Iron Behind the Velvet - Chapter 43

~ A Deep-Sworn Vow 1

Woodlawn Subway
If a train car is empty, there’s a good reason. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t fall asleep and miss your stop. Hold your skirt down when you’re on the steps.

Eimear knew the rules of the subway. Her mother intoned them often enough, so keyed-up when they’d ride into the City, she’d numb their fingers in her grip. Rosie once complained to their father that the life had been squeezed from her, and the rest of Saturday and all day Sunday she cradled her left arm against her chest, unable, she said, to dust or do dishes or her homework. He’d examined her hand, pressing his thumb to her joints, declaring her indeed injured, and wasn’t it too bad, since he was off work the next day, and a lay-out from school and a trip to the zoo would have been a craic. Rosie’s healing, miraculous though it was, mattered not a whit. And later that night, her parents had one of their rare, hushed arguments, their voices nevertheless carrying from the back of the garden to the open window.

They’re but babies, Francis, she heard her mother say. Your babies. This isn’t Woodford, nor’s it Galway or even Limerick. And you, of all people, know the dangers.

And you know the beauties, her father answered. I don’t want them afraid, Lily. I want them strong. I want them curious.

They’re already that! her mother growled. I want them safe.

Their next trip in, they were allowed to ride standing, clinging to the pole. Every jolt and shimmy, every screech, exchanged metal-to-hand, chattering their teeth, and she’d not been thrilled with her low position, but Rosie whispered in her ear. It’s like time travel, she said. It has to hurt a little. And when the blared announcement came – Watch the closing doors – Rosie whispered again, No, watch them open. Who knows where we’ll come out?

White Cave Room, Bloomingdales
She thought of her first ride alone – Well, with Rosie – and a group of older girls from church. It was early December and after enduring an hour’s grave lecture from a parade of parents, they took the train south for a tour of the holiday windows – first Macy’s on 34th Street, to 5th Avenue, past Lord and Taylor, to Saks and the tree in Rockefeller Center – finally to Bloomingdale’s. Not yet nine o’clock, the doors were open. They’d raced inside, leaving their companions on the sidewalk, in a bee-line to the elevators and the fifth floor. They’d heard about it at school, read about it in the newspapers – that year’s model room – The Cave, multi-leveled, bright white, and not polyeurethane, as someone nearby asserted, but the Tuatha’s earthen barrow, chiseled by magic, a fairy home in an enchanted land.

Our first Christmas without Dad, and she recalled her mother’s parting words. Be careful. Stay together. Bring back your wild and precious tales.

Once home, they’d leap-frogged each other, jousting for lead storyteller, needing their mother to see, to hear, to smile. But one story they didn’t tell, though in their shared room, bundled in their beds, they talked of it into the night, long after the lights were ordered out.

They’d boarded the train for home, against all instruction choosing the last, nearly empty car. They entered a giddy bunch, loose in the world, but settled in the corner seat, she quieted almost at once, suddenly tired of laughing. Rosie too. Thanks, Ro, she said. For letting me tag along, she meant, for sticking with me, so much younger, cramping your style. Rosie grinned and elbowed her ribs. The train vaulted forward.

Look! she said, both hands flat against the window.

Where? Rosie leaned past her and peered into the darkness, never, ever questioning what.

I thought I saw– she began, and then they heard it, overhead, a solid, landing thump. They eyed the ceiling, but the metal didn’t bulge. The others, their heads bent together, giggling, seemed unconcerned, oblivious. Rosie met her gaze, shrugged her shoulders. Eimear turned back to the window. Something – a scrap of dark cloth – fluttered at the edge of the glass. She gasped; Rosie echoed ... and it was gone, snatched away.

She’d traveled the route into Manhattan now innumerable times and the train still sparked an exciting uncertainty – the coarse, clacking clatter, the bing-bong of the doors. Others might nod over an open book. Some slept hard on another’s shoulder – as across from her now, an entire family, a tipped row of dominoes, swayed in the arms of Hypnos. But she never dozed. And when she rode at night, if she were in the last car once again, she kept watch and listened.

No one she knew shared her enthusiasm, immune, they said, to the entertainment. No, that isn’t true. Rosie was – always – eager to hear, though eternally frustrated that she had only words to share, wailing more than once, Why won’t you carry a camera? But at best she’d mastered the snapshot and besides, she’d say, she liked being free-handed, open to conversation, in violation of yet another rule.

musical saw, subway entertainer
On the phone, over tea, they’d match story for story: Rosie’s bucket drummers; her saw-lady’s eerie, curling music. Her foil-festooned alien with clip-on antennae and tenor saxophone; Rosie’s acrobats whom she swore turned backflips down the narrow aisle, then locked arms and feet to roll to the front. They touched the subway floor? she’d squealed. Did they wear gloves? And Rosie had laughed. Eim, you are Mom. Did you know?

And at night, Flynn would lay close, a look on his face she could never quite decipher – admiration, amusement, apprehension. He’d listen for a while, tugging at last on a coil of her hair, his signal for no more talk ... quiet her lips with his thumb. She sighed, missing him.

The 4-train rattled on.

At work, she’d jumped each time the telephone rang and, resentful of fear, had barked hello, apologizing then to every stunned caller. She’d snapped at Zivah – for not wearing loud enough shoes, of all things – and unable to concentrate during the afternoon’s staff meeting, she’d pulled the perfect Irish goodbye 2 in the middle of Wren’s legal reports. I’ll have to get with her tomorrow, ask about Edward’s case. Apologize ... again.

Though she’d looked over her shoulder as she boarded and, from the corner of her eye, monitored the faces of each new passenger, no one glared her way, and now, like a tipper on the goatskin drum, the subway’s ornamented rhythms – the roll and triplet, the stroking double-down – numbed her raw nerves. The puppeteer’s rendition of Woolly Bully made her laugh, but after his exit at Yankee Stadium, she was grateful for the resulting, relative quiet. Then, at 86th Street the doors opened and her favorite stepped through, a magician, a white-haired gent with a sweet manner, his tricks never sudden, never loud, playing to the children, engaging them, offering baubles that materialized from thin air, blowing bubbles that turned to catchable crystal. As always, he passed no hat; his magician’s box stood closed at his feet. He seemed content with the rapt faces and trills of glee, the thankful smiles of parents. The Great Sebastian. I should hire him, she realized. Why haven’t I thought of that before? The kids would love him and surely he needs the money. She dug in her purse for paper and pencil, for one of her cards, retrieving instead the two small cassette tapes stowed in the outside pocket. Her stomach lurched with the halt of the car. The doors opened at Canal Street ... and closed. Sebastian was gone and she’d missed her stop.

Wake up, she admonished herself, though it wasn’t sleep she shook from her mind.

Next was the Chambers Street station ... Flynn’s stop, days he didn’t ride with Albie and J.T. and Neal. And just as well, she decided, now there’s a bit of sun. ‘Tis only an extra block to walk through Foley Square. At the base of the stairs, she stood with the fullness of her skirt bunched at her thigh, the wind bathing her ankles. Beside her, a woman started for the surface. Better hold on, she said, demonstrating one of her mother’s lessons, at least.

She walked against the exodus past City Hall, out of habit turning into the plaza at Reade Street. Even now, though nearly closing time, a line snaked from the green kiosks of the food court. Working late? she heard from more than one frazzled worker. Court tomorrow. Big presentation. A deadline. She could order sandwiches – gyros, BLTs, eggplant parms – and carry them past the courthouse, past St. Andrew’s, through the courtyard to the backdoor of police headquarters, pass them out in Flynn’s house: to the rookies penned in records and management, anxious for their turn on the truck; or, if she were lucky, to Flynn and his mates, if they were safe at the station, if he were not somewhere deep in the city’s shadows and despair, not going first through a barricaded door into nightmare, not positioned, not required to narrow, to aim, to separate ...

A chancer she was, downtown on only Joe’s assurance that Catherine would be in and glad to see her. She could – perhaps should – toss the offending cassettes and their crude, likely impotent threats in the bin on her way and arrive instead with an idea for dinner. Rude, it was, to pile her worry at Catherine’s feet, and early in their friendship for the burden. But in every conversation, she’d felt invitation, the vibration of memory, a sameness of energy, of purpose. And every conversation had been almost shorthand, driven by some unnamed necessity to cover the miles, the years, in seven-league boots, to hurry through, to get to now ...

Because we– because we’re to– Well ... because.

The tulips in the plaza’s planters were in full crimson bloom. At her touch, clinging droplets showered from the petals. The sun lit the high stories, but the first veil of darkness edged onto the concourse. Find someone who understands, Martin had said. It seemed she had no choice.

skateboarding, Eimear's Billy
She crossed the street into Foley Square, threading her way through benches and pedestrians toward the small greenspace. A muffled beat welled behind her and before she could turn, a man – no, a dancer – on a skateboard blurred past, a battered suitcase between his feet, music half-loud from headphones draped around his neck. He floated back, swirled her, arms out like wings resting on crutches ... strange, rocker-bottomed crutches. She stopped to watch, inviting him close with the first real smile of her day. Rosie will love him, she thought. Freezes, glides, poetry, play. Already she suffered a dearth of words to describe ... to paint. A fedora tumbled shoulder to shoulder, down one arm to his hand and with a swooping bow, he pushed away, a larking, backward slalom.

“Wait!” she cried, searching her purse again for one of her elusive cards, forced to peer into its depths. You need a skate park designer, she said to herself. Don’t let this one escape. “Wait,” she cried again, looking up, willing to run after him if she must. And he was waiting, at the first bench past the hedge, where – top hat twirling on his cane, his face turned toward the sun – the Great Sebastian sat.

With a lightened step, she crossed Centre Street to Catherine’s building. At the entrance, a man, dark-haired – familiar – held the heavy door for her, a drawled you’re welcome to her thank you. She wove the crowded lobby, waiting ... waiting at the bank of elevators, at last inside and leaning on the button for Catherine’s floor.

“Well, that was luck,” she said aloud, to no one’s notice. Better than luck! she heard Martin tease. And it was he who’d taught her that a great energy swirls nearby, that events are rarely unrelated, but bound – connected – by meaning, by resonance ... that what seems the merest accident springs from the deepest source of destiny. 3

At last alone in the elevator, deep in its corner, her fingers unfurled to a trinket, Billy’s exchange for her card and her requests – his consultation, Sebastian’s magic show – His Grandfather! Dates to be arranged but promised. It was a tiny, metal thing, a charm for a necklace, for a bracelet – a dull, bronze twirl.

Centripetal,” Billy called it, when, with a flourish, Sebastian pulled the trifle from behind her ear.

“And that’s Latin,” Sebastian said, dropping it in her open palm, “for center seeking.”

She studied it now, holding the gift between her thumb and forefinger, turning it in the light, and discerned the double helix of railing, the risers, the narrow, etched treads. Steps, she realized. A spiral stair. She imagined Rosie’s question ... to where?

A ping signaled her floor and the car groaned to a stop; its gears reversed for descent and held in a quivering limbo. Beneath her feet, the steel rippled, then smoothed. A vertical shaft of light appeared. She blinked in the bright fluorescence and crossed the threshold into electric air.

What? What’s happened?

An unseeing Jenny swept past and into the hovering car. The color high on her face, lips pressed white and wordless, Jenny lifted a shaking finger to the controls and the doors shuttered her away.  Catherine stood alone. Alone.

The hour of departure, the hard cold hour, she thought, the words rushing from some deep well. Oh, farther than everything, farther than everything. 4 She reached for Catherine’s hand and together they watched the lighted arrow on the wall until Down winked out.


Kanin bent to the array of tools, touching each, one after another, in a last mental ordering for the next day’s work. Exhaustion pulled at his features but his study was careful. From maul to wedge to wrench, his lips moved in silent calculation.

Or conversation.

Though it took no special training, no gift to know Kanin’s feelings, Vincent loosed the hold he kept and the curtains tight in his fist parted. The longing, the regret, the uncertainty sounded a blood-drum of desire and fear, a fearsome thudding. The beat battered Kanin ... battered him ... and merged with the clatter and vibration incessant overhead. Almost too much, it was ... life.

Vincent folded the winch’s crank into its hold and rose to his feet. “Above us is the Woodlawn terminal.”

Kanin inspected the jaws of a bolt cutter, working the arms back and forth. He reached for the lubricant. “Yeah. What about it?”

Vincent and Kanin, talking
“The train,” Vincent said. “Take it to 77th.”

“To 77th?”

Vincent pulled in a long breath. “The Glade Arch, Kanin? The entry there?”

“What’re you saying,” Kanin asked, turning to face him. “Go home? Again?”

“You’d be at Olivia’s ... at your door in minutes.”

“The first time didn’t go so well.”

“The first time didn’t go at all. But are you the same man today? I don’t think so.”

“It’s only been a few days," Kanin said, scratching his shadowed jaw. "How much can change?”

Everything. Everything can change. In ten days. In an hour ... a moment. He swung his cloak to his shoulders, settled the hood and collar, smoothed over the pocket. “You’ve returned from a journey with more than information.”

“Have I?”

“Must I spell it out for you?” He hesitated, then stepped closer. “You returned with humility, Kanin. With determination. With hope.”

“I came back with a black eye,” Kanin muttered.

“As Cullen would say, you took one for the team.” Vincent tipped his head. “Bruises fade.”

Though his chin sank almost to his chest, Kanin's face softened, touched by a smile. Vincent began again. “You returned with commitment. I felt it renewed in you – commitment not just to Olivia, to your children, but to the community. You’ll stay on here, carry on the work, relieve others to return to their homes. You’ll do that, even if Olivia ... refuses you. Before, you questioned staying and now ...”

Kanin looked up. “I won’t leave, whatever happens.”

“Perhaps this is your true homecoming.” He gripped Kanin’s shoulder. “Go to her. Bare your heart. Whisper your dreams. Swear a new vow. Describe the rooms here, the life you will promise. Ask for what you want. Your asking names Olivia’s worth, proves her necessariness to you. You may find, as I did today, that asking allows others the opportunity to give, that asking is not so terrible a thing after all.”

“You should already know that, Vincent.”

He dropped his hand and leaned against the ledge, pondering Kanin’s words, lifting his shoulders in question.

“You must have, uh, popped the question. You know, to Catherine. The big question.”

Afraid to ask you, afraid to hear your answer. 5 The brink of that moment rushed him, the bliss of change – by asking, believing, yes, that he deserved her; by asking, promising ... everything; the rudder dropping into turbulent water, the fog lifting, the journey since ... Cleave to me, Catherine. Heat flushed his chest and climbed into his face. He folded his arms over a fiercely beating heart and raised his eyes, meeting Kanin’s gaze and grin. “Yes,” he said, nodding. He could feel the cool air drying the tips of his bared teeth, the wind in the sails. “I did.”

“Way to go!” Kanin cuffed his arm, then sobered. “I wish I’d been here for the celebration. I haven’t congratulated you. Or Catherine." He jammed his hands in his pockets and, low in his throat, he groaned. "I’m sorry for– I’ve been a real– ... I am happy for you, Vincent. I guess I never thought–”

“Nor did I. Thank you, Kanin.”

“All this ...” Kanin scanned the space, his gaze sweeping the row of tools, the beams overhead. “Kinda wrecked your honeymoon.”

Vincent inclined his head and let the silence lengthen between them. His sense of her was so strong ... If he could conjure the wind that swept the tunnel, it would carry her voice, her scent. Coming to me ...

“There was this guy,” Kanin said. “Up at Lyon. He’d been in a long time. We talked a lot. Well, you know. Kind of. He said the hardest thing, being inside, wasn’t believing you’d ever be happy again, but that you deserved to be. And that I had to have a dream in my hand the day I got out or, one way or another, I’d be, umm, locked up forever. He said if I’d move toward a dream, the dream would start to move toward me. 6 Do you believe that? That if you want something bad enough ...” Kanin’s voice dissolved into the persistent throb from above, into the looping metallic drone, the after-ring of bells.

“It’s not wanting, I think, but commitment that clears the path,” Vincent answered. “If you follow your heart, if you commit, truly commit to those you love, to the dream, to your life ... whatever you can imagine, if you will begin it, the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.”7

Kanin’s scrutiny traveled undisguised from brow to shoulder to his hands loose at his sides. The impulse to draw his fingers in, to tuck his thumbs was immediate, as compelling as the command to breathe, yet he fought the inclination. Instead, he argued. Be. Simply ... be. And a sough of thanksgiving suffused his spirit – welcome comfort, like the sink into pillows, into down at the end of the day. All that I am ...

“I have to tell you,” Kanin said. “You’ve changed. I can’t put my finger on it, but you’re different somehow. Not so ... buttoned up.”

“The torment of precautions often exceeds the dangers to be avoided. It’s sometimes better to abandon one’s self to destiny."

“Who said that? Not Father.”

“No, not Father.” Vincent chuckled and bent for his pack. “Napoleon Bonaparte.”

“When do you find time to read all that stuff?” Kanin asked, shaking his head and Vincent remembered the nights, returned to his chambers from Catherine’s balcony, when alone he’d read long into morning, so often the same chapter, the same paragraph, the same word over, over, over again. Kanin reached for his flannel shirt pegged on a jut of stone and grabbed the wooden bar of the small tool crate.

“We’re finished for the day. You should leave now, Kanin.”

“But what about those rolling gates? I thought we’d–”

“The gates will be there tomorrow for viewing and they’re no quick remedy for our concerns. You believe those outside our perimeter to be disorganized, haphazard. Without specific intent, is that right?”

“Pretty much, yeah. Still a danger, just ... I think we have more time than we thought.”

“Another thing you’ve returned with,” Vincent said. “Knowledge. Whether good or bad news, information gives us power, limns the darkness. Our decisions will be better for what you’ve learned.” He gestured for Kanin’s burden. “And Father needs a report. Send word via sentry that all is well, that you’ll visit with him in the morning. He’ll ... understand.”

“Father? A report? Me? You ought to come. Wouldn’t he rather hear it from you?”

“Yours are the answers he needs. I’ll stay close.” Catherine. Coming to me. “Do you have the fare?”

Kanin fished in his pocket, withdrawing a thin fold of bills. “Looks like it.” He fanned the edges, then stuffed the money away. After a long look down the corridor toward camp, he squared his shoulders and offered his hand. “Well, I guess I’m off then. I’ll be back early.”

“Kanin,” Vincent said, stopping him in the junction. “Last night, in my friend's garden, the lilacs were just opened. Their scent on the midnight air ... If you should pass a flower seller on your way to the park ...”

Evident even in the dimness, a blush darkened his cheeks. “Now that,” Kanin mumbled, “is a good idea.” He gave a small salute, a tap to his heart, and started down the passageway. “And Vincent, about that guardianship?” He grinned over his shoulder, walked backwards a few steps. “You'd be my pick too, but really, you better have your own kids. You’re not getting mine.”


“Tell me,” Eimear whispered. "What do you want? What do you need?

Her grip was firm, anchoring. Steadfast. Catherine imagined the word manifest on a tunnel wall as if Elizabeth might paint its definition with Eimear’s essence, with the colors of her old soul.

This convergence in our lives is an exquisite mystery. Flynn and Eimear, Vincent and she ... they would gravitate together, few enough of you on this earth, Martin had said. Even Father could not deny the truth to Vincent, there in the dark and the last, thinning air – that destinies inextricably linked could circumvent the laws of physics and probability, of time and space.8 And if she closed her eyes and cast herself back, it was true – wasn't it? – her pretend sister, sitting knees drawn up on the garden steps, the sister on the next swing, flying high in the park, the sister sharing secrets late at night ... had amber-red curling hair, a voice that sang its stories.

What do I want? A dozen things, a hundred. One ...

She released a pent-up breath. “I want to go home,” she said. “Go with me?”

Click HERE for Chapter 44


1. William Butler Yeats. A Deep-Sworn Vow. 1919.
3. Friedrich Schiller. (1759 - 1805)
4. Pablo Neruda. The Song of Despair. from Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair. 5. I Carry Your Heart. Chapter 14 ~ See Me.
6. Julia Cameron. The Artist's Way. 1992.
7. paraphrased, combined quotes: Follow your bliss and the universe ... – Joseph C. Campbell. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it ... – JohanVan Goethe
8. Dialogue: Shades of Gray. Season 1. Father.

the real Billy:
on YouTube


Kemara said...

SQUEE!!!! Talk about a cliff-hanger! Carole, how dare you to end such a wonderful chapter right there! I demand the next chapter ASAP. Well done, my friend. :)

New York City Utopia said...

This is Christmas! A chapter so full of goodies!
No, "goodies" doesn't begin do it justice...
And I know by now that every chapter ending feels like a cliffhanger...
But this chapter is so positive, with that great energy gathering -almost- everyone slowly together in its spiral...
(Still waiting from the other dark mystery that is Flynn to even begin to move towards the center...)

Your Claire in high spirits (already before this reading, I must say)

SandyX said...

It took me a second reading to realize that the dark haired man that Eimear finds familiar is Ned - one more piece of the puzzle, I suppose. It's all starting to spin toward a resolution, which you know I have mixed feelings about. I know you're anxious to wrap things up and I want to see where you're taking us, but .. but... I don't want it to end! Please take your time in getting us there. Please

I really feel like I'm getting to know all the characters, and I love visiting with them each chapter. They're all people I'd be happy to meet on the sidewalk and pull aside for a chat. [sigh]

You've created a wonderful story here, Carole, but it's not just the tale, but the telling, which you do so beautifully.

Big Hugs to you,

Carole W said...

Thank you, Kim! I know it was a teaser ending, but I do promise the next chapter will pick up right there.

I demand the next chapter too! Fast!! If only I could manage it. One positive though - woman to woman conversation is easier for me than man to man speak. C and Eimear just need a cup of coffee and some quiet time.

I'm glad you liked the chapter and thank you so much for commenting. It's a great encouragement.


Carole W said...

Claire, I love hearing you're in high spirits!

And I do love hearing you enjoyed the chapter and found its positives. The Flynn connection is fixing to thread through the spiral too. His job description sounds just like Vincent's - they would have much to talk over ... if only there was a way. :-)

It's a good feeling to hear you found 44 full of goodies. I'm inspired to work harder!


Carole W said...

Sandy, anxious I am to finish, but there's still a lot of story to come. I'm going to miss the characters - and the interaction here with you all - when I'm done. Maybe that's why it's taking me so long.

Since Rosie knows Ned through her contract work with the Cloisters renovation and sporadic work at the Met, Eimear's probably met him once, maybe twice. But why do Catherine and Joe find him familiar???

"Because it's what I wished for." - Catherine's line in A Happy Life – is a dream I just want fulfilled. That's not in response to anything, just a thought that popped into my mind! LOL.

Thank you so much, Sandy, for the very nice things you said. It matters that you're enjoying the story and I'm grateful that you'll tell me.

Hugs back, Carole

Krista said...

Carole, this is just lovely. I love how many times Rosie (I almost typed Roisin LOL) and Eimear brush against the tunnel world without truly knowing anything about it--the sighting of Vincent's cloak, Sebastian and his grandson, and surely the Wren Eimear works with must be the same Wren who declared the chambers in the north "creepy." I said this to you before, but I'll say it publicly--not every author could pull that off, but you can and did. Congrats!

Oh, and your man-speak is very good. Kanin and Vincent come off as very believable---and I love Vincent's grin about "popping the question."

Once again (and still, always,) great chapter :)

-Krista :)

RomanticOne said...

Okay, am I the only one to get the reference to the spiral stair "charm" and Rosie's supposed question about where it would lead? And how wonderfully romantic of Vincent to suggest the lilacs to Kanin. In my mind's eye I can still see Catherine spreading them around that special chamber for Kanin and Olivia. Last, but not least, Vincent's thoughts of "Coming to me." I definitely see a gauzy scene in the near future! Okay, I'm shutting up now and looking forward to the next chapter. Carole, you're awesome.

Carole W said...

Krista, you know Man-speak gives me fits! I'm glad it rings true. They are different birds all together. Now it's on to the Eimear/Catherine conversation. I'll have trouble getting them to hush.

The Schiller quote and some recent readings on synchronicity propelled an aspect of this story. I like to think these connections were incubating along - like Peter said to Catherine in your Elysium - manifesting when all the parties are ready.

There's the twin flame idea, but also the soul family or group. As I grow closer to people in this fandom family, I understand that more and more. C and V are finding theirs. I'm glad to help them with that journey and really glad you feel it's believable.

Yep, Wren (Stuart's wife) didn't care for the rooms Kanin is eyeing. And she's a ... lawyer. A pregnant child advocate lawyer recently introduced to the tunnel community (in an unorthodox fashion). hmmm. What can that mean, story-wise? :-)

Thank you for all the support and encouragement you give so freely, Krista. It means a lot.


Carole W said...

Oh thank you, R1! Thank you for your kind words and for noticing the spiral charm and its significance. That gave me a big smile, first thing.

I toyed with the idea of V telling Kanin there were lilacs blooming in the park, but even a surreptitious snapping of a single bloom would be illegal. V wouldn't suggest that! And Kanin's had his fill of brushes with the law. If Kanin doesn't have enough money, maybe there'll be a blooming bush outside the park walls.

Central Park Lilac Walk

Gauze is on its way. I have the gauzy chapter title all ready: Amid a place of stone, be secret and exult

Thanks for reading, R1, and for taking the time to comment. It matters.


Saw Lady said...


Thank you for the lovely photo of me playing in the subway!
Am I part of a story you are writing? Cool. If you happen to see me in the subway again, please stop and say 'hi'1

All the best,

Saw Lady

New York City Utopia said...

Nice blog, Saw Lady...
Good find, Carole!

Claire from overseas (France)

Carole W said...

She's real! And her website is cool. You can hear lots of music clips there.

Natalia, I hope you don't mind your cameo appearance in my story. I did a lot of research for this scene - to try for a realish feel to the character's subway ride. You were mentioned in so many NYC blogs, and after youtube and video on the individual blogs, these were the entertainers I most wanted to see.

Next time I'm in NYC, I'll be on the lookout for you.

Thanks for being a good sport about this.


Saw Lady said...

Carole - are you kidding, I think it's totally cool! Thank you for choosing me for mention in your story! Who knows, one day I might come to play at your book signing event at Barnes & Nobles ;)

All the best,

Saw Lady

p.s. Thank you, Claire, for the nice comment!

Anonymous said...

I do agree, a chapter full of goodies!

I came back with a black eye, Kanin says.
Vincent's response? You took one for the team. {and shouldn't he know?} Bruises fade. {Do they? Remembering that the pain of little girl and the moon changed from coal to diamond are you Vincent?}

Vincent's advice to Kanin--commit fully and doors will open. {Our Vincent is realizing this himself!} I'm reminded of Dr. Seuss.

Oh the Places You'll Go!

And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.

Okay, so it's not the great literature of Schiller and Goethe but it gets the job done, no? ;D

Ready for more,

Carole W said...

Leanne, you're a hoot. Dr. Seuss! Leave it to him to distill an idea. I have to admit, the image of V reading this to a group of children makes me giggle out loud.

Thanks so much for reading and your thoughtful encouragement. It's great hearing from you.


Ann B. said...

Oh Carole,

A magical chapter as always!

You know, Eimear is already a part of the great secret. She just doesn't know it yet. The thump on the subway car, a bit of black at the window, Billy and Sebastian and finally the spiral stair charm. "We know you, come know us" it all seems to say. Makes you wonder just how much Catherine was part of that world even before that terrible/wonderful night in April doesn't it?

And oh, the discussion between Vincent and Kanin! So many gifts there, coming to both of them and both finally ready to receive them. And then just when everything is getting a tad too serious you add the bit about Kanin's children. Perfect!

And speaking of gifts, there is so much in this chapter that spoke to me aside from the wonderful story itself. I do believe you are my Bridgett O'Donnell. Your words have opened doors for me...

Are you sure you're not Irish??

NYC Utopia said...

Oh Ann, what a brilliant and compelling insight: our Bridget O'Donnell!
(How am I ever going to get it out of my mind now?)

Carole W said...

Ann, your comments have so brightened my world! How kind of you - and how necessary on this day when I have been so critical of every single word I've put to screen lately. You've made me feel as if I can! And I will endeavor, endure, be re-invigorated.

Thank you!

I'm so glad you found gifts in this chapter. That means so much to me - to hear that. I've been told that original characters don't work in fan fic, that they're unloveable and unwelcome and I so want Eimear and company to o'er-perch that wall. Thank you for liking her (and for your patience). And most of all, for your friendship.


Carole W said...

Claire, you and Ann have made my day and I'm still smiling - and wishing and hoping that I measure up to that huge compliment. Both of you are sweethearts and entirely generous.


RomanticOne said...

Okay, here's lots of good vibes coming your way. In with the Muse and out, out damn Critic! :)

Carole W said...

Yes, R1, I'm beginning to feel the resonance. Thanks for the positives.

The critic -- I rue the day I met her. Why can't I outrun her? I suppose most days I do, but I must need new tennis shoes.

And speaking of tennis shoes ... what do you call them? Sneakers? Trainers? Does anyone else call them tennis shoes or is that a southern, regional thing?


RomanticOne said...

Since I'm also a southerner, I can't offer an opposing view. I've always called them tennis shoes too.

Krista said...

Re: the tennis shoes/trainers/sneakers issue LOL---I was born in the midwest, lived in Georgia for a time and now live in California. So, um...I've called them "tennis shoes" or "sneakers" my entire life. I think "trainers" are more of a UK usage (that's what they were called in the Harry Potter books IIRC.)

Meanwhile I'm sending a gag order to your critic (complete with actual gags *evil grin*) You write beautifully, and well. Tell your critic to go pound sand, will you? ;)

-Krista :)

Brit said...

My heart is singing in gladness Carole! Goosebumps and my heart was racing to read more when more was not to be had! OH "I burned that midnight oil." so lovely! I, so excited to read the next chapter.

Carole W said...

R1 and Krista re: Tennis shoes. The first ones I specifically remember were Red Ball Jets. I can still see the little spaceman. I'm dating myself with that admission. :-)

Krista, I laughed about the sand pounding. I say that too but I haven't heard anyone else use the phrase. BOND! in so many ways. Move east, soon.

Thanks for the tough stance against the critic. She's been unusually loud but the all-good RL distractions have kept me a little fragmented. This next chapter has some intense internal thought and a lot of conversation. I'm getting closer though - to being satisfied ... for now.

Next week T and I will celebrate our 20th anniversary by going to Atlanta for a Braves game. Usually we go to Cincinnati to watch the Braves play the Reds, but this will be my first trip to Turner Field. Ya'll should watch Tuesday night. We're just behind the on-deck circle, Braves side. I'll wave.


Carole W said...

Brit! How nice to see you. Thank you so much for your enthusiasm for this chapter ... and the next (and I promise, there will be a next soon.) It means a lot to me that you've stuck with this story so far and for so long. I know it's taking me forever.

If only I could stay awake to burn that same oil! I've been wishing lately that I might never need sleep but could just do stuff all day and write (coherently) all night. Sigh and alas. I conk out.

Thanks for leaving comments. It lifts my spirits to know you're reading.


Brit said...

My pleasure. My heart skipped a beat when I read that you will be in Atlanta! Happy Anniversary! Im in SC! I like Atlanta, you are Brave to confront the traffic. ;) It always makes me a nervous wreck! Looking forward to more...

Brandy said...


I don't mind admitting that I was relieved to find this chapter ended on more of an up note, though STILL a teaser! You're such a coquette. ;)

The disparate threads, Eimear, Martin, the spiral staircase, all finally seem to be reaching a place where they can be woven together. I am SO looking forward to this, as is the rest of our posting community.

I know what you mean when you speak disparagingly of original characters in fanfic - they are too often a convenient tool to get our characters into a certain situation. As someone who feels she's read ALL the BATB fanfic there is online, I can tell you, they often are. BUT - very few people have the patience and the tenacity and the ground support that YOU do, Carole. Two years, indeed!

Though you must stare at a blank page "until blood beads on your forehead" and move those pesky commas about, never doubt you are producing astonishing quality. Your inner critic can just go jump in a lake.

Are you familiar with Dvorak? Catherine's words, "I'm going home," brought the New World Symphony's 2nd movement to mind, inspired as it is by the Quaker song. It is a bit sad, but filled with that longing for home and security.

Poems are often confused to me - though I may enjoy the words, the cadence, I fear I mistake the message. I hope I do not in the following poem, but it had such lovely pictures, that I had to share.

I learned - at least - what Home could be
by Emily Dickinson

I learned -- at least -- what Home could be --
How ignorant I had been
Of pretty ways of Covenant --
How awkward at the Hymn

Round our new Fireside -- but for this --
This pattern -- of the Way --
Whose Memory drowns me, like the Dip
Of a Celestial Sea --

What Mornings in our Garden -- guessed --
What Bees -- for us -- to hum --
With only Birds to interrupt
The Ripple of our Theme --

And Task for Both --
When Play be done --
Your Problem -- of the Brain --
And mine -- some foolisher effect --
A Ruffle -- or a Tune --

The Afternoons -- Together spent --
And Twilight -- in the Lanes --
Some ministry to poorer lives --
Seen poorest -- thro' our gains --

And then Return -- and Night -- and Home --

And then away to You to pass --
A new -- diviner -- care --
Till Sunrise take us back to Scene --
Transmuted -- Vivider --

This seems a Home --
And Home is not --
But what that Place could be --
Afflicts me -- as a Setting Sun --
Where Dawn -- knows how to be --

Carole W said...

Thank you for the poetry Brandy! I do love Dickinson though her meanings are never at the surface. For so few words, she inspires long study. There are some exquisite lines in this one.

And then Return -- and Night -- and Home --

And then away to You to pass --

I'm thinking that will make a great title for my last chapter, the homecoming after all this construction is finished. Already it's sounding gauzy.

I know my Jenny chapter goes against most people's conception of her friendship with C. It is sad, but - in my mind - it is the truth.

Of course, in school, I played the out-outfield - out in the high grass, one of an extra tier of players, disconnected from the real action. LOL. Maybe this concern I have about J/S/C and then V comes from way outta left field. I'm sticking to it though.

LOL, I have a different idea about Joe too and his ability to understand and accept what lies Below. Fuel for another story however.

Thanks, Brandy, for the swift kick to the inner critic and your kind words.


Anonymous said...

It gave me chills to read about E hearing the thump above and catching a glimpse of the black cloak while riding the're a genious. How interwoven that family is with V & C, and what a wonderful revelation it will be it will be when all meet.

Of course you'll keep writing even when this story has concluded - we're hooked and totally dependent upon you!!

Unless I missed it or have had a momentary lapse in memory, I can't wait to find out what the paper is in Vincent's cloak pocket......

You are truly remarkable.

XO, jitterbug

Carole W said...

Oh gosh, you made me get teary, J! You really lifted my spirits today.

No, V hasn't explained the contents of his pocket yet. He will eventually. He's dreading it, isn't he? Telling her ... whatever. Perhaps he'll learn something valuable from the whole issue. I hope so, after all this! ;-)

I'm glad you enjoyed Eimear's and Rosie's brush with V on the subway. It's Rosie's second close encounter ... at least. I sure hope it'll be fun for everyone when they're all in the same room one day. When will that day come???

It's Monday night and I'm close to finishing the next chapter. I'm always away from the computer on Tuesdays, so my goal, my plan, is to post by Wednesday night. Cross my heart and fingers. The muse demands chocolate. I'm trying to give her all she wants.

You're so generous, Jitterbug. Once more -Thank you.

RomanticOne said...

I had forgotten what really busy chapter this one was! There's so much to take in, and all of it seems so prophetic. Think I'll read it again just to make sure I haven't missed anything. The tension is beginning to build...

Krista said...

This is such a laden chapter...full of meanings and portents...and it remains one of my favorites. I reread it this morning (again!) and was again amazed at how layered it all is.

This chapter feeds the heart. :)

Great job, again and still :)


Carole W said...

Thanks for being here still, R-1. LOL, I thought the same thing - I should read these chapters yet again to make sure I'm not missing things as I head toward finishing. Scary!

Back to work though - scared or no.


Carole W said...

Awww, Krista. You're good to me. You know how to make my day brighter (and me want to get to work!). Thank you for your encouragement and kindness and willingness to re-read. I'm so lucky.


NYC Utopia said...

Oh, it's good to have this chapter back! It is so full... that it's impossible to comment on every single meaningful thing (A hint of the Helper entertainers, Vincent's underground ride of long ago, Kanin, Eimear's old soul, Catherine's dream sister...).
Your prose is better than fractals: the richness of detail not only never diminishes as one looks closer, but the details are original (instead of a miniature of the whole picture); also, with all the beauty, or wisdom, or both, contained in one chapter, it is by far more nourishing than one might expect from "mere fiction".
There! This is what I should have said long ago if I had been less comment-lazy.

Carole W said...

Oh, Claire. I read this and started bawling! I will cherish this, you know I will. There are days when nothing comes - nothing! - or when I had a good idea, just the right idea, in the morning, but it's afternoon and that idea is long lost. I get scared I can't do this, or that the whole thing is rambly and for naught - and then I will reread your note and relax a little and believe again and work on.

Thank you for this - you're so good to me, so supportive. I can hardly believe it.


Anonymous said...

“Tell me,” Eimear whispered. "What do you want? What do you need?” . . . . What do I want? A dozen things, a hundred. One ... She released a pent-up breath. “I want to go home,” she said. “Go with me?”

Ach! This is WONDERFUL! Here Eimear arrives with her own problems hidden in her purse, and as soon as she realizes that Catherine is upset, she sets her own needs aside to ask, "What do you want? What do you need?" Such powerful words! THAT is a true friend, a sister of the heart.

Glad to see that Kanin is finally snapping out of his downward spiral, and so GOOD to hear Vincent using and reinforcing his own new truths -- Don't be afraid to want, and Asking provides others the opportunity to give.

Your tapestry is emerging! Anxious for more!

Regards, Lindariel

Carole W said...

Hey, Lindariel! I'm glad you liked Eimear in this scene. I'll admit I'm partial to her. I want Catherine to have a friend with whom she doesn't have to hide anything.

But how, and when, you might ask! I'm busy on the remaining chapters, I promise. And I really hope, at the end, the tapestry shows well on the wall, with no rag-tag strings hanging rudely out!

Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to the chapters. It makes a huge difference knowing that you're reading.


Anonymous said...

Hi Carole! All is well. We took ourselves to our time-share in the mountains and left the storm behind. Just heard from our neighbor, and our house is fine. We've lost a tree in the front yard, but otherwise no damage to house or property. Whew! Hope everyone in Irene's path is OK.

Best regards, Lindariel

Carole W said...

Hey, Lindariel! For some reason, I just received notice of your comment and published it. Don't know how I missed it unless Blogger suffered a glitch in the storm.

I'm so glad to know you sustained no damage. What excellent timing, your time-share and an inland timeshare at that. And high-up! Nice too that your neighbor called with the no damage report - you were able to relax and enjoy yourselves.

Thanks for letting me know you're okay. I've heard from a few other friends in the storm's path and everyone is well. Whew!