Iron Behind the Velvet ~ Chapter 63

Not With This Wind Blowing, and This Tide1 




Her gift of privacy ... Will you twist it to a secret? Without facing the truth?

He caught himself before he stumbled. His palm scraped along a ridge of stone, his sleeve catching on a rill, riding up, that same rough edge abrading the skin of his forearm. The sting sharpened his focus. In the dim maze of columns and spires, he darted looks pillar to pillar, seven over, seven back. Here, in this storybook chamber, he’d once played dodge with his friends, each of the grand uprights branded a tree of Greek legend, the calcite forest imagined quivering with foliage and birdsong he, then, at twelve and thirteen, supposed he’d never experience. Their utter abandon to boyish games – taunts and dares and triumphs, the shouted keeping of scores – might echo yet if he were not so suddenly attuned to–

There! A flicker of shadow, a skittering of pebbles! A rumble stirred lowburred past his lips. Was it the billow of his own cloak, loose scree under his own shifted footing? He winced at the cold air on his bared teeth.

Launched from the cavern wall, he made the first tower in two long strides. Round and striated, its circumference had been greater than three boys could, hand to hand, enclose. The Sky-reaching Fir. The strongest, tallest of trees, tying earth and sky together.2 Twenty years of mineral drip had increased its girth, deepened its roots, made it a more formidable protector. Leaned to it, he peered ‘round its shelter, turned his back, rested his head. Damp, he registered, and he wiped his palms dry on his thighs.

Will you? Too softly uttered to resound, still, the question repeated.

Not now, he tried to bargain. The failed water trap, its as yet undetermined consequences – at worst, possible injury, loss of equipment, at best, plans thwarted, time and resources wasted. And the threat of invasion, if lessened today, then guaranteed another. His responsibilities would not wait for his personal distresses to settle out.

Distresses. Is that what you call ... this?  His hand closed over the fabric of his breast pocket, over worn paper that crackled improbably, as loudly, it seemed, as would an ill-advised step into dry leaves. Exposing, alerting ... as if The Other did not know exactly, eternally, where to find him.

If I can give that darkness some freedom, it will lose power. Such a bold statement he’d made.

Some freedom was not enough. The darkness wanted more.

Beyond the Lofty Ash3, five strides past the Holm Oak,4 the narrow Barnacle Straights led from the cavernous space. Strands of electrified light looped the far corridor’s walls; the warm glow beckoned. The passage would direct him to the laundry. He could gather the provisions Liz had prepared, be on his way to work. His crew expected him. Required him. He brought muscle and intellect to the job site, experience and intuition. Nothing was keeping him here. Nothing. No one.

Except the conversation he would have – or not have – with himself.

There was no Other.

No intruder he could rout, no being he could subdue. No separated shadow-self with whom he could reason or argue. As a child, the hovering manifestations, the half-heard laughter, had seemed real enough, something outside that chased him, wanted in, wanted him. Something Father needed to believe he’d taught him would, by wit, be out-maneuvered, by will and honor be turned from and left behind. But he’d known, known always. He’d said as much to Hughes, from his prison behind the iron bars of a tangible cage.

There is only me.5

Forged from the pillar’s shadow, he leaned into a fierce stretch. A ten-minute walk, a shorter sprint ...

Old habits, intoned the voice. Unsurprised. Jaded. Bored. His own.

He ducked through the keyhole portal into the deserted laundry chambers. Little had changed since his last visit. Little could, marvel the rooms were. Stone bins long ago chiseled out ringed the perimeter, each labeled with a wood-burned sign propped on the ledge above. Sheets. Towels. Wools. Flannels. Among the dozens of names, Wren’s and Stuart’s shortened to Ras/Aizenb, Liz’s and Noah’s simply Forsythe/B. The long slabs in the center of the workroom were the same – a matched set, a trio of massive oak refectory tables similarly stained and scarred, that, restored, might fetch a sum Above that should fund the community’s unsalvageable, unforageable, needs for a year or longer ... if a team could wrestle them out, carry them up. Where they’d come from, how they’d been delivered, had always been a mystery. On the first nearest the doorway rested a dented, once-green metal cooler, his name inked on masking tape stuck to its lid. Above, the chamber’s drooping center string of bulbs was indeed dark. He found the ceramic toggle, switched off the remaining fixtures, leaving only a single torch ablaze in its holder. Anyone arriving behind him would first dispel the dark, and if somehow he’d not discerned their approach, he’d know he was not alone.

He stepped through the archway over the granite berm into The Sinks. Along one wall, narrow, forceful, steaming streams fell from high above to round, grooved pools, each swirling whatever was dumped within – linens, bedding, dirty clothes or otherwise – as energetically as did the white enamel machine in Catherine’s apartment and with far more pleasant a sound. The basins were stretched with netting drooped two feet below the water’s surface that prevented the laundry being snatched away by the strong, intermittent drain of the unfathomable system. As boys, Stuart and Noah and he would crouch at the lip of the washbowl, haul up the netting, and toss pebbles, found objects, trinkets – anything – into the whorl and call it an experiment. More a race it was, and on the outcome they’d bet – whose artifact would disappear first when the pools would empty. A coverless paperback book blobbed and chugged like a bellows before it went down, but Stuart’s Mets cap, a shoe he himself had outgrown, a photo-booth strip of pictures of Noah and a girl he’d met above and liked and had been strongly advised to forget were whisked cleanly away. Sometimes things came back when the water resurged, most often single socks, but once a chess piece swirled up – a black rook pierced through as if worn as a pendant – and once a gold ring inscribed with two sets of initials worn too smooth to fully decipher. Both went into the returns box on the ledge in the workroom, but by the end of his last summer stay, neither had been claimed. If he sorted through the items in the receptacle now, he wondered, would he find them there? He knelt by the center sink, its action always the strongest, he remembered, and pulled the folded-over page from his pocket.

He tipped back his head, closed his eyes, kindled their mystery, her journey ...

Catherine.

Even now she ascended, buoyed at heart, friended, concerned but sure, trusting in him.

She was his fount, his wellspring, and he longed to accept her grace – only poetry, only words. Old words. Words read once by another man, who’d lived another life. A life that changed, was changed forever by love. By hope. He might shred the print, toss the pieces in the agitation. They could not come back from the churning travel through the water-filled lava tubes, not whole, not readable, ever, ever again. Since he’d discovered the page forgotten in his pocket, he’d had any number of opportunities to dispose of the ... evidence. And yet ... he had not. Now he spread the paper flat on his knee.

We’ve never withheld the truth from each other.  The words were testament to something far more hard-featured and loathsome than his admission of desire, his craving, for Lisa, her injury. Something ... else ... he thought he’d dreamed away. 

I know you, Catherine had told him, more than once, and how he’d clung to her profession, his lifeline when he’d lost both foothold and handhold, when he plummeted, spinning, into the pit. But she did not know everything. She did not. And shouldn’t she? With that knowledge she might have made another choice. Even now, their thresholds crossed – the joining of their bodies, the merging of their spirits ... as much as he could allow – she could make another choice. He would die without her, but already he’d faced that abyss of nothingness, faced it and begged for it.

He had lied. Lied to her, almost from their beginning. And like Kanin, he’d arisen every morning since and retold that lie by pretending to what he was not. Beautiful and brave. He’d been neither. Before her at her most vulnerable, he’d uttered words of such odd confidence. Even as he mouthed them, he knew them wrongly phrased, but some stubbornness would not let him call them back, make more precise his meaning. The shame was weighty still.

I’ve never regretted what I am, until now.

But he had.

Worse, what he was – his wild, ravenous, seeking self – he’d found glorious.

And worse than worse, what she didn’t know ... like this he had found her, like this he first touched her, had gathered her up from the ground, held her so close their breaths – his white-fogging the night, hers deadly shallow – had mingled. For all his awed care of her afterward, like this he had returned her to life.6

And you to yours, a small voice whispered, a voice silenced by the sharp squeeze of memory behind his eyes, the stone he tried to swallow. The bitter night rose up, a foul apparition, its grim offering a cup of passions ranged from curiosity to envy to longing to despair to madness to the exhilaration of decision. He would not live as he was. That night was to have been his last ... on earth or beneath it. His last


******************


Life in the community accelerated in the weeks before Winterfest. The central message board sported a profusion of task-lists, the meeting hours of a dozen committees, sign-ups for items of decoration, food, and entertainment. Everyone engaged, everyone necessary. From his own childhood until now, the gathering promised possibility, surprise, the answer to dreams. Waiting was a treasured frustration.

A frustration most manifested in the quick-snapping energy of the school-aged members of their society. Their distractions knew no limits, but he’d been pleased with the nuanced understanding his students exhibited for Richard III, their willingness to quietly consider and delve, when he was sure, even without his peculiar sensitivities, they would rather leap from their chairs and race, shouting, through the corridors, as if they could chase down the coming celebration, bring it closer, faster.

Now the day of festivities had arrived.

He could determine no reason for his mood upon waking.

He’d settled into bed Winterfest Eve satisfyingly weary, exercised physically and mentally. A month before, he’d discovered the ropes suspending both grand candelabras in the Great Hall had frayed through over the months between celebrations; the fixtures had crashed and splintered. The shards of wood, the scattered stubs of candles, were a concerning surprise, the otherwise-sound condition of the coincidentally failed ropes perplexing. But from memory and from similarly aged, scavenged woods, in stolen hours in Cullen’s workshop, he’d duplicated the design, and hoisted the replicas himself, this time on new cordage. He’d kept the loss his secret – or rather, confined within the small maintenance crew assigned to the readying of the room – until the reconstruction was complete. As Vincent had anticipated, Father was at first sentimental and dismayed at the news, and underlyingly suspicious, but upon inspection, was moved nearly to tears by his gift.

He should throw back his covers, pull on his boots, haul his dress shirt with its wrinkled collar tie from the chifforobe, carry it to hang in the steam alcove of the laundry, hurry then to the dining hall for early breakfast. Instead, he struggled for his bearings. The room was no colder than usual for the hour, no more or less noisy, no darker. Propped on one elbow, he slowly inventoried his chamber. His possessions were in their common places – his tall chair, the jukebox, any number of obelisks and statuary, mementos and books, Lady Justice with her sword upraised in defense of all. The night before, Father had pressed upon him a scribbled list of last-minute, absolutely crucial details for which he alone must be responsible; weighted on his desk, it was a clear directive, a map of hours. Yet ... he felt ... befuddled.

He lay back in his bed, the blood-rush loud in his ear. After a long moment, he covered his eyes with his arm.


That night, he stood alone before the tapestries. His childhood imaginings crowded in, his expectation of another world behind or through or within the hangings as sad as it was sweet. Only to Devin and to Lisa had he divulged his fantasy. Lisa had merely laughed, though not truly unkindly, and Devin had reached out to touch the draperies as if anything were possible. Behind him, a murmur moved through the party below, and when he turned to look, Father was threading the assemblage toward the clearing that had appeared in the center of the room. The time of yearly announcement was at hand. Possibility. Surprise. The answer to dreams. 

Who, this year? he thought to wonder.

He should hurry down to the Great Hall floor, slip into the crowd in time for the huzzahs, but he returned to the weavingsThe tapestries offered nothing new; over the years, he’d committed their scenes to memory. Yet ... the vignette he sought, had sought annually for nearly two decades now, seemed year to year to mysteriously move, scene to scene, even panel to panel. Arms crossed, he studied ... searched. There it was. A knight, his helmet in the crook of his arm, leaned from the plum-shaded shelter of a fluted column, his free hand extended to a woman, her hair, undone, curling down her back. Come with me, he seemed to say, and her parted lips surely whispered yes. He traced the moment with his fingertip, careful not to prick the fibers with his nail. Always, at the touch, he’d experienced resonance, like a shell lifted, listened to, as if, from another world, a new harmony spiraled from the pearly curves and glimmering hollows. The anticipation was addictive, the taste necessary – enough promise to carry him through the coming months.

But this year ... nothing.

A game he played, he reminded no one, harmless and small.

Three betrothals, two impending births, several apprenticeships granted, another fulfilled. Helper news  – graduations, new jobs, new addresses. One decision to move Above, two to dwell Below. Alone at the railing, he had no glass to raise in toast of it all.



The next days began no differently. He would swear his covers heavy enough, still, he willed feeling to his limbs every morning – no, willed willingness to them, though, nevertheless, he moved through his waking hours half a step behind. Classes resumed, but at the first session, before he could review their study-so-far of Richard III, Brooke asked him to whom he’d delivered his special candle. Though he knew his brows knit and his mouth turned down, inside he felt ... disconnected. He heard her words, understood each of them separately, but not as a sentence. Not as a question he had a hope of answering.

Guilelessly, she pressed him. She’d made the candle herself, she announced to the room, and had left it on his dresser with a decorated tag attached – For ______, from Vincent. He’d found her gift – had he not thanked her? – and stashed the taper in his cabinet, dropped the wadded label with its pitiable blank into the brazier’s fire. She was a girl on the cusp, romantic and sweet, and trusting there was someone special for everyone, and by logic, then, for her. He managed not to dampen her dreams.


The mood after Winterfest was always subdued; the suppertime conversation more the ting and chatter of silverware against china. The letdown created shadows of spirit, made it easier for him to blend in, but the advent of Christmas rallied all, as did the New Year. He could not convince his friends and family to let his birthday pass unnoticed. The mantle of normalcy grew prickly.

The winter, the long winter, of my discontent 7 ... summer, the sun – York’s or this city’s – inconceivable.

For weeks he’d avoided the park. An incident.  One he’d been forced to report to Father, who’d stitched his wound, and then to the council, before which he must appear hospitable to evaluation. Did you ...? Father had gingerly ventured, his appreciable focus on the neat sutures he made, the surgeon’s knots in the black silk thread. He’d drawn a breath against the sting of the curved needle, and he let it fully out, drew another before he answered. No blood but his own had been shed, the knife confiscated and tossed to into the deep. The hoodlums were left in a battered heap to be collected by the mounted police he’d heard approaching. The woman attended to, an ambulance called for; from a concealed vantage point, he’d watched, made sure. Hardly more than boys, her attackers would live – possibly to return to their savage ways or worse, a consequence he worried, if it occurred or mattered to no one else. But Father – though he inquired no further – asked for more than physical facts.

Did you think? Did you choose?

Is that not apparent?

But did I rise ... or fall ... to the occasion. That distinction would ever be debatable.


I could not ignore her cry for help. She was frail and small; there were three of them set upon her. Three. None of you would have turned away. Both awed and unnerved he’d intervened, the council’s understanding was qualified, pleased – of course! – an innocent had been defended from evil, yet concerned with potential repercussion and investigation.

So near a special culvert. What if the authorities think to look?

The risk. If she’d been one of us ...

As if he hadn’t swept his retreat from the skiff of snow, hadn’t kicked up the litter of leaves. As if he hadn’t made fast the steel hatches behind him; as if they hadn’t other doorways. As if he had only so much protection to supply, and, recklessly, he’d let a measure rightly theirs be used up. He surveyed the committee – pondering, deliberating, eventually ... countenancing his actions, this one, and those past, and those future he would neither escape nor eschew, to a man, unaware of the sore ground he traveled, the raw estrangement he bore.8 He took some satisfaction from that last – it was his, his alone and why he was here – and, at the same time, he longed to lay his head to the heart of another, have her stroke away the despairs of his fate.

His friends put their hands flat on the table, nodded across to each other – Finished – yet ... a little wary, skirting his chair on their way out. All but Winslow, who gripped his shoulder tight as he passed by; all but Pascal, the last to leave, who stood before him, silent and still, until he lifted his gaze.


Injudicious, for now, to walk the park, he took, instead, to the alleys and docks, but the backstreets were a complication of concealments and exposures. The constraint made him edgy and there were no stars.



A sour taste, an acrid odor, sometimes a leaden ringing in his ears, a tolling – whatever dogged him was shapeless. There was no reason, nothing was changed; he’d neither lost nor gained anything ... but the pall would not be cast off. He counted the hours until the close of his work day, days that culminated in dodging runs through the most labyrinthine tunnels and in sustained swims in the choppiest waters, both disciplines tiring but unsatisfying, and difficult to execute in privacy – which he both craved and was  achingly resigned to. Stuart, on a rare visit south, found him at the basin of the triple falls, challenged him to a race. It was not a fair match – none were – but he was in no mood to hold back. In the splendor of his stroke, in the solitude of the transport, he recalled the empty grandeur of the northern tunnels, the twists and straightaways, the canyons and crawls.

The precipitous abysses, inky-black, craggy, and bottomless.


He remembered, now, the reason for Stuart’s visit: the twice-yearly pooling of earned moneys toward the society’s reserve for emergencies.


Afterward, Stuart having departed for home, he’d unwisely lingered in Father’s chamber, where tall ledger books lay open on the scrivener’s stand and pencil shavings littered the worn wool carpet. He made the mistake of leafing one of the mint-green pages, staring long at the figures. He saw no poetry in the neat columns, only tedious necessity.

Father’s assuming remark sent him reeling – some reference to accounting and fiscal planning, information he should begin now to assimilate. They would sit down together, soon, yes? Say, Thursday next, ten in the morning?  Though he managed to stifle the snarl that curled his lip, managed to slow the swing of his shoulders, the bland expression he summoned and evidenced was frightening ... if not to Father, who, unseeing, bent to the schedule of his days, who, humming, marked out an hour’s block of time ... then to him. Acquiescence stared back from the credenza’s mirror.

Lifelessness.

Extinction.



Click HERE for Chapter 64

_____________

1. Rudyard Kipling. Have You News of My Boy Jack? 1915.
2. Homer. Odyssey 5.239.
3. Vergil. Aeneid 6.179.
4. Ennius. Annales 6.9.
5. Dialogue. Season One. Nor Iron Bars a Cage.
6. Pablo Neruda. Inspiration from And Because Love Battles - Stanza 7: And I in these lines say: Like this I want you, love, love, Like this I love you …
7. William Shakespeare. Richard III. Act 1, scene 1. 1592.
8. John O’Donohue. A Blessing After a Destructive Encounter (Excerpted, Paraphrased).To Bless the Space Between Us.

19 comments:

Krista said...

Oh, Carole . Oh, Vincent

He is so... alone here. And his depression is so heavy, I could almost touch it. He was so trapped before Catherine, if not by the community's expectations (and Father's---I winced at that little scene towards the end, the implicit assumption that "of course you're going to take over"---right, Father. Try asking, eh?) then by his own. I'm hurting for him, and I may need to re-re-re-re-read "Marriage Morning" to feel better ;)

Amazing work, Carole--all of your chapters have been excellent but this ranks among your best.

-Krista :)

Carole W said...

Oh, thank you, Krista. Your words are so encouraging … and a relief. This chapter is extra dark after the many-chaptered spiral to the light, I was worried about it, how it would read.

And of course, it's not over for Vincent, a few things left to face, sort out, confess. But darkest before dawn …

I'd like to get on with that dawn! :-) So back to work.

Thank you so very much for reading.
C

Anonymous said...

Carole . . . I almost have no words, or perhaps it would be better to say I have INSUFFICIENT words, to respond to this amazing, painful chapter. I have read so many stories in which Vincent is Father's natural successor as leader of the Tunnel community, a role which he accepts without question.

But this seems to me to be a much, MUCH more accurate portrayal of that dynamic. Of COURSE, Vincent would cringe from the idea of accepting Father's role as Jacob Wells has created it -- monastic, ascetic, self-denying duty -- particularly since Vincent's nature is all about testing the bounds of FREEDOM. To be bound, caged (Ach! it brings to mind the episode with Hughes!), smothered by Father's responsibilities IN ADDITION TO all of Vincent's other actual and perceived limitations would be a HORRIFYING prospect for a young man who already questions who and what he is, who already shoulders the difficult and painful burden of being the Tunnel community's protector because of his unique abilities. It recalls the episode in which Vincent tells Father that the Tunnels have become his tomb, and in this memory, it is almost as if Father is rolling another heavy stone across the entrance!

(You will recall some of our earlier conversations in which I've explained that in my BATB Universe it is actually an educated and mature JAMIE who winds up taking over as leader of the Tunnel Council after Father's death, and who in turn modifies and delegates many of the responsibilities Father kept to himself to a committee that includes Vincent.)

This is an amazing piece of work, but I must confess that I now LONG for happier, and -- dare I say it? -- SEXIER times!

More, please. Of course, ALWAYS MORE!

Regards, Lindariel

Carole W said...

I'd posted this chapter twice, thinking I was having a Blogger glitch, so I'm transferring MamaCrow's comment to this posted chapter, as it's the one that links up to all the "click here's" now. (Sorry for the confusion!)

Mamacrow said...
Wowsers...As usual, Carole, you surprise me. I have read the chapter twice. The first time, being my greedy for pay off self, I was disappointed that the cliffhanger ending of the last chapter was not resolved. That being said, and although I read it at 11 p.m. on a night after a birth, and being knackered to say the least, I could feel the magic there. After a somewhat restful night, I had the rare privilege of reading 63 again in the quiet of a sans kids household. I believe this is my favorite chapter yet, (so sue me if I say that after every chapter, but still...) Here's why:
-Vincent always seems adamant that Catherine opened the world for him, but until now, no one, imho, has, with such thoughtful prose, described the weight of years without hope that Vincent had to endure, the frightening mundane that can lead so many of us to despair.
-"There was no Other...There is only me." A perfect insight. Not that I don't love stories with the Other, but I feel your exploration is so mature and well reasoned. Those voices within us have a life of their own, but they are still, only us.
-Finally, just the language, the way you write, the beautiful choices you have made. "...before which he must appear hospitable to evaluation." or "over worn paper that crackled improbably, as loudly, it seemed, as would an ill-advised step into dry leaves. Exposing, alerting ..., " or " And the threat of invasion, if lessened today, then guaranteed another." Such a pleasure to read.
Thank you again for your precious hours, and precious words.

NOVEMBER 13, 2012 9:49 AM

Carole W said...

Lindariel, first off - that question you asked me in email? I think you're on to something with your idea about Jamie. I'll get back to you on that posthaste! :-)

And now - you stun me and honor me with your response to this chapter. (You've pretty much clouded my vision - now I'm all teary!) Thank you for finding in it - I know it was dark - the exact rebellion to the weight and density of those rolled stones. You absolutely nailed it when you said, "Vincent's nature is all about testing the bounds of FREEDOM."

No doubt he's a natural leader and has a true, even the truest, voice, but he is a different man than Father, coming into a different kind of community than did Father. He has a different destiny. How that evolves and affects people - Vincent, included - is fuel for, OMG, bunches of stories! (Oh, no! Stay away, Muse of the Distractions!)

Sexier Times, LOL, I want them too. Well, he'll be with Catherine 'tonight', although I know this story is all time-warp and slow-motion. And I do promise, in the next chapter, a pretty sweet picture, a little eye-candy. :-)

Thank you for reading, Lindariel. You're really good to me.

Carole

Carole W said...

Mamacrow - I apologize about the cliffhanger still being out there. I'll have Vincent 'caught-up' soon to Catherine/Eimear's time, and hopefully, some things above and below will mesh together.

A quiet house with the kids elsewhere is a moment of a special heaven, as is the sound of them back home. I only have the one child, but I remember … That you'd spend part of that alone-time reading here means so much to me. Thank you so much for coming back to the chapter after the first time through.

I hardly know what to say. I'm humbled and thrilled that you'd find positives in such a downturned chapter. I was really worried about it. I've had this scene in my mind for over 4 years, just waiting to get far enough along in the story to share it. I promise it will have its reason for being.

You tell me things that every hopeful writer dreams of hearing. Your generosity is such a gift. Such a gift, and I will never forget it.

Carole

Brenda K said...

Oh, Carole,

I read this twice, then had to go back and resurrect parts of I Carry Your Heart (Off the Cliffs), and A Great and Thorough Good (Questions). Did you have this chapter in mind when those passages were written so long ago, describing Vincent's trips to the nameless river, and his inner conflict about his concealed secrets even after Catherine had married him?

Those who have wrestled with thoughts this dark, who have waltzed with decisions so grim, yet so liberating -- the perceptions of self are so terrifyingly self-deceptive. It is like wearing a masking illusion -- the pleasing face known only to yourself to be a falsity, concealing the truth beneath, so surely repulsive to all around you. "If you only knew who I really am, you would run screaming in the other direction....." And only my vaulted silence preserves my grasp on what I do not deserve - what I have gotten only by deception and fraud. What I will lose irrevocably if the truth ever slips through my steely controls.

The tense terror of living with such secrets is enough to snap the strongest steel like soda crackers. The distortion of reality is so convincing, so blindingly self-evident -- and ultimately so wrong.

Such secrets as these poison joy, annihilate inner tranquility -- but the same self-destructive urges that drive such decisions often also drive their disclosure as well. It is cruelly hard to convince someone so bent on self-extermination that there is no need -- that what he longs for is real, is attainable and is his. Everything he believes rises up to reject that reality for himself, and knowing the power of deceptive illusion, he will not trust that truth even when he holds it in his hands. Ironically, for those who love such a person, the watchpoint is not when he is tormented, but when he is serene.

Catherine will need more courage, more strength, and more resilience than she has ever had before to hold Vincent in the face of such a revelation, for he will not believe her love can survive it.

Carole W said...

Brenda, thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. You've given me some important things to ponder. Without giving away the coming story, Vincent, indeed, has a few things to reconcile yet, within and without himself. Warriors do not shrink from challenges, though some challenges look unwinnable. I can only offer now - we shall see (I hope, soon!) I only hope I don't disappoint you with what comes next.

Yes, I have had the end chapters of this story in my mind since I finished the earliest ones. These ideas have had an awfully long time to steep, and have morphed a little, but not too much. Mostly, I've always believed Vincent when he told Father Mine was another life before Catherine. I've changed. (or something close to that).

Oh, dear. I can't say much more. I should get to work and show what I'm thinking. :-)

Again, thank you, Brenda. Your analysis is so serious and compassionate. I appreciate you very much.

Carole

Kuli said...

I suppose this is as good a time as any to admit that I've been lurking around this fic for a while now. I just couldn't let this chapter pass without comment. So beautifully done, Carole. Absolutely heartwrenching, and written so wonderfully. Those moments you show, in front of the council and then with Father later, are achingly clear, both in the events themselves and in what they *mean*. Really gorgeous. Don't leave us here *too* long, yes?

Carole W said...

Kuli, how nice to find your very kind comments here. Thank you for your generous encouragement.

I do imagine Vincent's vague dissatisfactions would mount, and his stoicism - both natural and taught - might find its breaking point. Father, bless him, is like any number of parents, particularly those with successful family businesses; regardless of what - farm, firm, practice - they want to pass on what they've built and protected. Not altogether because they want to control the child, but because they treasure their work and see it as a gift worth everything. Some honest discussion seems necessary, and soon!

I always hope and really do try to write faster. I don't know why everything takes me so long. I am keeping after it, and will, until it's done. I'll take any speed vibe you might send. :-)

You made a difference today, with your support, Kuli. Thank you for reading and for taking the time to let me know. I'm grateful to you.

Carole

RedNightBird said...

So often i am reading your tale on a phone and leaving long responses it is awkward to copy the text I'd like to reference......but all those other literary folk do that justice.

I'm simply the reader who thanks you for the moods you share with the rich textures of their lives. Vincent's turmoil has been lessened by Catherine's love but it made him every thing v he is, all she and we love him for.

I'm hanging on your words... wait ing for more.

Rusty Hough Bader

Carole W said...

Rusty, I can't agree you're simply a reader. I'm honored and humbled you're willing to read this story, and beyond grateful to know you're reading, and absolutely thrilled and relieved to hear you're enjoying the chapters. It matters to me.

That goes for all of you. :-)

Believe me, I hold my breath and quake a little with each posting. It's scary and sort of lonely, but when people take a moment to say something … well, I'm moved by that. Thank you for your kind words. I'm encouraged to keep going.

Carole

RedNightBird said...

Is the a subscription signup where we can be notified of your posts?

RHB

Carole W said...

Rusty, if you click "home" underneath this comment field, you go back to the main page. From there, scroll to the very bottom of the page, where you'll see a link: Subscribe to posts (atom). Click that.

You'll open to a page that lists all the most recent posts. Look in the right hand column of that page, look for "Actions". Click "Subscribe in Mail". Notification of posts will be sent to your email - or they should be.

If that doesn't work, and if you want me to, I'll do my best to remember to send you a notice of a new post myself. Or check back every couple of weeks or so. I should have upcoming chapter information in the sidebar.

Carole W said...

As a PS: You can also subscribe to comments, if you want to. At the bottom of any chapter, you'll see the "Subscribe to Comments" link. It works the same as does "subscribe to posts" , but the "subscribe to posts" is only available on the Home Page.

Anonymous said...

Carole--there is so much I want to say to you about this chapter. I have been trying to organize my thoughts to fit into the form of a comment, but can't make it work. I will send you another email if that is ok.

But, I can't let you totally off the hook for not telling us about Flynn!! I'm still worried to death about him. Now Vincent is having a bad time of it, too. I just want more of this story. I am just glad the holidays will distract me from thinking about all these characters I have come to believe in and care about.

Happy Thanksgiving, Carole.
A'bella

Carole W said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you, too, Annabella. I hope your holiday is a peaceful one, filled with all good things.

It makes me very happy to hear affection and concern for these 'other' characters. That they seem to you real and natural to the V/C story is all I could ever want. Thank you.

And, of course, I welcome email. :-)

My best,
Carole

RedNightBird said...

"He had lied. Lied to her, almost from their beginning. And like Kanin, he’d arisen every morning since and retold that lie by pretending to what he was not. Beautiful and brave. He’d been neither. Before her at her most vulnerable, he’d uttered words of such odd confidence. Even as he mouthed them, he knew them wrongly phrased, but some stubbornness would not let him call them back, make more precise his meaning. The shame was weighty still."

I came back (Thanks for reinforcing the tip about subscription) I reread the chapter and this just set my soul to searching.....

p.s. for some dumb reason my iPhone won't type all of the CAPCHA (spent 6 tries last night before I went to sleep)

Happy writing...

Carole W said...

Thanks for coming back, Rusty. :-)