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By Suzan Schmekel
::: ad libitum publishing :::
Text and images are the property of the artist credited herein. Suzan Schmekel ad libitum publishing © 2011 Front cover and anterior images were adapted from Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher. ISBN-13: 978-1466483316 ISBN-10: 1466483318
This book is dedicated first to my mother, Gilberte Vallée who worked so hard to make a better life for me, who taught me how to be gentle with myself and others, as well as what selfless service and unconditional loving were all about. Second, I dedicate it to my sister, Paula Davies, the other important woman in my life who has loved me and supported me through all my growing, changing, some craziness and with whom I shared the first 21 years of my life. I also dedicate it to the three other women who made my life a worthy enterprise: my daughters, Athena, Melanie and Miranda who were ever-present with me as I wrote these pages so many years ago. I wanted them to grow up to be strong, independent women as Naomi struggles to be. And they have. These women and many others have been my inspiration and my teachers. Finally, I dedicate it to my husband who has been beside me for over 45 years, who has been a strength and a resource for me, who always supported me, who always saw the best in me and gave generously to me to help me reach my many goals. Our relationship continues to be a sacred adventure into the known and the unknown, always together.
Without her. this work would still be sitting as bytes in my computer. .Thank You I especially want to thank Melanie Paquette who did the graphic design for this novella as well as the typesetting.
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as she tried to lose herself in sleep. Most of it. without apparent logic or pattern. at least. She had known Steven a long time or. instead of joy. what seemed to her to be a long time.k N aomi had been fifteen years old at the time of her brother Jim’s death. that came unbidden. again and again. nightmares. Unwelcome memories often wafted by her consciousness at unconnected times. she had lost a relationship as suddenly and unexpectedly as Jim had died at the scene of that accident. she was just sad and the details of her brother’s death kept surfacing today for some reason. She had another loss recently but not to death. But. She had no idea that their relationship was about to end. The images were like dreams. perhaps. No. finally visiting the City of Light. now and then. she thought that she and Steven were ready to move on to the next level and she was half-expecting a ring soon. In fact. she really did not want to remember. as if it were yesterday. some thirteen months. or rather. these moments were not as unconnected as she had thought. Page 7 . now 10 years later. Just here and there. She remembered almost everything about it. However. She was now in Paris and should be full of joy.
more comforting than thinking about Steven. She had remembered happy times and sad times but always there was the nagging thought that had she only listened more. Page 8 . She should be very happy. What was the word he had used? Bored and . in desperation. now fully realized. just as Jim’s death had been. like a gentle wind brushing against her face on a warm summer day. He even admitted that there was nothing specific. these thoughts were comforting. she had decided to come to Paris even though she had supposed they would take such a trip together. there had been signals missed. Finally. Now and again she would stop them and try to consciously think of something else. perhaps that was why the images of Jim’s death and funeral kept tickling at her consciousness at the strangest times.What was even more disturbing than its suddenness was the fact that Steven had given her no real reason for the decision. unbidden but seemingly attached to each other with Velcro. She would think about it later. It was senseless to Naomi. Over and over again she had reviewed the scenes of their “courtship". suffocated. In a way. Surely there must have been something she could have done to prevent Steven from leaving. yet again. or been more observant. A trip to Paris after all had been a lifelong dream. He had said that he felt bored. And yet she was not. they would waft by. And wanted a change. k Yes. Surely. . . and the days preceding the big announcement. The decision Steven had announced just two weeks ago was still a shock to her. She was not yet ready to think about it. things would have been different.
No.quite unseasonal in May. Not that it was dirty in any way.k And that is how she ended up here. Naomi was aware that she should be reveling in the delicious feeling of the moment. She did not have to make small talk with anyone. either explaining what had happened between her and Steven. and certainly did not have the same priority as her precious books. the theatre of the street. enjoined in a mutual theatre of the human condition. she was also aware that passersby were also observing her. But then again. It was closed up tight and looked as if. This was quite unlike home. She was happy to be finally blissfully alone. It was the kind of lunch she had long dreamed of having. Her gaze returned again and again to an old lady sitting close to her. It was just so old that the colors seemed to have muted together. That was the most difficult. it might have had a bolder pattern. There was no one to distract her. where she dined al fresco facing her companion or the empty seat in front of her. faced the street. at one time. with a tweedy green/ brown/grey-colored overcoat . in the heart of her beloved Paris eating lunch at a sidewalk café and drinking chilled white wine. The style was a little out-of-date but it seemed to be well-tailored. Naomi had done that herself many times in university when the cost of dry-cleaning had been prohibitive. to Naomi’s surprise. While she enjoyed the people walking in front of her. Page 9 . Maybe she washed it out herself in the bathtub at night. out of eyesight. make small talk while skirting around the subject of her and Steven. Even the garçon seemed to guess her mood and stayed quietly in the background. or worse yet. that was easy to do since all the tables.
always. However.It was a little too short and there was practically no collar. In the winter. Naomi’s own grandfather (on her father’s side) always took a raw onion with him on his morning constitutional. Also. close to the straps as if to be sure she could snatch the bag back if anyone tried to take it from her. A triangular kerchief was tied around her head and knotted under her chin. her small bony and vein-rippled hands hovering. “I wonder. Her mother’s parents had been much too refined to consider doing something so unbecoming. At the other end. They said it protected them from colds. Out of it peeked a newspaper. it seemed to be wider at the shoulders than it was at the hem and reminded Naomi of the styles of the eighties but subdued. some green scallion tops and a breadstick. He ate it like an apple. An aunt of hers. people used to eat onion sandwiches. too. these were now washed out and barely visible.” thought Naomi. k The lady sat at a little table by herself with her large canvas shopping bag by the left side on the floor. they were called during Naomi’s parochial childhood. just a kind of folded over selvage. Nun’s shoes. a daughter of the onion-toting grandfather. was colorless though more grey than brown and looked as if there might once have been some kind of geometrical design with colliding stripes on it. It was closed too tightly. were thick flesh-colored stockings and sensible black shoes. Aunt Mary. It. in a cold climate like Canada’s. made onion pie every meatless Friday of the winter for her large family Page 10 . Naomi could not tell what she was wearing under the coat. “if she survives on scallion sandwiches?”.
slightly powdered an even paler shade. there was nothing of her Aunt’s earthiness in the face. Still. her fairly small and icy-blue eyes (Aunt Mary’s blue eyes positively twinkled with warmth) were completely outlined . She usually had salmon and potato pie too. Then. Her skin was practically unlined but showed its age by crisping around the corners in its parchment-like way.brightly. The rouge on her cheeks and the crimson of her lips stood out against her pallor. Despite her clothes. carbohydrate-heavy meals to anyone.careful blue shadow and black liner. odd. And yet. and gathering in a line from chin to throat under the knotted kerchief. she was more than the sum of this description. Naomi sensed that she was a woman who would neither feel nor accept pity. equally delicious. she did have wonderfully warm memories of Fridays at Aunt Mary’s! The old lady quietly sipping a glass of liqueur at the other table did not remind her of Aunt Mary. She seemed to transcend her parts. She was . based on the shape of the kerchief. There was about her a kind of sadness and strength too. Of course. Naomi herself would never think of serving such rich. She was about sixty. were a few locks of long blond-grey hair which seemed to have escaped a bun of some kind.how can it be explained? In control. Around the kerchief. No mascara. for someone her age . No more. The tweedy lady had a pale face. was the closest Naomi k Page 11 . escaping its hold. Naomi remembered how good those pies had been with their thick white sauce.and the numerous guests who often filled her large warm home.
that was why she was so warmly dressed on such a hot day. except that the ball was not spherical at all and did not make a complete closed circle. She gave the impression that she commanded -. but up close a mass of threadlike tendrils disconnected but Page 12 . She thought of herself more like a ball. that she let out from there to wind around and around like a spiral screen on which she projected the image of her body. She appeared to be complete within herself. It was like the sun.no. the woman’s age. Viewed from the earth. the clothes. looser. Perhaps there were even different images than the one Naomi now saw. And. a kind of source. gayer. Despite the coldness. She seemed to begin and end in a magical circle within the space her body took and a little more. Yes. Perfectly spherical viewed from afar. an admiration touched with envy. as if her nucleus was around the center of her chest like a ball of tightly wound yarn.it was a small yellow ball. k If Naomi thought of herself in terms of an image. Except. Naomi could hardly keep her eyes off the old lady and her regal but poor countenance. the kerchief. images that were younger. But she doubted it. it was certainly not as a combination of concentric circles leading to a hard core of beingness. She envied her self-assurance and her air of being satisfied with herself and the world. or from other planets -. But in fact its surface was a mass of licking spitting fires. permitted -.the sun to shine. she was impervious to their effect.could come to it. a sphere that was quite hollow and with all the energy dancing along the surface of the ball. pinker. Naomi found herself admiring her. in control of herself and somehow even in control of her environment. Since she commanded the elements. perhaps.
of smoke from the other room. the dead smell of dying flowers.sometimes touching. Maybe a husband or a child or a brother. How many people close to her had she seen disappear? Probably a great many. Then the numbness with the still small voice denying the truth of the senses: the odd-looking body which resembled the loved one but only a little. she felt the same thing not on the surface of her skin but in the air around her. the pen scratching in the guest book. the dead smell of dying flowers. the surprised look of mourners in other rooms as you go by (as if they Page 13 . Sometimes. the clacking of prayer beads. holding her back. the sudden blasts of noise as someone else opens the smoking/coffee room. the rich white silk. to deny the awful truth. She felt that way sometimes about people. The surface of her skin was sensitive to the touchings and collidings as if they were nerve fibers with independent minds. the muted rustle of seldom worn clothes. one of these tongues of fire would become quite elongated. though. the dead smell of dying flowers. pushing her forward. Naomi wondered how many deaths had affected the old woman. moving in the breeze or colliding. with every fibre of her aching to say no. a million-headed hydra. the mahogany sheen of the coffin. k Sometimes. How often had she heard the news and refused to believe? Willed it not to be. affecting her still. or even events from her past -tendrils as strong as gut. no. at least for awhile. It would seem to take energy from the surface and stretch out to something or someone and become locked there. pushed in different directions. the murmurs of melancholy mourners.
Eventually you do tire of it. And yet. the dead smell dying of flowers. You find some other kind of outlet and break free. when the messages reach the numbed brain. Page 14 . you change. including their own. as if the loudness and cheerfulness of their small talk will chase away the fact of this death. All of these attacked the supersensitive senses. And the self-pity is somehow comforting and cannot be shaken off. trying to convince the brain that a husband. how well your head understands the stages. so. k And the loud cheerful people leave and there is only silence and that is just as bad. They are very loud. She looked a little battered by what life had handed her and yet she had that same undaunted strength that seemed to say that life could not hand her anything she could not handle. each time. disparate images with no reality. and other deaths. it is only with difficulty. You suddenly have to admit what happened and you feel sorry for yourself and angry at the one who is gone. The old lady sitting at the table with the crisp white and red linen looked as if she had been through it often enough. They laugh and talk. She had already handled most of life’s challenges. And survived. Naomi knew that eventually it did go away. And then it is all over and people meet in friendship. or bother is gone forever. of being closed away. It did not seem to matter how many times someone was lost to you. son. the still air heavy with things unsaid (out of respect) and things said without conviction.cannot believe that some other family’s life has also stopped dead). But Naomi was not there yet with respect to her relationship to Steven. there is but a hollow echo. that you become convinced that the oppressive need will pass.
on the other hand. They seemed to know how to say the kinds of things Naomi wanted to hear in a tone that was so soothing that for a few minutes she could. at that time. a little brusque. When they had come up to her at the funeral parlor. She had as polite as she could. she had treasured the liberty allowed her in being rude in a totally socialized situation. so that even before their bodies and voices reached Naomi. emotional ones. when Naomi saw them coming towards her and sometimes felt them enter the room she would feel like screaming. were totally impossible. they often said the wrong things in the wrong tone of voice. they seemed to give off comfort in waves as they approached. forget. These girls had somehow learned to become immune to certain situations especially highly-charged. too. people. They were able.How are people able to arm themselves so strongly against life? Did age have something to do with it? Or was the old lady born with it? Naomi envied the girls with whom she had gone to university and who had more money and breeding than she had. almost. they were nervous. under the layers of grief and pain. k A number of her fellow students had attended her brother’s funeral. had been soothing and helpful. In the end. Their voices. “Get away from me”. When they approached her. The other girls. somehow. Page 15 . Even then. under the circumstances. to guard their inner selves against objects. Naomi felt somehow that she should be comforting them. Of course she hadn’t. feelings which might weaken them. she was permitted to be a little impolite. she somehow felt better. knowing that.
and at very different rates. when she was so totally alone. they rattled about the house going through some semblance of normal activity meeting at appointed times to push food around their plates. especially not her mother’s. to feel open and ready for new experiences. though emanating from the same source. Still living in her parents’ house. Naomi had always felt that her parents’ experience had not been quite the same as hers. integrate it within themselves. talking about the weather and soon parting to rediscover their own solitudes. There was not really any way in which they could share this experience and. Naomi had been quite surprised. she had felt guilty about abandoning her brother. When this had finally happened. sharing an experience. the wounds had healed and suddenly they began noticing again what was around them. but it felt so good to feel human emotions again. think it. to feel free. More importantly. they all rattled around each other’s pain like planets with different orbits. They knew that their experiences were different. though. even into the cells of their own bodies in a very personalized way. telling a joke. It took them longer to reach that point of turning toward life again. Finally. They began tasting food. After a long while. to feel joy. And eventually the guilt had dissipated also. after the burial. the one which had brought her most pain was that time after the funeral. after the wake. like animals tending to their own wounds in solitude and sleep. k Page 16 . She had somehow assumed that she would never again feel normal joy. For a fleeting moment. it had been one of the reasons she left home and got an apartment of her own. they had to use the experience.But of all the experiences around her brother’s death.
Mona Lisa. She could understand that it was the strangeness of the smile that attracted and held the imagination. Page 17 .. . the more you feel that you might be on the verge of knowing. Naomi had seen reproductions and was looking forward to seeing the original.” Ever since she had realized what this might mean.And when she had returned home after that. or think we know why she is smiling.. It might even help understand her mother a little better. your mind seems to tire of the exercise and it reminds you that your underwear needs rinsing or something like that. men have named you. It is supposed to be the smile of the Mona Lisa which attracts.. In the future. The song was right. It’s like a little taste of something. and yet we don’t. k The lady across the way sipping her liqueur reminded Naomi a little of those girls who had come to comfort her at the funeral parlor. the situation each time was a little better but still today. It seemed random at the time but perhaps there were reasons for it. It makes you want more. or just a cold and lonely. The smile is like a door opening into either the answer or more questions. You don’t know what it means and yet you think you might.. And the more you look at it. It went something like “Mona Lisa. lovely work of art?. she had tried to remember exactly when it was her mother had sung it but had been unable to.Are you real. Her mother had often sung a song about the Mona Lisa at certain times. she would pay closer attention to that. Mona Lisa.are you lonely.. of course... We know. there was still some sadness haunting the house like a ghost. She grew to like it. Mona Lisa. They were what she had once concluded was a “Mona Lisa type”. And then suddenly. ..the lady with the mystic smile.
She wasn’t as afraid of loneliness as she was afraid of vulnerability. self-sufficient. The garçcon came up to her.. like standing at the edge of a cliff. “Mademoiselle? There is something?” “No. Naomi often felt that she wanted to be like the Mona Lisa especially after her brother’s death. It was a puzzle that needed solving. Naomi felt that there was something more that she should learn. She felt somehow that if she were cold and haughty and mysterious like the lady in the painting or the song. at the same time. something about those rich confident girls in college. people would leave her alone and there would not be that chance of being hurt. Her strength would then come from inside and would then feed on itself in concentric circles leading in and out but not further than the limits of her own space. feeling that if she could leave the café. She could then remain her own woman.I suddenly remembered an important meeting. There is something that she should know about it. Eventually. independent and alone. one of Naomi five objectives was to go and see the Mona Lisa for herself. she could leave these thoughts behind. something about the Mona Lisa. Fear overwhelmed her. k In this trip to Paris. She felt. She got up suddenly from her chair. I am late already. I.” Page 18 . a kind of acceleration and fear. She wanted to know. They were connected.” she answered.The mood is broken and the Mona Lisa becomes again a lady with a rather strange smile. something about her feelings about her brother’s death. she might satisfy all of her own needs and ultimately would never need anyone..
Naomi felt caught up in the rhythm of the city. So. she even told her parents that she would see Paris. in university.She thrust some money in his hands and left hurriedly into the busy street. the maid was probably there and anyway it was lonely. Her body was not being cooperative. I would have given anything to be in Paris. “A few years ago. Actually it was shortly after this that Naomi had got an apartment by herself. She didn’t want to do anything. Page 19 . She didn’t want to do nothing. She had nowhere in particular to go. In grade seven. her mind became too active. “Funny. not being apart of it herself. Her imagination began to run away with her.” she thought. The answer was to keep moving but that was difficult to do. She had been thinking about it and planning it ever since she was twelve years old.” she thought. Her heart sank. even a few months ago. No. Once. She walked along aimlessly for six blocks not knowing where she was going. It felt tired. she and a girlfriend had almost decided to leave on a summer student transfer. an art gallery. She could go to a museum. She was alone. she had never quite made it to Paris. Even worse . Events had not lined themselves up quite right since that day in grade six. No. Busy people were going about their busyness. “How strange it is.she didn’t particularly feel like doing anything She could go back to the hotel room. She seemed to have lost interest in everything. the other girl had backed out and Naomi’s parents had put pressure on her to stay at home.” It had been the dream of a lifetime. Then suddenly she began to feel uncomfortable with the busyness of the city. However. k When she was doing nothing.
. It was as if she could not remember why she had wanted to go to Paris. But all this k Page 20 . all the museums.“I never realized it before . The only other time I had a real opportunity.” After that. she had always been enthralled by Marie Antoinette so she thought maybe she would go to Versailles. a street that she had felt she had known because she had seen it so often in pictures. rather. In a way. Monet was her favorite impressionist so she thought she would go to Giverny. the parks. she was still with Steven. And now walking along this Paris street. she felt a strangeness. When I finally have the opportunity.” She had only been in Paris one day but she had studied the various pamphlets she had been given before the trip and those that were available at the hotel. She sighed. She would see something that he would have liked or she would look around for things that might have pleased him and suddenly remember that he was not there and that she couldn’t share those things with him anymore. “Now isn’t that the way of the world. she knew one day she would be here. Or maybe both. She had studied it. And then she had met Steven and going to Paris felt even lower down the list of priorities. Yet. always.that was right after Jimmy’s death. She just knew she had to see Paris or. . she had seen it in movies. Her ticket included a free trip to Versailles or to Giverny. Although she had never quite been able to make it to Paris. the Paris of her dreams. feel it. she had found work and was busy and thoughts of Paris were far away. It was like pursuing the Holy Grail She was sure that one day she would see it. She knew the restaurants she wanted to visit. That’s why I didn’t get to Paris. She knew the names of many streets and sections.
she had not wanted anyone along. “and brought a friend”. That had been only part of it though. she walked past shops that should have enthralled her. Her mother had visited when she had been pregnant with her and had her in a Paris hospital. k But maybe she should have waited a little longer. I think”. She should have waited until she felt a little better. She was an older woman who had known her grandmother long ago after the war when her grandmother had accompanied her grandfather on a company transfer. Very French. She was consumed then by grief and knew that she couldn’t share that with anyone. “I wouldn’t be very good company. Yet. Until she felt a little more festive. at the same time. Going to Paris now had probably not been a good idea.” she had answered her mother.” she thought. this was actually Naomi’s second trip to Paris. And then she had tried to find someone but it was too short notice for everyone. “No. And she Page 21 . She was glad that the evening hours were filled. aware of the need to fill the afternoon hours. She had phoned the woman last night and made the final arrangements. charmed her. Naomi decided to spend the afternoon at the Louvre and try to see this Mona Lisa for herself. It had all been planned in advance. She was supposed to meet an old friend of the family at a small restaurant not far from her hotel. In the meantime.thinking about the Mona Lisa. I don’t think so. “I should have taken mother’s advice. Naomi had thought at the time. The woman had sounded warm on the telephone. So.
suddenly felt happier as she hailed a taxi. She would go to the Louvre and finally see this painting. k Page 22 .
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” She moved to her bedroom and carefully removed her grey silk print dress and hung it carefully in its appointed place in the closet. she was thinking that grey was now her best colour. As she crossed over to her bedroom. yes I must prepare for that. “Ah. she started to go through her mail. The hat. the coat and the kid gloves which she was now removing were all a very pale shade of dove grey that matched her curls and brought out the vivid blue of her eyes. She put her gloves and purse away carefully where they belonged in their respective drawers.” she thought. rewrapped it in its paper and threw it in the basket. yellows and oranges I used to wear. are too bright for such an old lady. she stopped at her bureau where a special box of chocolates always lay. She chose one. At her desk.E z stelle Duprix returned home from an interesting luncheon with an old male friend. and holding it delicately between thumb and index finger. She carefully took off her elegant little hat and placed it in its own special place in the closet. It was not this year’s model but was from a much respected couturier and still fashionable. On the way to her desk. She then removed her shoes. “those vivid colours. looked at her calendar and was reminded of the dinner with Madame Simpson’s granddaughter that evening. I Page 25 . She then removed her couturier coat. “Really. took a small bite. those clear reds. and returned to her large and airy apartment in the deuxième arrondissement and went in. put them away. removed her stockings and put on her mules and her robe.
sipping slowly. feeling its warmth down my throat. the more secretively so. got the impression that the young girl was in Paris on account of an affaire du coeur. They had just experienced some good fortune: an inheritance.feeling inside some emptiness. gaining a new friend. youth! How many times have I been in that situation myself? A hundred?” “Ha! Ha!. finding a beautiful place to live.” rose the voice of the little Gremlin of her conscience. She must bring back to her mother the right impression of Estelle Duprix. having a baby. finding a perfect lover. through my body and my limbs. almost enjoying it. and it now caressed the remembered scenes of many loves gained and lost.must give the young girl a good impression. these people were very happy. “Ah. savoring the taste of the liquid in my mouth. And I would feel parts of my body remember the Page 26 . She had. meeting an old friend. “Many times I visited new places after a sorrow of the heart -. Yet. like the bonnes soeurs had always told her. somehow. I would sit in nameless cafés. despite the little Gremlin. And I would watch the people who came in and out and invent stories about them. Always in a public place -. old lady you flatter yourself.” z Actually. Most often in my stories. At least she had always supposed that the voice belonged to her conscience. some sorrow. She preferred to call it Gremlin. had become even more fertile over the years. her imagination. Mixed in was a kind of secret germinating joy and sweet guilt about the sadness I felt or was supposed to feel. she was looking forward to meeting the young girl and telling her about her Paris.alone in a crowd.
old lady.” And then. so inconsiderate. she knew the relationship was in its last stages and she wanted to finish it sooner than the man. before the shouting and the saying of the unforgivable things would start because both were trying to find some way of ending the relationship. She wondered why she had given it life and continued to feed it. She had often been quite genuinely upset. that I felt I must expiate by at least feeling some sadness.” Damn little Gremlin. now. This sadness was very real as I remember. almost overcome with sadness about the tricks of destiny. At other times. “Come. He was like an old friend and there were so many fewer of them these days. Quite often. you were not so detached as all that. increasing my own unhappiness. She supposed it was to balance out what many lovers had called her “flights of fancy. z Of course. rude. feeding on their happiness and in that way. she was used to him now.” The little voice of her Gremlin rose up again. At other times. It was a kind of emotional cost/benefit analysis she Page 27 .warmth of a lover’s touch and feel unutterably sadder. Leeching. even when you no longer feel very much for him was so very difficult. she had just lost interest. she had wanted to continue the relationship and the man had broken it off. and in a way. She had just suddenly realized that the effort of keeping up the facade was more than any return she got out of it and decided she would be better out of it than in. what he said was true. Feeling more alone and sad surrounded by the happiness of others. Having to break another’s heart. Never a moment of peace.
children. to absorb and dissipate the pain . on her own resources. Yes. There is too much time. That’s what’s wrong with old age. that there was little time to ask questions.” Page 28 . friends. Perhaps mourning is a good word. You are being too melodramatic again. to find out how you feel and then to find out what that might mean. “Perhaps then you are right. parents.to do something with it. Mourning is a time to collect yourself. You will not win this time. “Our own sadness is something each of us has to deal with privately and alone. seeing them grow and grow apart. It threw her back on herself. don’t you think?” z “No. husbands. caring for them. They were mine. I am an old lady and I remember many things that you do not. lovers. in complaints about time passing too fast and never having enough of it. they had closed retreats at the convent where this introspection was supposed to happen but it never did. I remember in emotions. ‘Mourning’ is a strong word for what you felt.” “When I was a little girl. of living with them. Sometimes I do not remember in time and motives. very strong and very valid to me. was good. family. The problem was that the rest of life was too full. Youth is spent in a world of activity. the little Gremlin. It is one of the very few times (except for now when it was almost an exclusive pastime) that you have stopped to ponder and consider the larger questions of life. And I will tell you that the emotions in those days were very strong. It was too full of people. to look inward.” Again. The period of mourning that came after. “Old lady.did. Gremlin.
Now. Youth is for experiencing.” it interspersed “Then the world would not be filled with old ladies with nothing to do but sit in cafés and blaspheme and use the name of the Lord in vain. You would think le Bon Dieu would have had sense enough to spread the activity and the contemplation more evenly so that you would have some of each until you died. to have lost the events. enough of it. Being young and active is much easier. Gremlin. Now there is no longer any tide to move me. I find it much more difficult. There would not be all these old people unhappy with nothing to do. There were no longer the people who needed servicing. I am forever in a state of mourning. I never thought that I would rebel so much against this time of life. there were the days that must be filled. She was quite alone and had too much time to think. Old age is for reflecting on the experiencing. you are right. to the next to the next. never stopping.” “Perhaps you are right. Old age is all stopping. Gremlin. experienced. old lady. I have outlived my time. When I was young and so busy and tired. not over a loved one but for a life Page 29 . “It would make more sense that way.” z “Perhaps. What good would it do to contemplate about life when you were young? You had not seen. it only passed fast when looking back on it.Now she had too much and it passed too slowly. Life was ridiculous. You know the scientist in his laboratory does not write conclusions before he does the experiments and observes what has happened. But it is so difficult to do. The tide of events moves you from one moment to the next. I would fall into bed at night and sleep before my eyes closed. I must do that myself.
” “Am I. old lady. Estelle thought that it was a strange name to call a child. Gremlin? Why do you say that?” z “Old Lady. It is good we have come to this today. letters to answer in another and notes made in her agenda for the invitations. as you say. And the Gremlin went back to sleep for now. You are making progress.in which I was the main participant. what does it mean?” “Ah. certainement. It is all over. That was the end of that discussion she thought. Estelle’s friend Joan. Naomi’s grandmother. What was her name? What was the name they had finally settled on? She could not remember. so went back to the desk and consulted her diary. But these Canadians are strange people. Naomi. for a life that is no longer active. She then considered what she should do next. They were somewhere in between but had their own strengths. you tire me. And now. I am happy to see that you are finally beginning to ask the right questions.” With that. yes. It sounded a little Jewish. The young girl for dinner tonight. Ah.” “Gremlin. you have been in mourning. and in the end. She had liked them more than the Americans but still they were very much alike. They were quieter but not as quiet as the English. Estelle began opening her mail and going through the comfortable process of sorting it – bills in one place. had explained to her that many Canadians have that quiet strength and willpower because of their Page 30 . Gremlin.
The smaller size she used for letters to friends. Canadians exaggerated very little. She had always been considered a threat to other women and had always been happy to accept that fate. contrary to the Americans. they understated. The envelopes were graduated to match the paper and also had her return address in the same lettering. And the very smallest was for short notes and “billet doux”. These had the printed material on the front flap. The silver-framed photographs. she tidied it up. more often than not. One. Page 31 . All of the paper was cream coloured parchment with script lettering and her name and address in the middle top portion of each page except for the notes. She found that she now used the latter less and less. Estelle felt that they were exaggerating the rigors of the climate although. She simply knew that it was the price one paid for beauty and charm. she did not seek out the companionship of other women. the crystal paper holders and different kinds of paper. She had said that Canada was very cold and in the winter. z She had liked Joan more than others in the diplomatic service into which she had married for a time. she had many difficulties with them. In fact. the larger size. she used for business transactions. the silver pen.constant battle with the elements. they measured snow that had fallen in feet and their temperatures went as far as 60 below zero. In fact. The paper was especially printed for her and came in three sizes. Everything on her desk had its specific place. She answered the letters that needed answering and satisfied that she had done as much as she needed to do at her desk. Normally.
she now did the same with the charms of her intellect. Elle. able to speak intelligently about things that interested other people. It was a habit that was difficult to break. She still saw a few of them from time to time. And where she used to capture their attention with her physical charms. It saved a lot of time to know what to read and why. she had chosen a subject with which she felt men had more interest--politics and the state of the economy. she was no longer beautiful. instead of leaning towards art or literature. And of course. she loved the discussions in class or at the Café after class. On the coffee table in front of it were the current magazines she was fond of -. some of them influential. although still attractive. Le Nouvel Observateur. and during all of her best years. And she had pleased many of them. She Page 32 . However. as she had grown older. Le Monde. She had spent her youth preparing to be pleasing to men. some famous. She had been a voracious reader and appreciated the reading lists that the professors gave to the students.Estelle then moved to her chair in the living room.Vogue. She had audited courses in Political Science and Economics at La Sorbonne. She was usually well accepted by the other younger students because she brought a very different approach to the discussions. that had been her largest priority. She therefore became knowledgeable the way other old ladies do. She had to be witty and a good conversationalist. Alas. She was always anxious to keep up-to-date not only on fashion but also on current events. z She found it strange that she still felt the need to please men.
the game. She did not realize how much she would miss the physical presence of men in her life. Estelle was especially fond of young men. so full of ideas. And yet. perhaps from cynicism back to naivety or maybe simplicity . She missed that now and often wished that she had kept a few mementos. Really. never having had the opportunity to test them for themselves. she would hurry to cleanse her apartment of their presence. She knew that part of her appeal (or maybe all of it) was in her aloofness and fact that she was hard to get.sighed for the loss of the merry chase. They were so energetic. It was a time when these men had all of the freshness of youth without any of its childishness. Just being with such young men seemed to revitalize her.” Page 33 . the capture that was never complete. she felt a lack. z She has always felt that the conquest was the thing to be sought. “Old lady. It was a marvelous time of life poised somewhere between naivety and cynicism. they had much in common. She also had more time to see the beauty and truth in a world where few others had such time. after they had left. especially those she met at the university. Hard to get and hard to keep. In the old days. she smiled. still holding on to lofty ideals. All other activities had paled compared to it. the most important reason you have become such a saint these years is that you no longer have ulterior motives for action. She was at a point in her life when she could again become philosophical without feeling the need to excuse it. She too was at a crossing.
It is comfortable to sit quietly back and observe. I feel it comfortable to no longer be part of that competitiveness. she thought. In this war. The world was a much blacker place then where people only had selfish motives for actions. old lady. I had a feeling that no one but me could be good and kind and often not even me. it is a difficult question because it suggests that you may have wasted some forty years of your life. I guess I should begin.” “Oh Gremlin. you are now an observer. And it is a role for which you are ill-suited and ill-prepared.“Oh.what was her name. I don’t know. Gremlin what do you mean now?” z “What I mean is that you are no longer part of the mainstream. the most surprising thing about all this? I have found that in observing life.” That was one of the advantages of old age. She had two hours to get ready. Gremlin. she could now proceed much more Page 34 . “I am no longer as fast as I used to be.” Estelle had agreed to meet Joan’s granddaughter . I wonder. go away.” “Yes. again . Is the world changing? Or am I? Have all of these good people always been around? All of this honesty? And truth? When I was younger. “Well. you tire me. I often felt surrounded by enemies. you are no longer one of the fighters. You have lost the role you once had. I have seen more beauty and more joy than I ever expected. I have to stop and ask myself which one of these worlds is the real one? It is not a question that I like to pose to myself. if you realize just how disturbing this is to me.at l’Opera at seven.” “Perhaps you are right. But you know. Gremlin.
Before that. enjoying every moment. “Ah ha. That way. there is proof that I am getting old beyond redemption. In fact. “now. the z Page 35 . A little later. I am actually beginning to enjoy it. she had come to enjoy many of life’s simplest activities like grooming and eating and sleeping and taking rest.slowly with certain activities and enjoy them more. There were too few occasions these days for dressing up for dinner. she was surprised at how many positive things she had found today about growing old.” she thought to herself. She found that the only way of ensuring quality of service was to verify the work done and comment on specific details the next time. just enjoying what was going on. She always made sure that she had something positive to say every day about the work done the time before. She enjoyed nothing more than getting ready for an evening’s outing. She supposed that it was more motivating when people actually noticed what you did and had specific comments to give to make it better. She often did them slowly. her eyes moved around the bathroom. Estelle always listened to any objections because often the femmes made suggestions that were better than her own. It seemed all right. service was better and les femmes had a tendency to stay with her longer than they did other people. though. She checked the basin for cleanliness.” While sitting in the tub and thinking. she would have to go around the apartment and verify that the femme de ménage had done everything she had asked of her today. sitting in the bath.
her femme de ménage had done an adequate job even though Estelle had been absent at the luncheon today. everything appeared spotless. she took one. As she passed her dresser on into the living room. Quickly. She opened the cupboard to check inside. In the kitchen. z She left the bedroom stopping at the night stand and the box of chocolates. She then moved to the living room which she had already automatically examined on her arrival. She leaned over and checked the corners. everything was in its place. She went over to inspect the windowsills and they too had been properly dusted. and everything was clean.faucets were shining. In the bedroom. she moved the sofa over a bit to make sure la femme had vacuumed underneath. bit it gingerly and discarded the rest wrapped in its brown paper wrapper. Madame Lajoie. she put on her robe and went out to inspect the rest of the apartment. she observed that the silver required polishing. That was a place where rusty stains tended to gather but today everything appeared to be in order. Estelle made a mental note concerning that. The taps at the sink gleamed and the corners were immaculate. This time. Automatically. Page 36 . She would have to remind la femme about that. her eye took in all the corners and edges. even without her direct supervision. Again. Perhaps she would have time next Wednesday. Apparently. the waste basket emptied and the carpet vacuumed. she could see the rim around the inside of the toilet and the bidet. From her particular angle. She checked out the other parts of the bathroom also. she found that the dressers had been rearranged.
she had always been given the advice . “all is in order. But there seemed to be a thin line between what was endearing and what was unacceptable but she was aware of the distinction and was usually able to observe the niceties of it. I am to put my thoughts through a mincing machine to serve as food for dogs? You can put old horsemeat through that process but not fine crown of lamb or filet. “to what end?” “I.” had been her reply. It was clean and in order. she sat in her chair and leaned back picking up a magazine from the coffee table. “Mince words!” “Ah. not even as a middle-aged woman. Her age now gave her that freedom.” she thought. People had considered her to be spirituel beyond her years. But when she checked the vase.” She had often been able to get away with it when she was younger because she had been so pretty and so witty. not as an adolescent.” How many times had she been given that advice! She never did like it.” The other thing she enjoyed about it was the freedom to speak her mind. She pulled out one of the flowers and saw that one of the stems had been freshly cut. she saw that it had been refilled.“mince words!. Page 37 . It filled her with a sense of well-being. not as a child. That is an insult to good meat and an insult to good thought. longing to be free. she sighed with contentment.” she thought.Again.” z “Yes. As she leaned back. She always saw an image of good steak being chopped up for dog meat. Then she remembered the flowers. not as a young adult. However. Ever since she had been young. “There certainly were advantages to growing old. she had always felt hemmed in. The apartment was just as she liked it. “Good.
when she had crossed that invisible line. You have changed. She was not exactly sure when that had happened. She had always felt that she remained exactly the same person and that it was the world around her that had been changing at an ever-accelerating pace. People feel that. “I have good reason to be bitter. And they also feel a certain bitterness.” Gremlin. People even now sometimes considered her to be mean. It took a while for her to realize that people were seeing her with a quite different eye. It was somehow forgivable because it happened to us all. They seemed to hold it against some indefinable act of growing old. over which it appeared they felt she had little control. “you are not honest with yourself. It is all gone forever. But they accepted it and did not hold it against her. old lady. She was able to say almost anything she wanted. But now you know too much. And she was simply considered to be a crotchety old lady around whom one had to watch what one said. You know what is really funny. You know how they are fooling themselves. Your humour when you were younger was light and made fun of things without consequence. “Ah.” z Page 38 .” Gremlin interrupted. I lost my whole life with my beauty. old lady. some evolution into gaga-ism. they feel your truth.She secretly felt that the present was the best time of all.” “Well. You understand people’s basic contradictions. And.
that they had somehow done what they had wanted to. past happiness. You laugh at me. You know. Page 39 . I find it a growing experience. What good to me is my past? What good to me are all those memories? My life is no longer worthwhile. You have a past. old lady. I have only empty days now. Old age is a very trying time. Gremlin. You are left to your own resources. You should be asking yourself whether your beauty was ever that important to your happiness. You still have life. I lack the courage to end it. meeting challenges and at the same time. I do not like it at all. Gremlin. moving. almost as difficult as adolescence.” “Ha. Should you not be asking whether your beauty disappearing is the cause of your unhappiness? You assume it to be so. there is nothing there to move you. all this is very stupid. Gremlin. reflecting happily on their past and enjoying the fruits of having finished what they set out to do. Instead. I find it as difficult as any other stage in life. Think about it. past joy. You enjoy all comforts of the body. You are not asking the right questions. I do not like it. When I was younger. It seems even more worthless when compared to past activities. You have a future. I am empty too. I thought that old people were finished people. However. had accomplished all their goals and that they were now in a state of waiting. z My problem is that I have no courage. You must keep growing. I lack the courage to go on. you exaggerate again. I tell you that is wrong.“Ah.
I think there was an order for my early demise and that the angel that was to carry it out became too busy. eating dog food. And here I continue to exist. I imagine myself a man in those stories from America. that even in her death she is contributing to the society that gave her support. living in a small apartment. But be careful. You may be bringing yourself to the Page 40 . Sometimes. there is panic and then the comfort of knowing that the end is near. that in his death. there is nothing wrong with your imagination. You must be feeding it on the very best caviar and foie gras.” “Old lady. But you may just be distracting yourself. My only comfort has been that perhaps there are others like me in the world who have outlived their time. perhaps an Eskimo in the Canadian North finally abandoned by her people to die of cold and starvation on an ice floe. and somehow forgot about me. I can’t help thinking that somehow a very grave error has been committed. I imagine that there is an old lady like me in the world. an error of omission. tea and biscuits.someone finally to show concern about his fate. the responsibility. there was movement and purpose.z I should have died much younger Surely. I was meant to. First. or fell ill. dying with the secret knowledge that he will not be discovered for a few days and then causing a great many people difficulty -. At other times. the heavy responsibility for oneself taken up by someone else. the struggle soon over. And that she is part of the flow of life. You use your imaginative power and it is highly developed.
Your job is not to envy those whom you believe to be better off than you and thus fall further and further into the clutches of your imagination and follow roads that lead you further and further away from certain realizations. I have no time to listen to you anymore. old friend. Joan’s granddaughter. you continue to insist on talking nonsense. thank the good Lord for that. is purpose. for my sake and the world’s.” “Ah.” z Page 41 . I will soon be dead. You have seen enough to know that all is for a purpose and that all there is.point of discovery and then imagining yourself away from it. I must prepare to meet that child. I am an old woman. I say. Naomi. You know life too well to believe that angels make mistakes.
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of course. There was comfort. sometimes two -. Of late. She could remember any past event . she would be back to the present. and the weather – with a lucidity that often surprised her and brought her comfort too. Time would slip by -. imagining the wonderful things that would happen to her. Suddenly. like yesterday. Old age was like that. she had been given to waking in the middle of the night fully conscious as if it were the middle of the day. Those she hated most were Page 44 .the people. She knew about drowning men whose lives flashed before their eyes before death.A o s Estelle prepared for dinner with Naomi. but slower. it seemed to be mostly in the future. last week or even last year. her mind was off again running away from her with images from the past. also. then into her kitchen for a glass of water and sit down. especially when she was sitting alone and relaxed somewhere in a chair. sometimes reading a dull book. She would go to the bathroom. just before she went to sleep. the clothes. The focus of her life now seems to be in the past rather than the present. her mind wandered. But there were also some scenes that were not so pleasant. or even while she was using the commode. in reliving some of these scenes from the past.before the images would stop and then. but it had now moved back to the past and not even in the immediate past. in her bath.sometimes an hour. Her thoughts were often in the far past. Her mind would suddenly focus on a certain scene from her past as if it were yesterday. In her younger years.
all that sickness and death.” she said to herself. the results that were not very pleasant at all. It was always too late to change the past. the reasons she had made the decision. she would take one of the possible alternate decisions and follow it through. She often replayed in her mind. And she could torture herself thinking about it. The child’s mother lay there when Estelle had visited her. it was usually a most uncomfortable social situation. Too late. she got up and retrieved the ball and wound it up again and start knitting again. the ball of wool once again would roll off her lap and unravel itself even further.those in which she had made a decision that she was not sure had been the right one. o Sometimes. In addition. asking herself what else she could have done. “Ah yes. put her arms on the armrests.” She sat in her chair. When she realized what she had been doing. she felt that it was her duty and a social obligation for the Page 45 . rested the back of her head on the back of the chair. leaned back. However. It was that hospital room with green walls and white metal beds. going over the details. “Yes now I remember. Today. closed her eyes and waited. It was a useless exercise she knew but she was often three chapters into it before she even realized what she was doing. Estelle came back to the present. “How had all this started she wondered? Ah Yes! Now she remembered. There was nothing she could do. The child’s name. “How Estelle hated going to hospitals -. avoiding the memory but inevitably. letting it unravel itself like a ball of wool that falls from the lap onto an uneven floor.
“ “You are probably right. Page 46 . “you know very well that you are uncomfortable in birthing rooms because you never had the courage to have a child yourself. etc.” said the Gremlin.” It is true that she had entered the hospital room with some trepidation and was glad to see that it was a private room. I have not experienced the pain. baby names. o “Now. Estelle supposed were somewhat better than illnesses because it was a happy occasion and there was much to talk about: clothes furniture. tut. Gremlin. The new mother was leaning back.” thought Estelle. were flowers: roses from her parents.grandmother’s sake. And her mother was in Paris. bright brown eyes wide and just a little what was that? Wild? “Tut. Births. and a funny little arrangement in a botine from friends. It would be good now to share memories with someone who has known me all their life. It is something that you now regret. old woman. the responsibility. flowers from her father’s colleagues. pale against the pale pillows. “There is something wrong. But I have also not experienced the joys and I now see that there are some. Her daughter had decided to give birth in what was a strange hospital because she wanted to be near her mother.” All around her. Estelle hated making conversation with strangers who were ill and who assumed that sharing a brief hospital experience in some way made one intimate friends. The child has no make-up on.
” thought Estelle.” These events are very joyous but emotionally draining too. Tante Estelle.” But still. Do not worry. She hoped that the child’s pallor was a result of the bleaching-out effect of the pale sheets and green walls. I suppose. Maybe I can leave after 45 minutes.” answered the Child. I suppose it will but you know it is not a complete stranger to me. Page 47 . The doctors say that it is postpartum depression and that it will leave very soon. And the hormones too can betray us.” “Yes. “I am as well as could be expected. I feel let down a little now that it’s over and overwhelmed too. she would have to keep a semblance of conversation going for at least an hour. “This is not proceeding well. she thought. You know the belles emotions – they are very tricky at the best of times. “How are you my Child?”.” “Yes. I am to see my doctor if it does not go away. I feel overcome by the responsibility of this little being. “There is nothing you can get me.Estelle had brought with her a small bottle of very fine perfume. I am sure that is correct. little one.” replied Cynthia. she said. “Mais alors. o “Ah. what is the matter Child?” Is there anything I can do? Anything I can get for you?” “No. I am sure your mélancholie will soon dissipate. zut alors.
It is a very special day for me and for the baby. how tragic. No matter how great the experience. You are really very kind.my new and vulnerable daughter. The flowers and presents and the phone calls make it feel special but at the same time it is ordinary. it was just an ordinary happening. Soon. Yet. I don’t know what I was expecting. Of course. one that you will always remember.” Was it Estelle’s imagination. I will have dinner and then I will sleep just like I always do. it happens on very ordinary days. after nine long months of waiting. or did the pale head and feverish eyes relax a little more against the pillows? “That makes me feel better. I feel let down – I don’t know how to say this so that you will understand it – just the ordinariness of everything that happened. “I have never had a child. It is a very special day for you. there would be something beyond the ordinary. At the same time. I understand that in the hospital. You must have so many other things to do. But it is not really an ordinary day. I am not sure how I would respond. Tante Estelle to listen to my ravings. Babies are born here every day. I just thought that for such an important occasion. We know it is special but it is not special for everyone. many times a day.” answered Estelle. bringing a new being in the world.” Page 48 . Do you know what I mean?” “Myself. That should not take away from the other truth of your experience. But I understand your concern. You have more courage than I had. it seems an ordinary day.” o “I will stay with you as long as you want me to and as long as I am useful to you. You have done a wonderful thing by bringing another soul into the world and it is a time to rejoice and feel proud.
I was happy. I was really happy when I found out I was pregnant. I am sure most women feel a little like that. There was never any question that I would keep the baby.” “Why would you feel guilty?” o “Well. the best service in shops. and the best food in restaurants.“Oh. it was so easy to become pregnant when so many find it difficult. My body no longer belonged to me.” “Oh. being pampered by everyone. things changed. Here is my baby and now I am responsible for its care and even its happiness. Then. I started too to feel that I was bringing this baby into the world under false pretences because I really did not know what I was doing. And I feel a little guilty. At first. I started to understand the reality and the responsibility of having a baby. I always got a seat in the Metro. But now. It was as if the whole world supported me in this condition. It is quite a lot to take on. I did not always feel this way. I was not really ready and that I had accepted all the support falsely. I was very excited but then. Then as the small rumbles of the baby got stronger and stronger. in the sixth month. when I began to feel movement.“ “But I just wanted it to end and I thought it was never going to end and I felt as if I would be carrying this baby around with me forever. it belonged to this creature that was growing and moving inside Page 49 . I had a really easy pregnancy. Then. and turned into punches. I am not sure I am really ready. that I had no real right to it. I began to resent the baby and I felt guilty about that. I am faced with the reality of it.
I am scared. it terrifies me. It was as if I was the Mama bear in hibernation for nine months with her baby cub. . I can see that it would be terrifying.” “But don’t you see? It is not all over. I did not question much or think a lot. pretty happy with what was going on around me. comfortable.” o Page 50 . I was placid. However. It is just the beginning. I also did not have the all the rest of the experiences that come with having a child and I regret it today.me. It was controlling my mind also.” “And you may think this odd. I was getting so out of touch. I was its prisoner.” “Yes. My whole world seemed to shrink and close in on me and my uterus. and loose and .” “What do you mean?” she answered. I had to almost force myself to keep up with current events. parenthood was like that. . a never-ending job with no holidays and no breaks. I would go out and realize that I did not understand what people were talking about. But that is all over now. “Pregnancy is funny. but I was thinking that the baby was not only controlling my body. That is what is so terrifying. It leaves you all lethargic.” “I understand. I felt the same way and that is partly why I did not have a child. To be perfectly frank. And it suddenly dawned on me that motherhood.
like the painting and also because I have a feeling about the baby. In the meantime. “Oh. A bottle of Joy! Your favorite perfume. a feeling?” o Page 51 . my little bird. It was at that point that the conversation had come up about the baby’s name. like the painting in the Louvre?” “Yes.” “Thank you for listening Tante Estelle. you are like riding a horse of your emotions. little one and remember your Tante Estelle.” “What do you mean. “What. I have brought you a little gift to help raise you spirits.” “Oh. It is too much. Estelle asked if they had chosen a name for the baby.” “It is nothing. it is very helpful. In order to change the subject. You have been very helpful today. I would like to call her Mona Lisa. I could not share these feelings with my parents or anyone else. not sure you can control the beast.” “Enjoy it.” was the reply. thank you Tante Estelle. Right now. You rest now. but I am sure you can.“That may be but I know that you are able to accept such challenges and not lose yourself so completely in the Child that you in the child.” Estelle was happy to see that the color had returned to the Child’s cheeks. that you lose your own identity. I am afraid that people will think I am unnatural and not a good mother.
She had. I would not be happy any other way. she relived the discussion she had with the Child. I know that I am not the Mona Lisa type. I want her to grow up to be like the Mona Lisa. Oh.” As Estelle left.” “I am glad to see you smiling again. I want to start things on the right path. Page 52 . a little like you. She is sufficient unto herself. Since I have been in Paris. It is just the way I was brought up. It was the first time that she had been cast in the role of confidante to her. And I have reproductions of it also. I am not complaining. I feel it is too late for me.“My mother thinks that it is silly. I want my daughter to have that legacy. over the years. you will be giving her the personality?” o “Well. I told myself that if it is a girl. I chose it willingly and I am happy with the decision.” “How do you imagine her to be?” “The Mona Lisa looks like a woman who knows her own mind. who does not let people take advantage of her. I have already chosen another path. I can’t imagine life without a family. it is a beginning. Estelle wondered too whether her own decision not to have a child was born of the same kind of reasoning. I will leave you to rest now. I am sure you will think me silly too.” “And you believe that by giving her the name. I can’t count the number of times I have seen the painting. resisted motherhood with a kind of fierceness that she had never really understood.
She thought they had retained Lisa as a middle name but had settled on Naomi as a first name. o Page 53 . Estelle supposed that it was something about the fact that she had been born in a strange land. If she remembered correctly the Father soon entered the picture and was also persuasive.Of course. many objections to the name the Child Cynthia had chosen.
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at the very least. some twenty-five plus years ago but she gave the impression of being much younger. The point of many of these stories was that Estelle consumed male attention much as she consumed a box of chocolates. she always seemed to have no lack of male attention. lovers and affaires du coeur. based on her outer demeanor. always calm. had been a little naughty for the times. She apparently had a real knack for remaining cool and composed in all circumstances. Naomi’s grandmother and Estelle had taken an instant liking to each other. detached maybe. Naomi had also heard that Estelle had been very popular with men and had her share of husbands. People often felt comfortable and comforted by her presence and were surprised by that since it was unexpected. it was estimated. in all emergencies and of radiating that calm outwardly so that others became infected with it.N v aomi had the impression from her mother that the woman she was to meet that evening. She radiated a kind of cool warmth. had been maybe forty years old then. Naomi’s grandmother loved to tell the story of Estelle and Page 56 . a liking that had blossomed into a solid friendship. she had seemed to be eccentric and maybe a little colorful. Not that she was bubbly or energetic in any way. Estelle. Apparently. peaceful pool. Estelle Duprix. Naomi was told that she had always been a quiet. Naomi’s mother had met her when she had stayed with her parents while they were in Paris. Very attractive physically. Naomi had been told that she was cool but not necessarily cold.
wanting to touch it but knowing it was Page 57 . After these descriptions she had heard many times. she pretended not be recognize him. Luckily. complaining that the chocolates were no longer fresh. It seemed quite strange to come suddenly and without warning on such a well-known work of art. She did control that spontaneity and. Estelle would take a bite out of one and throw the rest of the chocolate away. It reminded her of the time she was in a plane. like the sophisticate she thought she was. She always had a box in her living room. Then. It was a somewhat confusing place. just like the pictures of it with the pyramid. the Venus de Milo. After the shock of recognition. she would often throw a box away when it has only been half eaten. Estelle loved chocolate and bought expensive hand-made boxes often and always had some in reserve. Naomi was intrigued and looked forward to meeting this unusual woman. At the Louvre. She never finished one. And off she went on the adventure. she thought. And she always had another box at the ready. v She suddenly was surprised to see on her right. there were few line-ups and she quickly went through the doors and into the museum. Luckily in August. as she approached the Louvre. she wanted to greet him like the friend he was to her. there seemed to be a traffic flow that Naomi could follow. Enough of that. And there it was.her chocolates. She would never run out of chocolates. she just stared at the Venus. The plane had taken off some twenty minutes earlier and she suddenly realized she had been sitting next to a television celebrity. saying that it was to maintain her figure.
not allowed. So, Naomi moved along the corridor filled with Greek and Roman artifacts in a kind of trance, then to the Egyptian exhibits, moving from room to room. Then there was a large room with a small painting in the middle of it, surrounded by a rope and a crowd – the famous Mona Lisa. Naomi got as close as she could to the rope that kept tourists away from the small, carefully guarded painting. It was so tiny! So hard to see! She could hardly see the background behind the head. Still, she could understand the centuries of fascination. She noticed how her hair was not straight at all but very curly on the ends and that her hands were very white and wax-like but very beautiful with long tapering fingers. She was certainly what would today be called a healthy girl. There was a shawl draped around her, especially the heavy folds of her sleeves near her arms made of some shiny material. She then stepped back to get a better look at the face. As she stepped back, she realized how very dull all the colors were and how brilliantly the hands and neck and chest and face stood out from them. It was a study of light amid the darkness. Light seemed to shine from her face. There was something very calm and reassuring about it. It was a face that seemed to be in movement in repose and it exuded a kind of confidence in the setting and it’s own place within that setting.
But it was also more than that. Certainly there was that aristocratic bearing, just a little haughty, and certainly the self-confidence. At the same time, there was that haunting smile, a smile that was made not only with the lips but with the
eyes. Funny, thought Naomi, how people always mentioned the smile and few mentioned the eyes. As she stood there, staring at the painting, it had a very life-like quality as if the woman painted there almost five hundred years ago could suddenly come to life and answer all of the questions people have asked about her.
She seems to be smiling, not at the painter, but at something far off, so far off it was inside of her. She seemed to be sharing a little joke with herself. It was as if she was daring the talented painter to capture her soul on the canvas knowing at the same time it could never be captured on canvas or any other way. And yet, it amused her to watch him try. It was as if she knew a secret about life. Not only that, but that she knew that the secret was a joke or at least something very funny or so unusual or so mundane that people or most people had not yet thought of it, had not even asked the question. At the same time, there it was, in front of everyone, if they would only look. Naomi could now understand how the painting haunted generation upon generation. Not only did people want to understand the mystery of the smile but also they were convinced there was a very important reason for it. Intuitively, they knew the smile had meaning and, if they could decipher it, they would have the key to something important, some mystery that would explain everything. Then, Naomi sensed her consciousness shift; she could almost feel something like gears changing within her. She seemed somehow to have taken a step up somewhere. She looked again at the
painting. Strange setting. Where can it be? What could it mean? Everything seemed upside-down and the other way around. The closer she came to knowing what it might mean by the force of staring at it, the more she wanted to move away from it. The painting had her in its thrall. It forced her to wonder about it, one thought following upon another, closer and closer to something she was afraid she would not like. One part wanted to rush forward and to know and another held back in fear. There was certainly something about the eyes. That was the whole of it. There seemed to be something interesting about the background but she gave it up. She became interested only in those hypnotic eyes. They in fact riveted her to a place, to the floor, going forward, holding back, moving inwardly but staying stock-still in front of a lively inanimate object. So many contradictions! Those eyes. They were saying something eternal, something vital, something people should know about, something she should know about, something she came all the way to Paris to find out, perhaps. There was the other thing, too, of course. The smile. Everyone said there is something mysterious about the smile. The enigma you want to solve. Yes, the strange cryptic smile. The smile smiling at itself. But it was in the eyes she would find a clue if only she could concentrate on them to the exclusion of everything else. Yes. She wanted to and yet she didn’t. What if she found something she did not want to know? What if that something caused her pain? Could she then transfer her pain back to the picture in the same way she took the energy from it?
Or at least she could get a notebook and write down some of these thoughts. Naomi got up slowly and headed back to the first floor. Finally. the one who by brush strokes.Who is the real artist of that picture. she could look at the pictures and something else would come to mind. This time. sitting in her room. “toying” with her. though. Naomi got up and decided to go down to the gift shop and get reproductions of the Mona Lisa. not that the male is playing a game with her. willing whirlpools of experiences caught for a moment in each other’s vortex mingling. He is in her eyes and in her smile. That may be the mystery. The painter is as much a part of this painting as the model. Of course there is the danger. The uncomfortable feeling that we are missing something. feeling somewhat satisfied. but rather that they are each caught up in it. room leading on to room until suddenly Page 61 . captured that joy in living. naked with that realization. She wanted to somehow capture the moment. She lingered over many. going into one room and out the other. Perhaps later. or the one who captured the painter to capture her joy in living? v One clue Naomi found lay in her naked eyes. she could not pass the other paintings and sculptures as quickly. It was the danger that produced that constant tension that moved them on from one event to the next. but refusing to be sucked into each other’s axis. yet enjoying the motion and the danger.
she ran out.she remembered the dinner meeting. v Page 62 . took a taxi to her hotel room where she cleaned up quickly and arrived at the small restaurant a little late. and she had to be at the restaurant by 7. Promising herself that she would return. It was already 5:30 p.m.
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” The maître d’ lead her as Naomi had suspected. Naomi.” “ Now that I look at you. Finally she saw her–it had to be her–already seated at a very choice table in a quiet corner drinking a glass of something. no a Kir would be fine. The maître d’ approached Naomi “Mademoiselle?” “Je dîne avec Mme Duprix ce soir. Mademoiselle. Duprix was respected at the restaurant and got special service. Naomi looked around the restaurant to see if she could spot an older lady. I’ve never had it before. you know I think you look more like your grandmother than your mother. Suivez-moi. I am drinking the Kir but perhaps you have the American habit of the cocktail?” “No. I’ve always thought so. It was evident not only from the position of the table but also from the maître d’s attitude. votre invitée.W bbb hile waiting for the maître d’ to seat her.” Page 65 .” “Now.” “Certainement. The maître d’ almost clicked his heels as he presented Naomi “Madame Duprix. sit down and let me look at you. my child.” “Yes. the woman was courteous but aloof. Jean-François. that Mme. “Merci. to the table where the older woman sat drinking.” In replying.
I have not found much I’ve disliked. I think my grandmother was very beautiful.” bbb Naomi saw Estelle’s eyes crinkle a little in an eyesmile and Naomi relaxed a little. turning to the waiter from time to time for clarification. Would you like me to do that? Or would you like to order from the menu?” “No. I have the advantage because my memory of their faces is more than 20 years old. Luckily. No. I leave it entirely up to you. Naomi smiled a little. the waiter came over with the menu and inquired if mademoiselle would have an aperitif. you go ahead.” “ Parfait.“Of course. She had been a little put off by Estelle’s manner with the maître d’. and reddened a little more. I have other eyes. but this Estelle was very different.” “Thank you very much. Estelle took both menus and gave them back to the waiter and said to Naomi: “if you permit me.” “Yes. So. You are not allergic? Is there something you do not like?” “I have no allergies I can eat anything. I would like to order for both of us since I know what is good here. She was. the eyes of my very good memory and I can tell you that you resemble much more your grandmother. Quite the contrary. about then.” Estelle then focused her entire attention on the menu. Naomi was glad to be able to turn Page 66 .
Where the one had an aura of shabby gentility. at least physically. It was made of very fine wool and was beautifully tailored. Her gray hair was pulled back to her neck in beautiful soft waves. up close. Everything about her was understated elegance. by some strange kind of coincidence. that Mme.away from the conversation for a second. the Paris of her dreams. Unfortunately. However. Naomi figured it must be a designer creation although she was not very knowledgeable about such things. She was wearing a kind of dull blue suit that had been a disappointment to Naomi from afar. Naomi figured she must see the hairdresser twice a week and the manicurist at least once a week. she had to change her mind. aside from escaping what happened at home and finally seeing her birthplace. this could not be further from the truth. Her makeup too was understated and appropriate for an older woman. that there might be a purpose to the trip. some mascara and pink lipstick. Duprix would be the old lady she had seen at the café earlier in the day or at least someone like her. She suddenly realized that all day she had been half expecting to find. the break from her normal routine gave her time to think about it even more and she knew she would have to keep busy while she was here. Estelle was not at all like the old lady at the café. Naomi was even beginning to feel that this trip to Paris may have been not been a mistake after all. The little eye shadow. However. It had some very fine over-stitching and there were many bbb Page 67 . No. this friend of her grandmother was indeed soignée and not shabby at all. Her first emotion was one of relief.
Germain. As she got closer. almost like candy in a glass. have you been in Paris long?” “No.” bbb “ The people-watching. Tell me. “Today. not very long. The blue was soft rather than dull and was chosen rather cleverly to highlight two remarkable blue eyes that were almost as bright as any young person’s and which seem to be twinkling with the glint of mischievousness. It’s wonderful. that is done. especially in the spring. The waiter then appeared with her Kir. do you find it pleasant?” “Oh yes. It is interesting to watch the people who come in and the people who pass or who walk by. There is always so much to do and see.pieces of cloth sewn together rather than just two backs and two fronts with lapels.” Page 68 . We can talk and enjoy each other. tasting a little like berries. “The Kir. She tasted it and found it to be very good. I like the little cafés on rue St. I taste mostly berries. It is a favorite Paris pastime. I myself have done that often. This is my second day” “But that can be a long time in Paris. the color improved.” “Now. I decided to have dinner at the hotel and go to bed early. Where have you been?” “Yesterday. I sit and watch also. I sat at a café and I enjoyed watching all kinds of different people come to see come in or to walk by. I got in late and with jet lag.
Yet. most tourists who comes to Paris think they must see the Mona Lisa. I went to the Louvre.” Naomi was not too sure why she said that. Jacques you probably know.” bbb “Yes. Estelle began explaining her menu choices. Tell me what did you think of her?” “What do you mean. finally satisfied with Estelle’s satisfaction. of course. I have ordered a scallop dish in a champagne sauce that resembles a little the Coquilles St. Estelle asked Naomi if it would be all right for her to choose the wine and she did this. That is what I do also. but of course you have a very special connection to that ancient lady. the waiter arrived with a glass for Naomi and some warm French bread.” “Yes. they do it very well here. It is the imagining of all kinds of things about the people we see. “I am glad that you are not difficult. The waiter left. Tell me what else have you done?” “This afternoon. ‘Of course.” “Well. This is a favorite restaurant of mine and the chef knows me very well. I am certain you will enjoy it. You went to see the Mona Lisa. a special connection?” Before Estelle could answer. she had not intended to. Also Page 69 . that is the pleasure in it. she was warming up to this disarming woman with the friendly all-knowing twinkle in her eye.“I make up stories about them. how did you know? I suppose that everyone who comes to Paris must go to see the Mona Lisa.
Now tell me. for the fact that I made a very bad mistake and was very naïve. Also ce n’est pas normal for young girls to come to the city of love alone and without the announcement well before the time. I fear you have been much disappointed. he said he did…” “Then. You loved him very much. again a dish that they do very well here.” “ I can look at you and I see. I’m afraid I did and do.I have decided on the roasted lamb. or that I no longer have someone to love me. it was not a mistake. I’m not sure what in all of this bothers me more: the fact that I no longer have someone to love. you’re right on all points.” “Did he not love you?” Well. I’ve been very disappointed – a relationship recently ended.” Page 70 . now. I suppose it shows. I have a feeling that you are here because of an affaire du coeur. to comprehend that there is a man involved in this histoire somewhere. no?” “Yes. yes.” bbb “Well. I have just had a romance end. I am sure you will be pleased with them.” “I guess from that you were not happy that it was terminated. I have only to look into your face. What is the expression? “Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. non?” “Yes. People have been telling me that but it doesn’t make me feel any better.
as for being naïve. Perhaps a little naïveté in financial affairs -. Finally. and seemed to be ready to wait forever for Naomi to speak. spying each other “from across a crowded room”. She found that the more she drank. We spent the rest of the party Page 71 .” “Yes. it was a little like lightening striking.that is always permitted.” Between sips of the white wine and mouthfuls of seafood. But Estelle just sat calmly. Tell me about it. Naomi started to laugh. She hesitated because she was not sure that she wanted to talk about it right now. for me. this man who has made you so unhappy. One is not permitted such things. it is very painful. Then she thought that it might be easier to talk to a stranger about Steven. We were struck by each other immediately and gravitated towards each other. I think that is not a very bad fault for someone your age. She explained how they had met at her friends’ party and how they had liked each other immediately. I can’t. “Yes. correct?” “Yes. I suppose I should be more philosophical about it. It’s just too painful. “Well. I know that – the coup de foudre.” bbb Despite herself.“And. it was Estelle who spoke “And what is his name. the easier it was. I think he had a friend introduce us. to be naïve in a love affair at my age would be quite ridicule. Naomi began to explain about Steven. Now.” Naomi hesitated while she was trying to put her whole relationship with Steven into words.
but there was no bbb Page 72 . You must understand that I find it difficult to understand these relationships. about four o’clock in the morning he drove me home and he was a perfect gentleman. I was thinking that we would soon be moving in together. pleasurable. From the beginning. There were. my child and how long did this last? Yes. I was very impressed. Finally. dancing together to the exclusion of everyone else. non!” But I thought there were no romantics left in this age of computers and stainless steel. he got me out of bed at 9 AM. of course. the liaisons. one lived apart until one was married after which one lived together.” “I am listening. he kissed me lightly on the lips and was gone.” “Ah. Then. It lasted thirteen months. I guess we just drifted into a relationship…” “Drifted? Qu’est-ce que c’est?” “Drift it is when you make no real decision about a relationship. What happens is that eventually you just suddenly realize you are together more often than you are apart and that therefore you are a couple. Some even lasted years. I agree. he made no demands on me. But you were very lucky. He did not ask to come in. In a way. the next morning. In my day. I was very lucky. These are to be enjoyed because they were usually brief. he was quite the romantic. and involved no responsibility and certainly no living together.getting to know each other better. Flowers followed around 2 PM and he was at the door at 6 PM to inquire about the health of the flowers and to invite me to dinner.
you will be 24 years old on June the 23. I have never had such good scallops. he was the most perfect man I’ve ever met. We had a kind of storybook relationship. He poured some wine into Estelle’s glass and waited for her comments and then filled her glass and Naomi’s glass and left with the dirty dishes. yes?” Page 73 . “What a wonderful choice. loving and gentle. We were so close. In a way. “this is wonderful. I think often ruins a good romance. We shared everything. don’t tell me. Really. Steven was thoughtful and kind. he was my best friend.” “I am glad you approve. today. That’s the thing that bothers me most. This living together.no thought of the divorce or the living together. almost like living together.” bbb At that point. I have no idea why it ended. the waiter arrived with the wine and the first course.” said Naomi. I thought it would last forever. When she was done. “Maybe you’re right. Maybe that is what ruined our relationship. Still.” “How old are you now? No. Naomi continued the conversation.” Both Naomi and Estelle attacked their food silently. I was the envy of all my friends. I sometimes think that they were perfect because one did not live together. We were… we were… I think the best way I can describe it is we were comfortable together we were even beginning to anticipate each other’s wishes. Now let us eat. he was the first such man I met and I’ve never met his match before or since and probably never will. let me remember yes. Maybe we were too close.
perhaps that’s not quite right. should learn something from it but what is there to learn? In the middle of a beautiful. but when I moved. Happiness is something that one finds deep down within oneself. you will admit. complete relationship. Not when I was moved. June 22. of course you would remember. to have the help of things and people and the environment. But it is helpful. There’s something else. While I was getting dressed this afternoon I was remembering the last time I saw you at the hospital when you were a few days old. the perfect relationship according to my friends. I should know why. No. I mean I was here then. I am hurt because I’m not sure I understand why he decided to leave me and I feel that I should have that answer. I almost feel that I should know something about it.” “Oh yes. But. he decides that he must leave and never explains it Page 74 . All I can say is that I’ve always been happy because something good happened to me and right now I’m very unhappy because Steven no longer loves me. Happiness you know it’s not something one finds reflected in familiar places or faces. You are still very young to suggest that you will never find that happiness again. at my age that I can agree with that.” “I’m not sure. The greatest happiness I have felt I think–you know.“Yes.” bbb “I suppose you’re right. you were here then.” “Yes I have heard that. You have the benefit of experience. too. that old ladies must come to philosophical conclusions about life–has not been when the environment has pleased me but rather when I had affected the environment in some way.
” “I think that you are angry. He and Estelle fussed over the plates and the wine. how did you know?” “Oh. at least my friends have had other experiences. We would often leave parties early in order to be together longer. a red. Even thirteen months after we met. Whatever that means. It is important to eat it while it is still hot.” Page 75 . “Please begin. On the romantic front we were totally compatible and even in the days before Steven left.to me except to say that it cannot even explain it to himself. this time. and accidental touch can make us both respond like the first time we touched.” “He was your first lover I see. not always. We were sexually compatible.” “Of course I’m angry who would not be? I mean we were the perfect couple.” “Responses? Do you mean that you were–how do you young people of North America say that– sexually…” “Yes that’s a large part of it.” bbb It was at this point that the waiter arrived with the main course. our relationship was still as responsive as ever. I don’t think so.” “But surely that goes without saying at your age. Sometimes people have to work harder at their relationship than we did.” “No. there are the signs.” “Yes.
the job?” “Yes of course. About half-way through. eating efficiently.” bbb It was at this point that the discussion turned again to the topic of Steven. Naomi slowed down and.As was her fashion Naomi dug in. I have a job in the government as a junior policy writer. She sipped a little more wine and began to be quite talkative. very delicate something I’ve never had before. I have been too engrossed in my Page 76 . Indeed she was grateful for the interruption. It seems suddenly important to Naomi that she impress on this woman the perfection of her relationship with him. I have interrogated Michel but it is of no use. but it’s nothing creative. Estelle changed the subject. I wrote poetry and I enjoyed that. There is an unusual combination there.” “Yes I am not sure myself what it is. she became aware that Estelle was watching her with amusement. She concentrated her attention on dispatching the food in front of her efficiently. when she was almost done.” When I was younger. In fact it was the first time that she had talked to anyone at all about it and it seemed to help to get her mind straight on a few things. I don’t know. enjoying each mouthful more than the last. there was something. she pretended that she had enough and carefully crossed her knife over the downturned fork. “That was delicious. “You have of course. her own plate almost untouched in front of her. Naomi felt a little ashamed of the exuberance of her appetite but she hated to see so much good food go to waste. But I have not done much writing except at my job. He is a chef who likes to keep his little secrets.
relationship with Steven, trapped by the love of being loved.” “Yes, I can understand that. Your mother, too, had the fragile soul of the poet.” “My mother? You’re kidding! You’re wrong. My mother is not at all like that.” “Like what?” “Like me.”
“Perhaps I saw her in a very different light than you did. I think you are very much alike or at least you were. What I mean is that your mother at 21 was very like you are now. At least you seem that way to me. I find this analogie of being trapped, a very interesting one. It is a bizarre word to use, non?” “Yes, I don’t know why I said that. It must be the wine talking. It does seem a little dramatic.” Naomi became lost deep in thought it was almost as if she had forgotten where she was and with whom. The old lady smiled and sat back, relaxed, comfortable in the knowledge of thought patterns that were no doubt forming themselves in the child’s mind. Naomi wondered why she had used the word. She had never before consciously felt that she had been trapped in a relationship with Steven. If it was a trap, it was certainly a tender and loving one and one into which she quite willfully moved. Not only did she walk into it willingly and welcome the sound of the door closing behind her, she had checked to make sure it had been closed and
locked. She even became the guardian of his door, ensuring that it would stay closed and locked.
She relayed the strange new image to Estelle. Estelle answered: “And Steven? I only hear what you did. Did Steven also help you close the trap door?” “That’s right. You’re right. I never quite thought of it like that before but that’s absolutely correct. I haven’t mentioned him. I’m not even sure I have an answer to that question. If I felt trapped but happily so, could he have felt equally trapped but not have been as happy about it? Let me think…?” “Personally, I don’t think you can find an answer inside of you. You must ask this Steven, no? But, have some more wine. Also you must decide what you would like for dessert would you like to see the menu again?” Although Estelle had not moved a finger that Naomi could see, as if by some signal, the waiter came up and removed their plates. He repeated Estelle’s question about the dessert menu. Estelle saw that she was hesitating and waved the waiter way suggesting that he returned in a little while, after they had made up their minds. “My child, we can wait a little before ordering.” “Oh, it’s not that I don’t know what I want. It just that I’m not sure I should have dessert. It is very fattening.” “Yes, yes it is. I myself cannot permit myself to indulge in these things anymore but at your age with your young métabolisme, it is the time. If you
do not enjoy them now, soon it will be too late. What did you want to have?” “Do they have Crêpes Suzette?” Estelle threw back her head and laughed “Of course.”
Again, as if on a signal, the waiter appeared. Estelle ordered and they waited for the table-side show to begin. And it was worth the wait. Naomi loved it. The waiter deftly turned the crêpes with spoons and spooning over the liqueurs. Then came the finale of the fire flaming over her dessert. “And there you are Naomi. At least, it is a good show. One worries less about the best crêpes, although I think you will find them to your satisfaction. One is more interested in the best show, no?” “Yes I can understand that. It’s quite a show. It’s the kind of thing I was looking forward to.” “Yes it is something one must do when visiting Paris.” “Like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower!” “Ah yes. The Louvre. You said you visited and what did you see?” “Well, I went in as a kind of afterthought. I mean I hadn’t intended to go there that day especially. I was just wandering around and had stopped at the café and moved on just killing time you know? I’m not sure why but somehow, going to the Louvre seemed like a good idea, a way to spend the time before you and I were to meet for dinner. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I was surprised to see the Venus de Milo, almost
There are no points of reference. It has an aura that reproduction cannot convey. And I could certainly see what has attracted people for generations. I had seen dozens and dozens of reproductions of her everywhere. even in advertisements. I wandered around in a kind of trance.just ordinary.staring at me in the face almost as soon as I got through the door. “And then there are rooms upon rooms of all these precious works of art.” Estelle laughed. I guess I never thought it really existed. again. It is just her and a dark background of mountains.” “And what was that?” “I guess it is the smile. Tell me what did you think of her?” “There. I was struck by its reality. Of course I’d seen pictures of it all my life especially in my history textbooks but somehow. that it was almost too much. and it became ordinary – millions of dollars per room. history brought to life -. It was as if my mind could not grasp it all. And yet. no longer pictures in books or movies. there was something to be said for the real thing. I chanced upon the little boy with his tired finger in a centuries-old dike. I guess that’s why North Americans come to Europe: all of those famous works of art and buildings that are part of our culture. “Yes. suddenly appearing before us as real as we are. It is as if wandering through Holland. It is difficult to see what she is smiling at. the mysterious lady. And then there was the Mona Lisa.” bbb Page 80 .
Hautaine means aloof? Yes. not arrogance because she seems to have a fine sense of humanity. there was a certain aloofness. would you say? Or even arrogant?” “No.” “Well. That is why it continues to enchant us. I think so. it seems that she is thinking to herself about something and finding it a little funny and that is the reason for her smile. because she is alone and the one painting her is a man. Because there is nothing else in the painting to give us clues.” “How is that?” bbb Page 81 . For example. something which responds to their own interests and needs. To me.“Yes. many people have tried to explain the mystery of her and have not been very successful. Do you mean that everyone sees in her something different. “Yes. I think that is true. Do you understand what that means?” “Yes. or as I care to think. All of them have been successful. like an ink-blot test?” “Yes. something personal. I think no one has found the reason for it. but maybe detachment is a better word. I guess what she means to me is aloofness. tell me what the lady means to you. all of them have been successful. to a large extent. it is that enigmatic smile. It is the mystery.” “Now that’s an interesting thought. I think it may have to do with what is called the war of the sexes. Hautaine.
And Mona Lisa is aware of this. I think I can see that.the game that men play with women and women with men. as your Monsieur Shakespeare has pointed out.eternal woman -. da Vinci’s interpretation of her.it’s all a play. This is the knowledge that she holds. I got a reproduction and will look at it more closely when I return to my room. she is la Femme Éternelle.” “Wow! Now I really want to get back to my room. that lifts her from the day-to-day world with the altitude she needs to be on the neutral.” bbb “But it does not matter what the real woman was like. there is still the playing of the Game of Life -. sure of herself. Even with these two people in a kind of client/artist relationship. that they each play with the other and both together? The truth is that it is just a game that it is not serious and in a way. nothing in life is serious -. was a woman -. not being coy.” “Yes.“To me. I believe that da Vinci used her to show us this Eternal Woman: strong. captured but yet never captured.” “The Eternal Woman. unable to hide her wisdom.” “And I think your Mother saw much the same as I did. Or at least. but forever knowing and understanding life’s short game. confident. quietly joyful. In that moment captured in da Vinci’s brush stroke. the secret is in the laughing smile that reaches the eyes. That is why I had no doubt that viewing the Mona Lisa would be one of the first stops on your Page 82 .” “In a sense. that makes her smile.knowing.
the Mona Lisa was so important to her.Parisian visit.” “My name? What about my name?” “Oh. . I did not know it was a secret. that you would have wanted to see her.” bbb “My mother? What do you mean? That reminds me.perhaps I am being indiscrète. I regret . but I was so sure that your mother would have . non? I did not know. and then all of that confusion about your name. a secret to you. your mother did not wish to call you Naomi. . yes it is. it is not to be believed. . Why would you say that?” “Oh.” “What are you talking about? What about my name?” “I suppose now that I have begun.” Page 83 . although I never use it. Tell me is your second name still Lisa?” “Yes. you are certainly old enough to now about your beginnings. after 24 years. But perhaps. Or. I have put myself in a difficulty most embarrassing. it is still a painful subject. oui? I see that there is nothing left to be done but to explain. . earlier you mentioned that of course I would be interested in the Mona Lisa. I just assumed that your mother . I thought your mother would have told you well before now. when you were born. To me. I mean. . altogether in all innocence -. Naomi. at least. especially at the moment of your birth. So painful. now. for your mother. I don’t know how that came about.you will reassure your mother of my innocence. .
She felt lost in her motherhood I think.“Yes. when she came to Paris had visited the Mona Lisa just as you did and I think it had affected her perhaps as it has affected you. too. They say – I do not know this myself from personal experience – that such things can strangely affect pregnant women. she had decided to call you Mona Lisa. Les emotions. and in a strange place. that discussion had more of an effect on me that I realized. you know. That is why I was so sure she would have told you about your beginnings. Perhaps I am not phrasing this properly. well. That is one of the things I now see more clearly. It’s funny. You understand that it was something about her own need rather than yours. and you were a girl.” bbb Page 84 . you see. Your Mother then had just seen the Mona Lisa and when you were born.” “I think I understand some of what you mean. Please forgive me. I am going on about myself and you are not interested in how that meeting affected me but rather how it affected you and your Mother. you know. are very sensitive about that time.” “What beginnings? What are you talking about?” “Well. your mother. I saw you when you were born and I talked to your mother then. I will say a few things. that there used to be a popular song about the Mona Lisa and my mother used to hum it quite often I always found it strange it seemed like a nonsensical song to me. I think your mother is more appropriate to tell you about this but since it is too late to take my finger out of my eye. Frankly. perhaps she was affected even more because she was pregnant.
She gave Naomi written directions to various places she had enjoyed.” “My psychic roots. That is an interesting way of description. the waiter came up to Estelle with the bill. she gave her the names of restaurants and the names of the Maître D’s. That is done. out-of-the-way places.” bbb Then although Naomi had not seen any signal. enjoying the moment. Naomi said that she would take care of it but she was closed out completely. I think it is best for you to speak to your Mother yourself about it. There are connections between things past. Are you ready? I have asked that two taxis be called to take us to our destinations. “There. Estelle and the waiter were lost in a well-rehearsed dance of the payment of the bill.” That was the end of any in-depth conversation for that evening and they fell again into discussing tourist attractions with Estelle giving Naomi some suggestions about places to see while she was in Paris.” Naomi laughed nervously. In some cases. Naomi sat back.“Well. Despite her protests. I have said enough. present and future perhaps as strong as the bonds of the flesh.” “Yes. Page 85 .
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Also I think you found it surprising that such a young one could teach you about the life. you are again getting religious on me. Also. Let us leave that to the priests and the nuns of my youth. I met that little one tonight. Let us not talk about souls. although I think I did tell her. You see. yes. that meeting with Naomi showed you what relationships there could be between people. What was it that she said that has so much interest for you?” It was when the evening was finishing and our talk of roots -. moving from one generation to the other.“G 1 remlin. Saw and heard.” “Oh. that you learned something tonight from that child.” “I suppose.” “She said many things. It was what the girl said that interested me. They are like electrical impulses which are activated when soul meets soul. I think. I have finished with that. You know I have left all that behind. Were you there? Did you see her?” “Yes.” “Yes.not only the physical roots -. There are connections that are difficult to explain. old lady. But it was an excellent lesson for you. Gremlin. Perhaps now you will listen a little more to me when I explain things to you.that there are. She is concerned with her own problems. She started me to think about these psychic roots–ideas being transmitted through ourselves or perhaps somehow through the atmosphere like Page 88 . I did. Tonight was just one such meeting. I do not think she realized that she was teaching me.
I would not know how to tell my story. Ah! That. fooling myself that I was progressing. always at that lower level. has been a kind of succession of experiences. I think there is a pattern superimposed on cloths of different colors but of the same quality. You understand. with a wide base that slowly but suddenly reaches its apex. And I realize that I do not know the theme of my life. My life. Yes. side to side. instead. You are rolling out your life and looking at it and beginning to see the patterns there. overall though. not down to up? But building up slowly a little bit each time. I just now realized that. It would have to be much faster. You are finally doing that which is most useful to you. There seems to have been some kind of lesson that I failed to learn from the very beginning. You are no longer lost in the contemplation of the exquisite color and workmanship of the fringe.” “Excellent! Old Lady. You have finally given yourself over to the vital task of the aged. The experiences are different. I went on pursuing or repeating the same action. I started to think and to look back on my life and saw that many of my experiences had a strange similarity: the similarity of a developing pattern imposed and superimposed and fading with time. of the dying (and we are all in the process of our 1 Page 89 .genes through bodies but probably faster. one beside the other. but in the consecutive pattern rather like a pyramid. I realize. overlapping. If I were to write an autobiography. excellent! You have finally arrived at this point. then. moving on. Yes. Not at all It is as if I had joined a business when I was quite young at one of the lower levels and proceeded then throughout my career moving from one job to the other.
own deaths). this facility extends to larger and yet larger things until the patterns are seen with respect to soul and destiny infinity and eternity. Most people have enough to do.” “The mother?” Page 90 . I do hope she gets the information she requires from the only person who can give it to her. The task of seeing and solving the puzzle. Let me get back to what the young girl said yesterday at the restaurant. now you have lost me. awakens them to the pattern in all things and the connections between patterns. the senses. Most people must live in the pattern and be the doer. being themselves locked in physical bodies experiencing the depths of human experience through all layers. It is strange that she could have been so affected by her mother’s feelings at her birth and yet have gone through life not knowing about it. after a little exercise. you could stand and observe this reality and become aware of the pattern but that is not possible for everyone. of deciphering the pattern out of the beauty of varied colors and forms. the emotions etc… They must drink and feel the life of being course through their veins.” 1 “Bien non. Few can live in it and stand beside it and be both the Doer and the Observer. patterns are seen involving a short lifecycle. If you were further advanced. They must also exercise their minds to full potential and so on and so on with the intuition. or a relationship. They must use their bodies as finely tuned instruments of living. again with the religion! Gremlin. or a job. Sometimes the very coursing of life awakens them. of joy. At first.
Cause and effect together in one moment yet separated by many years -. you are ridiculous. However. How was I to know she did not know? No Gremlin. in a way. It was only while I spoke to her that I realized just how much that meeting with her mother had also affected me. perhaps.” Page 91 . too. I guess I got a look at what infinity might mean. that something seemed to awaken in me.” “Something?” “Yes. This is true. that is not what affected me most. while also seeing before me in the flash the results of that hospital day.” “How is that?” “Well. It surprised me that she did not know. as I was sitting there. It is not something I was conscious of at the time nor have I thought about it much ever since.” “And. her mother. Do you understand?” “Yes. It was by reviewing the scene in my mind yesterday. I could see quite clearly the mother and the child of 24 years ago.” “Well. although I did in fact reveal that which I think I should not have revealed. I saw a woman who was becoming older.” 1 “What do you mean? Who else could tell her? Not I.“Yes.the action that is and yet that continues itself. that white hospital room.
They all found out soon enough. Do you remember Gremlin? Were you with me. Further. I was with you then and always will be although you were not as aware of me. you had some fear even then. but not totally. if I remember. Instead of meeting them in boudoir. You still have your young men. That also passed. however. even then?” “Yes. you meet them in the university. Let me continue. of growing old.” “Yes.” “And if you are correct? What of it? I find you cruel. It was a kind of sickness that I had for a little while this madness for young men. I was. always by an accident that was not really accidental. Somewhat. old lady. then.“Becoming?“ 1 “Well. I do remember though that there were Page 92 . I began to remember what had been happening to me then. you had a very young lover whom you kept somewhat hidden from your other friends. You were leading a bit of a double life. It was almost a halfcentury old but my age was not on my face as it is now. What you get from them is still the same thing that you have always wanted but now you use as your enticement not your body and your physical attributes but your mind which you have now exercised and made as coquettish as once your body was. I was able to fool many people. As I saw the scene in my mind and heard that young child who was newly a mother speak.” “I would say not. young as you pretended to be. I saw my face. If I remember. better people even than you hardheaded Gremlin.
. Yes that was a surprise to me. be serious. I do! He is that good friend of your youth.” “And loved you still the same?” “Gremlin. He was a good friend who was with me most of my life. he knew me better sometimes I think that I knew myself. Gremlin. I want you to know Gremlin. that love was too overwhelming. At any rate. comforting. I was thinking about the proposal when I went to see the baby Naomi. You see.. the lovers who have moved in and out of my life. a good friend of my youth and of my middle-age. he knew me when I was still young. You must remember also Alfred do you?” “Yes. although again I find that to be too severe a judgment. in part. the baby Naomi. At the same time it felt reassuring. Alfred was not like the other men. too demanding. Did you know he asked me to marry him? In fact. He loved me still the same. when I was still naïve.” 1 “Yes. You see. Page 93 .” “Before you became immune to love?” “Yes. before. But. to me.” “What stopped you then?” “What stopped me then was.those young men but it is not of them I speak. Alfred thought that I had perhaps slowed down a little and would be ready for him. that I did seriously consider his proposal and under other circumstances I might have acceded. before life took away my innocence. perhaps you are right.
I Page 94 . he knew my real age. I do feel the need always to be in control. It is strange but I remember now. What she said about the Mona Lisa and her feelings on motherhood terrified me. I admire that.” “Of happiness?” 1 “Oh. It was just that the idea of marriage seems suddenly so suffocating. Yes. In that week.” “You were afraid. Gremlin you always get to the point too fast. I was too old then to have children. To me she was an aristocrat.like a soft feather bed in my grandmother’s house. perhaps. It appeared to me to be like a cage. like you. It is exhausting to talk to you. that in the weeks that followed. She could even control the tenderest of feelings towards another human being. of happiness I suppose. I need to be free. You loved Alfred and were afraid that meant you would become vulnerable. I think I was about to accede when I went to visit that hospital room. You see.” “Yes. I had much time to think about Alfred and what I might do. not be able to control. horrified me. I do not like uncontrolled things. She was someone who could control her life absolutely. the image of the Mona Lisa came frequently to me you see. You understand. What else could it be?” “It could be fear of losing control. that too. I cannot be caged. and in that vulnerability. I was afraid.” Yes. and I could not wait to leave the room. And I could feel my age creep up upon me. He used that to entice me into a marriage with him.
you always had control.” Quote. gremlin that is too much.” “Now. Alfred was the small exception. In all your other relationships.envy that. I do think I begin to see what you meant when you talked about patterns. And it is getting late.” “Yes Gremlin. I am under your control. I will leave. it is getting late.” “Always. old lady. I was too much afraid to lose what I had worked so hard during a lifetime to acquire and so finally I refused his request. And he married another and I lost a good friend. I decided that I could not open myself to what Alfred was offering me. I think you chose them because you did not love them. Leave me now I have much thinking to do. when you ask it.” 1 Page 95 .
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She was too sleepy to resist. swirling. The road was a little to the right of the tree and bypassed it. There was a little hill but it was a nondescript gray-brown.N 5 aomi slept well during her second night in Paris. There was no other way to explain it. She felt herself being pulled into the dream into the dancing trio. Resisting the temptation to move forward to the tree. which now seemed at least twenty inches thick. Instead. she stopped to watch the children dancing. was that kind of circular seat that surrounded it like a wooden tutu. no flowers of any kind. three people – perhaps they were children – danced around and around. she continued past the tree. There were no trees no vegetation. Page 98 . She gave in and fell back into the heaviness swirling. She was caught up in swirls and swirls of dreams enveloping her. or back to a conscious state. As she awoke. Ah! A familiar place! There was a tree. They were so gay and happy! In her dream. no animals. Naomi walked toward the tree. catching her inert body and pressing it back to sleep. so. Around that. It was as if she had indeed stepped into a painting but one which itself which was only half finished. down the path and then down the little hill. gnarled oak tree. toward the roots. No one was sitting on the seat. she felt heavy – lost below the ticking of the mattress. and finally reaching her destination. How strange she thought in the dream. a kind of large. but not an oak tree. She went a little way until she became conscious of the nothingness around her.
Then again she felt that irresistible urge to join them. she realized that they were not children. But that was all right because she felt no need to describe it. She turned back. neither a cause nor an effect. came the joy in waves and washed through their bodies.She might have been in the middle of the desert except for the fact that there was no sand. For some reason. she moved as if on wheels and joined the trio. It was indescribable. Even from the root system under the earth. That thought though. She was one of the group and the whole group at the same time. especially this kind of joy. perhaps because they were going too fast. There is no reason. she thought. lasted only an instant because almost immediately. 5 That scene. was colorful and real. She stood and watched the children quite satisfied with being the observer. Their connection through their clasped hands spread the joy and intensified it at the same time. actually she was pulled backwards until she reached the tree again. It is not Page 99 . Naomi felt that she was not only one of the people dancing there but all of the people at the same time. The joy seemed to come from the tree in waves straight out from and parallel to the trunk. nor logic to it. is a great gift to receive. she became immersed in an overwhelming feeling of joy. she wasn’t able to see their faces. making it a foursome. As she became one of them. at least. Without thinking. Joy. And joyful. The joy around her seemed to pull from the center of her chest and caused her to move up from the ground so that she was in fact dancing in the air. She was simply suffused with the spirit of joy being experienced around that tree and was satisfied and felt she could go on indefinitely.
You feel a little sheepish but still are unable to control the width and brilliance of your smile and unable to control the tears. It swells through your body like an ocean swells. in the midst of an otherwise ordinary day like an old friend you have not seen for a long time whom you suddenly meet in an airport bar on a snowy day when all the planes are at least two hours late. The only way to stop them would be to find the source and it is too deep. sudden. while she continued to be perfectly satisfied with her activities of dancing. unable to break the dream tie to that other world. Perhaps not childish -. stretching. almost as if the stretching of the 5 Page 100 . It is the kind of joy that comes unbidden. and then turning to find a more comfortable position then settling into a circular sun receptacle. for no evident reason. swirling. she became aware that she was a sleeping body. In fact. It hardly matters because there is little motivation to stop joy except perhaps the guilty feeling of being somewhat silly. swirling around her only to awaken a few minutes later in the same sleep–drugged body.childlike. Slowly. or satisfaction of the self for a job well done. just because that is what it does. she felt much like a cat growing more and more lazy and indolent in a sunny window. Perhaps it was the wine last night but she knew it was much more than that. Almost as soon as she would raise her eyelids they would close of their own accord and she would drift off again into pleasant but indefinite mists. She felt anchored by the tree. money or praise or winning. They come from a source deep within. It finally washes up in your face and you can’t help smiling despite everything else that is happening.caused by anything. not because of a reward. somewhat childish.
exercised. the life she had left to live was that kind of elastic space. she stretched again. Page 101 . She could no longer remember what it was Estelle had said that seemed so important a moment ago. the furniture. she thought. to this shell. like the beam of sunlight hitting a counterpane. She stretched again. the carpet. she could be free. Consciousness was returning. Her next thought was the time. the palace of French kings in the countryside. bringing to her self her own individuality. In a sense. She turned back into the covers and closed her eyes. Estelle last night had said something about that. compared to how negative and ambivalent she had been feeling the day before. The dust particles seem to be doing just what she was doing: stretching out to fill a new place. the shell of a thing that must be grown into stretched into. She peeked at her clock. It was only eight o’clock. To this exercise. But she was now fully awake. and moved in different ways. her own self. 5 Her half-open eyes took in the sunlight playing on the cover. her own state of being different. It did not make much sense. She saw the dust particles dancing in the sunlight. It was as if they both had a new shape to fill. full consciousness coming a little closer to the surface. She did not have to be anywhere until early afternoon when she had a scheduled trip to Versailles. Her first thought was that she was feeling very good. Like a cat. her own uniqueness. half–dozing again. and then curled up on her right side clasping the pillow in her arms taking up the space beside her.muscles was undertaken only to better enjoy the indolence of the body.
picayune. She was satisfied only to feel. or was it the other way around? It too seemed more relaxed. she was vulnerable enough to revel in it. Knowing why seemed unimportant incidental.She lay back on the bed luxuriating in the feeling of well-being. or could not have permitted to enter. Slowly. the feeling that all is right with the world. Whole lives could pass through. Naomi knew then that she now wanted to stay in Paris as much as she had wanted to leave just yesterday. she arose and went to the bathroom to take a shower. She took a long. thoughts that before she would not. becoming less efficient and more sensual. she felt good in her skin. hot shower. She laughed at the expression and thought how her Aunt Mary would have liked that expression. and enjoyed the sharp needles of water hitting her body in different places and she moved her attention like a mental searchlight from place to place to place on her body. 5 The state of her body seemed to be affecting her mind. feeling the pin pricks on her nakedness and following them with her hands. her hands massaged each little spot ‘hurt’ Page 102 . She saw it in her mind’s eye as a wide low blue space supported by bars something like the iron bars of the jail but so widely spaced that nothing could be kept in or out. Although she had no idea why she felt so good. almost as if certain barriers were down now such that random thoughts could enter. No longer able to tolerate the inactivity of her body. Naomi didn’t quite know what it meant she knew only that it was somehow related to freedom. As the French say.
squinting her eyes and rinsing and rinsing until her hair squeaked clean. where bone could be felt below the thin soft padding and the smooth skin. She particularly liked the roundness her shoulders made. She washed. Her breasts and nipples now stood out and away from her chest wall.by the spray. soothing area after area of her body as she stopped the spray for a moment and massaged. her hands moved. Again. the nipples seeking out the touch she was deliciously delaying. up over the tops and under. She turned her back to the spray and soaped up both of her hands and playing them around and around her breasts. She stopped momentarily to wash her hair. then up again between them and down the sides and under. using too much shampoo. acutely aware of every shower water prick. over and over her body. 5 Finally. She abandoned the washcloth as too rough. Page 103 . consciously delaying the moment she could go back to soaping her body. She washed her hair three times. She preferred the smooth slick feeling of the wet soap over her slippery skin. Down her neck and chest. purposely missing her nipples again and again. pushing up then letting go around and around. she washed her neck and shoulders. she over soaped the washcloth. First. awakening the few places that had not yet been awakened by her previous touching and by the spray. she permitted herself to soap her body. squinting as the suds ran into her face and then rinsed and rinsed until she was satisfied her hair was as clean as it could be.
she moved her hands. Yet again. slowly again. her hands passed gently over the nipples. wanting Page 104 . soap and other liquids. 5 As the nipples became oversensitive from too much friction. she stopped short of it and turned around letting the water fall down her front. Then her hands moved out again over the swell of her hips and stomach and back in again at the dip of her waist. her hands gently went as though with a mind of their own. Up and down. until finally one time. down her sides and over the stone hard of her ribs and the concave side and smoothness of her waist. instead of moving between them her breasts. pushing out. she heard her own involuntary intake of breath. no longer as painfully sensitive. as her hands came around and under. complementing each other with the sudden surprise of parallel bony structures of rib and hip. By now. Her hands moved up from her feet caressing the insides of her legs coming close to and retreating from her ultimate goal. She took up the washcloth to wash her back and pushed out the front towards the water spray weaving in front of it so that it hit one breast and then the other. now engorged and pinched and wet with water. the other. holding her breath. Her hands continued down the outside of one leg and over the feet positioning herself so that the spray played on one nether cheek and then deliciously. playing again with herself sometimes missing the nipple and every time she didn’t miss.She did this as long as she could. The capacity of giving herself joy being a joy in itself as was the capacity to deny herself the same joy. poised on her desire. She continued the action. she was breathing hard and gasping.
She then cleaned her face and readied it for the makeup. moving against her fingers to a familiar and ancient rhythm. moving through her body consciousness lodged in one place or another. moving up and down. Still feeling euphoric. Circular muscle spasms moving in a circular motion. point and counterpoint. full of sharps and flats. a–it was in staccato. she soaked herself again and efficiently cleaned up the evidence of her sudden unconscious passion. her hands began to tarry again over smooth places. While waiting for breakfast. Like music. bringing ultimate pleasure and then … release. moving her hand up between her legs finding what she had so long denied herself pressing upon it with two fingers moving inside her with the bottom of her body rolling gyrating.the feel of her own skin. around and around and with her left hand she reached behind herself to the another orifice which smiled and relaxed at her touch. slowly. 5 Finally. enjoying the feeling of skin and some hair. she sat down and looked at some of the brochures she had picked up from the desk in Page 105 . she gave in. of smoothness and hollows. But even as she efficiently rubbed herself with the hotel towel. Her mind. fluid. Feeling a little sheepish. joyously. of padded places and skin covered bowl. moving. slowly. Release coming in the flood of liquids and gasps from her mouth. Naomi dressed herself quickly spraying perfume quite liberally all over her body and surrounded by a cloud of scent she went to the telephone and ordered her continental breakfast. awakening each place to the ache of wanting to be touched and fondled. Fullness became pain and finally movement–movement longing for release.
Still. Naomi had some difficulty in understanding how something that was just pretend seemed so real. the woman did not seem real. She began to leaf through it. she felt that on some in some way the heroine was real. she sat for the portrait for four years and was amused with music and jugglers. Apparently. daughter of a Neapolitan. She’s quickly to the painting of the Mona Lisa. There seem to be few facts about the model. Her full name was Madonna Lisa. It was a book about the Mona Lisa and its painter. Page 106 . and became more interested in the strange man who could paint a woman who was laughing at him with the process. She also took out the list of names and addresses that still had given her the night before. She remembered that her mother had somewhat ridiculed this suggestion while trying to explain to her that it was ‘just pretend’. 5 Then her eyes fell on the publication she had picked up at the museum. Afterwards she had asked her mother what the heroine was doing now and whether she was still happy.the lobby when she arrived. She was married in 1495 to a Florentine merchant whose last name was del Giocondo and that she had one daughter who died in infancy. the Mona Lisa. if only for a little while. She thought that the heroine had a life of her own. she seemed more like a fictional heroine. At the time. separate from the movie. In fact that she had sat in the darkened theater. or something else. Naomi remembered once seeing a movie with her mother while she had been still quite young. The fact did not in any way explain the phenomenon of the lady that the book called our Lady of the Renaissance.
Instead. the real and the fictional did not mix together very well. others saw in it a blankness born either of mental deficiency or boredom. and Scarlet O’Hara was not any less real than Katherine Medici. held a secret cruelty especially against the opposite sex. Was there not a play she had heard about once about an author who invents characters who then take over the plot? She guessed that people needed symbols whether in fiction or reality. 5 Naomi reacted strongly to that. Still others had no historical connection.There were people like King Arthur and Robin Hood who had some historical background but whose real stories seemed to be lost in the fog of reality and story. Naomi glanced back down to the book and her eyes slid from one paragraph to the next trying to discover some comment or reference that would be meaningful to her. Camille had just as much reality as Josephine. Naomi could see that it must be difficult to live in reality as a symbol. In her mind. in fact. She felt nothing of vacuity in the portrait. she felt the warmth of aliveness that still seemed to surround the group of people standing before the portrait Page 107 . They came from the fevered brains and overactive imaginations of writers and poets. then again. Hollywood stars were often universal symbols. Some seem to say that the Mona Lisa’s visage and secret smiles. there were Figaro and Don Quixote. Allied with this boredom was the suggested acute disenchantment and cynicism of middle-age. much to their consternation.
but had not been affected negatively at all by it. rather. She had felt that both the artist and his model shared the same knowledge of the inner workings of man’s relationship to man and man’s relationship to woman. they had mixed in a large dose of humor and joy.yesterday. 5 Page 108 .
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it was just a mask. As she waited in the lobby. with good old American chutzpah. savoring even the texture and the look of the food on the plate. Afterward. whom to see. Naomi felt the woman’s joy in the work she was doing. a moving impression of a fashionable woman.B 33 reakfast arrived and Naomi realized how hungry she was. she supposed. she felt her curiosity rise within her as she gazed at the passersby. Clearly though. She felt exhilarated. and boredom. She ate leisurely and with relish. full of energy and curiosity. She even had that vacant look that models and fashion magazine pages have. Page 111 . left the room and went down to wait for the bus that would take her to Versailles. Underneath that hard and managed exterior. her excitement about the tasks she was about to accomplish. as she strolled across the lobby and waited impatiently outside. At the same time. wondering what business or pleasure brought them to Paris and what they were here to do. savoring each bite. there was that mask of control. waving her hand trying to attract a taxi. The woman was a stereotype. those pages devoted to what the best–dressed career woman is now wearing. a mask through which her native enthusiasm broke through for those who stopped to look. her hurry in getting to it and getting it done. she dressed quickly but carefully. She imagined that one particular woman was there on business as a buyer for an American company. She quite literally looked as if she had stepped out of the pages of Vogue. It had something to do. Naomi could only think of one expression to describe her: controlled excitement.
the bus. Just like in the Louvre. She was surprised at how small the beds were. a guide kept up a running commentary in English of the countryside and the history of the Château.The most interesting thing about the woman was a perky little red hat (red was okay–she was wearing a navy blue suit with a red and white silk blouse). keeping up her commentary. Naomi became numbed to the splendour around her in Page 112 . On the way to the place. The guide explained that in those days. It was a dream place in gold and white. The Guide led them to the Château. Naomi’s favourite room was the Queen’s bed chamber. the individual rooms were equally imposing. They then arrived at the Château. They all got on the bus and sat in separate isolation. Hats were not useful accessories to pack in modern luggage and carried on modern airplanes. already half-full. came to pick up Naomi and a number of other people who were waiting on sofas in the lobby doing much as she was doing. people did not lie down in bed but rather sat up. Naomi had never seen such richness. Naomi wanted to hear as much as possible and worked herself as close to the guide as possible. Louis the XIV who took what was a hunting lodge and transformed it into this monument to the history of France. Finally. It was much larger than Naomi had thought it would be. Naomi figured she must have bought the hat in Paris. Probably to keep their wigs straight thought Naomi. 33 If the outside has seemed imposing. It was the great French King. Naomi was just as glad because she wanted to be alone and had not noticed anyone who particularly interested her.
as opulent as it was. She looked across and saw herself reflected there and then her reflection was reflected back to her. Naomi certainly could not. The other persons on the tour sort of shuffled through the hall without paying much attention to what was going on around them. Her first reaction was to straighten her slumped-over shoulders and brush her hair back with her hand. Louis XIV even had two ceremonies for his rising every morning! This gave the impression of a Court filled with all kinds of ceremonies and etiquette.room after room. The whole layout of the palace area was so great that it almost dwarfed the palace itself. Funny thing about mirrors. Naomi was glad she belonged to a different century. Naomi decided to stay right where she was and was idly gazing through the brochure she had been handed at the door. The guide left them there and said that they had one hour to see the Hall and the gardens. one grander and more opulent than the next and each one steeped in the history of France. As her hand moved towards her hair she looked again at herself poised in the action at if time had suddenly stopped. Then. it was as if she saw an illusion. Once again. The last room to be seen was the Hall of Mirrors. she looked. most of them went on in search of refreshments or to photograph the magnificent gardens. She would have had a lot of difficulty living the stultifying life of the Court. get a snack and return to the bus. then the reflections’ reflection and so on and so on. too tired and too overwhelmed with luxury and beauty to react to it. they are almost impossible to ignore. the image of someone she knew but not very 33 Page 113 .
She turned and looked into the mirror again. Looking at a mirror and not recognising herself in the multiple images seemed logical on such a day. the link is made. clubs. Sometimes the link is never made and one of life’s delicious little puzzles remains unsolved. She would sometimes look at the child in those old photos. Like the snake that sleeps in the snake charmer’s basket. 33 It was like meeting a casual acquaintance in unusual place. fascinated. he or she looked vaguely familiar. Each one asks the other if they have not met before. whose face was somewhat familiar but whom she could not quite place. She preferred to have it sleep in its basket and it usually did except on days like today when she was more aware. the child who was supposed to be her. and start going backward in time from college to high school to grade school. she would look and somehow recognize a stranger. a familiar question rose to her consciousness. The stranger that she knew somewhat. She wanted to run away but seemed rooted to the spot staring at the familiar stranger in the mirrors. That is how Naomi now felt about the image reflected back to her 1000 times off the walls. especially those old-school photographs. Somewhere along the way.well. So she got up and walked to the end of the hall but could not shake the feeling. familiar things seemed strange and strange things became familiar. It was like looking at old photographs of herself in an album. Page 114 . They go through the usual work situations. Perhaps they went to the same grade school together but were not in the same class.
“who are you?” And “who am I?” 33 She moved closer to one of the mirrors and stared closely at her face. when she stepped back and looked at the composite. They were a good match in that way. it was not at all familiar. she asked another question: and are you the girl who three weeks ago lay in Steven’s arms?” As might have been expected. Then the next stop was the fishmonger. that thought triggered her memory bank. scream the question. Naomi enjoyed Saturday morning shopping. her mouth her chin. She peered into the familiar eyes reflected back to her and asked the question: again “who are you?” And inwardly. Their next stop usually was the fruit and vegetable store in the wintertime and the farmers’ stalls in the summertime. received good service from the butcher. Their first stop was the butcher and this was Steven’s department. From there. She looked at her eyes or nose and they were blessedly familiar as were her other parts taken individually. as a good client. the next stop was the bakery where they stocked up for the week on different types of Page 115 . This was Naomi’s department. The meat cost a little more than a grocery store. She and Steven liked to choose their food very carefully and usually went down to the farmers’ market. trying to find some recognition there. but Steven was convinced it was well worth it.A voice inside herself cried out. Steven liked to think he was a gourmet cook and Naomi like to try new things. However. He was very choosy about the cuts of meat and.
rolls. having lunch was a nice break in the Saturday routine. for that they went to the supermarket. She sat on one of the benches near a bed of unusual flowers she did not recognize and let the memories flood over her. the grocery shopping was not finished. It was shortly after noon when they returned that last Saturday. This morning.bread. At first. not conscious of his awakening. they were not finished. As usual. all thought of sleep vanished. Neither of them was very hungry. Even then. Half asleep. Steven’s hand moved from her upper arm lower and lower still and the comfortable patting became and ever more urgent fondling. though. her head on his shoulder as his hand rubbed her upper arm her hand lay quietly on his chest. they were not finished their shopping at lunchtime. not all spring weather. They then went to the gourmet shop where they purchased their special mix coffee and pâté along with a few special cheeses and other delicacies. Naomi was settled in the crook of his arm. Before Page 116 . It had been an unusually hot day. There was yet paper products and cleaning products. though. They both felt tired and decided to have a nap before lunch. it was just a cuddly fondness. Steven crowded out all other thought. they had started out earlier than usual and had less to buy. a closeness that they enjoyed before drifting off to sleep. 33 Naomi was now powerless to stop the onslaught of memories. Still. as soon as their naked bodies touched. and desserts. At first. Naomi left the hall of mirrors and went out toward the garden. Normally. she saw no one.
then counter clockwise. 33 Steven sighed. He covered her face and mouth with kisses. fumbling there a little longer. hardly skipped a beat as he moved his hand again to her breast pinching and turning the nipple as he pulled slowly clockwise. He moved over her but not on top of her. his hand moved to the lips of her vagina. His other hand moved to her breasts until she began to wriggle under his touch. As he felt Naomi beginning to awaken again to his touch. gently Page 117 . Her body stretched and began to move in harmony with the familiar. already moist. the hot hand was no longer going up. She forgot about her own hand and was lost in the sensations the ripples of passion caused by Steven’s hands. fondling and massaging it as her squirming grew and her breath came in short bursts. his hand became ever more expressive as it moved across her body up to her arm over her breast and down her thigh over to her hip and back up to her shoulder. knowing touch. down again. She collapsed and lay back again suddenly numb to what was going on. Soon. His mouth then moved down to one breast. moving around it around. pausing a little over the breast and back down and over to her posterior. His mouth still on one breast. Steven though. one hand to the other breast.either of them knew what was happening. It stayed below her waist it sloped circular motion awakening her body. he moved his mouth over her other nipple. Naomi laid back to enjoy the sensation of being pleasured. Low moans escaped as she moved against his hands with increasing urgency until her body became stiff with her first climax.
her body moving against it in the inevitable orgasm. moved into her vagina. She whimpered and closed her thighs against his hand. the touch became irritating on her overly sensitive body. the next time. and then out and in again with three. Her hands moved over his body. the pleasure between her legs was almost pain so that the feelings on her breast became almost annoying as she wanted to place her full concentration on that other delicious spot. She took his hands away from her body and pushed him gently onto his back on the bed. lost somewhere while Steven continued the play of hands and lips across face and neck breasts and stomach. Her hand moved lower and fondled the double hardness growing there and up again. enjoying its smooth soft silkiness. And as she cried out at the intensity. She wound her hand around. he moved one finger in and around again. moving in with two fingers. Both sensations proved too much for Naomi in the midst of her moans and writhing. which moved in concert with her hand. It was her turn now. over her sensitive clitoris. it grew larger in her hand. His other hand moved still around the other breast. This time. Steven’s hand sought it out. narrowly missing his penis each time. back and forth. down his legs and up again. She held the lovely penis and felt it move against her hand 33 Page 118 . On one pass. circling inside his thumb on her clitoris as he turned and lifted his hand to move out again. As Steven groaned she allowed her hand to brush over his penis. Not yet fully erect. moving and biting before moving away and blowing on the wet nipple.sucking. his hand moved inside her vagina. she pushed his mouth away. Again she rested.
He undid the housecoat but kept it on. she moved her mouth against the penis. she rose and sat on top of him. took out some French bread and some cheese and munched away. just how hungry they were. Naomi then got up to make coffee. They realized. As soon as his mouth touched her breast she felt her passion rise. Alerted by the changes in Steven’s moans. quickly with a strong thrust. As she passed by Steven she bent over to give them a friendly kiss. His teeth closed over its firmness as he playfully chewed and pulled it. his hand found her bare breast inside the silky housecoat. over and over again until she felt Steven explode inside of her as her own peak was reached. He pulled her down on his lap. opened a bottle of wine. down its sensitive side and back up to the head. moving forward with her breast almost touching his mouth and back almost until the penis slipped out. They went into the kitchen. 33 Fondling his testicles. Like a child sucking on a popsicle. He tilted her forward until her breast were freed. at the same time.as if it had a will of its own as it grew. They lay exhausted on the bed and fell asleep and slept for two hours and woke up all warm and receptive. tilting her back. holding it gently in her mouth as she sucked and pulled. she derived as much pleasure from the sucking and licking and especially feeling the penis growing ever harder in her mouth. He moved his mouth against her breast touching no other part of her body stopping occasionally to blow on it as it became warm then moved onto the next one. Her lips moved of their own accord and lingered on his. It was a Page 119 . moving against him.
When she felt that. Knowing her passion so well. he moved from her breasts leaving one and moving down her vagina but moving up again almost as if he had missed it down again and then to her other breast sometimes with his hands sometimes with his mouth. she groaned and moved against him and he let himself be led away with her passion. The carpet. She sat on him. blow until Naomi became lost in the sensations of her body. The images move together. lick. She suddenly became aware of his warm kisses. “Didn’t you have an orgasm?” “No. feeding on each other and feeding her passion. He resisted and parting his bathrobe away from his penis now perpendicular to his body. Not yet. Those parts. Her body seemed to have an infinite capacity for pleasure. Still dressed.melody of such. establishing a rhythm so well orchestrated Page 120 . Spent.” As she had done just moments before. 33 Naomi could feel the urgency between her legs. his mouth catching her nipple once more. She saw his actions in her imagination and got mixed up with the images of the passion just shared. rose to meet the touch. she got up and took his hand and pulled him towards the carpet. Her eyes were closed. she slumped against him. she took his hand and led him to the carpet had opened to the pleasure of his hands as they moved across her body stopping longer at those places that he knew which gave her most pleasure. he parted the bottom of the housecoat and touched her clitoris which she now knew to be aching with pleasure and the pain of anticipation.
Naomi came home from work and opened her apartment door. There was no answer. until his own passion moving against it made it impossible to keep the contact they move together towards orgasm.” She was dimly aware of his voice but more aware of her own need. She immediately sensed there was something different.” Her hands left to run over his body and reached for his penis. She pulled it towards her and inserted it. Feeling a little strange. She looked but could not quite place it. all the while keeping her hands beneath it. I love to see you so passionate. She called out for Steven. 33 She cried out and he again moved back against his heels sat and watched as she moved against the carpet. When he saw her sitting on the sofa. Well. He watched and moved closer to her and whispered: “you are so beautiful. she felt strangely empty. there had not been anyone watching over her shoulder: instead. lost in her own passion. Steven walked in the door about 15 minutes after she had arrived. as if someone was watching over her shoulder. She moaned “Steven please. And it did not wait long to happen.that she could no longer tell what was being touched. please. she sat down with a magazine. waiting to hear from Steven. She had a funny feeling that something was about to happen. She mixed herself a scotch on the rocks. he stood transfixed in the middle of his Page 121 . so wild. Then she moved to the stereo and put on her favourite mood music. The following Tuesday. Well that was one Saturday. He opened the door with this key. fondling herself.
to focus. She knew she stared at Steven and listened to what he said and stared as if he were some gigantic optical illusion and if she just stared at him long Page 122 . “it’s like this. She remembered very little. “Well. staring at her as if he were surprised to see her there. whirling with all kinds of thoughts. I’m not sure how to do that…” Naomi and no longer remember how she looked or what she said. we’ve got to talk. I won’t be coming back here.?” “You don’t seem to understand Naomi. went over to mix himself a drink and sat down opposite her. All she answered was: “Yes.” he said. His training came forward and he recouped himself very well. Steven.” Naomi listened to him quietly. The few things that belong to me are out now. I don’t want to be with you anymore. “Naomi. imminent death. I’ve been using the time to move my stuff out of the apartment and to figure out how to tell you this. she wondered what the matter was. and Bora Bora. I did not go to work today. Willing her mind.motion the key still out.” 33 “Steven? What’s the matter?” She had visions of him announcing that he had an incurable disease or that he had been transferred to Bora Bora. She did not understand what he was saying. I just came back to explain it to you. Naomi. closed the door. Never in her wildest thoughts which he have guessed that he simply wanted to leave. It wanted answers like immovable forces. almost as if she were waiting for a different punch line. Her mind sought more complicated solutions.
enough the real picture would just suddenly appear out of the background.
The only reason she remembered anything is that after he was gone, she had puzzled it out in her mind several times without being able to make any sense of it. Finally, she had written down everything she remembered him saying. She left out a lot of the repetition, a lot of the nonessentials and she tried to make sense of what he had said late into the night. It just made no sense to her at all. Basically, he was just saying that he had no reason, he just wanted to leave, that he was feeling smothered, as if his life was no longer his own. It just made no sense to her at all. Again, she looked in the mirrors and the reflections of herself going on into eternity. And still she asked herself the same question. She was a daughter, a worker, no longer a sister or a lover. But who was she really?
they were not Steven’s. Slowly. At work. After Steven left. One particularly bad day. And every time she heard the elevator in the hall. she spent three full days expecting Steven to come in at any moment. even when they stopped. hold her breath. she hung up abruptly and left her building. 10:30 became 11 and 11:30. As she worked toward the lunch-hour break. 12:20… she wasn’t sure what overcame her but she began dialing Steven’s office number and when one of his coworkers answered. it was the same story. but still. she hung on–12:15. In fact. The memories continued to flood in. Perhaps Steven was in a meeting and could not get away to call her. running. however. Naomi. and when she had left the building after close of business. she half expected Steven to call because it was Friday and they had always met for lunch on Friday. 11:30 became noon and hope began to fade. after another sleepless night. but he did not appear. She half expected Steven to come and see her there. she would stop whatever she was doing.N 44 aomi moved out of the Hall of Mirrors and into the gardens. She jumped when the phone rang. she almost expected to see him waiting for her in his car. She hardly noticed anything around her. but the footsteps would pass her door. was particularly jumpy. she did not sleep that first night nor the next three. Naomi’s sadness and depression turned to anger toward Steven and his sudden unilateral Page 126 . Naomi did not give up hope.
As far as Naomi was concerned. They had such a great sex life together. 44 Since she rarely had anything better to do anyway. in fact. but she was not really able concentrate. they would want to know where she was and whether he was still seeing her and there would be altogether too many questions. what was missing? In fact. He would become livid at such a suggestion. she almost began enjoying herself. made no sense. It was just as well that he was gone. she usually is acceded to these requests and went to the party. He had business to talk over with other people. She had finally learned the trick of looking as if she were listening. She came to feel that it showed how insensitive he was to her own needs.decision. it was illogical. having a drink and catching up with herself in peace and quiet. She did not like the way he insisted on talking to her about the problems of the day as soon as she walked in the door after work. She often asked why he left her like that but he did not seem to think it was the tragedy she felt it was. Instead. The other things she didn’t like was the way he would drag her to all of this office parties and abandon her there. She particularly enjoyed exaggerating Steven’s “faults”. She was used to coming home. she just stopped what she was doing and sat fuming. he insisted that most of the real business was performed at such Page 127 . If he did not bring her. more than he was prepared to answer. He explained to her how important it was to his advancement with the company to show stability by bringing the same woman. She would often suggest to him that she not attend. intellectually or emotionally.
hobbies. Then she had given into this request. She never felt as relaxed or as comfortable. He even suggested that she not waste her time with them. because it seemed to bother him so much. with most people. that she had little in common with them and mixing was a real chore for her. recipes and the newest books and films. he admitted that people would not be able to talk as freely with her there. a very few questions could keep them talking a very long time without having to give much of herself away at all. it was never quite the same thing. Naomi felt. He added that. She usually armed herself with a quick double scotch on the rocks and a list of prepared questions she had used before. Nevertheless. She became known as “a good mixer”. rightly or wrongly. When she asked why she could not be with him. but as far as she was concerned. He insisted that her office parties were “just for fun” and did not serve any useful purpose. pets. She especially liked to go to bed early with some work from the office or good book and read for two or more hours. There were other things too. sitting up in a chair. She found that. she was expected to be able to mix well with the other women. The thing that bothered her even more was the fact that Steven did not like to reciprocate in kind. She liked to read in bed. 44 Page 128 . she always felt her time could have been better spent and been more enjoyable staying home and reading a good book. And Steven was very proud of her in that role. she should read in the living room. sometimes revolving around children. anyway. Unfortunately.functions. He insisted that beds were for sleeping and if she wanted to read.
as these things happened. not cleaning in his bathtub properly etc.The other thing was he felt that she read altogether too much. that the reason for the sacrifice had gone. Before Steven. It was only now. negativity was added to negativity until she felt quite safe in beginning to hate him She went through the litany of faults sometimes adding to them. his wiping his hands on tea towels. they did not seem so serious. Naomi. In fact. And he did not like the material she read. And. she had often spent the whole day in bed reading novels and magazines and had come away from that experience totally refreshed–almost as if she had a three-day holiday. when she had been by herself. she spent not blaming him but blaming herself. however. leaving his clothes on the floor. she could not think of anything more relaxing than going to bed early with a good romance novel. knew that she had to make sacrifices and compromises when living with another person. She knew that the sex thing was good so she probably could not have improved anything in that area but she felt that she could have been less complaining about the parties. She could not help thinking that she might have done something to prevent his leaving. that she realized just how much these things had annoyed her. She was particularly fond of romance novels. she could have gone with him more Page 129 . Not allowing herself any good thoughts about him during the past two weeks. the silly things like is not putting the cap back on the toothpaste. 44 Then most of the other time.
she would stop delivering. She was probably doomed to go through life knowing of the many ways in which she should change Page 130 . She hated to cook and clean and often forgot to take something out for supper. She began having a light lunch so that she could eat with him at dinner. he had begun to find it tiring. that she had not really tried very hard to meet some of these needs. (too often. Perhaps. Perhaps. she would find herself rebelling against it. had she paid more attention to shopping. Sometimes. Nobody would like to hear a complainer 24 hours a day. in this case.joyfully. Whenever her mother had expected her to do something. when she saw the solution to a problem she was not able to go toward it. 44 She realized too. Perhaps it had been more than that. over time. although she thought she was being honest about her feelings. She did a lot of nagging about these things and perhaps that is what had pushed him away. Often. She did not like cooking large meals at night since she was rarely hungry. Something always stopped her. her suppers were less than successful. she was not sure. Perhaps. it was a sense of rebellion. cooking. listening to the same complaints. She did not suppose there was anything she could do about it. and organizing herself to get it done… the menus a week ahead of time… perhaps if she had taken some cooking courses… but no. The same thing happened at home. Even at school when teachers praised her and began to expect certain things from her. Other times. there seemed to be a flaw in her character. he said) they went out for dinner.
the reason (subconscious though it might be). admit to herself that she was not always a very nice person. perhaps just for the sake of resistance. He left her get away with doing whatever she felt like doing and he was very attentive. As she walked and grew more and more depressed. 44 She probably would never be able to find anyone who would love her as she was and be satisfied with her. Joy was transferred from them to her and it Page 131 . not really seeing the beauty around her. The same thing would probably happen at her job too. Without quite knowing what was happening or why. she did so because for the next few days she usually got away with anything. picking her up after work. she knew that. calling her up at the office. There were other things too. She would always do something to turn them away. as she had done with Steven. she came upon a group of children playing near a tree. what ever.but resisting them. in her junior position. The future did look bleak to Naomi as she rose from the bench and started to aimlessly wander through the garden. she forgot to take out the meat for supper was simply because she did not feel like cooking it. always getting things for other people so that they could make the decisions and evaluate the reports and arrive at conclusions. They were playing tag and running after each other for the pure joy of it. When she went to those dreaded parties with Steven. In fact. taking her out to dinner. She had to be honest with herself. she would probably have trouble getting ahead and stay where she was.
chic women with up–to–date haircuts and designer dresses. repulsed him. perhaps he would not have gone away. Perhaps. not knowing or caring why it came. She was comfortable with it the way it was but perhaps she was wrong. to be growing duller and yet she always resisted doing something with it as had been so often suggested by wellmeaning friends. She did not own one piece of designer clothes. she would try something new. not anything she was prepared to wear. Even her party clothes had a uniform quality about them.swelled within her. Perhaps if she had been more sensitive to his needs. he had gone after a string-bikini type. to her. . She thought that perhaps it was her imperfect body that had in the end. Here tastes were conservative by nature and a little informal. at least. Maybe if she had dyed her hair a different color. Yes. It might have been her clothes. her mind’s activities continued. . she preferred plain slacks and sometimes skirts for the office. He did prefer more feminine clothes–softer. He often would point out. she smiled and welcomed it. It seemed. She should have tried to predict what he might like for food or how he might have liked her to look and act If only she had been a little more sensitive. which forced her to wear those ugly little bathing suits with skirts. Still not quite realizing what was taking place. She was selfconscious about her heavy thighs. 44 While the center of her filled with this strange unbidden Joy. She had always found it strange that he had loved her or said he loved her and her crooked nose. Not that Steven really complained. not replacing her depression but sitting quietly next to it. he was just good at hinting. she should have been more sensitive to his needs. Page 132 . As soon as she got home.
cinque. She chose a little boy about six years old with mischievous eyes and red hair and then she felt the rest of her joining that spark of her that was attracted to him and in her mind. she was running with the little boy. quatre. And anyway. running to the statue and hiding behind it. Or was she too dependent? She thought of her life in the future: lonely and bleak. Besides that. elbows around the corner of posts. picking herself up. Probably. she knew she was too independent. without purpose. stumbling. looking for knees sticking out from under shrubs. she would never be able to have a full relationship with a man. ears. sept. She was not attractive enough for someone like Steven. she had not much personality. still a part of her. neuf. experienced the children still playing. waiting for someone to find her. And then. With a joyful cry.And. 44 Page 133 . That spark within her moved and joined the little boy who was now leaning against the tree counting un. she shocked herself back to here and now and her inadequacies. huit. falling. she thought. . six. trois. he/Naomi turned his/her eyes over the scenery in the garden looking for possible hiding places. deux. . dix. She obviously was doing something wrong. without children… Oh yes! The children. he/Naomi called out the names of their companions as the children following their knees. Joyfully. which was not locked in her mind with her thoughts. without companionship. ears peeking out the bushes and cow licks over a low wall. her heart beating faster and faster with the waiting. and elbows moved to the boy by the tree. laughing and shouting their joy in the garden and that something within her seem to move out from her and into the small child body.
She slowly realized that she had chosen the wrong path and running back she saw a little boy with black hair (feeling confident that he had tricked them) dart out the side. reaching it just before a little girl did. He/she moved as quickly as possible. which she mistook for a colored ribbon. raced him to the tree and arrived there first. with her little boy’s feet. Naomi. He/ Naomi stopped as her eye caught a blade of grass. around the hedge. she found a jutting elbow close to the Rose bushes and moved quickly back to the tree.Then he/Naomi left. Then he/she was off again in a cautious but rapid movement of all children at this game. regardless of their nationality. running cautiously to find the others. keeping an eye on every hiding place she had identified at the start. At once. sharing not only with the little boy but with all of them. the Joy of finding. a colorful flower. 44 Page 134 . Cautiously walking. a leaf of the tree. he/she peered between the branches of the bushes and moved further down.
Connections By Suzan Schmekel .
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