Iron Behind the Velvet ~ Chapter 39

~ One Pierced Moment, Whiter Than the Rest 1


The dense wooden beam was black with age and nearly as hard as the stone above. He levered it back into its niche, propped it with a deadman, and began the process of drilling new holes for the long anchor bolts. The wooden-knobbed brace with its oversized bit demanded an unwavering pressure. Working alone, the work all overhead ... his arms were tiring.

Twice the tool kicked from his grip, the last time slamming into the side of his face and bouncing off his collarbone to skitter along the ground. He scrabbled after it on hands and knees, stars colliding behind tears. The D-shaped crank wedged into a dark crevice and resisted his first, patient efforts to dislodge it, prompting him to rock back and forth with peevish agitation, to roar with frustration when it yanked free and sent him sprawling on his back. Somehow, as he fell, the sharp spade bit sliced the skin before his ear – a deep gouge from the blood of it. Father would likely stitch it, but Father was miles away. He inched back against the wall, drew up the neckband of his undershirt and pressed it to the wound.

Though the headache with which he’d begun the day had subsided, there was a hollow place at the base of his skull that echoed its traces, and this last blow jarred even his teeth. The strap of his canteen was just beyond reach. From his recline, he hooked it with his boot heel and dragged it close. He would admonish another to cleanse the oozing cut. Instead he drank sparingly from the flask. The nearest clear spring was two levels down and a quarter-mile east, not a long walk, and soon enough he’d need to make the trek, but he expected Kanin and didn’t risk leaving for water.



The wind whistled through the junction, on it a tattoo of footsteps and a faint halloo. The first time he heard it, he laid down his tools believing someone was near, but no one rounded the corner. An hour later and now again, the illusion repeated – on a sudden whisk of air came the approaching shuffle, the hooting call, a faded answer. Like the listening bridge. Sounds, voices, he realized, from another place or time. Resting his head in a scoop of stone, he closed his eyes, grateful for respite. But his thoughts, released from the focus of solitary toil, were soon a juggle of reason and longing.

Against the progress of the work, he charted the time passed, weighed the threat from beyond their perimeter against the endurance of the crews. They had no magic. There were limits to what could be accomplished, limits to their skills and resources, limits that would be recognized only when they were gone beyond, defined only when failure loomed.

Before Kanin’s reconnaissance, they’d found it necessary to make alterations to the plans. Even working as one crew rather than in alternate teams, they were only just on schedule. Kanin’s recommendation to pull in their northern boundary under Van Cortlandt Park, to cut off the Woodlawn area, would surge them ahead on their calendar, remove the burden of a dozen decisions waiting to be made in the field.

Ten days ... 

Only ten days. It seemed like as many weeks and the hours bore that strange quality of both dragging and flying by. Already he heard rumblings in camp – they missed their homes, their loved ones. Mouse was sure Arthur had grown fat and spoiled, or worse, had forgotten him. Father worried, he knew. Too little information traveled the pipes. The community suffered with so many members away, the daily routine disrupted.

Suffering ... Olivia suffered, as did Luke. Althea as well. And Kanin. Perhaps his grief was deepest of all. He doesn’t know ... doesn’t know his own daughter’s been named, that Olivia, losing hope, has chosen guardians for his children, has chosen ... us. A half-smile parted his lips. To hope till Hope creates from its own wreck the thing it contemplates.2 Martin’s advice – fake it ‘til you make it. Better phrased than Shelley’s, best delivered by Martin himself, I think. Should I take him there? Take him up into the garden? Perhaps then he might understand why I ... perhaps then he might want ...


Don’t be afraid to want it, even for yourself ...

Catherine’s voice touched the tangle of his thoughts. Always a steadying undercurrent, her nearly-tangible presence smoothed the furrows pleating his forehead, yet there was a gnawing beneath his ribs, hunger in his hands. He wanted the heat of her body, the taste of her. But more, what she wanted he ached to give her.

Want. How seldom he had claimed that word, so practiced in stamping out smoke, so willing to douse the fiery cravings of his soul. She’d asked him once. How ... how did this happen to you? As best he could, he’d answered her literal question.

Tell her everything, everything in your heart. Let her decide. Words he planned for Kanin.

Have I told her all I should? He sought the dark folds of his cloak piled beside him, his hand ferreting out the hard square of paper lodged in the breast pocket. There were deeper questions, truer answers, and things he had not entirely dreamed away. How ... how had it happened? How had he become the ... man ... he was?

Ten days ... 

He spread his arms in the still space and his plea joined the mysterious voices carried on the wind.

I miss you. I need you.


***

“Why, Father?”

It had been true, what he’d once said – that his oldest memory was of Winterfest, of himself at three or four in a cold, dark room, frightened by the echo of his footsteps, brought to the light by the touch of Devin’s hand, by the striking of the candles. But there were other memories – colder, darker whispers of the past that took his breath even now.

There’d been chocolate cream pie at lunch that day, the kind he liked – creamy smooth and sweet, piled high with the fluffy white and golden meringue he was sure would taste the same should he touch his tongue to the clouds he watched floating over the mirror pool. But he hadn’t finished his vegetables, and Mary, when she came around with a tray of dessert, eyed his plate and shook her head. He shuffled to story time in a huff, kicking a small stone along the corridor, but it was a rule that applied to every child, and by the time he settled into his seat, he forgot to be angry. When the reading was done, he hurried to the dining hall in hopes of wheedling someone in the kitchen who didn’t know he’d been earlier denied.

Off in a corner, Devin and Ike, Pascal and Stuart, Noah and Mitch crowded a round table. Ike dug into his pocket and Devin did the same, and Pascal. A sprinkle of bright clinks – like the wind chime in Rebecca’s room – called him over. He ducked under elbows, popping up inside the circle. Coins! A whole pile!

“What you doing?” It was a simple question, and he expected an answer, but silence felled the excited chatter that had masked his entry. He looked from face to face, though only Devin met his gaze. “What?” he repeated and smiled his widest smile.

“We’re going topside,” Mitch said. “Street fair.”

“Me too,” he said, nodding, reaching into his pocket as well. He pulled out a fist, opening it to two small spiral fossils, a fragment of celestine Levon had given him for his birthday, a single red checker. His smile faltered when Mitch laughed.

“Loaded, aren’t you, Vincent.”

“What’s a street fair?”

“You’ve never been to one?” Mitch asked, wide-eyed with innocence. “There’s rides and food and games where you throw a ball at this stack of bottles and if you knock ‘em over, you win a prize. A carnival.”

“I can win a prize,” he said. “I throw good. Devin says so. Ask him.”

“So what? You planning a career in the big leagues?”

“Mitch,” Devin warned, looking over his shoulder, then back. “Look, Vincent. You’re too little. You might get lost. Go play with Olivia and Lisa or ... go swimming or something.”

“Can’t go swimming by myself. ‘S’a rule.” He looked over at Pascal, up at Ike ... then down to the table, to the drift of riches at its center commanding their attention.

“It’s a rule,” Mitch parroted, raising the pitch of his voice. “You think he’s too little for the truth too, Dev?

“And what truth is that?” Father asked. There was thunder treading his soft words and the boys peeled from their cluster. Two crimson disks blotched Pascal’s cheeks.

“Am not too little, am I, Father?” he demanded, determined not to giggle at Pascal’s ears burning an apple-red.

There was no answer. A warm hand settled onto his shoulder, urged him a step away from the group, pulled him in close. Father’s robe blanketed him, and for a brief moment he imagined he might disappear behind the folds to emerge triumphant in some shining, secret place.

“Go on with you now,” Father said, pointing the way. “Watch out for each other.”

At Father’s words, Mitch swept the heap of coins into one hand and buried the treasure in his pocket. A dime, blackened silver, careened across the stone floor, falling flat at his toe. When he pulled his gaze from it, all he could see was a blur of browns and rusts. Leaving. He stared up in disbelief. There was something in Father’s eyes and in the straight line of his lips. Dread and a giving-up. Like Devin feels when he knows he’s going to be sick.

Far from him, the secret door slid open; the gate clanged. His friends hurried into the sunlight. The whoops and shouts. That first laughing gulp of spring air. He could hear. He could taste.

Father knelt and gathered him up, but he twisted in the embrace. “Devin!” he yelled, one arm outstretched. “DEV-IN!

Shhhh,” Father whispered. “Hush now.”

“I wanna go! I wanna go!

“I know. Shhhh.”

Pressed to Father’s chest, he writhed, straining with argument. On planted heels, he pushed and pushed and pushed until beads of sweat rose on his forehead, until copper flooded his mouth. His breath, so rapid, so shallow, could not answer his blood’s need and he wilted, sagging against iron-band arms. At this submission, Father loosened his grip, and with one hand, tipped his chin and cupped his cheek, gazing down at him with tenderness and ... what? He struggled to shape his thoughts – his questions, his memories – into words.

That look. He’d seen it before – the expression Father had worn when Devin skidded into his chamber that day, a park squirrel hit by a car, carried limp in his hands. It’s gonna die, Devin had cried, out of breath from running. Can you fix it, Father? Can you?

A bitter wind fanned embers in his heart he didn’t know smoldered, glowing red-yellow-white against the blackened char; the fire greedy for him as if he were a plain of dry, dry grass. His lips curled at one corner, parted as he sucked air over his teeth. Focus narrowed to the drumming pulse of Father’s throat. His shoulder twitched; command rippled from black thought down his arm to his clenched fists ... unfurling ... to his fingers ... spreading.

“No, Vincent.” Father spoke with a calmness belied by his sudden paling. “You will not strike out. You ... will ... not.”

Even then he knew it. Five years old and he knew ... power. It hurt. A shadow boy ... his second ... separated from him, stood at his elbow, silent, watching ... smug, like Mitch ...

He burst into tears.


When he lifted his head from Father’s shoulder, he knew his friends were too far away to follow. Shifting, turning the other cheek, he looked for the shadow boy he’d seen, but it ... he ... had disappeared. He sighed, a deep, chattering sigh.

“There, there,” Father soothed. “There you are. All right now? Let’s have some cocoa. We’ll talk.”

“Don’ wanna talk,” he said, sniffling the words. “Wanna go with Devin. Wanna go with Ike. ‘T’s not fair.”

“It isn’t,” Father agreed, taking hold of his upper arms, standing him straight. “But it is the truth, Vincent. Your truth. There will be things, many things you will want that you cannot have.”

“Why?” He shuddered out the question, wanting to clamp his hands over his ears.

But again Father didn’t answer, not with words. He pried loose the strands of hair plastered to his neck and face, brushed back the damp curls and, with the lightest touch, traced the shape of his ears, the shape he knew to be peculiar. With a forefinger, Father tapped twice the end of his nose, traveled over the tip to brush the cleft in his lip. Then he reached down for his hand, bringing it up, cradling it in his open palm. His sharp nails glittered in the guttering candlelight.

He had no vocabulary for what he saw in Father’s eyes, yet he knew. He understood.

Alone.


Months passed and there were times that he forgot and wanted ... wanted desperately ... but when he voiced a request, the pain that etched Father’s face added sorrow to the anger that crouched and scuttled inside him and soon taught him to keep his wishes to himself. If it weren’t for Devin, for his championship, he’d have gone years without seeing the moon, a lifetime without a ride on a carousel.

And then ... that day on the stairs, he’d slashed Devin’s face.

Father blamed Devin, but he carried the fault. Devin pushed him and the shadow-boy appeared. The boy – his mirror – nodded, grinning mirthlessly, showing his teeth. His fingers crooked and stiffened and his arm swept back. Fury lasered his aim.

You ... will ... not! 

The words blazed in the air like a glowing brand pulled from a fire. The sear of light blinded him, saving Devin’s exposed throat, leaving him marked, but alive. The shadow-boy was burned through ... gone.


Devin’s decision to leave was yet a secret, but still the aftermath was devastating. He expected to be punished for inflicting such a wound. Boys scrapped and tangled often enough, bickered over nothing, finding themselves with long hours of lonely chores not confined to kitchen duty. Sometimes there were scrapes and bruises, sometimes blood, but this ... this was much worse. Days passed as Father and Devin railed at each other while speaking rarely to him. He would join a group of friends, at the falls or at the supper table, and they would look away or down at their plates, a beat of awkwardness tripping up the conversation.

Devin having found quarter elsewhere, he was alone in his room when Father came for him, bidding him to come to his chamber. He followed a few paces behind, at the same somber pace, grateful for the summons. Soon it would be over.

Father went to his desk, leaned on it, his back to him, both hands flat against its surface. A lecture was surely coming. Perhaps the Silence would be imposed, but at least it would have a name and an end. In a dwarfing chair, he waited. Finally, Father turned, drew a second chair close before him and sat down.

“As you grow older, you will gain strength and power. Vincent, you must always ... always control that power. You must restrain yourself ... in all ways. You have great intellect, physical prowess. It would be easy for anyone with these endowments to ride roughshod over others less gifted.”

Father’s words were unanticipated, veering far from the ordinary discussion of crime and penalty he expected. He’d planned to tell Father about the shadow-boy and the flash of light, but now the story died on his tongue. A finger of fear curled within. “He pushed me. He hit me in the nose. He made me mad.”

“Yes. I know. Devin told me.”

“He wouldn’t believe me about the knife. It wasn’t me!”

“No. It was Mitch who ratted, as Devin put it.”

“I told Devin I was sorry. I apologized!” He heard a frantic no, no, no in his ear, but the question tumbled out. “Why won’t Lisa and Rebecca talk to me anymore? Why won’t Pascal?”

His throat hurt so. I’m not going to cry, he swore ... but the shine of tears reflected in Father’s eyes – in his sad, sad eyes.

“You must look to yourself, Vincent,” Father said softly. “You do not want to become a tyrant. People will give you what you ask if they fear you. If ... if you want to play scatterbase, your friends will give up swimming.”

“No they won’t, Father. I’ve said scatterbase and they’ve left me standing holding the ball.”

“That will change. Through no will of your own, though you do not demand it, others will look to you. You must channel your gifts into leadership.”

Why?

“Because you are ... you have ... something more.”

“What?” he demanded. His own voice sounded strange to him, rough and toothed like the rasps Noah’s father used in his shop. “What something more?

Father’s lips pressed white. “I have no words to name it, Vincent, but it is there.”

“I don’t want it!” he shouted, lunging from his chair. A shadow flitted corner to corner but he denied the vision and raced for the stairs. “Whatever it is .. I ... don’t ... want it!

Father reached out for him, but he wrenched from his grasp. He’d made the first rung when Father’s voice stopped him. “You have no choice in that matter, Vincent. You do not want to achieve your desires through intimidation. Your nature is to ... burn very brightly, but you will outshine others. They will resent you. Fear you if you are not careful. You must be cautious with your skills, with your ... powers.” He couldn’t listen any more. Didn’t want to. But Father kept on, and the softer he spoke, the more it hurt to hear. “Control, my son, like turning down a lantern’s flame. You must practice control. Always.”

The cold verdict settled in his stomach. Stone soup. He almost laughed.



For days, outside of class time and meals, he stayed in his room, reading, until Devin returned, taking up with him as if nothing had happened. His friends were his friends again. He played chess with Leo, with Sebastian, with Father. As Christmas approached, a Helper asked him what he wanted, and though he knew he would have presents to open, that gifts would pile inside his doorway as he slept away Christmas Eve, he answered, “I have all that I need.” Then Devin left.

And later, Lisa ...

The shadow-boy reappeared, wispy no longer, but instead black and solid and relentless, deep- and bitter-voiced, charging him with hip-check and elbow, grappling him to the edge of a rayless ravine, dragging him into unnamed acrid waters. He emerged bloody, crawling, clawing his way to the candlelight, a boy no longer. Neither of them. There where my madness roams. He would be no stranger in that land.

***

Over the years, others would demand, negotiate, petition ... and receive. But what he wanted was impossible. Nothing would change it – no level of faith, no number of good works, nothing he could say or do would bring him into the sun ...

Until Catherine.

She had loved him from his dark places – the night he found her in the park, from the darkest of all. There was no fear of him in her ... none. He knew that now, believed – just – that the something else was not fearsome, not loathsome. She was proud of him, found him beautiful, worthy. She wanted ... wanted to stand by his side. She brought the colors and perfumes, the velvets, the sweets. She brought the sun and the moon.

O something unprov’d! something in a trance, to escape utterly from others’ anchors and holds ...

She brought Rosaleen and healing.

To drive free! to love free! to dash reckless and dangerous ...

She brought Eimear and Martin, music and fellowship. She brought entry.

To rise thither with my inebriate soul, to be lost if it must be so ...

She brought Flynn.

Bráithre. Martin had promised. Promised.

But how? How can I ask my friends to sacrifice their bodies, their precious life’s hours. How can I ask that we accept risk on my whim.

The murmuring return of wind rained kisses on his skin, wove cool fingertips into his hair ...

The truth, my love. Tell them the truth, the why. Let them decide. Say it ...

To feed the remainder of life with one hour of fulness and freedom, with one brief hour of madness and joy.3

Say it.

The breeze, roused again, swirling, weaving his bellow with its ancient song ...

I want it. I want it. I do. 

_______


“Vincent!” Mouse skidded through the junction, a torch in one hand. There were shouts in the corridor behind him and a clatter of footsteps. “Heard you. Called you.” Mouse peered at his face and dropped to his knees. “Blood!”

“Hear that, Mouse?” Vincent said, his throat dry and scratchy. “The wind here – like the Listening Bridge. Voices in it and the sound of people walking. From years ago, dozens of years or maybe miles away. Hear it?”

“Hear Kanin. Hear Stuart and Noah.” From his pocket, Mouse pulled a grubby rag – oily from wiping down his tools – dropped it and dug for another. Moistening the cloth with water from the canteen, Mouse sponged at the wound. Soon the room teemed with people, bent over their knees, shoulders heaving.

“What ... happened? Kanin managed. “That was – whew – some noise you made, Vincent. You all right?”

“I dropped the brace. The bit– It was nothing.”

Hmmm,” Kanin said. “Looks like you might have a black eye.”

“Matches yours!” Mouse laughed and relinquished the cloth to Vincent’s ministrations. He swirled the canteen and held it out. “Thirsty work. Better get more. Drink first.” He scuttled backward and sprang to his feet. “Meet you there,” he said, passing the canteen’s strap over his head.

“Meet where, for what?” Vincent asked.

Kanin raked his fingers through his hair. “Stuart knows a place we can sit down, spread out the maps. Looks like there’s some things I didn’t take into consideration. You know,” Kanin said, a smile playing at the corner of his mouth. “It’s not too late to change. Nothing’s carved in stone ... yet.”




Click HERE for Chapter 40

____________

inspiration for this chapter:

Why, Father? - art by Chan

____________

1. e. e. cummings. it is at moments after i have dreamed from Five Poems in The Dial. January, 1922.
2. Percy Bysshe Shelley. Prometheus Unbound. Act IV. 1819.
3. Walt Whitman. One Hour to Madness and Joy.

66 comments:

Krista said...

Oh, Carole.

You've done something truly amazing here, at least in the fanfiction I've read. Too often fanfic writers let Father stay the one dimensional ogre (and I can't blame them, to some extent, since he had some truly ogre-ish moments in canon :-) You've given him depth, facing the challenges of parenting such an unusual child, one stronger and faster and smarter than most others. He might have been overprotective of Vincent as an adult, but you can certainly see why, here. His whole experience of parenting Vincent had been about balancing Vincent's needs against the present and future needs of the community---how could he just have backed away from that role once Vincent was grown?

Vincent as a child...oh, jeez. I can certainly see why he was so controlled, so afraid to want even the tiniest thing for himself, for fear of letting that shadow-nature loose. How lovely for Vincent that he's got Catherine to show him how to want, safely. :)

Great job, again and still. :)

RomanticOne said...

This chapter broke my heart a little. Yet, at the end, you renewed my faith in the goodness of people. I have a feeling we will soon reach the summit Martin spoke of. Great chapter. Will we see more of your talent at WFOL? It will be my first and I can't wait!

SandyX said...

Wow, Carole! This was unexpected, and wonderful in so many ways. What heartbreaking insight you've given us into Vincent's childhood. The scenes with little Vincent are so vivid and so painful. I actually had to turn away from the page for a minute ... I ached for him. And to hear Father say those words "There will be things, many things you will want that you cannot have." And the "control," and the leavings ... oh dear.

You had my stomach in knots ... and then ... Catherine. And their love. And I could breath again. And again, to hear Vincent say it: "I want it. I want it. I do." [sigh].

What a roller coaster of a chapter! I'm thrilled and exhausted - heh.

And, as always, there's hope.

Thank you!

SandyX said...

ps - This is gorgeous:

The murmuring return of wind rained kisses on his skin, wove cool fingertips into his hair ...

The truth, my love. Tell them the truth, the why. Let them decide. Say it ...

[sigh]

Kemara said...

Carole,
I'm late for work, so I don't have time to comment, but I will write you a long e-mail tonight. I haven't forgotten you by any means. Hugs!

Krista said...

I'm rereading this because it's just that good. Child Vincent about breaks my heart *sob*

However, I'm thinking there's hope for Kanin after all. Maybe they won't need to use the cast iron clue-by-four on him after all...:)

Very good job, again. Still. You know what I mean. :)

Ann B said...

Another amazing chapter. A difficult one as well. You have a truly exceptional talent when it comes to creating life in your stories. When you described the area Vincent was working in I could feel the air whisking through the tunnel and hear the echo of sound.

I could feel the tension within him as he weighed what he thought of as his selfish wants/needs compared to those of his companions and the community.

"But how ... how can I ask my friends to sacrifice their bodies, their precious life’s hours. How ... how can I ask that we accept risk on my whim ..."

Still so hard for him to accept that he has wants and needs just like anyone else. But you make him so human as well. Granting him peevishness, frustration and anger. A lot of what I read does not allow him this kind of depth and places the man securely on a pedestal just as he always placed Catherine. It is a limit that goes unrecognized and is unintentional until stories such as yours show us so many more possibilities.

When you put into words that moment of absolute knowing with Father regarding how he was different from all the others in his life, the burdens he would bear by that difference, the things he could share with no one it truly tore my heart.

We have all known academically, intellectually, that Vincent bore heavy burdens of aloneness and apartness. But to actually FEEL IT, deep in your heart and soul is something altogether different. You did this for me with this chapter. It took three attempts before I was able to read it all the way through without having to stop and walk away to gather myself for another try. As challenging as it was for me to read I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to write. It is a hard gift you have given me Carole, but one that is nonetheless appreciated.

One of the difficulties I have with accepting that gift is that I was perfectly content to have Father be the cause of both world wars, famine and the decline of the giant panda among other things. I could not hate him altogether though because he was so important to Vincent. But you have made him human. A man with his own terrible burdens that did the best he could. I still have no great love for the guy, but at least now I have a better understanding of him. And in time, who knows??

And then you came to Catherine and all of the gifts of healing and hope. It did not completely alleviate the pain of what went before but made it easier to bear. She brought the gift of light to banish some of that darkness and illuminate the path forward.

The very last paragraphs with Mouse and Kanin were amazing. It seems that Vincent shares things with Mouse that he would not dare with anyone else with the exception of Catherine. It looks like Mouse and Kanin have had a talk and reached an understanding regarding Martin's garden. I am so glad if this is the case! That place is going to be life changing and not only for Vincent.

AAACK! My response is getting longer than the chapter was. I am sure about now everyone is thinking "Why does she not shut up already??" So I will shut up and go back to sitting on the edge of my chair awaiting the great reunion.

No, I still have one more question. What is the piece of papter Vincent has folded up in his pocket? Did I miss something really important?

OK, NOW I will shut up and sit quietly in my little corner. :^)

Carole W said...

Krista - big, big hugs of thank-you. I'm so pleased you think I have given Father that depth. I'm with you - he so irks me sometimes, but he did truly LOVE. I never thought otherwise. I don't want to lose his dimension.

I know you can help me remember the original Star Trek - the episode where the two men are locked in eternal hand-to-hand combat in another dimension? Weren't they alter-egos? Dark and Light? The details have gone to mush in my brain - but that's the image I have for Vincent's post-Lisa experience, presaged by the more elementary shadow-boy. I can't imagine Vincent's anxiety, always wondering if he/it would appear.

What an extra burden! And something he hasn't exactly told Catherine about - but that's fodder for another story. :-)

Your The Mirror Crack'd is an intense exploration of this time and experience. (I hope everyone has read it - click right over if you haven't.)

Kanin ... I do think there's hope for him. I'd really hate to lose him.

Thank you again for so much.

Carole

Carole W said...

R-1, I'm glad the chapter renewed your faith, but I'm glad too that it touched your heart. It wasn't an easy one to write.

Gosh, I really hope we see that summit soon! I just want it to hurry and be dark. I have some gauze I want to drape around our couple.

It's your first WF! Oh, you'll have fun, I know. My first was 2008 and I still remember the excitement of something new every day and the knowledge that there're others out there like me. Only a little more than 3 days to wait!

Carole W said...

Sandy, you sweetheart. I can hardly find the words to tell you how humbling it is to know the chapter had that impact on you. Vincent carries such a silent burden, heavier than we can imagine, I think. His fight for balance must be a 24/7 thing. Even though he's practiced at it, it must be wearing. His life with Catherine, as he becomes more and more comfortable ... I think he will be smiling more and more.

Thank you for highlighting passages you liked. It helps to know if a phrase or paragraph makes an impression. This wasn't an easy chapter to write and you know how nervous I get posting chapters. Thanks for liking it, even the painful parts.

Carole

Carole W said...

Kemara! I emailed you too! :-)

Carole W said...

Ann, I'm thrilled with your comments! I'm so pleased you could feel the location - it's difficult to make the unseen places seem real and I've wondered if I had strong enough imagery to make the 'place' appear.

You brought tears to my eyes with your comments. I'm grateful, so grateful to read them, glad - in an strange way - that the chapter was difficult to read. I knew, writing it, that it seemed important and I had to get it right. I'm never sure about the 'right' - I always wonder if I'm finding the proper words to convey what swirls in my head.

You made me laugh with your description of Father. I can really come down on Father - there are times he just needs a good stomp to the instep - but you're right. Vincent loves him. We can't discount that. That you think I made him human - what a compliment. I'll not forget it.

Now, about the piece of paper in V's pocket - no, you haven't missed anything - the revelation is yet to come. There's so much story left ... I may need to find a stopping place for this main one and start up again with some of the suggested ones. But I promise, you'll know by the end of I/V what's going on with that.

No one wants you to go to your quiet corner! Thank you for such a thoughtful message - you really give me hope and encouragement with these words.

Carole

Vicky said...

Dear Carole,
I should be in bed, and you know why... but this was too good to let go! I'm gonna have those moments playing in my mind now...and perhaps I'll dream of that sweet child Vincent and gather him close... This chapter just broke my heart!

"He had no vocabulary for what he saw in Father’s eyes, yet he knew. He understood.

Alone."

And he never truly had that vocabulary, not even within himself. But I guess I won't go into that now...

I'm with Sandy in her comments, all the way! And Ann, don't you dare stay quiet!

Oh and one more thing: I bet few know better than me what your imagery can convey, how amazing it is. How rich, detailed...Yuo take us places, and fill them with emotion; that's about the best part!

Truly, Carole, what a jem of a chapter. I don't know what else to say.

Big hugs,

Vicky

PS: All you Winterfest newbies, get some sleep before saturday! It will be a long, exhaustingly fun week.

SandyX said...

Ok, I woke up thinking about this … so one more comment. You presented something else here that's really important, and it's something I've wondered about. Father knew, early on, that Vincent was different not just in a limiting way, but in a limitless way also. He saw the potential, the something more. That must have been hard for him to watch and wonder just how brightly that flame could be safely allowed to burn.

“Through no will of your own, though you do not demand it, others will look to you. You must channel your gifts into leadership.”

“Why?”

“Because you are ... you have ... something more.”

“What?” he demanded. His own voice sounded strange to him, rough and toothed like the hand files Noah’s father used in his shop. “What something more?”

Father’s lips pressed white. “I have no words to name it, Vincent, but it is there.”

“I don’t want it!” he shouted, springing from his chair. He turned his face from the shadow that flitted corner to corner and eyed the stairs. “Whatever it is .. I ... don’t ... want it!”

“You have the nature to ... burn very brightly, but you will outshine others. They will resent you ... fear you if you are not careful. You must be cautious with your skills, with your ... powers. Control, my son, like turning down a lantern’s flame ... you must practice control.”

Such an additional burden for young Vincent – such a difficult combination of limitations and expectations. He just wanted to be a kid like any other kid, and this 'something more' was just one more way that he was set apart … alone. And now, he just wants to love like any other man, and all the limitations and expectations still interfere. But he's learning, right? With Catherine's love, I hope that he's learning that he can allow that flame to burn more brightly, maybe a little less controlled. Catherine knows just how spectacular that something more in Vincent can be. [sigh] But, their love is the key that unlocks all of this, isn't it?

Well, I have to tuck all of this into the back of my mind and try to be a productive person for a few days ;-), I'm sure I'll be completely lost within Catherine and Vincent's world, and completely useless to the real world, during Winterfest next week ...

Thank you, again.

Hugs,
Sandy

Vicky said...

Yes! I was thinking about that in bed last night. "I...don't...want it" But in the end, there was no other way for him, h had to accept it. He is so much more, but...that is so unfair! So hard to explain the feeling... To think those expectations, that "something more" rather than being a gift, just added to his aloneness, his unhappiness.
I love Father but, it just didn't have to be that way... Such a responsibility, too great a burden...and to try to live up to something he didn't quite understand; and later (like I think i said before), to have to buy a roof under his head with some of those differences...It's not fair!
But there is hope. There is Catherine. "I found hope again that night," she said, "I found you." They found each other.
And I must go to work!
Love.

Krista said...

You're going to think I'm stalking you...but here I am again :)

Thank you, Carole, for the shout out to "The Mirror Crack'd" :)

The Star Trek episode you're thinking of (I think) was "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield." They weren't alter egos per se, but people from warring nations who'd fought and fought and fought so long only to come home and find the entire planet destroyed by the war. But I think "The Enemy Within" also illustrates the point (that's the one where Kirk gets split into two personalities by a transporter glitch.) Who, me, a Trekker? :-P

Father's comments about Vincent's potential were what actually made me come back here---do you suppose that's the same potential that Paracelsus saw in him, even as an infant? Except that we all know that Paracelsus intended nothing good for him...but still, there's that duality. Vincent and the Other. Paracelsus and Father. Dark and Light. Hmmm....:)

Excellent job, Carole :)

Vicky said...

Ladies, ladies, thou shall stop making these comments when I'm supposed to concentrate in work! I just had to come back...
Krista, I think you're right on track. Paracelsus and Father, each chose how to understand/interpret that "something more", but noone other than Vincent could ever truly understand it: the only one of his kind, nothing, noone, to relate to. I'm still pondering, after all these years, what was really that Paracelsus was getting at...
No stocking! Just friends! ;-)

New York City Utopia said...

<3
I guess this could have been a tricky part... but this was masterfully done! Of course I felt for poor dear (little) Vincent... but his ending words made up for it :D
Looking forward to 41!

Joyce said...

Carole - another great and poignant chapter. It actually brought tears to my eyes reading of the young Vincent and his desire to be like the other boys and his confusion and pain when he couldn't do the things they did. Even though Father helped him come to an understanding of the greater things he was destined for, even the man Vincent became still had those thoughts and feelings. Thank God for Catherine! The only person in his life who loved him unconditionally with no expectation of anything - only a desire to have him love her as much as she loved him. This was another great chapter and I have already bookmarked for chapter 41!

Carole W said...

Vicky - I'm glad the chapter could keep you awake - you posted in the wee hours of the morning, didn't you? There's a time difference of what - 2? 3 hours? You must be exhausted today.

Thank you so much for your kind words. I'm humbled, you know that, and pleased and encouraged to keep going.

Maybe part of what kept Vincent in turmoil all these years, what he tried to squash, what he tried to make dark and frightening was really hope. Hope that wouldn't be denied, that clung to the side of the ship, refusing to go completely under. Hope ... demanding to be recognized. Even Hope can get peeved and cause trouble when someone keeps saying "it can never be."

Maybe he never accepted that sentencing - that he was and would ever be alone. He railed against the unfairness of it and I think that kept him alive. If he'd given in, truly believed he was Alone with a capital A, it might kill him - or worse, as Father said about a different situation - make him wish he were dead.

Hope showed him though, in the form of Catherine. The theory of twin flames says they find each other often at their individual darkest, lowest moments. We know Catherine's ... but what was Vincent's? (that pesky piece of paper in his pocket ... could it offer enlightenment in that matter??? LOL)

I know the Other was also his ferocious nature, but truly it was only unleashed - in his adult moments anyway - when he was required, by love, to defend those weaker or less able than himself (though I see that nature more as a warrior, something entirely different than a what he saw and feared). Catherine brings the necessary light and balance - but they do have to get there and it isn't necessarily easy.

Vincent is an elevated being, and I don't know either what the something more it. It's just him.

Comments to be continued in response to Sandy!

Carole

Carole W said...

Sandy, you make such a good point and I love how you put it - Limiting and limitless at once. You know I'm going to have to explore that further - I'll put you in the credits!

There's something so universal in Vincent's despair. I doubt there's one of us who didn't have a dream of some sort that was obviously not going to come true. How we absorb that truth and move on can be very painful, but it is what builds our characters and takes us to new, if different, heights.

I get so aggravated with Father, yet I can't imagine his quandary. The not-knowing - it would require parenting far different from the norm. Vincent is extraordinary and Father was given the gift of that responsibility - yet he, Father, was only human, full of his own egoisms, worries, sadnesses - he made mistakes. (As a parent, my greatest worry is that somehow I missed the teachable moment and that I'll find I've screwed my child for life.)

Yes! V is learning that he can let his flame burn without endangering all he loves. It took Catherine to turn that key for him - but then, no one but his fated other could.

Thanks for reading and caring enough to share such thought-provoking ideas. I'm sure to ponder them all day.

Carole

Carole W said...

Hmmm, Krista. I think I may have mind-melded those two episodes into one. LOL.

About your Paracelsus theory - how intriguing! The duality is certainly there. You've nailed it. What does it take to tip that balance from darkness to light, from Father to Paracelsus. Once they were friends and partners - but the road diverged. What happened?

(I hear your writer's mind clicking and whirring, Krista- get busy!)

Carole W said...

Vicky - again, you're on target. No one, not Father or Paracelsus, can understand what it's like in V's soul, heart and mind. He really does have to reign himself in just to fit in. He knows, as an adult, he does not want to be seen as some kind of god, yet his very nature sets him apart in an undeniable way.

I always think of that Van Morrison song, It's not why why why, it just is is is.

Holding V as a baby, the almost otherworldly experience of 'not knowing' must have triggered something in each of them, Father and Paracelsus - something good and something evil. Like a arrow cleaving the apple and two halves fall away.

I don't guess even Catherine truly understands ... but she accepts and appreciates - indeed, chooses him for his differences, not in spite of them. Certainly, she will make him glad of those differences, once he relaxes a bit more.

(Well, maybe there's one person who can come close to understanding ... we'll see in coming chapters :-))

Carole W said...

NYCU! So good to hear from you!

Thanks, Claire, for the generous and kind comment. I'm glad I was able to give the angsty memories a reason for being.

Take care - I know you're on the road a lot these days.

Carole

Carole W said...

Hi Joyce! I don't know exactly how to say this, but ... I'm glad the chapter made you tear-up a little.
:-)

I shed a few myself, writing it, imagining how desperate young Vincent must have felt - to rail and deny and to have the train of responsibility advance on him nonetheless. If he lives, he is who he is.

You've nailed it! What a relief it must be for him to have Catherine's arms about him, to have that place to lay his head. How tired he must be from all those years of no real comfort. Catherine's love doesn't just look past his limits but climbs on and soars with them.

Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to leave such kind words of encouragement. I'm hoping really hard to have another chapter soon. But enjoy your Winterfest - it's your first, right? There will be much to explore - you'll stay busy all week.

Carole

Kemara said...

Carole,
Just wondering if you got my reply to your e-mail this morning as well as the one I sent about Photoshop. My Gmail has been weird lately.

Ann B said...

This is my first Winterfest too! I am SO looking forward to it. I got made fun of at work again, someone caught me watching the countdown clock. lol See y'all there!

Carole W said...

Kemara, I did get both emails - sometimes my yahoo mail is very funky. I had a project I had to finish tonight - but I'll be getting back to you soon.

Ann - You are in for a treat. My first Winterfest was mind-blowing - people from all over the world to whom I didn't have to explain a thing! Yes!!

Brandy said...

Dear Carole,

Gah, I'm behind again! Thank you again for the Winterfest invite - I'm only sorry I didn't have several full days to wander the site and take everything in.

Poor Ann B! I had no idea that Father was held in such poor regard. Sadly, I don't think we can hold him to blame for the decline of the giant panda. I've always thought of Father as a a bit of a relic from a different time, like my grandmother: almost puritanically Victorian.

Carole, you did such a lovely job explaining the dynamic there. Vincent's longings, his friends' awkwardness, Father's necessary restraint. I LOVE that you put in Vincent's sensitivity and empathy:

"but when he voiced a request, the pain that etched Father’s face added sorrow to the anger that crouched and scuttled inside him and soon taught him to keep his wishes to himself."

I KNOW that feeling, where it's just better to keep your longings to yourself, rather than add to the pain of another.

Here's a poem for Vincent's pains.

Longing, Johann von Goethe

WHAT pulls at my heart so?

What tells me to roam?
What drags me and lures me

From chamber and home?
How round the cliffs gather

The clouds high in air!
I fain would go thither,

I fain would be there!

The sociable flight

Of the ravens comes back;
I mingle amongst them,

And follow their track.
Round wall and round mountain

Together we fly;
She tarries below there,

I after her spy.

Then onward she wanders,

My flight I wing soon
To the wood fill'd with bushes,

A bird of sweet tune.
She tarries and hearkens,

And smiling, thinks she:
"How sweetly he's singing!

He's singing to me!"

The heights are illum'd

By the fast setting sun;
The pensive fair maiden

Looks thoughtfully on;
She roams by the streamlet,

O'er meadows she goes,
And darker and darker

The pathway fast grows.

I rise on a sudden,

A glimmering star;
"What glitters above me,

So near and so far?"

And when thou with wonder

Hast gazed on the light,
I fall down before thee,

Entranced by thy sight!

Sonia Who? said...

My comment is really long so will have to split in and post it in parts.

I second all that Krista said in her comment. This is such a great chapter, very touching. You've done such a wonderful job of showing how difficult it must have been for Father to parent such an unique and extra-ordinary child and why he became such an over-protective parent; and give us a good idea of some of the heart-breaking disappointments Vincent must have experienced while growing up, showing us why he grew up so afraid to want anything.

‘T’s not fair.”

“It isn’t,” Father agreed, taking hold of his upper arms, standing him straight. “But it is the truth, Vincent. Your truth. There will be things, many things you will want that you cannot have.”

“Why?” He shuddered out the question, wanting to clamp his hands over his ears.

But again Father didn’t answer, not with words. He pried loose the strands of hair plastered to his neck and face, brushed back the damp curls and, with the lightest touch, traced the shape of his ears, the shape he knew to be peculiar. With a forefinger, Father tapped twice the end of his nose, traveled over the tip to brush the cleft in his lip. Then he reached down for his hand, bringing it up, cradling it in his open palm. His sharp nails glittered in the guttering candlelight.

He had no vocabulary for what he saw in Father’s eyes, yet he knew. He understood.

Alone.

... there were times that he forgot and wanted ... wanted desperately ... but when he voiced a request, the pain that etched Father’s face added sorrow to the anger that crouched and scuttled inside him and soon taught him to keep his wishes to himself.

-- So heart-wrenching and poignant.

Vincent's aloneness and apartness must have been abysmal before Catherine came into his life. Her total acceptance and soul deep love brightened his dark and lonely life, helped to heal his battered soul and opened worlds of undreamt of possibilities for him. It is so wonderful that he's got Catherine to show him it's alright for him to want and that he can do so safely with her. Like Joyce said, Catherine was the only person in his life who loved him unconditionally with no expectation of anything - only a desire to have him love her as much as she loved him.

I also agreed with Sandy's second comment, "Father knew, early on, that Vincent was different not just in a limiting way, but in a limitless way also. He saw the potential, the something more. That must have been hard for him to watch and wonder just how brightly that flame could be safely allowed to burn."

Father could see that even at such a young age that and started to ingrain in Vincent what made him different (not just his appearance but also his other gifts such as his great intellect and physical prowess) and set him apart from all others and taught him to accept the burdens of his responsibilities and his limitations.

“You have the nature to ... burn very brightly, but you will outshine others. They will resent you ... fear you if you are not careful. You must be cautious with your skills, with your ... powers. Control, my son, like turning down a lantern’s flame ... you must practice control.”

Again I agree with what Sandy said, "Such an additional burden for young Vincent – such a difficult combination of limitations and expectations. He just wanted to be a kid like any other kid, and this 'something more' was just one more way that he was set apart … alone."

Krista, I agree with you and I too think you're right on track. And I agree with Vicky's comment, "Paracelsus and Father, each chose how to understand/interpret that "something more", but none other than Vincent could ever truly understand it."

Sonia Who? said...

There are so many excellent things in this chapter that I could quote and comment on.

"But how ... how can I ask my friends to sacrifice their bodies, their precious life’s hours. How ... how can I ask that we accept risk on my whim ..." -- this is so like Vincent to think his wants/needs are selfish and could jeopardize his friends safety.

'The truth, my love. Tell them the truth, the why. Let them decide. Say it ...' -- I like how Vincent knows Catherine so well and is so in tune with her that he knows exactly what she would say to him.

'I want it. I want it. I do.' -- just perfect. So glad he's finally allowing himself to want. I would like to see Vincent give up for a little while his rigid control on himself and allow himself the freedom to truly feel, desire and to fulfill that want, in the safety of his truelove's arms.

The murmuring return of wind rained kisses on his skin, wove cool fingertips into his hair ... -- poetry

How sweet the way Mouse tends to Vincent's injury. I like how you show that their friendship was close. Mouse did tell (I believe) Catherine that Vincent is his best friend.

Wow, Carole, these words could have been part of the chapter:

"Maybe part of what kept Vincent in turmoil all these years, what he tried to squash, what he tried to make dark and frightening was really hope. Hope that wouldn't be denied, that clung to the side of the ship, refusing to go completely under. Hope ... demanding to be recognized. Even Hope can get peeved and cause trouble when someone keeps saying "it can never be."

Maybe he never accepted that sentencing - that he was and would ever be alone. He railed against the unfairness of it and I think that kept him alive. If he'd given in, truly believed he was Alone with a capital A, it might kill him - or worse, as Father said about a different situation - make him wish he were dead.

I know the Other was also his ferocious nature, but truly it was only unleashed - in his adult moments anyway - when he was required, by love, to defend those weaker or less able than himself (though I see that nature more as a warrior, something entirely different than a what he saw and feared)."

I wholeheartedly agree your sentiments here. I love your insights on Vincent; you know him so well. You also know Father and Catherine very well and give use great insight into their personalities.

Your words give our beloved character such depth and help us to understand them better. And your words never fail to produce vivid imagery so that for me the story comes alive and it's like I'm watching instead of just reading. You have a wonderful talent and this story is a true gift to BatB/V&C fans.

I'm glad that, although no one but Vincent can truly understand his differences, "Catherine accepts, appreciates and chooses him for his differences, not in spite of them. Catherine's love doesn't just look past his limits but climbs on and soars with them." I can't wait to read how "Catherine will make him glad of those differences, once he relaxes a bit more." So looking forward to the next chapter.

I'm sorry I didn't get to read this chapter before Winterfest and had to wait until I recovered sufficiently from the many days of running through the tunnels trying to see and do everything on very little sleep. My first Winterfest was a fun, unforgettable blast. My eyes are still sore, but couldn't wait any longer to read this. I knew it would be so worth reading; so glad I finally read it. But now can't wait for the next chapter.

Ann B - Just want to let you know that I enjoyed your long comment.

Brandy - I agree with you. Father was a relic from another time; almost puritanically Victorian. Love the poem Longing by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Thank you for sharing it.

Sonia Who? said...

Loved reading everyone's comments and get to know their perspectives/views/thoughts almost as much as reading the story.

PS: I like the quote from Shelley's Prometheus Unbound, "To hope till Hope creates from its own wreck the thing it contemplates..." and added it to my facebook's What's on my mind?

Sonia Who? said...

This poem made me think of how Vincent must have felt before Catherine came into his life.

Alone - I think I need a place alone.
After all, alone is being free - alone
From all the other lonely souls.

Oh to live alone in only solitude;
I'll plot a course alone for rectitude,
So then corruption will desist: so
Alone, the prodding by detractors won't exist!

Alone, I'll cry; sink alone to depths of
Solitude that only are achieved alone.
I'll be relieved, alone - received alone by me;
Peek at my reflection in the pond - alone to see.

When alone I have no love to seek, or fear
Of ending up alone from being jilted:
Laughing at the alter; me alone; 'Dear oh dear'
To hear them say, 'Now he's alone – tilted
Forward at the brink - like us, he'll be alone.'


~ Alone by Mark Slaughter

Carole W said...

Brandy - The Goethe poem is perfect! I see two chapter titles in it - be watching! And I'm glad Vincent's inner thoughts rang true to you. That is what matters most to me.

Sonia - wow, thanks for the very thoughtful comments and the poem. I don't know that author! I'm so pleased that the characters feel right to you, that all my tweaking and angst has proved successful - more than anything I do want the scenes to be visually strong and the characters alive within them. It does help to know which passages are the most effective and affecting.

Thanks again, to both of you. Now -- off to work!
Carole

Anonymous said...

Carole, dear, GIFTED WRITER, Friend,I had to reread this...and I will have to read it again. You write the best words to say the deepest truths about Vincent, for Vincent, and for Father and the rest...about and FOR them. I think I may have had the 'inspiration' for The Wanting from my first reading of this. Thank you.

Carole W said...

Nancy! I missed your comment here. You are always so encouraging. I can't express what it means to me - thank you seems awfully pale, but you know that I am truly grateful.

The Wanting is an exquisite poem, and I'd say it is my favorite, but each time you publish a new one, I say the same. If I had any part of its inspiration, them I'm super happy.

Hugs,
Carole

Vicky said...

Me again, Carole...
After posting in the recent discussion on BBTV, I just had to come back here again... and I think it hit me twice as hard as the first time!
This comment is not really a comment; it's just me, raving about yuor talent! You've got such a gift, thanks for sharing it with us.
Love you.

Carole W said...

Vicky, hugs, big hugs, Thank you. I want you to know how much that means ... how much YOU mean to me.

Love,
Carole

SandyX said...

Hey Carole, I came back to this yesterday too. I'm tempted to say it's a bond thing that brought us both here, but that's not it - it's your fantastic ability to get at the heart of the story and make it real. As we were discussing Vincent's questions about his differences and how and when that effected him as a child, All the images and emotions of this chapter replayed in my mind as clearly as if they had occurred in one of the episodes we have watched so many times. It drew me back here. It's a beautiful thing that you've given us. Thank you.

Big hugs,
Sandy

Carole W said...

Sandy, you sweetheart. Thank you. You and Vicky have made my day - to think that you remembered this chapter in light of the recent BBTV posts ... that means so much. I'm honored and humbled by your words and so very grateful.

Big hugs,
Carole

Krista said...

Oh, Carole. (See, I'm nothing if not consistent. :-P)

When I first read this chapter, my daughter was just a little over three years old; now she's heading full tilt towards five going on ninety. I, too, have had to tell her that there are many things she'll want in life that she can't have. Gives me rather a bit more respect for Father's dilemmas in raising Vincent, to say the least. ;)

I love all your chapters, but this one sticks out in my memory--perhaps because my daughter is just a little younger than the Vincent in the story, perhaps because the writing is simply stunning. Or perhaps because here, he finally admits it's okay to want something for himself. Or perhaps it's all of the above.

Great job, again and still :)

-Krista

Anonymous said...

Carole, this is truly an exceptional chapter. Thank you so much for NOT demonizing Father! I've partially read and then put aside MANY stories that simply turned the man into a complete ogre, and I think that's a HUGE cop-out. It certainly isn't the way Roy Dotrice so beautifully portrayed him. Father is certainly no saint, but a man trying his best yet still possessing all the foibles of the human race. Thank you for keeping him in that realm.

I don't know that I can add much more to the accolades you have already received for this chapter. Know that I am deeply moved by your portrayal of the moment the "Shadow-Boy" appeared -- that terrible, delicate moment when poor young Vincent truly understood the chasm that separated him from everyone else. And thank God for Catherine, who saw the chasm and had the faith and love to leap across.

Best regards, Lindariel

Ophelia said...

Intricate, delicate, psychologically minded: so very deftly woven, Carole. Your brush strokes capture all the light and the darkness, here. You have fashioned a man as multidimensional as any inhabiting flesh; I love Vincent, in his pain, more than ever. And - while I know nearly all would disagree with me - I love Father all the more, too. Without lantern or map, without foresight, he made choices as complex, almost, as Vincent himself. You are unflinching in the light you shine on those choices but not forgetful of the man with sad eyes, the man who saw the bright flame, the man who had to find the words no one else would. I will be thinking about this one for a long, long time.

RomanticOne said...

Having worked with foster children, and those who are not fostered, I have heard "T's not fair" more than I care to. It has made me understand Father's plight in this chapter. Children can read a lot in just a look. Tough love means more than just letting children suffer the consequences of their actions. It also means teaching them that life is not always fair but the outcome can still be positive. You showed that side of Father so well. He may frequently appear to be a hard man but look at what a wonderful man Vincent turned out to be, which means a lot of love was there too.

Carole W said...

Krista, thank you for saying such nice things. There's no higher compliment than to hear something written resonates in your real life. You're kind to me, so generous. I'll never forget your words of encouragement.

Roisin has grown so much - I can't believe so many months have come between this chapter's initial posting and now. Measured by Roisin-time, that's a very long time.

Carole W said...

Lindariel - thank you too! I'm so glad Father comes through in this chapter as you've described him. That's exactly what I wanted to convey. His is a lonely, stumbling path as well. Being a parent isn't easy ever, but Father's job was something that had never been as well.

And I'm so glad that the emergence of the shadow-boy read as the meaningful moment I hoped it would. It must have been pivotal for V, even at his tender age. The average child accumulates baggage, but poor V - his was so weighty and isolating.

Are you a writer? You have a lovely way with language. Tell me if you are. I'd want to read.

Thank you so much for your kindness and for reading (and for your patience).

Carole

Carole W said...

Ophelia - you have given me such a gift. To think that you're thinking about the chapter after you've read it - what encouragement that offers! I could hope for nothing more.

I'm glad Father seems as you've described him - certainly that's what I hoped you'd find - a loving man, a haunted man, trying his best to travel a strange and singular path. So much was a stake.

Thank you isn't an adequate sentiment, but I hope you'll see in it how grateful and humbled I am and how motivated and how less hesitant.

Carole

Carole W said...

Thank you so much, R-One! I'm very pleased to read that this chapter rings true enough, based on your real-life experiences. That gives me heart to continue - I always hope I've offered a good, true picture.

You're absolutely right. Whatever mistakes Father made, whatever his own prejudices and reactions, Vincent did turn out magnificently. Thank goodness we don't, as parents, have to be perfect to rear good, decent children. Life hands out hard lessons. Father must have given Vincent all the skills necessary to love and honor and protect. To adore. To cherish. When I want to throttle Father, I have to remember all he did.

Thank you so much for reading and being patient and encouraging. That you'll take the time to leave comments means so much. I can't explain it very well, but knowing - after all this time - that you're still here … :-)

Carole

Carole W said...

Krista, Lindariel, Ophelia and Romantic One - I just want to say thank you all again. Your messages … I have no words, even though I'm trying! Just know that your interest and thoughtfulness and generosity move me, touch my heart, buoy my spirits. I'm so grateful. So lucky.

Hugs,
Carole

Anonymous said...

Yes, Carole, I am a writer, both creatively and professionally. My professional writing is for two large nonprofit AIDS organizations. My creative writing is mostly in the realm of JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. If you're interested, you'll find two of my pieces under the pen name Lindariel at www.henneth-annun.net. If that whets your appetite, I can direct you to more at Middle-earth Journeys.

Best regards, Lindariel

SandyX said...

When you told me you had posted the edited version on this chapter, and I realized which chapter it was, I waited a bit to read it. There was so much emotion in this one, I knew I'd need a quiet time to sit with it.

I cried ... again ... when Vincent called out after Devin. "I wanna go." My heart breaks for the child who learned to keep all his desires, his wants, his needs, to himself. And the "something more" that would be an unwanted burden for so many years ... until Catherine

This passage is beautiful:

"Don’t be afraid to want it, even for yourself ...

Catherine’s voice touched the tangle of his thoughts. Always a steadying undercurrent, her nearly-tangible presence smoothed the furrows pleating his forehead, yet there was a gnawing beneath his ribs, hunger in his hands. He wanted the heat of her body, the taste of her. But more, what she wanted he ached to give her.
"

This chapter has lingered in my mind since the first time I read it. I can close my eyes and see the scenes playing out ... Vincent twisting away from Father's embrace ... I can see the determination in his face when he declares that "Whatever it is, I ... don't ... want it!" ... and I can see that flame turned down within him as he receives this first of many lessons about the need to practice control.

I can see and feel all of this because you've gifted us with these pages. It's something not easily done, the real conveyance of emotion and life through the written word, but you've done it. You've done it beautifully. Thank you for that.

Love,
Sandy

Carole W said...

I knew it, Lindariel! There's a lyrical quality to your comments. I'll be sure to read your stories.

C

Carole W said...

Sandy, I don't even know how to begin. Thank you seems so thin a sentiment. You've made me well up with tears - but they're happy tears. I'm so pleased, so grateful. So lucky to have your support.

Now I have to buckle down and work and work. My heartbeat races thinking about all there is to come (how long it might take) and will it be pleasing to you. A scary thing - but I'll reread your message here when I start to panic.

Hugs back,
Carole

Brenda K said...

I've been re-reading I/V since Chap. 51 was posted -- my first full re-read of the story, to catch things I didn't see the first time, and simply to savor the richness of the whole.

In this chapter, I was struck by how closely this passage resembles the way a friend of mine has spoken of her childhood -- she was a multiple personality, reintegrated for long years now:


"Even then he knew it. Five years old and he knew ... power. It hurt. A shadow boy ... his second ... separated from him, stood at his elbow, silent, watching ... smug, like Mitch ..."

If you haven't, you should read "When Rabbit Howls," an autobiography by Truddi Chase, an MPD sufferer who chose not to reintegrate, but to come to terms with her disorder in a different way. MPD is a rare disorder, but usually develops in children who are very highly intelligent, and very highly artistic, as a way of coping with intolerable pains and stresses (usually abuse, but not always).

From my own experience, the way Father handles young Vincent rings so true; good parenting involves building a relationship of trust and reliance with your child, from the very youngest ages, because the parent will lose physical control long before the child has trustworthy judgment. The parent must instill that intangible control woven of love and trust and respect at such an early age, so that it remains there to be called upon when the child is beyond physical control and restraint from destruction. The best parents can still play those chords even in adult children, when essential. We see that in "Remember Love;" ultimately, Father's judgment prevails, because Vincent knows Father loves him, and trusts Father's judgment -- even more than he trusts his own.

There is such truth in your insights.

Carole W said...

Brenda, thank you so much for reading and then re-reading. It really warms my heart that you would do that. Thank you too for such a thoughtful and thought-provoking response to this chapter.

I've not read "When Rabbit Howls", but I certainly will. I imagine Truddi's story to be mesmerizing and it sounds quite applicable to understanding Vincent's.

I know we're all often so frustrated with Father, and yet, I know he tried harder than hard, as Mouse might say. Vincent's truths presented more challenges than did standard child-rearing. (I won't get into Father's issues with Devin here, but he's not off the hook for those). Vincent's needs and disappointments were so off the charts, really. Who could have known exactly what to do? Even though in hindsight he was imperfect, Father did good, or else Vincent would have turned out a wholly different kind of man.

I'm in the minority of opinion, but I'm convinced that the entire episode of Remember Love is a dream, from beginning to the end - or at least right up until Catherine kisses him awake. The argument with Father, the selfish intrusions by Pascal, Jamie and Mouse were surely part of a dream fueled by fears and the burdens of so much responsibility crosshatched with desire and wanting to give Catherine the so much he felt he couldn't.

Oh, I could go on and on and on!! :-D And on!!!

Brenda - are you a writer? Sentence structures, vocabularies, insight, sensitivities. I have this feeling you are. If so, you know I want to read.

Carole

Brenda K said...

Yes, I write professionally, but what I am paid to do is persuasive and analytical; it goes where my mind directs, not my heart and soul. What I write to feed those hollow 3 a.m. aches I have never published anywhere, never even shared. My life choices have given me no one trustworthy enough - no one to whom baring those truths would not be lethal.

There's resonant reality for me in watching Father naviguess his way through raising Vincent. I come from a family of highly gifted & talented people (I am among the least of them, truly), and I know what it takes to raise a child who will out-think you, outpace you, outdo you before they even reach puberty. It is a challenge in "contest of wills" and "balance of power" to raise such a child without going mad, or producing a twisted gargoyle. Whatever path Father chose, a 30-something Vincent stands as testament to his substantial success -- despite Vincent's own inner demons from the process.

I have 100's of pages of fiction written, but none approaching the quality level of yours -- and I often have most difficulty with the wholeness of a plotline for my story. They amble on Sunday afternoon walks; they do not stroll confidently on their journey to a destination. Still thinking about whether I can stand any exposure...

Carole W said...

a ha!! I knew it. I just knew it. I shall pester you until you let me read something!!!

I won't really nudge (too often). But I would be very interested to read something you've written. You're being over-modest, I'm betting.

I asked the same question of Lindariel and I was right about her too! I'm simply awed by the talented individuals in the BatB fandom family - artists, writers, singers. Wow.

I know exactly what you mean about risking exposure of one's writings. I have this welling of panic as I hit publish with each of these fanfiction chapters. Does this stink? I badger myself. Does this meander, is this vague, is that too cryptic, did I forget the main point of the chapter? Argh!!! It's torture.

My 2012 goal is to finish one - just one - publishable story and then to frame and hang the inevitable rejection slips (or the virtual equivalent). There - I said it out loud - though some will be remembering I've set that goal before and … no go yet. And I have to finish this story first before I start another.

Are you familiar with Winterfest Online? This year's begins on February 4. If you've not attended one before, you must. I'll get you links to explore last year's.

Carole

PS - love that term naviguess

Brenda K said...

Coaxing myself into enough bravery, abandon or lonely desperation to send you something to read privately. How?

Carole W said...

Yea! Brenda, if you scroll to the bottom of the sidebar on the right, you'll see the section "Comments or Questions" and a link - "Email Me". Click that and you'll get my email address.

Attach something, ASAP.:-)

I'll be very interested to read one (or more) of your stories!

Carole

Brenda K said...

Getting something ready to send you, but work requirements descended with a vengeance this morning, and it may take some days. I work on a consulting basis from home, and there are no set hours to my schedule. Clients just know "need" and "want" and "now" -- as a confirmed vampiric night-worker, there are no demarcations for "evenings" and "weekends" in setting deadlines. Sorry for the delay.

Incidentally -- old Trekker that I am -- the episode you were looking for is actually The Alternative Factor. The character was Lazarus, and the Enterprise had found itself stuck with a doorway between a matter universe (ours) and an antimatter universe. The matter Lazarus had gone insane and was trying to reach his counterpart to destroy him, despite knowing that the meeting of the two would destroy both universes as well. Info on the episode is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Alternative_Factor

Carole W said...

There are several Trekkie's among us! Thanks for the link - I'll refresh my memory. Some of the episodes are fading, even though I surely watched all of them dozens of times. I do remember Amok Time!

Send when you're ready. I'm intrigued. :-) If you have some BatB stories or poems written, think about submitting them to WFOL.

Carole

Brenda K said...

I'm aware of WFOL, but not ready for a wide public audience for my work. Have been part of SF Fandom since 1976, and managed to attend a few of the first ST conventions in NY.

Carole W said...

Neat! You might have crossed paths with some BatB-ers then.

Did you know Barbara Storey or Victoria Clark? They were in the ST fandom and big in BatB early days as well.

Keep WFOL in mind for next year. :-)
C

Brenda K said...

It occurs to me -- your reaction to my use of "naviguess" in my comment -- that if you are not familiar with her work, you should also read the Native Tongue trilogy by Suzette Hadin Elgin -- a professional linguist who writes some incredible SF. Among her unique achievements is the creation of a language specifically for women, to express their unique perceptions. It's called Laadan, and that project inspired the Native Tongue series of SF novels. Hadin's website is here: http://www.sfwa.org/members/elgin/
There's a website for learning to actually speak and use Laadan: http://www.laadanlanguage.org/pages/

Carole W said...

Hey Brenda - I'd not posted this comment! I'm sorry. I don't know how I missed your email. Between the chapter-writing and WF stuff, I'm a little mind-boggled.

I'm not familiar at all with the writer you mention, but I'll be sure to check out your links. Thanks - it sounds like something I'd really enjoy exploring.

C

Brenda K said...

Glad to open one more woman to Elgin's unique viewpoint. Her feminism is gentle, organic - she looks cell-deep, where most of the political feminists simply don the altered thought like a new outfit.

Laadan is a real language, based on the idea that language shapes perception, and that no language now in use is adequate to express the perceptions unique to women -- that all language is constructed in a male way, and therefore is a tool which can only properly express male perceptions well. http://www.laadanlanguage.org/pages/node/43

To get the full impact of why Laadan is different, and what it is, you should scroll through the English to Laadan dictionary, paying particular attention to words which relate to emotions and senses. http://www.laadanlanguage.org/pages/node/5

How often does Vincent tell Catherine, after a particularly deep emotional experience, that "there are no words?" Laadan has the words.