Rosie and Flynn – Eimear wanting nothing to do with it – and both refuse to play me now, sorry for me, they are. No, he’ll not be coming up for chess, I’m thinking.” He quieted, his voice softer when he resumed. “You asked if I’d been awake the night and I was. I had a late supper after music at the pub and a bite of tart at midnight. A wee dram between the two of us. When he returns, as I wish him to, ‘twill be for another turn in the garden perhaps, or for the second jar of beer and the long and idle chat. Or for a moment of unburdening. He carries a world on his two shoulders, does he not? And he misses you.”

She positioned the slice of pie between them and handed him a spoon. The apples were golden, soft with syrup beneath a tender crust. the aroma a buttery cinnamon. Her mouth watered even as her eyes stung with tears. He brushed the fingers of her left hand with his, no question, no reproof in his words, only a gentle curiosity.

“You wear no ring.”

Vigilance braided with a strange relief; the practiced mindful step with the need to lay her head on his shoulder, to begin at the beginning. A father’s comfort. A father’s protection. His acceptance. “There’d be more questions with, Martin, than without. But how did you know ... how did you know that I ... that we are ...”

“More than that? ‘Twas his echo of your words. Like you, I’m trained to listen for the thing a person wants to say as well as the thing he does not. Another keeps me close, he said. A woman of both worlds he loves. The way he voiced your name without saying it. There could be no other. Catriona. Glanchroích.”

A tear slipped from her eye ... then another ... the taste at the corner of her mouth not salty with fear or sadness, but sweet. She’d kept so much inside for so very long, avoiding Joe’s questions, dodging Jenny’s teasing inquisitions, half-afraid to see Nancy again. She’d wanted it, this recognition, this affirmation. This freedom to speak. This doorway. And he’d opened it for her. Vincent. Worried that he had so little to give, again, again, he’d given her everything.

“There, there.” From an inside pocket, Martin pulled a pristine square of fine cream linen, handing it across the table. “I only called you by your Irish name. Catriona. Catherine.”

“It’s not that.” She dabbed at her eyes. “I’m ruining it,” she wailed softy.

“Can’t be ruined, not by you. Pure of heart, you are – glanchroích – ‘tis the meaning of your name. Tá tú go h-álainn. You are beautiful, Seamus said, and you are, streaky tears and all. And generous too. Duine flaithiulach. We might only ask Sam for proof, yes? I’d add you’re a cozy thing ... and fíochmhar – fierce. So like my Eimear. No, keep it, my dear,” he said when she tried to give the handkerchief back. “I’ve a top dresser drawer full. Years and years of dullish but appropriate gifts, you know. Besides, there was more and you’ll be wanting to hear.”

She folded the mascara-stained fabric. At Rosie’s shop, she’d spied an etched matte silver tray, layered in monogrammed handkerchiefs. Perhaps she could find an -M- or a -G-. One, she remembered, was embroidered with a tiny Celtic harp. A fresh spill of tears threatened.

Martin went on. “Grá, neart, cengaltas, seasmhact, Seamus said. Love, strength, commitment, endurance. Naming that which runs between you, the blue-silver chord. And it was advice he had next. Mothaím le neart na naomh inniu. Bí trean, seas an fód. I arise today through a mighty strength. Be strong. Stay the course.”

Not advice, she determined. A vow. I will. We have. “There was more, Martin. Something else he said ...”

“Yes. I remember. Laoch neamheaglach. Fearless warrior. As if he knew your young man. Dhá anam, aon croí amháin. Two souls, one heart, as if he knew you both. ‘Twas breathtaking coming from him.”

“But ...”

“How could he know? The power of the twin soul is great, Catriona, affecting even the unperceptive man. When separated the two still emit a kind of light. I can see it in your face; I heard it in his voice. You’ve conquered more than the geography of two worlds. ‘Tis a rare, rare thing and yet I now know two twin flames – Eimear and Flynn, you and your ... Vincent.”

His name. He’d shared his name. Proof. Trust. Invitation. If only ...

Long ago, in a dream, she’d looked up, looked for him. Found him. Saw him nod.

He nodded now. Smiled. At last.

“He told me you’d spoken, that he’d found the door, but ... earlier you said ‘another turn’ in your garden. Did he ...”

“Enjoy my tulips? I think he did. And then we had a drink or two or three and the wee chat.”

The tension had sagged from her shoulders but a worry pinched them back. “Was he all right?”

“You mustn’t fret. He kept to the shadows, but he was well. Quite. Though I might have encouraged a touch too much Green Spot.”

“So you didn’t ...”

“See him? No. He hung back and he may as long as he wishes. Forever if he must. There’s design in this, precious design, and one I’ve no need to understand, only honor. I’ll not betray your trust or his. Whatever your secret, Catriona, it will be kept.”

Will it? I have to know.  “Yesterday, in the afternoon ... at the laundromat. I ran into Eimear.”

apple pie wedge
“Did you? Here in Woodlawn?” Surprise arched his brows. “She never said a word about seeing you. Here now,” he said, patting her hand. “No more tears. No more. You’re safe with us, the two of you. Safe, love. Now quick, take the first bite of pie, or Nessa will be here frantic there’s something wrong. ‘Tis the wish bite, that first off the point and yours to make. Off you go, now. A big bite. A big wish.”


Click HERE for Chapter 38.



_____________

1. Rainer Maria Rilke. My life is not this steeply sloping hour.
2. William Shakespear. Richard II. Act 2, scene 1. 1595.
3. Rainer Maria Rilke. You, Darkness.

35 comments:

Krista said...

I'm about ready to start sniffling myself, Carole. Finally, Catherine gets to talk to someone who knows Vincent above, who can understand all that is hidden and unsaid. And who doesn't care that some things aren't fully revealed. And finally, the warp and weft of your story is drawing tighter on the loom...great job as always.

-Krista :)

SandyX said...

I loved it! So many things in this chapter really spoke to me - the conversation going on in Martin's head ... all the connections and possibilities ... Catherine's need for him to put the pieces together.

And, what a sweet feeling of relief to finally have it out! I'm not inclined to tears, but there were tears in my eyes as Catherine shed hers. You really do capture the heart of our Catherine with your words.

I love these two lines - "No, she corrected herself again. This ... we ... began long before that." And, "There’s design in this, precious design, and one I’ve no need to understand, only honor. " [sigh] You've done a beautiful thing here, weaving this all together. Thank you for a most precious Christmas gift. I'm sleepy and sorry if I'm rambling, but this was well worth staying up for! What a lovely way to begin Christmas day.

Hugs!
Sandy

New York City Utopia said...

Loved it... love you!
Thanks for the beautiful, beautiful Christmas gift.

Claire
(A woman of both worlds who can now read you from almost anywhere at any chosen time with her new smartphone... ha!)

Sonia Who? said...

Yesterday I kept checking for this chapter, and though I usually go to sleep way past midnight on most night, I was too tired last night to stay up late and must have gone to sleep just minutes before the chapter got posted. But I was happy to find it when I woke up this morning.

Wonderful chapter, Carole, I truly enjoyed reading it and so look forward to the rest of Martin's conversation with Catherine, and to Vincent's next visit with Martin, as well as the rest of the intriguing events yet to come.

Your description of the restaurant and the food made me want to go there and made me want to eat something sinful, like that scrumptious looking apple pie a la mode. (Since I can't, I just content myself by eating half a dozen Petit Ecolier - Biscuits topped with white chocolate. Yum! I might make myself a ham and cheese omelet later.) I could see how enthusiastic Martin was for the delicious and fatty foods. I would be too. I can imagine Catherine laughing with mirth. I laughed when he mentioned the cottage cheese and fruit salad. Nessa (Clytemnestra - where you hear these curious names?) seems like a very good waitress. Where's the Diner at? Have you been there or did you make it up using pictures found online?

It's so much fun to know what the people in your story are thinking. I enjoyed Martin's mental conversation with his 'Other'. That was great.

(Side thought - If Vincent could stop doubting himself and didn't fear his 'Other' he might learn he can trust it. If only he would connect the dots himself, see the necessity and the possibilities... accepting all that he is as he is, he might heal and become whole...)

I wonder what kind of difference the premature baby girl has.

"... But her mother is strong; her father brave. She will survive, I believe, and thrive, cherished she is for all her differences.” - I think that's how it would be for any child Catherine and Vincent have that is born with his father's differences. Just as Vincent survived and thrived with the love of his father and tunnel family.

Seamus must have either been a helper or just known about the tunnel world and kept it's secret. Wonder what's his story.

The revelation moment is wonderful. How freeing and affirming for Catherine. It's great for her to finally be able to tell someone Above (that is not a helper) about Vincent and their secrets. I love how she thank Vincent for making that possible.

"I’m trained to listen for the thing a person wants to say as well as the thing he does not." I can't help liking Martin more each time.

It's so nice that the Irish meaning of Catherine's name, Catriona, is Pure of Heart.

Beautiful, generous, fierce, love, strength, commitment, endurance - all words that can describe both Catherine and Vincent.

I like Seamus advice: "Mothaím le neart na naomh inniu. Bí trean, seas an fód. - I arise today through a mighty strength. Be strong. Stay the course.” And when he said: "Laoch neamheaglach. - Fearless warrior." made me wonder if he knows about Vincent. Also like: "Dhá anam, aon croí amháin. - Two souls, one heart." Like Catherine and Vincent's twin soul.

Wonder what Catherine thought about Vincent drinking alcohol with Martin. :)

I can't wait to read this story again from the beginning, but you have to finish it first, though I'll be both happy and sad when you do. But I'm impatient to have everyone meet at last.

I love you Carole, for being so good to us-your fans and not making us wait so long between the posting of chapters. You're a remarkable storyteller and superb word-weaver, so good at capturing and expressing the characters essence, personality and emotions. The readers can't help but be drawn to the story and become attached to the characters. Please continue writing more sequential stories.

Sending you hugs and good wishes.

Ann B. said...

Oh Carole, another amazing step in this wonderful journey you have set our feet to! Shame on you for making me cry on Christmas though! Yet, mo charaid math, to share such an amazing gift of yourself on Christmas is a true treasure and what this day is meant to be about is it not? I thank you so much for that.

Speaking of treasures, Martin is truly an amazing and astute man. He seems to be the common thread running throughout this amazing tapestry that you are weaving. I am sure that he and Catherine will somehow be able to bring Flynn and Vincent together. These two carry burdens that only the other could alleviate I think. And finally Catherine can lay down a small bit of her own burden to someone who truly can support her and provide the counsel she needs. True, she has Peter Alcott, but as Martin said sometimes it takes the uninvolved ear and he and Eimer can provide that. It is going to be a good thing for Martin as well. He is very good at providing counsel and support but who provides it to him? Father perhaps? Father and Martin could support each other just as Flynn and Vincent will (I hope?) They would have a wonderful time beating each other at chess and I am sure providing much entertainment to the tunnel folk in the process.

I am rereading this wonderful chapter and you almost have me crying again. “The wee one is born too soon and with difficulties before her. But her mother is strong; her father brave. She will survive, I believe, and thrive, cherished she is for all her differences.”
As I thought on that passage it came to me that although Vincent’s birth parents did not have these qualities, still he received them in full measure from Jacob and Mary and all his tunnel family. So you see it is not really as sad as it sounds at first but a promise fulfilled. I am looking to see what other promises are yet to be fulfilled in this story (Rosie’s statue comes immediately to mind)
Again, thank you for this wonderful story Carole! And to all of the rest of you for providing food for thought and other knowledge that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to experience.

Carole W said...

You guys! I don't know what to say. It's taken me a bit to be able to type out this meager thank you, because I can't type and weep and your comments, all of them, have done me in.

This chapter was an important one for me and one I've been noodling since the very beginning. I couldn't believe I managed to come down with a cold during it. My thinking wasn't as clear as I might have hoped and it took a lot of re-reading and pokes to my own concentration to keep it from wandering (I would be typing along and the vision of lying on the couch, my arm thrown over my eyes, snoozing away, would rise up so tempting!) And I was anxious to get it up before Christmas because I'd said I would. I like to keep my promises.

I"m grateful, so grateful, you all found the gift in this chapter. Grateful you like Martin - grateful you've taken to the original characters like you have. Uh oh, tears again.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for your comments. Big hugs.

Carole

Carole W said...

Krista, you're a dear and your opinion and critique is so helpful and important to me. It's good to sniffle!

Catherine does stand alone on her side of the river. I try to imagine how it would feel to need always to deflect, to constantly guard one's words, to have to pretend a solitariness when she's anything but. Thanks for liking how I've tried to fix that.

But then, you're a fixer too! Your stories heal wounds, open doors. Have I told you lately how much I enjoy yours stories??? :-)

Thanks for reading.
Carole

Carole W said...

Aww, Sandy. I guess it might sound weird to say I'm glad I could make you cry with this chapter. I wanted it to have impact, to provide a long-needed relief. Thank you for tearing up. :-)

It's helpful and exciting to know which lines spoke to you most clearly. Thanks for pulling out those sentences.

But most of all, thank you for calling this a Christmas gift. I'm moved by that. Humbled. And encouraged. You've given me the gift, you know.

Carole

Carole W said...

Claire! You too! Finding this worthy of being called a gift moves me to tears again! I'm so glad you got a smartphone! I like feeling that you're not an ocean away, but closer ... just ... out ... there.

Thanks for liking the chapter. Love you too.

Carole

Carole W said...

Sonia! This was such a thoughtful response. Thank you so much. I hope I can give you good conversations in the coming chapters. There are still so many to come.

The restaurant I made up is based on a real one - and it's in Queens. You may know it?? Clinton's Diner. They filmed the movie Goodfellas there and it's been used in several movies and tv shows. I found another menu online - from a different diner - for the food items, but it was also in Queens. I can't believe it, but I've forgotten the name of it. It'll come to me.

Your thoughts about Vincent's Other - contrasted with Martin's Other - are exactly mine. It's like you're reading ahead! LOL.

I'm so incredibly grateful that you highlighted the things you liked about this chapter - and so very pleased there were several highlights! Your thoughts about the baby and Seamus and his remarks make me feel great, that this complex and long tale has a point after all and I haven't driven you to distraction with all the asides and details.

Thank you Sonia for your very very kind words. It means so much to me, everything, really, that you'd say that. I can't tell you how moved I was. But here they come again, tears.

You mean a lot to me, Sonia. Thank you.
Carole

Carole W said...

Ann, now you've done it. You made me cry even harder. Bless you, for finding this worthy of a Christmas gift. Thank you.

Oh, you like Martin! I'm so pleased! He's a character based on a dear old friend. I'd like to think he'd be pleased with how he comes across in the story and I know he'd enjoy the positive feelings of readers. He was a charmer and an unusual man, someone who made quite an impact on my life.

You're in my head, Ann! Your thoughts about Catherine and Martin are just what I plan! But I can't say more or I'll give away the story. But Vincent and Flynn - yes, it must happen ... but how??? And your thoughts about Martin and Father and chess? Well, I've had those too! LOL. I'm feeling more confidant and encouraged in the direction the story is to take. Thank you again and again for liking the original characters. I've been told it's risky to invent characters but I couldn't help myself.

And Ann, I am so moved that you liked the paragraph about the new baby and that you related it right away to Vincent's birth. I'm printing out your comments - your insight and perspective "a promise fulfilled" made me think of a whole new story!

And I can't wait for V to see the statue myself! How will that come about? Will Rosie get to meet Vincent? Under what circumstances? I wish I would write faster.

I can't tell you what your comments mean to me. You're so thoughtful and kind. I've received the gifts today.

Carole

of-love-and-hope said...

I don't know what to say... oh, that hand at the end of that river, finally... And when he gets his name out, making it real, "Your...Vincent"... Thank you, what a wonderful Christmas gift, few tears and all!

Thank you for keeping the real Catherine, Carole; I know you know what I mean and what it means. Beautiful chapter, I loved it! And you, my dear friend.

Big hugs.

AZLadyWolf said...

Master WordWeaver,

It has taken me awhile to sort out my thoughts on this chapter … I don’t know if I could give you any higher praise than that which the rest of this Family has bestowed upon you. Especially Sonia Who? -- her comments could not better reflect my feelings on this chapter. I drank it in like a person dying of thirst coming out of the desert, fast…furious, taking in deep draughts of the stream of magic imagery of your words. What a fabulous Christmas day gift you have given us!

The paragraph that has me riven is this one:

A force. There was no other explanation. The circling, the tightening spiral, the great gathering energy moving nearby……

I was pushing Martin in his mental conversation with himself, yes, yes, yes, do it – do it!!! I was practically jumping up and down in my chair.

Martin's statement "He carries a world on his two shoulders, does he not?" made me catch my breath. That's when my first tear appeared. What better description of Vincent's role in his Universe? I cried with Catherine, felt her relief. I also cannot help but feel wonder, hope, and quivering fear/anticipation. Catherine knows….. Martin knows……they have to know, deep down in the secret part of themselves,....history and destiny are about to converge. (And I’m about to blow a gasket because I want to know, too – the suspense is going to KILL me. I have my own theories, and I’m dying to find out if I’m even remotely close!)

Tomorrow, I’m turning off my landline, my cell, settling into my sofa with this journey (story) to read again from the beginning. The thrill of anticipation, ya know!!!

In the meantime, I want a Monte Cristo – anybody up for a bite on New Year’s Eve? Meet you at Vic & Bills around 11:30 p.m.

Much love and many Hugs!!!

Laura

RomanticOne said...

I cannot say more than all before me have on this chapter. It was late and a gift a gave to myself this Christmas to wait and read this chapter while my wonderful husband lies sleeping. How could I explain smiles and tears and sighs in such a short space of time? I can't wait to see what happens next!

Carole W said...

Vicky, you know how protective I feel of Catherine - you and I share that feeling with Vincent - that 'this' is hardest on Catherine. I always want to do my best by her character and if you think I've kept her real, then I'm pleased and relieved.

Sometimes I think of how alone she is, how she must close her naturally-outgoing self down - because in friendships, one is expected to share ... and she can't. Of course, she has all of us out here, cheering her on. I think she can hear us, don't you?

Thank you, Vicky, for everything. Love you too!
Carole

Carole W said...

Laura, I'm so curious - you have to email me with your theories and suspicions. I smiled really big reading your words:

history and destiny are about to converge. (And I’m about to blow a gasket because I want to know, too – the suspense is going to KILL me. I have my own theories, and I’m dying to find out if I’m even remotely close!)

I need to know your ideas about the story - Guesses and speculations and questions keep me on my toes with tying up the loose ends. (I'm worried, of course, that I can't deliver. :-) I don't want to disappoint you, ever.)

Oh, you were pushing Martin too! I'd have been really aggravated with him if he'd let this opportunity go. I like that, that you were really wanting him to just say it. I wanted this to be an involving chapter. (and in the fever and cotton wadding of this cold I've had, I was worried it didn't have enough edge.) Thank you for liking that part.

I have to beg forgiveness from you in advance. The story needs editing and I love the idea that you're wanting to reread it, but I think of all the tweaks I want to make ... I get a little nervous about it being up there, unedited, but I don't think I should stop now and work on it. I hope when I'm done and the chapters gone through again you'll read it start to finish one more time.

Thank you for writing to me. I'm so humbled by your words and I promise to try my best always to give you good story.

Carole

Carole W said...

I'm so glad to hear from you, R1! Smiles and tears and sighs - that's just music to me. As the chapter progressed (and parts of it just came to me almost at the last minute, almost as if whispered in my ear - Martin's Other, for instance) it started to really clutch at my heart. I wanted that to come through. Thank you for finding this story worthy. That's a beautiful gift to me.

Carole

Brandy said...

My dear Carole,

Happy holidays to you! And cheers for getting in JUST under the mark - 1 hour and 6 minutes before is still before!

It is a TREMENDOUS relief to have Martin "in;" FINALLY. An excellent holiday gift.

I liked your allusion to the labyrinth at the beginning of the chapter: "circuitous route to a luminous center." What beautiful words.

I don't think there's anything I can add that hasn't been said. Thank you for continuing to work o on this and inspire us.

And a nice long poem as a thank you.

The Labyrinth by W. H. Auden

Anthropos apteros for days
Walked whistling round and round the Maze,
Relying happily upon
His temperment for getting on.

The hundredth time he sighted, though,
A bush he left an hour ago,
He halted where four alleys crossed,
And recognized that he was lost.


"Where am I?" Metaphysics says
No question can be asked unless
It has an answer, so I can
Assume this maze has got a plan.

If theologians are correct,
A Plan implies an Architect:
A God-built maze would be, I'm sure,
The Universe in minature.

Are data from the world of Sense,
In that case, valid evidence?
What in the universe I know
Can give directions how to go?

All Mathematics would suggest
A steady straight line as the best,
But left and right alternately
Is consonant with History.

Aesthetics, though, believes all Art
Intends to gratify the heart:
Rejecting disciplines like these,
Must I, then, go which way I please?

Such reasoning is only true
If we accept the classic view,
Which we have no right to assert,
According to the Introvert.

His absolute pre-supposition
Is - Man creates his own condition:
This maze was not divinely built,
But is secreted by my guilt.

The centre that I cannot find
Is known to my unconscious Mind;
I have no reason to despair
Because I am already there.

My problem is how not to will;
They move most quickly who stand still;
I'm only lost until I see
I'm lost because I want to be.

If this should fail, perhaps I should,
As certain educators would,
Content myself with the conclusion;
In theory there is no solution.

All statements about what I feel,
Like I-am-lost, are quite unreal:
My knowledge ends where it began;
A hedge is taller than a man."

Anthropos apteros, perplexed
To know which turning to take next,
Looked up and wished he were a bird
To whom such doubts must seem absurd.
I found you a most

Carole W said...

Brandy - such food for thought. I'm not that familiar with Auden.

These lines:
The centre that I cannot find
Is known to my unconscious Mind;
I have no reason to despair
Because I am already there.

and

I'm only lost until I see
I'm lost because I want to be.

are my favorites. Now another poet to study! Thank you.

And thank you for reading always, and for your thoughtfulness to comment and for your kind words. I'm so glad to see you here, glad you could use the word 'gift' for this chapter.

You're probably buried under snow! Be careful on the ice.

Carole

Brittany said...

WOW! *sighs* that was amazing. and Seamus's advice, incredible! Loved this chapter the most!
Have a Happy New Year Carole!

Carole W said...

Brittany! I'm very pleased to see you here and glad to hear you're enjoying the story. Thank you so much for the words of enthusiasm and encouragement.

Happy New Year to you as well. I have the most positive feelings about it!

Carole

Kemara said...

Carole,
So sorry it has taken me this long to review this chapter. I went home for Christmas and just got back yesterday. I read it when you posted it, but didn't have time to reply. I really don't know what to say....every time I read it, the tears threaten. Such an emotional scene...like the catharsis of Confession (and Martin is a priest): pain and relief and happiness all mixed together. I know you've been drawing the threads together for a long time, but here's where you started to tie up the bow. Thank you again for such a wonderful Christmas present! And thanks for the link to the writing class...I'm going to look into it.

Carole W said...

Kemara, it's good to hear from you! Thank you again for your willingness to read and comment - I receive the gift - such encouragement from your words.

The threads in a bow. Surely that means I can finish this story and not let it meander and meander. LOL.

Seriously, thank you for that. I look back and think, oh no, so many little stories ... where are they, where will they go ... but I do have a plan. It's good to hear that - so far - it all hangs together well enough.

The class is a commitment, isn't it, but I'm going to give it a try myself.

Carole

Joyce said...

Carole, the hustle and bustle of the holidays is finally over and I was able to sit down and enjoy your latest chapter. And enjoy it I did! I was so excited that Catherine was finally able to share Vincent, at least partly, with someone from above who she knows the secret can be shared with. I think she finally has that one who will be watching from the shore for her safe passage. As much as I am lookinbg forward to Vincent and Catherine's reunion, the anticipation of getting there is enjoyable as well. Can't wait for 39!

Carole W said...

Joyce - Thanks for writing! I'm glad to hear from you and very glad you enjoyed the last chapter. I promise you, Catherine will find a friend forever in Martin and in Eimear. There's so much to come, more sharing, some intense moments. I'm really getting excited about writing to the end. I've been swearing for months there are a dozen chapters left, but I'm looking at all there is to come ... there's probably more than that.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday. We're freezing over here on the other side of your mountains, but it's good writing weather.

Thanks so much, Joyce. Your kind words will not be forgotten.

Carole

Krista said...

Oh, I've missed this one too. That final moment of "Ahhhh...." I absolutely love the interaction between Martin and Catherine. And it made me all sniffly all over again.

Great job, again and still.

-Krista :)

Carole W said...

Thank you Krista! I'm so glad you like Martin - I admit I do too. Catherine needs someone, several someones, on her side of the river.

Rereading the chapter made me want apple pie though. Now!

You're good to me, and I'm grateful.
Carole

Ophelia said...

The gift and the unburdening, the tenderness of the admission. I'd forgotten, Carole.

It's just glorious.

RomanticOne said...

I always saw Catherine's tears in this chapter as tears of relief that she found someone who could share her wonderful secret and understand it. Then there are the possibilities yet to come - that's the most exciting part. A part of me wants to beg you to write faster but the pace you have kept has given us such lovely visions that I won't. It works.

Carole W said...

Ophelia, a big hug for your message. You know I'm just amazed at your words and anxiously hopeful to live up to them. What you said means so much and is so very encouraging. Thank you.

Carole

Carole W said...

Hi, R1! You know, this chapter is probably my favorite of all I've written. I had tears in my eyes working on it - Catherine's been so long alone on her side of the mirror. I know I've told it, that Martin's based on a real life priest-friend. I'm just so happy he's there for C. And I can't wait for the two 'Fathers' to meet - though that's a future story. Otherwise this one will never ever end.

I wish I could write faster. I could if I didn't mull and tweak and do that crazy thing I do with the comma in, the comma out, the comma in again. How grateful I am that I've not aggravated you with the slow speed. Your words, knowing that you're reading still, give me hope and encouragement. Thank you.

Carole

Anonymous said...

I do so love this! The language, the atmosphere, so much both said and unsaid, yet still understood.

Martin is dear.

More, please!

Best regards, Lindariel

Carole W said...

Thank you so much, Lindariel! Finding your message started off my day in a very good way. I'm pleased you're enjoying Martin and this story so far, and grateful that you'd let me know.

Much more is to come. (Sometimes I'm afraid the story will never end.) I certainly had no idea when I started it would take so long to tell. I once estimated 60 chapters, but I might have to revise upwards! Oh no!!

Thank you again for reading,
Carole

NYC Utopia said...

Sometimes (rarely!) I ask myself "wait -- why do I love this story so much anyway?" then I re-read a key chapter like this one and I know exactly why! oh yes I do.

Carole W said...

Oh dear, Claire! I guess I need to know when those times come so I can fix the somethings that need fixing. :-D

I'm truly grateful, after all these months, that you'll re-read and find worth in the words. It does mean everything that you've enjoyed it, that you'll stick it out until the end.

I remember our conversation on the paddleboat - and I meant to ask for details and got sidetracked - how you think this story might end - so tell me, when the day comes that it does end, if I came anywhere close.

Hugs and thank you,
Carole