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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.
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. Without her. .
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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. or rather. She had no idea that their relationship was about to end. at least. finally visiting the City of Light. what seemed to her to be a long time. perhaps. these moments were not as unconnected as she had thought. nightmares. she really did not want to remember. Just here and there. In fact. without apparent logic or pattern. However. No. as if it were yesterday. She had known Steven a long time or. But. now 10 years later. as she tried to lose herself in sleep. She remembered almost everything about it. The images were like dreams.k N aomi had been fifteen years old at the time of her brother Jim’s death. Most of it. that came unbidden. Unwelcome memories often wafted by her consciousness at unconnected times. instead of joy. she thought that she and Steven were ready to move on to the next level and she was half-expecting a ring soon. Page 7 . some thirteen months. She was now in Paris and should be full of joy. again and again. now and then.
.What was even more disturbing than its suddenness was the fact that Steven had given her no real reason for the decision. A trip to Paris after all had been a lifelong dream. k Yes. . He had said that he felt bored. perhaps that was why the images of Jim’s death and funeral kept tickling at her consciousness at the strangest times. she had decided to come to Paris even though she had supposed they would take such a trip together. they would waft by. The decision Steven had announced just two weeks ago was still a shock to her. in desperation. Over and over again she had reviewed the scenes of their “courtship". things would have been different. She should be very happy. What was the word he had used? Bored and . suffocated. and the days preceding the big announcement. these thoughts were comforting. Surely there must have been something she could have done to prevent Steven from leaving. Surely. And wanted a change. She was not yet ready to think about it. more comforting than thinking about Steven. He even admitted that there was nothing specific. Page 8 . yet again. there had been signals missed. Finally. In a way. She had remembered happy times and sad times but always there was the nagging thought that had she only listened more. Now and again she would stop them and try to consciously think of something else. like a gentle wind brushing against her face on a warm summer day. unbidden but seemingly attached to each other with Velcro. She would think about it later. And yet she was not. or been more observant. It was senseless to Naomi. now fully realized. just as Jim’s death had been.
Her gaze returned again and again to an old lady sitting close to her. Even the garçon seemed to guess her mood and stayed quietly in the background. That was the most difficult.quite unseasonal in May. in the heart of her beloved Paris eating lunch at a sidewalk café and drinking chilled white wine. Not that it was dirty in any way. where she dined al fresco facing her companion or the empty seat in front of her. Naomi was aware that she should be reveling in the delicious feeling of the moment. Maybe she washed it out herself in the bathtub at night. She was happy to be finally blissfully alone. that was easy to do since all the tables. This was quite unlike home. The style was a little out-of-date but it seemed to be well-tailored.k And that is how she ended up here. Naomi had done that herself many times in university when the cost of dry-cleaning had been prohibitive. at one time. out of eyesight. or worse yet. It was the kind of lunch she had long dreamed of having. It was just so old that the colors seemed to have muted together. faced the street. Page 9 . the theatre of the street. and certainly did not have the same priority as her precious books. make small talk while skirting around the subject of her and Steven. It was closed up tight and looked as if. she was also aware that passersby were also observing her. While she enjoyed the people walking in front of her. it might have had a bolder pattern. There was no one to distract her. to Naomi’s surprise. either explaining what had happened between her and Steven. with a tweedy green/ brown/grey-colored overcoat . But then again. No. enjoined in a mutual theatre of the human condition. She did not have to make small talk with anyone.
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. Nun’s shoes. close to the straps as if to be sure she could snatch the bag back if anyone tried to take it from her. k The lady sat at a little table by herself with her large canvas shopping bag by the left side on the floor. Naomi’s own grandfather (on her father’s side) always took a raw onion with him on his morning constitutional. However. made onion pie every meatless Friday of the winter for her large family Page 10 . It was closed too tightly. some green scallion tops and a breadstick. 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.It was a little too short and there was practically no collar. Also. always. her small bony and vein-rippled hands hovering. too. a daughter of the onion-toting grandfather. It. A triangular kerchief was tied around her head and knotted under her chin. Naomi could not tell what she was wearing under the coat. He ate it like an apple. “I wonder. just a kind of folded over selvage. Out of it peeked a newspaper. “if she survives on scallion sandwiches?”. in a cold climate like Canada’s. they were called during Naomi’s parochial childhood. Aunt Mary.” thought Naomi. An aunt of hers. At the other end. In the winter. these were now washed out and barely visible. were thick flesh-colored stockings and sensible black shoes. They said it protected them from colds. Her mother’s parents had been much too refined to consider doing something so unbecoming. people used to eat onion sandwiches.
She usually had salmon and potato pie too. The rouge on her cheeks and the crimson of her lips stood out against her pallor. She was . carbohydrate-heavy meals to anyone. Naomi sensed that she was a woman who would neither feel nor accept pity. 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. No more.careful blue shadow and black liner. slightly powdered an even paler shade. odd. Naomi herself would never think of serving such rich. Her skin was practically unlined but showed its age by crisping around the corners in its parchment-like way. And yet. Around the kerchief. Still. was the closest Naomi k Page 11 . for someone her age . There was about her a kind of sadness and strength too. Then. She was about sixty.and the numerous guests who often filled her large warm home. were a few locks of long blond-grey hair which seemed to have escaped a bun of some kind. No mascara. Despite her clothes. based on the shape of the kerchief. there was nothing of her Aunt’s earthiness in the face. escaping its hold. equally delicious. she was more than the sum of this description. her fairly small and icy-blue eyes (Aunt Mary’s blue eyes positively twinkled with warmth) were completely outlined . Naomi remembered how good those pies had been with their thick white sauce.how can it be explained? In control. and gathering in a line from chin to throat under the knotted kerchief.brightly. The tweedy lady had a pale face. She seemed to transcend her parts. Of course.
as if her nucleus was around the center of her chest like a ball of tightly wound yarn. Despite the coldness.could come to it.the sun to shine.no. perhaps. Viewed from the earth. a kind of source. She gave the impression that she commanded -. Naomi could hardly keep her eyes off the old lady and her regal but poor countenance. Perhaps there were even different images than the one Naomi now saw. She thought of herself more like a ball. Except. she was impervious to their effect. permitted -. Naomi found herself admiring her. Since she commanded the elements. that was why she was so warmly dressed on such a hot day. in control of herself and somehow even in control of her environment. She envied her self-assurance and her air of being satisfied with herself and the world. k If Naomi thought of herself in terms of an image. that she let out from there to wind around and around like a spiral screen on which she projected the image of her body. the clothes. the woman’s age. And. But in fact its surface was a mass of licking spitting fires. a sphere that was quite hollow and with all the energy dancing along the surface of the ball. It was like the sun. She seemed to begin and end in a magical circle within the space her body took and a little more. Perfectly spherical viewed from afar. an admiration touched with envy. Yes. looser. or from other planets -. but up close a mass of threadlike tendrils disconnected but Page 12 . except that the ball was not spherical at all and did not make a complete closed circle. She appeared to be complete within herself. pinker. gayer. 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.it was a small yellow ball.
holding her back.sometimes touching. the clacking of prayer beads. or even events from her past -tendrils as strong as gut. k Sometimes. the dead smell of dying flowers. Maybe a husband or a child or a brother. affecting her still. How often had she heard the news and refused to believe? Willed it not to be. Sometimes. the rich white silk. pushing her forward. though. 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. no. the murmurs of melancholy mourners. of smoke from the other room. the sudden blasts of noise as someone else opens the smoking/coffee room. How many people close to her had she seen disappear? Probably a great many. a million-headed hydra. pushed in different directions. the muted rustle of seldom worn clothes. she felt the same thing not on the surface of her skin but in the air around her. the dead smell of dying flowers. the mahogany sheen of the coffin. to deny the awful truth. one of these tongues of fire would become quite elongated. Naomi wondered how many deaths had affected the old woman. at least for awhile. 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 surprised look of mourners in other rooms as you go by (as if they Page 13 . It would seem to take energy from the surface and stretch out to something or someone and become locked there. the dead smell of dying flowers. moving in the breeze or colliding. with every fibre of her aching to say no. the pen scratching in the guest book.
The old lady sitting at the table with the crisp white and red linen looked as if she had been through it often enough. son. All of these attacked the supersensitive senses. They are very loud. trying to convince the brain that a husband. the still air heavy with things unsaid (out of respect) and things said without conviction. disparate images with no reality.cannot believe that some other family’s life has also stopped dead). that you become convinced that the oppressive need will pass. or bother is gone forever. it is only with difficulty. They laugh and talk. And survived. k And the loud cheerful people leave and there is only silence and that is just as bad. You find some other kind of outlet and break free. It did not seem to matter how many times someone was lost to you. so. you change. Page 14 . including their own. She had already handled most of life’s challenges. when the messages reach the numbed brain. But Naomi was not there yet with respect to her relationship to Steven. the dead smell dying of flowers. Eventually you do tire of it. each time. And yet. how well your head understands the stages. there is but a hollow echo. And the self-pity is somehow comforting and cannot be shaken off. You suddenly have to admit what happened and you feel sorry for yourself and angry at the one who is gone. as if the loudness and cheerfulness of their small talk will chase away the fact of this death. 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. And then it is all over and people meet in friendship. Naomi knew that eventually it did go away. of being closed away. and other deaths.
feelings which might weaken them. under the circumstances. they seemed to give off comfort in waves as they approached. When they had come up to her at the funeral parlor. almost. they were nervous. somehow. had been soothing and helpful.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. Of course she hadn’t. a little brusque. These girls had somehow learned to become immune to certain situations especially highly-charged. so that even before their bodies and voices reached Naomi. Their voices. under the layers of grief and pain. forget. They were able. Even then. She had as polite as she could. Page 15 . The other girls. to guard their inner selves against objects. she had treasured the liberty allowed her in being rude in a totally socialized situation. When they approached her. “Get away from me”. Naomi felt somehow that she should be comforting them. on the other hand. were totally impossible. when Naomi saw them coming towards her and sometimes felt them enter the room she would feel like screaming. people. knowing that. she was permitted to be a little impolite. 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. In the end. k A number of her fellow students had attended her brother’s funeral. they often said the wrong things in the wrong tone of voice. too. at that time. she somehow felt better. emotional ones.
There was not really any way in which they could share this experience and. especially not her mother’s. though emanating from the same source. they had to use the experience. even into the cells of their own bodies in a very personalized way. talking about the weather and soon parting to rediscover their own solitudes. It took them longer to reach that point of turning toward life again. when she was so totally alone. telling a joke. think it. to feel open and ready for new experiences.But of all the experiences around her brother’s death. sharing an experience. Naomi had been quite surprised. the wounds had healed and suddenly they began noticing again what was around them. They knew that their experiences were different. to feel free. but it felt so good to feel human emotions again. integrate it within themselves. When this had finally happened. the one which had brought her most pain was that time after the funeral. Still living in her parents’ house. it had been one of the reasons she left home and got an apartment of her own. they rattled about the house going through some semblance of normal activity meeting at appointed times to push food around their plates. after the burial. For a fleeting moment. They began tasting food. Finally. Naomi had always felt that her parents’ experience had not been quite the same as hers. She had somehow assumed that she would never again feel normal joy. And eventually the guilt had dissipated also. k Page 16 . after the wake. and at very different rates. More importantly. to feel joy. After a long while. they all rattled around each other’s pain like planets with different orbits. though. like animals tending to their own wounds in solitude and sleep. she had felt guilty about abandoning her brother.
the lady with the mystic smile. It went something like “Mona Lisa. lovely work of art?. there was still some sadness haunting the house like a ghost. She grew to like it. And then suddenly. The song was right. Her mother had often sung a song about the Mona Lisa at certain times. And the more you look at it... Mona Lisa. The smile is like a door opening into either the answer or more questions..Are you real.. Naomi had seen reproductions and was looking forward to seeing the original. Mona Lisa.. she had tried to remember exactly when it was her mother had sung it but had been unable to. of course. It might even help understand her mother a little better.are you lonely. It’s like a little taste of something. Page 17 . or just a cold and lonely. the more you feel that you might be on the verge of knowing. They were what she had once concluded was a “Mona Lisa type”. 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. she would pay closer attention to that. and yet we don’t.. .And when she had returned home after that. or think we know why she is smiling. men have named you. your mind seems to tire of the exercise and it reminds you that your underwear needs rinsing or something like that. We know. the situation each time was a little better but still today. It is supposed to be the smile of the Mona Lisa which attracts.. It seemed random at the time but perhaps there were reasons for it. Mona Lisa. In the future. . She could understand that it was the strangeness of the smile that attracted and held the imagination. It makes you want more.” Ever since she had realized what this might mean. You don’t know what it means and yet you think you might..
The garçcon came up to her. It was a puzzle that needed solving. I am late already.” she answered. She could then remain her own woman. 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. She felt somehow that if she were cold and haughty and mysterious like the lady in the painting or the song. a kind of acceleration and fear. I. she could leave these thoughts behind. people would leave her alone and there would not be that chance of being hurt.. Eventually. She wanted to know. She got up suddenly from her chair. at the same time. something about those rich confident girls in college. She felt. k In this trip to Paris. self-sufficient.. Naomi often felt that she wanted to be like the Mona Lisa especially after her brother’s death. one of Naomi five objectives was to go and see the Mona Lisa for herself. something about the Mona Lisa. “Mademoiselle? There is something?” “No. 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 that there was something more that she should learn.” Page 18 . She wasn’t as afraid of loneliness as she was afraid of vulnerability. independent and alone. Fear overwhelmed her. like standing at the edge of a cliff. There is something that she should know about it.The mood is broken and the Mona Lisa becomes again a lady with a rather strange smile. feeling that if she could leave the café.I suddenly remembered an important meeting. They were connected.
she even told her parents that she would see Paris. Naomi felt caught up in the rhythm of the city.she didn’t particularly feel like doing anything She could go back to the hotel room. I would have given anything to be in Paris. Busy people were going about their busyness.” It had been the dream of a lifetime. even a few months ago. she had never quite made it to Paris. Her body was not being cooperative. She seemed to have lost interest in everything. Events had not lined themselves up quite right since that day in grade six. It felt tired. her mind became too active. She was alone. Her imagination began to run away with her. the maid was probably there and anyway it was lonely. No. Her heart sank. the other girl had backed out and Naomi’s parents had put pressure on her to stay at home. She didn’t want to do anything. “Funny. Page 19 . She could go to a museum. She didn’t want to do nothing. However.She thrust some money in his hands and left hurriedly into the busy street. The answer was to keep moving but that was difficult to do. Actually it was shortly after this that Naomi had got an apartment by herself. she and a girlfriend had almost decided to leave on a summer student transfer. She had nowhere in particular to go. an art gallery. She walked along aimlessly for six blocks not knowing where she was going. not being apart of it herself. Even worse .” she thought. k When she was doing nothing. She had been thinking about it and planning it ever since she was twelve years old. in university. Once. So. “A few years ago.” she thought. Then suddenly she began to feel uncomfortable with the busyness of the city. “How strange it is. No. In grade seven.
she knew one day she would be here. she had found work and was busy and thoughts of Paris were far away. And now walking along this Paris street. She just knew she had to see Paris or. It was as if she could not remember why she had wanted to go to Paris.” After that. Monet was her favorite impressionist so she thought she would go to Giverny. And then she had met Steven and going to Paris felt even lower down the list of priorities.“I never realized it before . When I finally have the opportunity. she was still with Steven. 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. But all this k Page 20 .” 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 knew the names of many streets and sections. Or maybe both. she had seen it in movies. the Paris of her dreams. feel it. In a way. she had always been enthralled by Marie Antoinette so she thought maybe she would go to Versailles. all the museums. always. She sighed. Although she had never quite been able to make it to Paris. That’s why I didn’t get to Paris. The only other time I had a real opportunity. She had studied it. Her ticket included a free trip to Versailles or to Giverny. Yet. she felt a strangeness. She knew the restaurants she wanted to visit. rather. the parks. It was like pursuing the Holy Grail She was sure that one day she would see it.that was right after Jimmy’s death. . . a street that she had felt she had known because she had seen it so often in pictures.
She had phoned the woman last night and made the final arrangements. k But maybe she should have waited a little longer. It had all been planned in advance. aware of the need to fill the afternoon hours. She was consumed then by grief and knew that she couldn’t share that with anyone. I don’t think so. Until she felt a little more festive. Yet. Her mother had visited when she had been pregnant with her and had her in a Paris hospital. Naomi had thought at the time. She should have waited until she felt a little better. at the same time. Very French. “I wouldn’t be very good company.” she had answered her mother. 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.” she thought.thinking about the Mona Lisa. In the meantime. So. “I should have taken mother’s advice. she walked past shops that should have enthralled her. Naomi decided to spend the afternoon at the Louvre and try to see this Mona Lisa for herself. I think”. She was glad that the evening hours were filled. she had not wanted anyone along. Going to Paris now had probably not been a good idea. She was supposed to meet an old friend of the family at a small restaurant not far from her hotel. That had been only part of it though. The woman had sounded warm on the telephone. And she Page 21 . charmed her. 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 brought a friend”.
suddenly felt happier as she hailed a taxi. k Page 22 . She would go to the Louvre and finally see this painting.
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she stopped at her bureau where a special box of chocolates always lay. “those vivid colours. are too bright for such an old lady. “Ah.” she thought. It was not this year’s model but was from a much respected couturier and still fashionable. rewrapped it in its paper and threw it in the basket. yellows and oranges I used to wear. looked at her calendar and was reminded of the dinner with Madame Simpson’s granddaughter that evening. put them away. and holding it delicately between thumb and index finger. she was thinking that grey was now her best colour. At her desk. those clear reds. She chose one. 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. and returned to her large and airy apartment in the deuxième arrondissement and went in. She carefully took off her elegant little hat and placed it in its own special place in the closet. On the way to her desk. She then removed her shoes. She then removed her couturier coat. “Really. removed her stockings and put on her mules and her robe. As she crossed over to her bedroom.” She moved to her bedroom and carefully removed her grey silk print dress and hung it carefully in its appointed place in the closet.E z stelle Duprix returned home from an interesting luncheon with an old male friend. She put her gloves and purse away carefully where they belonged in their respective drawers. yes I must prepare for that. I Page 25 . took a small bite. The hat. she started to go through her mail.
finding a perfect lover. sipping slowly. “Many times I visited new places after a sorrow of the heart -.must give the young girl a good impression. the more secretively so. “Ah.feeling inside some emptiness. Most often in my stories. feeling its warmth down my throat. And I would watch the people who came in and out and invent stories about them. and it now caressed the remembered scenes of many loves gained and lost. savoring the taste of the liquid in my mouth.” rose the voice of the little Gremlin of her conscience. They had just experienced some good fortune: an inheritance. her imagination. At least she had always supposed that the voice belonged to her conscience. She must bring back to her mother the right impression of Estelle Duprix. finding a beautiful place to live.alone in a crowd.” z Actually. gaining a new friend. old lady you flatter yourself. meeting an old friend. through my body and my limbs. these people were very happy. youth! How many times have I been in that situation myself? A hundred?” “Ha! Ha!. got the impression that the young girl was in Paris on account of an affaire du coeur. She preferred to call it Gremlin. And I would feel parts of my body remember the Page 26 . I would sit in nameless cafés. Always in a public place -. despite the little Gremlin. some sorrow. almost enjoying it. Yet. She had. somehow. she was looking forward to meeting the young girl and telling her about her Paris. like the bonnes soeurs had always told her. Mixed in was a kind of secret germinating joy and sweet guilt about the sadness I felt or was supposed to feel. had become even more fertile over the years. having a baby.
This sadness was very real as I remember. even when you no longer feel very much for him was so very difficult. At other times. you were not so detached as all that. She had often been quite genuinely upset. rude. Quite often.” The little voice of her Gremlin rose up again. she knew the relationship was in its last stages and she wanted to finish it sooner than the man. At other times. Leeching. she had wanted to continue the relationship and the man had broken it off. she had just lost interest. She wondered why she had given it life and continued to feed it. Never a moment of peace.” Damn little Gremlin. what he said was true. now. old lady. and in a way. Having to break another’s heart. Feeling more alone and sad surrounded by the happiness of others.warmth of a lover’s touch and feel unutterably sadder.” And then. 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. He was like an old friend and there were so many fewer of them these days. so inconsiderate. She supposed it was to balance out what many lovers had called her “flights of fancy. z Of course. before the shouting and the saying of the unforgivable things would start because both were trying to find some way of ending the relationship. increasing my own unhappiness. feeding on their happiness and in that way. almost overcome with sadness about the tricks of destiny. “Come. that I felt I must expiate by at least feeling some sadness. she was used to him now. It was a kind of emotional cost/benefit analysis she Page 27 .
You will not win this time.” Again. They were mine. parents. caring for them. ‘Mourning’ is a strong word for what you felt. in complaints about time passing too fast and never having enough of it. Sometimes I do not remember in time and motives. Gremlin. “Perhaps then you are right. they had closed retreats at the convent where this introspection was supposed to happen but it never did. 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. the little Gremlin. to absorb and dissipate the pain . You are being too melodramatic again. The period of mourning that came after. “Old lady. husbands. very strong and very valid to me.” “When I was a little girl. that there was little time to ask questions. Perhaps mourning is a good word. family. It was too full of people. friends. lovers. seeing them grow and grow apart. to look inward. It threw her back on herself.” Page 28 . children. I remember in emotions. of living with them. There is too much time. Yes. on her own resources. I am an old lady and I remember many things that you do not. The problem was that the rest of life was too full. “Our own sadness is something each of us has to deal with privately and alone.to do something with it. don’t you think?” z “No.did. was good. Youth is spent in a world of activity. to find out how you feel and then to find out what that might mean. And I will tell you that the emotions in those days were very strong. Mourning is a time to collect yourself. That’s what’s wrong with old age.
Life was ridiculous. She was quite alone and had too much time to think. I have outlived my time. Old age is all stopping. Old age is for reflecting on the experiencing. There were no longer the people who needed servicing. there were the days that must be filled. Youth is for experiencing. The tide of events moves you from one moment to the next. I must do that myself. Being young and active is much easier. to the next to the next. old lady. “It would make more sense that way. You know the scientist in his laboratory does not write conclusions before he does the experiments and observes what has happened. Now. not over a loved one but for a life Page 29 . When I was young and so busy and tired. What good would it do to contemplate about life when you were young? You had not seen. There would not be all these old people unhappy with nothing to do. enough of it.Now she had too much and it passed too slowly. Gremlin. it only passed fast when looking back on it. experienced.” z “Perhaps.” 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. Gremlin. But it is so difficult to do. 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. I would fall into bed at night and sleep before my eyes closed. never stopping. you are right. to have lost the events. I never thought that I would rebel so much against this time of life.” “Perhaps you are right. I am forever in a state of mourning. I find it much more difficult. Now there is no longer any tide to move me.
so went back to the desk and consulted her diary. old lady. She then considered what she should do next. And now. and in the end. letters to answer in another and notes made in her agenda for the invitations. It sounded a little Jewish. Estelle’s friend Joan. It is good we have come to this today. you have been in mourning. I am happy to see that you are finally beginning to ask the right questions. That was the end of that discussion she thought. But these Canadians are strange people. It is all over. Ah.in which I was the main participant. Naomi. Gremlin? Why do you say that?” z “Old Lady. yes. You are making progress. The young girl for dinner tonight. They were somewhere in between but had their own strengths. Estelle thought that it was a strange name to call a child. as you say. And the Gremlin went back to sleep for now.” “Am I. certainement. She had liked them more than the Americans but still they were very much alike. Estelle began opening her mail and going through the comfortable process of sorting it – bills in one place. for a life that is no longer active. Naomi’s grandmother. had explained to her that many Canadians have that quiet strength and willpower because of their Page 30 .” “Gremlin. you tire me. They were quieter but not as quiet as the English.” With that. Gremlin. What was her name? What was the name they had finally settled on? She could not remember. what does it mean?” “Ah.
they understated. Page 31 . The silver-framed photographs. she used for business transactions. She found that she now used the latter less and less. they measured snow that had fallen in feet and their temperatures went as far as 60 below zero. the crystal paper holders and different kinds of paper. In fact. She had always been considered a threat to other women and had always been happy to accept that fate. the silver pen. The envelopes were graduated to match the paper and also had her return address in the same lettering.constant battle with the elements. the larger size. she tidied it up. The smaller size she used for letters to friends. She had said that Canada was very cold and in the winter. She simply knew that it was the price one paid for beauty and charm. The paper was especially printed for her and came in three sizes. she had many difficulties with them. Canadians exaggerated very little. 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. These had the printed material on the front flap. z She had liked Joan more than others in the diplomatic service into which she had married for a time. contrary to the Americans. She answered the letters that needed answering and satisfied that she had done as much as she needed to do at her desk. Estelle felt that they were exaggerating the rigors of the climate although. And the very smallest was for short notes and “billet doux”. Normally. she did not seek out the companionship of other women. Everything on her desk had its specific place. more often than not. One. In fact.
Elle. On the coffee table in front of it were the current magazines she was fond of -. She had been a voracious reader and appreciated the reading lists that the professors gave to the students. And she had pleased many of them. and during all of her best years. she was no longer beautiful. Le Nouvel Observateur. She still saw a few of them from time to time. she loved the discussions in class or at the Café after class. although still attractive. She had to be witty and a good conversationalist. And where she used to capture their attention with her physical charms. She Page 32 . as she had grown older.Vogue. she had chosen a subject with which she felt men had more interest--politics and the state of the economy. It was a habit that was difficult to break. instead of leaning towards art or literature. However. Alas. And of course. she now did the same with the charms of her intellect. able to speak intelligently about things that interested other people. She was always anxious to keep up-to-date not only on fashion but also on current events. Le Monde. some of them influential. that had been her largest priority. She was usually well accepted by the other younger students because she brought a very different approach to the discussions. It saved a lot of time to know what to read and why. z She found it strange that she still felt the need to please men. some famous.Estelle then moved to her chair in the living room. She therefore became knowledgeable the way other old ladies do. She had audited courses in Political Science and Economics at La Sorbonne. She had spent her youth preparing to be pleasing to men.
Estelle was especially fond of young men. the most important reason you have become such a saint these years is that you no longer have ulterior motives for action. Really. It was a marvelous time of life poised somewhere between naivety and cynicism. They were so energetic. the capture that was never complete. In the old days. She missed that now and often wished that she had kept a few mementos. All other activities had paled compared to it. She did not realize how much she would miss the physical presence of men in her life. She was at a point in her life when she could again become philosophical without feeling the need to excuse it. perhaps from cynicism back to naivety or maybe simplicity . She knew that part of her appeal (or maybe all of it) was in her aloofness and fact that she was hard to get. Hard to get and hard to keep. Just being with such young men seemed to revitalize her. still holding on to lofty ideals. so full of ideas. It was a time when these men had all of the freshness of youth without any of its childishness. after they had left. She too was at a crossing. never having had the opportunity to test them for themselves. “Old lady. she would hurry to cleanse her apartment of their presence. she felt a lack. And yet. z She has always felt that the conquest was the thing to be sought. especially those she met at the university.sighed for the loss of the merry chase. she smiled.” Page 33 . She also had more time to see the beauty and truth in a world where few others had such time. the game. they had much in common.
I had a feeling that no one but me could be good and kind and often not even me. you are now an observer. it is a difficult question because it suggests that you may have wasted some forty years of your life. she could now proceed much more Page 34 . Gremlin what do you mean now?” z “What I mean is that you are no longer part of the mainstream. if you realize just how disturbing this is to me. 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. again . I often felt surrounded by enemies. She had two hours to get ready. Gremlin.” Estelle had agreed to meet Joan’s granddaughter . But you know. I have seen more beauty and more joy than I ever expected. The world was a much blacker place then where people only had selfish motives for actions.” “Oh Gremlin. “I am no longer as fast as I used to be. It is comfortable to sit quietly back and observe. I guess I should begin. she thought. I feel it comfortable to no longer be part of that competitiveness.” “Yes. Gremlin. the most surprising thing about all this? I have found that in observing life. You have lost the role you once had. I don’t know. old lady.” “Perhaps you are right.what was her name. you are no longer one of the fighters. go away. I wonder. In this war. “Well. And it is a role for which you are ill-suited and ill-prepared.” That was one of the advantages of old age.at l’Opera at seven.“Oh. you tire me. 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.
It seemed all right. In fact. there is proof that I am getting old beyond redemption. A little later. “Ah ha. She enjoyed nothing more than getting ready for an evening’s outing. the z Page 35 . That way. her eyes moved around the bathroom. “now. 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. she was surprised at how many positive things she had found today about growing old. service was better and les femmes had a tendency to stay with her longer than they did other people.” she thought to herself. though. She supposed that it was more motivating when people actually noticed what you did and had specific comments to give to make it better. There were too few occasions these days for dressing up for dinner.slowly with certain activities and enjoy them more. she would have to go around the apartment and verify that the femme de ménage had done everything she had asked of her today. I am actually beginning to enjoy it. Before that. 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 often did them slowly. enjoying every moment.” While sitting in the tub and thinking. She checked the basin for cleanliness. sitting in the bath. Estelle always listened to any objections because often the femmes made suggestions that were better than her own. she had come to enjoy many of life’s simplest activities like grooming and eating and sleeping and taking rest.
She opened the cupboard to check inside. she put on her robe and went out to inspect the rest of the apartment. The taps at the sink gleamed and the corners were immaculate. she found that the dressers had been rearranged. That was a place where rusty stains tended to gather but today everything appeared to be in order. she could see the rim around the inside of the toilet and the bidet. This time. She then moved to the living room which she had already automatically examined on her arrival.faucets were shining. Apparently. She would have to remind la femme about that. As she passed her dresser on into the living room. Again. She leaned over and checked the corners. even without her direct supervision. Madame Lajoie. bit it gingerly and discarded the rest wrapped in its brown paper wrapper. She checked out the other parts of the bathroom also. Estelle made a mental note concerning that. she moved the sofa over a bit to make sure la femme had vacuumed underneath. z She left the bedroom stopping at the night stand and the box of chocolates. everything was in its place. her eye took in all the corners and edges. and everything was clean. Perhaps she would have time next Wednesday. she observed that the silver required polishing. she took one. In the bedroom. the waste basket emptied and the carpet vacuumed. Quickly. Automatically. Page 36 . From her particular angle. everything appeared spotless. She went over to inspect the windowsills and they too had been properly dusted. In the kitchen. her femme de ménage had done an adequate job even though Estelle had been absent at the luncheon today.
she had always been given the advice .“mince words!. “Mince words!” “Ah. not as an adolescent. However. “Good.Again.” she thought.” The other thing she enjoyed about it was the freedom to speak her mind. It was clean and in order.” had been her reply. not even as a middle-aged woman. That is an insult to good meat and an insult to good thought.” z “Yes. “There certainly were advantages to growing old. Her age now gave her that freedom. Then she remembered the flowers. Page 37 . As she leaned back. 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. not as a child. But when she checked the vase. “to what end?” “I. People had considered her to be spirituel beyond her years.” How many times had she been given that advice! She never did like it.” she thought. she sighed with contentment. not as a young adult. she sat in her chair and leaned back picking up a magazine from the coffee table. 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. longing to be free. She always saw an image of good steak being chopped up for dog meat. It filled her with a sense of well-being. Ever since she had been young. 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. The apartment was just as she liked it. “all is in order. she had always felt hemmed in.” She had often been able to get away with it when she was younger because she had been so pretty and so witty.
And she was simply considered to be a crotchety old lady around whom one had to watch what one said. You understand people’s basic contradictions. when she had crossed that invisible line. She was able to say almost anything she wanted. I lost my whole life with my beauty. You know what is really funny.” “Well. “I have good reason to be bitter. But they accepted it and did not hold it against her. some evolution into gaga-ism. She was not exactly sure when that had happened. And. It took a while for her to realize that people were seeing her with a quite different eye. they feel your truth. old lady.” Gremlin interrupted. over which it appeared they felt she had little control. And they also feel a certain bitterness. “you are not honest with yourself.” Gremlin. You know how they are fooling themselves. 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. But now you know too much. They seemed to hold it against some indefinable act of growing old. old lady. People even now sometimes considered her to be mean. It was somehow forgivable because it happened to us all. People feel that.She secretly felt that the present was the best time of all. “Ah. Your humour when you were younger was light and made fun of things without consequence. You have changed.” z Page 38 . It is all gone forever.
past happiness. You must keep growing. had accomplished all their goals and that they were now in a state of waiting. Should you not be asking whether your beauty disappearing is the cause of your unhappiness? You assume it to be so. You have a future. You laugh at me. You are left to your own resources. I do not like it at all. almost as difficult as adolescence.“Ah. You still have life. past joy. Page 39 . I have only empty days now. moving. there is nothing there to move you. However. You are not asking the right questions. You should be asking yourself whether your beauty was ever that important to your happiness. z My problem is that I have no courage. I lack the courage to end it. You know. What good to me is my past? What good to me are all those memories? My life is no longer worthwhile. Old age is a very trying time. It seems even more worthless when compared to past activities. Think about it. You enjoy all comforts of the body. When I was younger.” “Ha. Gremlin. meeting challenges and at the same time. you exaggerate again. I lack the courage to go on. I find it as difficult as any other stage in life. reflecting happily on their past and enjoying the fruits of having finished what they set out to do. I find it a growing experience. that they had somehow done what they had wanted to. I tell you that is wrong. You have a past. old lady. Gremlin. Gremlin. I do not like it. all this is very stupid. I thought that old people were finished people. Instead. I am empty too.
My only comfort has been that perhaps there are others like me in the world who have outlived their time. I can’t help thinking that somehow a very grave error has been committed.z I should have died much younger Surely. that in his death. At other times. the heavy responsibility for oneself taken up by someone else. But you may just be distracting yourself.” “Old lady. Sometimes. an error of omission. the responsibility. First. that even in her death she is contributing to the society that gave her support. I think there was an order for my early demise and that the angel that was to carry it out became too busy. and somehow forgot about me. I was meant to. the struggle soon over. You use your imaginative power and it is highly developed. You may be bringing yourself to the Page 40 . there is nothing wrong with your imagination. dying with the secret knowledge that he will not be discovered for a few days and then causing a great many people difficulty -. But be careful. there was movement and purpose. eating dog food. I imagine that there is an old lady like me in the world. perhaps an Eskimo in the Canadian North finally abandoned by her people to die of cold and starvation on an ice floe. tea and biscuits. And here I continue to exist. And that she is part of the flow of life. or fell ill. there is panic and then the comfort of knowing that the end is near. I imagine myself a man in those stories from America. living in a small apartment. You must be feeding it on the very best caviar and foie gras.someone finally to show concern about his fate.
Joan’s granddaughter.” “Ah. 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 must prepare to meet that child. I say. thank the good Lord for that. You know life too well to believe that angels make mistakes. I am an old woman. you continue to insist on talking nonsense. Naomi. I will soon be dead. is purpose. I have no time to listen to you anymore. 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. old friend. for my sake and the world’s.” z Page 41 .
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o Chapter 3 B Page 43 .
In her younger years. especially when she was sitting alone and relaxed somewhere in a chair. her mind was off again running away from her with images from the past. of course. Time would slip by -. She could remember any past event . Of late. sometimes reading a dull book. Old age was like that. or even while she was using the commode. the clothes. Her thoughts were often in the far past. The focus of her life now seems to be in the past rather than the present. in reliving some of these scenes from the past. There was comfort.A o s Estelle prepared for dinner with Naomi. in her bath.sometimes an hour. but it had now moved back to the past and not even in the immediate past. But there were also some scenes that were not so pleasant. Suddenly. Those she hated most were Page 44 . Her mind would suddenly focus on a certain scene from her past as if it were yesterday. she would be back to the present.the people.before the images would stop and then. it seemed to be mostly in the future. her mind wandered. but slower. imagining the wonderful things that would happen to her. just before she went to sleep. She knew about drowning men whose lives flashed before their eyes before death. like yesterday. also. last week or even last year. she had been given to waking in the middle of the night fully conscious as if it were the middle of the day. then into her kitchen for a glass of water and sit down. She would go to the bathroom. sometimes two -. and the weather – with a lucidity that often surprised her and brought her comfort too.
it was usually a most uncomfortable social situation. The child’s name. There was nothing she could do. However.” she said to herself. leaned back. The child’s mother lay there when Estelle had visited her. It was that hospital room with green walls and white metal beds. Estelle came back to the present. she felt that it was her duty and a social obligation for the Page 45 . Too late. And she could torture herself thinking about it. “Yes now I remember. letting it unravel itself like a ball of wool that falls from the lap onto an uneven floor.” She sat in her chair. When she realized what she had been doing. It was always too late to change the past. she would take one of the possible alternate decisions and follow it through. she got up and retrieved the ball and wound it up again and start knitting again. put her arms on the armrests. asking herself what else she could have done. the results that were not very pleasant at all. In addition.those in which she had made a decision that she was not sure had been the right one.all that sickness and death. “How had all this started she wondered? Ah Yes! Now she remembered. avoiding the memory but inevitably. going over the details. rested the back of her head on the back of the chair. o Sometimes. closed her eyes and waited. “How Estelle hated going to hospitals -. Today. It was a useless exercise she knew but she was often three chapters into it before she even realized what she was doing. “Ah yes. the ball of wool once again would roll off her lap and unravel itself even further. She often replayed in her mind. the reasons she had made the decision.
” said the Gremlin. and a funny little arrangement in a botine from friends. pale against the pale pillows. were flowers: roses from her parents. baby names. o “Now. Her daughter had decided to give birth in what was a strange hospital because she wanted to be near her mother. Births. It would be good now to share memories with someone who has known me all their life. But I have also not experienced the joys and I now see that there are some. I have not experienced the pain. Gremlin.” All around her.” thought Estelle. old woman. the responsibility. “There is something wrong. It is something that you now regret. tut. flowers from her father’s colleagues. 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. Page 46 . “you know very well that you are uncomfortable in birthing rooms because you never had the courage to have a child yourself. And her mother was in Paris. The child has no make-up on. Estelle supposed were somewhat better than illnesses because it was a happy occasion and there was much to talk about: clothes furniture. The new mother was leaning back. bright brown eyes wide and just a little what was that? Wild? “Tut.” It is true that she had entered the hospital room with some trepidation and was glad to see that it was a private room. etc.grandmother’s sake. “ “You are probably right.
I am to see my doctor if it does not go away.” thought Estelle. “Mais alors. Maybe I can leave after 45 minutes. “I am as well as could be expected. Do not worry. o “Ah. I am sure your mélancholie will soon dissipate.” replied Cynthia. Page 47 . I feel let down a little now that it’s over and overwhelmed too. she said.” “Yes.” But still. You know the belles emotions – they are very tricky at the best of times. she would have to keep a semblance of conversation going for at least an hour.” answered the Child. “How are you my Child?”. I am sure that is correct.Estelle had brought with her a small bottle of very fine perfume. And the hormones too can betray us. She hoped that the child’s pallor was a result of the bleaching-out effect of the pale sheets and green walls. little one. what is the matter Child?” Is there anything I can do? Anything I can get for you?” “No. I suppose. “There is nothing you can get me. she thought.” These events are very joyous but emotionally draining too. I feel overcome by the responsibility of this little being. The doctors say that it is postpartum depression and that it will leave very soon. “This is not proceeding well. Tante Estelle. zut alors.” “Yes. I suppose it will but you know it is not a complete stranger to me.
Of course. Tante Estelle to listen to my ravings. You must have so many other things to do. 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.my new and vulnerable daughter. You have done a wonderful thing by bringing another soul into the world and it is a time to rejoice and feel proud. I don’t know what I was expecting. Yet. It is a very special day for you. But I understand your concern. many times a day. The flowers and presents and the phone calls make it feel special but at the same time it is ordinary. Soon. I understand that in the hospital.” o “I will stay with you as long as you want me to and as long as I am useful to you. I will have dinner and then I will sleep just like I always do. That should not take away from the other truth of your experience. after nine long months of waiting.” Was it Estelle’s imagination. Do you know what I mean?” “Myself. You are really very kind. You have more courage than I had.” Page 48 . it seems an ordinary day. No matter how great the experience. bringing a new being in the world.” answered Estelle. I am not sure how I would respond. We know it is special but it is not special for everyone. Babies are born here every day. there would be something beyond the ordinary. it happens on very ordinary days. “I have never had a child. But it is not really an ordinary day. I just thought that for such an important occasion. It is a very special day for me and for the baby. one that you will always remember. how tragic. it was just an ordinary happening. At the same time.
and turned into punches. Then. I was very excited but then.“Oh. I began to resent the baby and I felt guilty about that. My body no longer belonged to me. I am sure most women feel a little like that. when I began to feel movement. I was happy. I am faced with the reality of it. It was as if the whole world supported me in this condition. 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. it belonged to this creature that was growing and moving inside Page 49 . I was not really ready and that I had accepted all the support falsely. Here is my baby and now I am responsible for its care and even its happiness. and the best food in restaurants.“ “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. being pampered by everyone. it was so easy to become pregnant when so many find it difficult. that I had no real right to it. Then as the small rumbles of the baby got stronger and stronger. But now. in the sixth month. I started to understand the reality and the responsibility of having a baby. Then. the best service in shops. I did not always feel this way.” “Oh. things changed.” “Why would you feel guilty?” o “Well. I am not sure I am really ready. It is quite a lot to take on. I was really happy when I found out I was pregnant. There was never any question that I would keep the baby. I always got a seat in the Metro. And I feel a little guilty. At first. I had a really easy pregnancy.
I did not question much or think a lot. I can see that it would be terrifying. pretty happy with what was going on around me. I felt the same way and that is partly why I did not have a child. I am scared. “Pregnancy is funny. .” “What do you mean?” she answered. It was controlling my mind also. I also did not have the all the rest of the experiences that come with having a child and I regret it today. a never-ending job with no holidays and no breaks. it terrifies me. but I was thinking that the baby was not only controlling my body. I was its prisoner. . I had to almost force myself to keep up with current events. comfortable. And it suddenly dawned on me that motherhood.” “I understand.” “Yes. However. and loose and .” “And you may think this odd. That is what is so terrifying. I was placid. It leaves you all lethargic. It is just the beginning. My whole world seemed to shrink and close in on me and my uterus. But that is all over now. I would go out and realize that I did not understand what people were talking about. parenthood was like that. It was as if I was the Mama bear in hibernation for nine months with her baby cub.me.” o Page 50 . To be perfectly frank. I was getting so out of touch.” “But don’t you see? It is not all over.
” “It is nothing. I have brought you a little gift to help raise you spirits. It is too much. that you lose your own identity. You rest now.” “Oh.” Estelle was happy to see that the color had returned to the Child’s cheeks. like the painting and also because I have a feeling about the baby. In order to change the subject. You have been very helpful today. In the meantime.“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. It was at that point that the conversation had come up about the baby’s name. like the painting in the Louvre?” “Yes. “What. Right now.” was the reply. little one and remember your Tante Estelle. but I am sure you can. my little bird. A bottle of Joy! Your favorite perfume. a feeling?” o Page 51 . you are like riding a horse of your emotions.” “What do you mean. thank you Tante Estelle. I am afraid that people will think I am unnatural and not a good mother. Estelle asked if they had chosen a name for the baby.” “Thank you for listening Tante Estelle. “Oh. I would like to call her Mona Lisa. it is very helpful. I could not share these feelings with my parents or anyone else. not sure you can control the beast.” “Enjoy it.
” “How do you imagine her to be?” “The Mona Lisa looks like a woman who knows her own mind. She is sufficient unto herself. It was the first time that she had been cast in the role of confidante to her.” “And you believe that by giving her the name. I am sure you will think me silly too. I chose it willingly and I am happy with the decision. I told myself that if it is a girl. a little like you. It is just the way I was brought up. I can’t imagine life without a family. I have already chosen another path.“My mother thinks that it is silly. it is a beginning. Page 52 . over the years. I want my daughter to have that legacy. I can’t count the number of times I have seen the painting. I would not be happy any other way. you will be giving her the personality?” o “Well. And I have reproductions of it also. I will leave you to rest now. she relived the discussion she had with the Child.” “I am glad to see you smiling again. resisted motherhood with a kind of fierceness that she had never really understood. who does not let people take advantage of her. Estelle wondered too whether her own decision not to have a child was born of the same kind of reasoning. I am not complaining. Oh.” As Estelle left. Since I have been in Paris. I want her to grow up to be like the Mona Lisa. I feel it is too late for me. She had. I know that I am not the Mona Lisa type. I want to start things on the right path.
If she remembered correctly the Father soon entered the picture and was also persuasive. She thought they had retained Lisa as a middle name but had settled on Naomi as a first name. many objections to the name the Child Cynthia had chosen. Estelle supposed that it was something about the fact that she had been born in a strange land.Of course. o Page 53 .
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detached maybe. based on her outer demeanor. Naomi’s mother had met her when she had stayed with her parents while they were in Paris. She apparently had a real knack for remaining cool and composed in all circumstances. Naomi had been told that she was cool but not necessarily cold. at the very least. Naomi was told that she had always been a quiet. Naomi’s grandmother loved to tell the story of Estelle and Page 56 . People often felt comfortable and comforted by her presence and were surprised by that since it was unexpected. Naomi’s grandmother and Estelle had taken an instant liking to each other.N v aomi had the impression from her mother that the woman she was to meet that evening. Very attractive physically. some twenty-five plus years ago but she gave the impression of being much younger. she always seemed to have no lack of male attention. peaceful pool. She radiated a kind of cool warmth. had been maybe forty years old then. always calm. Estelle Duprix. Apparently. it was estimated. Not that she was bubbly or energetic in any way. had been a little naughty for the times. she had seemed to be eccentric and maybe a little colorful. Naomi had also heard that Estelle had been very popular with men and had her share of husbands. The point of many of these stories was that Estelle consumed male attention much as she consumed a box of chocolates. in all emergencies and of radiating that calm outwardly so that others became infected with it. a liking that had blossomed into a solid friendship. Estelle. lovers and affaires du coeur.
she wanted to greet him like the friend he was to her. there were few line-ups and she quickly went through the doors and into the museum. like the sophisticate she thought she was. At the Louvre. And she always had another box at the ready. Enough of that. Estelle would take a bite out of one and throw the rest of the chocolate away.her chocolates. complaining that the chocolates were no longer fresh. She did control that spontaneity and. Luckily in August. v She suddenly was surprised to see on her right. she just stared at the Venus. And off she went on the adventure. wanting to touch it but knowing it was Page 57 . After these descriptions she had heard many times. It seemed quite strange to come suddenly and without warning on such a well-known work of art. She always had a box in her living room. Estelle loved chocolate and bought expensive hand-made boxes often and always had some in reserve. the Venus de Milo. She would never run out of chocolates. Then. It was a somewhat confusing place. she would often throw a box away when it has only been half eaten. Luckily. she pretended not be recognize him. And there it was. After the shock of recognition. The plane had taken off some twenty minutes earlier and she suddenly realized she had been sitting next to a television celebrity. there seemed to be a traffic flow that Naomi could follow. Naomi was intrigued and looked forward to meeting this unusual woman. as she approached the Louvre. saying that it was to maintain her figure. just like the pictures of it with the pyramid. She never finished one. she thought. It reminded her of the time she was in a plane.
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?
but rather that they are each caught up in it. Perhaps later. “toying” with her. the one who by brush strokes. She wanted to somehow capture the moment. captured that joy in living. That may be the mystery. though. Finally. she could look at the pictures and something else would come to mind. going into one room and out the other. yet enjoying the motion and the danger. room leading on to room until suddenly Page 61 . sitting in her room. not that the male is playing a game with her. she could not pass the other paintings and sculptures as quickly. The uncomfortable feeling that we are missing something. Naomi got up slowly and headed back to the first floor. feeling somewhat satisfied. She lingered over many. Or at least she could get a notebook and write down some of these thoughts. Naomi got up and decided to go down to the gift shop and get reproductions of the Mona Lisa. but refusing to be sucked into each other’s axis. Of course there is the danger. or the one who captured the painter to capture her joy in living? v One clue Naomi found lay in her naked eyes. This time. naked with that realization. The painter is as much a part of this painting as the model. willing whirlpools of experiences caught for a moment in each other’s vortex mingling.Who is the real artist of that picture. It was the danger that produced that constant tension that moved them on from one event to the next. He is in her eyes and in her smile.
v Page 62 . Promising herself that she would return.m. It was already 5:30 p. took a taxi to her hotel room where she cleaned up quickly and arrived at the small restaurant a little late. she ran out. and she had to be at the restaurant by 7.she remembered the dinner meeting.
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my child. that Mme. I’ve always thought so. Naomi.” In replying. you know I think you look more like your grandmother than your mother.” Page 65 . Naomi looked around the restaurant to see if she could spot an older lady.” “Yes. Duprix was respected at the restaurant and got special service.W bbb hile waiting for the maître d’ to seat her. It was evident not only from the position of the table but also from the maître d’s attitude. the woman was courteous but aloof. I’ve never had it before. to the table where the older woman sat drinking. 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. The maître d’ approached Naomi “Mademoiselle?” “Je dîne avec Mme Duprix ce soir. votre invitée. The maître d’ almost clicked his heels as he presented Naomi “Madame Duprix. Suivez-moi. “Merci.” The maître d’ lead her as Naomi had suspected. sit down and let me look at you. I am drinking the Kir but perhaps you have the American habit of the cocktail?” “No.” “ Now that I look at you.” “Certainement. Mademoiselle. Jean-François. no a Kir would be fine.” “Now.
Would you like me to do that? Or would you like to order from the menu?” “No. She had been a little put off by Estelle’s manner with the maître d’. Naomi smiled a little. I leave it entirely up to you. turning to the waiter from time to time for clarification.” “Thank you very much.” Estelle then focused her entire attention on the menu. and reddened a little more. but this Estelle was very different. I have other eyes. the waiter came over with the menu and inquired if mademoiselle would have an aperitif. I have the advantage because my memory of their faces is more than 20 years old. Luckily. Quite the contrary. I would like to order for both of us since I know what is good here. Naomi was glad to be able to turn Page 66 . Estelle took both menus and gave them back to the waiter and said to Naomi: “if you permit me. the eyes of my very good memory and I can tell you that you resemble much more your grandmother. I have not found much I’ve disliked. So.” “ Parfait. You are not allergic? Is there something you do not like?” “I have no allergies I can eat anything.” “Yes. No.” bbb Naomi saw Estelle’s eyes crinkle a little in an eyesmile and Naomi relaxed a little. about then. She was. I think my grandmother was very beautiful. you go ahead.“Of course.
She was wearing a kind of dull blue suit that had been a disappointment to Naomi from afar. She suddenly realized that all day she had been half expecting to find. this friend of her grandmother was indeed soignée and not shabby at all.away from the conversation for a second. Everything about her was understated elegance. The little eye shadow. that Mme. However. the Paris of her dreams. Her first emotion was one of relief. Her makeup too was understated and appropriate for an older woman. some mascara and pink lipstick. Naomi figured she must see the hairdresser twice a week and the manicurist at least once a week. Naomi figured it must be a designer creation although she was not very knowledgeable about such things. Where the one had an aura of shabby gentility. Duprix would be the old lady she had seen at the café earlier in the day or at least someone like her. this could not be further from the truth. It had some very fine over-stitching and there were many bbb Page 67 . up close. However. Unfortunately. No. Estelle was not at all like the old lady at the café. Her gray hair was pulled back to her neck in beautiful soft waves. she had to change her mind. by some strange kind of coincidence. that there might be a purpose to the trip. aside from escaping what happened at home and finally seeing her birthplace. at least physically. 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. Naomi was even beginning to feel that this trip to Paris may have been not been a mistake after all. It was made of very fine wool and was beautifully tailored.
that is done.” bbb “ The people-watching. I sat at a café and I enjoyed watching all kinds of different people come to see come in or to walk by. It’s wonderful. especially in the spring. tasting a little like berries. “Today. She tasted it and found it to be very good. not very long. Tell me. I taste mostly berries. Germain. 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. I got in late and with jet lag. do you find it pleasant?” “Oh yes. There is always so much to do and see. It is a favorite Paris pastime. the color improved. almost like candy in a glass.pieces of cloth sewn together rather than just two backs and two fronts with lapels. As she got closer. I decided to have dinner at the hotel and go to bed early. “The Kir. The waiter then appeared with her Kir.” Page 68 . This is my second day” “But that can be a long time in Paris. have you been in Paris long?” “No.” “Now. I like the little cafés on rue St. I myself have done that often. We can talk and enjoy each other. I sit and watch also. Where have you been?” “Yesterday. It is interesting to watch the people who come in and the people who pass or who walk by.
It is the imagining of all kinds of things about the people we see. how did you know? I suppose that everyone who comes to Paris must go to see the Mona Lisa. That is what I do also. she was warming up to this disarming woman with the friendly all-knowing twinkle in her eye. Tell me what did you think of her?” “What do you mean. I went to the Louvre. a special connection?” Before Estelle could answer. that is the pleasure in it.” bbb “Yes. she had not intended to. Jacques you probably know. the waiter arrived with a glass for Naomi and some warm French bread. finally satisfied with Estelle’s satisfaction. most tourists who comes to Paris think they must see the Mona Lisa.” “Well. Estelle began explaining her menu choices. but of course you have a very special connection to that ancient lady.” Naomi was not too sure why she said that. Also Page 69 . of course. “I am glad that you are not difficult. ‘Of course.” “Yes. I am certain you will enjoy it. The waiter left.“I make up stories about them. This is a favorite restaurant of mine and the chef knows me very well. Estelle asked Naomi if it would be all right for her to choose the wine and she did this. You went to see the Mona Lisa. I have ordered a scallop dish in a champagne sauce that resembles a little the Coquilles St. Tell me what else have you done?” “This afternoon. Yet. they do it very well here.
” “ I can look at you and I see. it was not a mistake. You loved him very much. again a dish that they do very well here. I am sure you will be pleased with them. non?” “Yes. you’re right on all points.” Page 70 .I have decided on the roasted lamb. I’m afraid I did and do. he said he did…” “Then. I’ve been very disappointed – a relationship recently ended. or that I no longer have someone to love me. now. 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. I’m not sure what in all of this bothers me more: the fact that I no longer have someone to love.” bbb “Well. no?” “Yes. 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 have a feeling that you are here because of an affaire du coeur. I fear you have been much disappointed. yes. I have just had a romance end.” “Did he not love you?” Well. I suppose it shows. to comprehend that there is a man involved in this histoire somewhere. for the fact that I made a very bad mistake and was very naïve. People have been telling me that but it doesn’t make me feel any better.” “I guess from that you were not happy that it was terminated. Now tell me.
I can’t. We were struck by each other immediately and gravitated towards each other.” bbb Despite herself. it was Estelle who spoke “And what is his name. correct?” “Yes. Naomi began to explain about Steven. I think that is not a very bad fault for someone your age. We spent the rest of the party Page 71 . One is not permitted such things. But Estelle just sat calmly. it was a little like lightening striking.” “Yes. She found that the more she drank. Then she thought that it might be easier to talk to a stranger about Steven. it is very painful. “Well. I know that – the coup de foudre. She explained how they had met at her friends’ party and how they had liked each other immediately. Finally. It’s just too painful. She hesitated because she was not sure that she wanted to talk about it right now. and seemed to be ready to wait forever for Naomi to speak. to be naïve in a love affair at my age would be quite ridicule. I suppose I should be more philosophical about it. spying each other “from across a crowded room”. the easier it was. Now. “Yes. for me. I think he had a friend introduce us. Tell me about it.that is always permitted.” Between sips of the white wine and mouthfuls of seafood. Naomi started to laugh.” Naomi hesitated while she was trying to put her whole relationship with Steven into words. this man who has made you so unhappy. as for being naïve. Perhaps a little naïveté in financial affairs -.“And.
he kissed me lightly on the lips and was gone. 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. he got me out of bed at 9 AM. pleasurable. one lived apart until one was married after which one lived together. 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. but there was no bbb Page 72 . about four o’clock in the morning he drove me home and he was a perfect gentleman. You must understand that I find it difficult to understand these relationships. But you were very lucky. From the beginning. 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. In a way. non!” But I thought there were no romantics left in this age of computers and stainless steel. the next morning.getting to know each other better. he made no demands on me.” “I am listening. These are to be enjoyed because they were usually brief. I agree. I was very lucky. There were. my child and how long did this last? Yes. Some even lasted years. In my day. of course. He did not ask to come in. I was very impressed. I was thinking that we would soon be moving in together. Then. It lasted thirteen months. dancing together to the exclusion of everyone else.” “Ah. the liaisons. and involved no responsibility and certainly no living together. he was quite the romantic. Finally.
In a way.” bbb At that point. We were so close. you will be 24 years old on June the 23. “this is wonderful. Steven was thoughtful and kind. don’t tell me.” “How old are you now? No. Naomi continued the conversation. 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. I think often ruins a good romance.” said Naomi. yes?” Page 73 . today. We had a kind of storybook relationship. he was my best friend. let me remember yes.” Both Naomi and Estelle attacked their food silently. the waiter arrived with the wine and the first course. Maybe that is what ruined our relationship. I sometimes think that they were perfect because one did not live together. That’s the thing that bothers me most. he was the most perfect man I’ve ever met. Really. he was the first such man I met and I’ve never met his match before or since and probably never will. I was the envy of all my friends. I thought it would last forever. 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. Maybe we were too close. almost like living together. Still. “Maybe you’re right. We shared everything. “What a wonderful choice.no thought of the divorce or the living together. I have no idea why it ended. When she was done. This living together. I have never had such good scallops. Now let us eat. loving and gentle.” “I am glad you approve.
perhaps that’s not quite right. There’s something else. but when I moved. I should know why. No. But. 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. should learn something from it but what is there to learn? In the middle of a beautiful. You have the benefit of experience. I mean I was here then. June 22. The greatest happiness I have felt I think–you know.” “Oh yes. complete relationship. You are still very young to suggest that you will never find that happiness again. you were here then.“Yes. too. Not when I was moved. at my age that I can agree with that. you will admit. But it is helpful. Happiness is something that one finds deep down within oneself.” bbb “I suppose you’re right.” “Yes I have heard that. I almost feel that I should know something about it. 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. 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.” “I’m not sure. to have the help of things and people and the environment. he decides that he must leave and never explains it Page 74 . Happiness you know it’s not something one finds reflected in familiar places or faces. the perfect relationship according to my friends. 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. of course you would remember.
” Page 75 . there are the signs.” “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. He and Estelle fussed over the plates and the wine. I don’t think so.” bbb It was at this point that the waiter arrived with the main course. It is important to eat it while it is still hot.” “No.” “I think that you are angry. not always.” “Of course I’m angry who would not be? I mean we were the perfect couple.to me except to say that it cannot even explain it to himself. how did you know?” “Oh. On the romantic front we were totally compatible and even in the days before Steven left. our relationship was still as responsive as ever. We would often leave parties early in order to be together longer. at least my friends have had other experiences.” “Yes. and accidental touch can make us both respond like the first time we touched. Sometimes people have to work harder at their relationship than we did.” “He was your first lover I see. We were sexually compatible.” “But surely that goes without saying at your age. this time. Whatever that means. “Please begin. a red. Even thirteen months after we met.
enjoying each mouthful more than the last. “You have of course. It seems suddenly important to Naomi that she impress on this woman the perfection of her relationship with him. 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. Naomi felt a little ashamed of the exuberance of her appetite but she hated to see so much good food go to waste. eating efficiently. her own plate almost untouched in front of her.” bbb It was at this point that the discussion turned again to the topic of Steven. There is an unusual combination there. She concentrated her attention on dispatching the food in front of her efficiently. but it’s nothing creative. About half-way through. I have interrogated Michel but it is of no use. “That was delicious. she became aware that Estelle was watching her with amusement. there was something. She sipped a little more wine and began to be quite talkative.” “Yes I am not sure myself what it is. she pretended that she had enough and carefully crossed her knife over the downturned fork. But I have not done much writing except at my job.” When I was younger. the job?” “Yes of course. very delicate something I’ve never had before. I don’t know. Estelle changed the subject.As was her fashion Naomi dug in. Naomi slowed down and. Indeed she was grateful for the interruption. I wrote poetry and I enjoyed that. I have been too engrossed in my Page 76 . when she was almost done. I have a job in the government as a junior policy writer. 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
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. I had seen dozens and dozens of reproductions of her everywhere. and it became ordinary – millions of dollars per room. “And then there are rooms upon rooms of all these precious works of art. It is difficult to see what she is smiling at. that it was almost too much. I guess I never thought it really existed. It has an aura that reproduction cannot convey.staring at me in the face almost as soon as I got through the door. I wandered around in a kind of trance. It is as if wandering through Holland. suddenly appearing before us as real as we are.just ordinary. There are no points of reference. I was struck by its reality. Of course I’d seen pictures of it all my life especially in my history textbooks but somehow.” Estelle laughed. It was as if my mind could not grasp it all. And yet. history brought to life -. And then there was the Mona Lisa. Tell me what did you think of her?” “There. And I could certainly see what has attracted people for generations. no longer pictures in books or movies. even in advertisements. the mysterious lady. It is just her and a dark background of mountains. I chanced upon the little boy with his tired finger in a centuries-old dike. again. there was something to be said for the real thing.” bbb Page 80 .” “And what was that?” “I guess it is the smile.
Do you mean that everyone sees in her something different.“Yes. Because there is nothing else in the painting to give us clues. or as I care to think. To me. I think that is true. That is why it continues to enchant us. many people have tried to explain the mystery of her and have not been very successful. I think no one has found the reason for it. all of them have been successful. It is the mystery. I think it may have to do with what is called the war of the sexes. tell me what the lady means to you.” “Now that’s an interesting thought. I guess what she means to me is aloofness. not arrogance because she seems to have a fine sense of humanity. Hautaine means aloof? Yes. Hautaine. it seems that she is thinking to herself about something and finding it a little funny and that is the reason for her smile. would you say? Or even arrogant?” “No. to a large extent. All of them have been successful. it is that enigmatic smile. something which responds to their own interests and needs. like an ink-blot test?” “Yes. but maybe detachment is a better word. because she is alone and the one painting her is a man. “Yes.” “Well. Do you understand what that means?” “Yes.” “How is that?” bbb Page 81 . there was a certain aloofness. something personal. For example. I think so.
captured but yet never captured. unable to hide her wisdom. quietly joyful.it’s all a play.” “Wow! Now I really want to get back to my room.” “Yes. that lifts her from the day-to-day world with the altitude she needs to be on the neutral.knowing. confident.the game that men play with women and women with men. nothing in life is serious -. 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. Or at least. she is la Femme Éternelle. was a woman -. I believe that da Vinci used her to show us this Eternal Woman: strong. but forever knowing and understanding life’s short game. That is why I had no doubt that viewing the Mona Lisa would be one of the first stops on your Page 82 . sure of herself. as your Monsieur Shakespeare has pointed out.” “And I think your Mother saw much the same as I did. This is the knowledge that she holds.eternal woman -. da Vinci’s interpretation of her. Even with these two people in a kind of client/artist relationship.” “In a sense. And Mona Lisa is aware of this. not being coy. the secret is in the laughing smile that reaches the eyes. I think I can see that. that makes her smile. there is still the playing of the Game of Life -.“To me.” bbb “But it does not matter what the real woman was like. I got a reproduction and will look at it more closely when I return to my room.” “The Eternal Woman. In that moment captured in da Vinci’s brush stroke.
the Mona Lisa was so important to her. I did not know it was a secret.perhaps I am being indiscrète. Why would you say that?” “Oh. when you were born. your mother did not wish to call you Naomi. I mean. now.you will reassure your mother of my innocence. but I was so sure that your mother would have . But perhaps. for your mother. although I never use it. . I thought your mother would have told you well before now.” bbb “My mother? What do you mean? That reminds me. a secret to you. I regret . . it is not to be believed. . oui? I see that there is nothing left to be done but to explain.” “What are you talking about? What about my name?” “I suppose now that I have begun. at least. it is still a painful subject. To me.” “My name? What about my name?” “Oh. yes it is. earlier you mentioned that of course I would be interested in the Mona Lisa. non? I did not know. altogether in all innocence -. . and then all of that confusion about your name. I just assumed that your mother .” Page 83 . . So painful. I have put myself in a difficulty most embarrassing. I don’t know how that came about. you are certainly old enough to now about your beginnings. after 24 years. Or. that you would have wanted to see her. . Naomi. Tell me is your second name still Lisa?” “Yes.Parisian visit. especially at the moment of your birth.
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. Please forgive me. Perhaps I am not phrasing this properly. I saw you when you were born and I talked to your mother then. She felt lost in her motherhood I think.” “What beginnings? What are you talking about?” “Well. your mother. you know. That is one of the things I now see more clearly. you see. and you were a girl.“Yes. That is why I was so sure she would have told you about your beginnings. Your Mother then had just seen the Mona Lisa and when you were born. 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. are very sensitive about that time. perhaps she was affected even more because she was pregnant. too. she had decided to call you Mona Lisa. You understand that it was something about her own need rather than yours. that discussion had more of an effect on me that I realized.” bbb Page 84 . 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. It’s funny.” “I think I understand some of what you mean. 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. you know. I will say a few things. Les emotions. well. and in a strange place. They say – I do not know this myself from personal experience – that such things can strangely affect pregnant women. Frankly.
” 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.” bbb Then although Naomi had not seen any signal.” “My psychic roots. Naomi sat back. out-of-the-way places. she gave her the names of restaurants and the names of the Maître D’s. present and future perhaps as strong as the bonds of the flesh. the waiter came up to Estelle with the bill. Page 85 . That is an interesting way of description.” “Yes. Estelle and the waiter were lost in a well-rehearsed dance of the payment of the bill. “There. I think it is best for you to speak to your Mother yourself about it.“Well. She gave Naomi written directions to various places she had enjoyed. There are connections between things past. In some cases. Naomi said that she would take care of it but she was closed out completely. I have said enough. Are you ready? I have asked that two taxis be called to take us to our destinations. Despite her protests.” Naomi laughed nervously. That is done. enjoying the moment.
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There are connections that are difficult to explain. moving from one generation to the other. I have finished with that.that there are. But it was an excellent lesson for you. you are again getting religious on me. Let us not talk about souls.” “Oh. yes.” “Yes. You know I have left all that behind. They are like electrical impulses which are activated when soul meets soul.” “I suppose. Also. Gremlin. Also I think you found it surprising that such a young one could teach you about the life. I did.not only the physical roots -. old lady. that meeting with Naomi showed you what relationships there could be between people. She is concerned with her own problems.” “She said many things. It was what the girl said that interested me. 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 -. I do not think she realized that she was teaching me. although I think I did tell her. Were you there? Did you see her?” “Yes.“G 1 remlin. I think. Tonight was just one such meeting. Let us leave that to the priests and the nuns of my youth. I met that little one tonight. She started me to think about these psychic roots–ideas being transmitted through ourselves or perhaps somehow through the atmosphere like Page 88 . Perhaps now you will listen a little more to me when I explain things to you. that you learned something tonight from that child. Saw and heard. You see.
Yes. side to side. then.genes through bodies but probably faster. of the dying (and we are all in the process of our 1 Page 89 . overall though. has been a kind of succession of experiences. fooling myself that I was progressing. one beside the other. You have finally given yourself over to the vital task of the aged. If I were to write an autobiography. moving on.” “Excellent! Old Lady. Yes. I would not know how to tell my story. You are no longer lost in the contemplation of the exquisite color and workmanship of the fringe. And I realize that I do not know the theme of my life. You are rolling out your life and looking at it and beginning to see the patterns there. My life. always at that lower level. instead. You are finally doing that which is most useful to you. I just now realized that. not down to up? But building up slowly a little bit each time. with a wide base that slowly but suddenly reaches its apex. I think there is a pattern superimposed on cloths of different colors but of the same quality. 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. It would have to be much faster. 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. but in the consecutive pattern rather like a pyramid. I realize. overlapping. Ah! That. There seems to have been some kind of lesson that I failed to learn from the very beginning. excellent! You have finally arrived at this point. I went on pursuing or repeating the same action. The experiences are different. You understand.
I do hope she gets the information she requires from the only person who can give it to her. They must also exercise their minds to full potential and so on and so on with the intuition. or a job. At first. patterns are seen involving a short lifecycle. Let me get back to what the young girl said yesterday at the restaurant. 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. again with the religion! Gremlin.own deaths). awakens them to the pattern in all things and the connections between patterns. Most people have enough to do. or a relationship. now you have lost me. They must use their bodies as finely tuned instruments of living. Sometimes the very coursing of life awakens them.” 1 “Bien non. Most people must live in the pattern and be the doer. you could stand and observe this reality and become aware of the pattern but that is not possible for everyone. If you were further advanced.” “The mother?” Page 90 . Few can live in it and stand beside it and be both the Doer and the Observer. of deciphering the pattern out of the beauty of varied colors and forms. the senses. after a little exercise. of joy. the emotions etc… They must drink and feel the life of being course through their veins. this facility extends to larger and yet larger things until the patterns are seen with respect to soul and destiny infinity and eternity. The task of seeing and solving the puzzle. being themselves locked in physical bodies experiencing the depths of human experience through all layers.
” “Well.” “Something?” “Yes. you are ridiculous. It surprised me that she did not know.” “How is that?” “Well.“Yes. in a way. too. It was by reviewing the scene in my mind yesterday. that white hospital room. However. although I did in fact reveal that which I think I should not have revealed. I saw a woman who was becoming older. How was I to know she did not know? No Gremlin. that is not what affected me most. This is true. It is not something I was conscious of at the time nor have I thought about it much ever since. I guess I got a look at what infinity might mean.” 1 “What do you mean? Who else could tell her? Not I. It was only while I spoke to her that I realized just how much that meeting with her mother had also affected me. her mother.” Page 91 . Do you understand?” “Yes.the action that is and yet that continues itself. as I was sitting there. Cause and effect together in one moment yet separated by many years -. perhaps. I could see quite clearly the mother and the child of 24 years ago.” “And. while also seeing before me in the flash the results of that hospital day. that something seemed to awaken in me.
I was able to fool many people. Instead of meeting them in boudoir. Do you remember Gremlin? Were you with me.“Becoming?“ 1 “Well. I do remember though that there were Page 92 . always by an accident that was not really accidental. you meet them in the university. 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. but not totally.” “And if you are correct? What of it? I find you cruel. Let me continue. Further. even then?” “Yes. I was with you then and always will be although you were not as aware of me. then. old lady.” “Yes. They all found out soon enough. if I remember. You were leading a bit of a double life. however. Somewhat. young as you pretended to be. I began to remember what had been happening to me then. you had some fear even then. You still have your young men. That also passed. If I remember. of growing old. As I saw the scene in my mind and heard that young child who was newly a mother speak. you had a very young lover whom you kept somewhat hidden from your other friends. It was almost a halfcentury old but my age was not on my face as it is now. I saw my face. I was. better people even than you hardheaded Gremlin. It was a kind of sickness that I had for a little while this madness for young men.” “I would say not.
Gremlin. when I was still naïve. a good friend of my youth and of my middle-age.” “Before you became immune to love?” “Yes. he knew me better sometimes I think that I knew myself. At the same time it felt reassuring. He was a good friend who was with me most of my life. At any rate. You must remember also Alfred do you?” “Yes. Page 93 . be serious..” 1 “Yes. He loved me still the same. the lovers who have moved in and out of my life. comforting. Yes that was a surprise to me..” “What stopped you then?” “What stopped me then was. Alfred thought that I had perhaps slowed down a little and would be ready for him. But. Alfred was not like the other men. You see. I was thinking about the proposal when I went to see the baby Naomi.those young men but it is not of them I speak. the baby Naomi. in part. Did you know he asked me to marry him? In fact. I do! He is that good friend of your youth. too demanding. although again I find that to be too severe a judgment. before. that I did seriously consider his proposal and under other circumstances I might have acceded. to me. perhaps you are right. he knew me when I was still young. before life took away my innocence. that love was too overwhelming. You see.” “And loved you still the same?” “Gremlin. I want you to know Gremlin.
I Page 94 . I was afraid. I cannot be caged.like a soft feather bed in my grandmother’s house. You understand.” “You were afraid. It was just that the idea of marriage seems suddenly so suffocating. I do not like uncontrolled things. I admire that. It appeared to me to be like a cage. of happiness I suppose. Yes. I need to be free.” “Yes. like you. the image of the Mona Lisa came frequently to me you see. perhaps.” Yes. In that week. I had much time to think about Alfred and what I might do. and I could not wait to leave the room. that in the weeks that followed. He used that to entice me into a marriage with him. To me she was an aristocrat. he knew my real age. And I could feel my age creep up upon me. that too. You loved Alfred and were afraid that meant you would become vulnerable. horrified me. I do feel the need always to be in control. I think I was about to accede when I went to visit that hospital room.” “Of happiness?” 1 “Oh. It is exhausting to talk to you. It is strange but I remember now. What she said about the Mona Lisa and her feelings on motherhood terrified me. and in that vulnerability. not be able to control. She could even control the tenderest of feelings towards another human being. You see. She was someone who could control her life absolutely. What else could it be?” “It could be fear of losing control. Gremlin you always get to the point too fast. I was too old then to have children.
” “Always. I decided that I could not open myself to what Alfred was offering me. In all your other relationships. Leave me now I have much thinking to do.” “Yes Gremlin.” “Now.” 1 Page 95 . old lady. And he married another and I lost a good friend. Alfred was the small exception.envy that. And it is getting late. I do think I begin to see what you meant when you talked about patterns.” Quote. when you ask it. I think you chose them because you did not love them. it is getting late. I will leave. you always had control. 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. I am under your control. gremlin that is too much.
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no flowers of any kind. she felt heavy – lost below the ticking of the mattress. gnarled oak tree. down the path and then down the little hill. Resisting the temptation to move forward to the tree. or back to a conscious state. She gave in and fell back into the heaviness swirling. The road was a little to the right of the tree and bypassed it. She was caught up in swirls and swirls of dreams enveloping her. toward the roots. Around that. She was too sleepy to resist. As she awoke. Naomi walked toward the tree. was that kind of circular seat that surrounded it like a wooden tutu. They were so gay and happy! In her dream. no animals. She went a little way until she became conscious of the nothingness around her. she stopped to watch the children dancing.N 5 aomi slept well during her second night in Paris. Ah! A familiar place! There was a tree. so. swirling. three people – perhaps they were children – danced around and around. which now seemed at least twenty inches thick. It was as if she had indeed stepped into a painting but one which itself which was only half finished. How strange she thought in the dream. There was no other way to explain it. she continued past the tree. and finally reaching her destination. No one was sitting on the seat. a kind of large. There was a little hill but it was a nondescript gray-brown. catching her inert body and pressing it back to sleep. There were no trees no vegetation. Page 98 . but not an oak tree. Instead. She felt herself being pulled into the dream into the dancing trio.
came the joy in waves and washed through their bodies. is a great gift to receive. Joy. Their connection through their clasped hands spread the joy and intensified it at the same time. she became immersed in an overwhelming feeling of joy. For some reason. She stood and watched the children quite satisfied with being the observer. she thought. She was simply suffused with the spirit of joy being experienced around that tree and was satisfied and felt she could go on indefinitely. she realized that they were not children. It is not Page 99 . was colorful and real. Without thinking. She turned back. She was one of the group and the whole group at the same time. That thought though. But that was all right because she felt no need to describe it. perhaps because they were going too fast.She might have been in the middle of the desert except for the fact that there was no sand. Even from the root system under the earth. at least. she moved as if on wheels and joined the trio. nor logic to it. especially this kind of joy. Then again she felt that irresistible urge to join them. And joyful. she wasn’t able to see their faces. 5 That scene. It was indescribable. 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. actually she was pulled backwards until she reached the tree again. There is no reason. Naomi felt that she was not only one of the people dancing there but all of the people at the same time. lasted only an instant because almost immediately. neither a cause nor an effect. As she became one of them. making it a foursome. The joy seemed to come from the tree in waves straight out from and parallel to the trunk.
almost as if the stretching of the 5 Page 100 . 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. swirling. 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. It is the kind of joy that comes unbidden. somewhat childish. sudden. swirling around her only to awaken a few minutes later in the same sleep–drugged body. while she continued to be perfectly satisfied with her activities of dancing. or satisfaction of the self for a job well done. You feel a little sheepish but still are unable to control the width and brilliance of your smile and unable to control the tears. Slowly. They come from a source deep within. It hardly matters because there is little motivation to stop joy except perhaps the guilty feeling of being somewhat silly. money or praise or winning. She felt anchored by the tree. The only way to stop them would be to find the source and it is too deep. for no evident reason. just because that is what it does.caused by anything. not because of a reward. stretching. In fact. unable to break the dream tie to that other world. Perhaps it was the wine last night but she knew it was much more than that.childlike. she became aware that she was a sleeping body. It finally washes up in your face and you can’t help smiling despite everything else that is happening. she felt much like a cat growing more and more lazy and indolent in a sunny window. Perhaps not childish -. and then turning to find a more comfortable position then settling into a circular sun receptacle.
her own uniqueness.muscles was undertaken only to better enjoy the indolence of the body. she could be free. the furniture. She stretched again. Consciousness was returning. Her first thought was that she was feeling very good. her own state of being different. The dust particles seem to be doing just what she was doing: stretching out to fill a new place. exercised. She saw the dust particles dancing in the sunlight. the shell of a thing that must be grown into stretched into. She turned back into the covers and closed her eyes. and moved in different ways. It was as if they both had a new shape to fill. In a sense. her own self. Estelle last night had said something about that. It was only eight o’clock. the life she had left to live was that kind of elastic space. she thought. to this shell. It did not make much sense. the palace of French kings in the countryside. 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 next thought was the time. half–dozing again. But she was now fully awake. Page 101 . and then curled up on her right side clasping the pillow in her arms taking up the space beside her. She could no longer remember what it was Estelle had said that seemed so important a moment ago. 5 Her half-open eyes took in the sunlight playing on the cover. She peeked at her clock. she stretched again. the carpet. Like a cat. like the beam of sunlight hitting a counterpane. To this exercise. compared to how negative and ambivalent she had been feeling the day before. bringing to her self her own individuality.
or could not have permitted to enter. 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. she felt good in her skin. hot shower. No longer able to tolerate the inactivity of her body. She laughed at the expression and thought how her Aunt Mary would have liked that expression.She lay back on the bed luxuriating in the feeling of well-being. almost as if certain barriers were down now such that random thoughts could enter. 5 The state of her body seemed to be affecting her mind. She took a long. As the French say. Slowly. Naomi didn’t quite know what it meant she knew only that it was somehow related to freedom. Although she had no idea why she felt so good. she was vulnerable enough to revel in it. She was satisfied only to feel. 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. thoughts that before she would not. 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. or was it the other way around? It too seemed more relaxed. Knowing why seemed unimportant incidental. picayune. feeling the pin pricks on her nakedness and following them with her hands. the feeling that all is right with the world. Whole lives could pass through. becoming less efficient and more sensual.
awakening the few places that had not yet been awakened by her previous touching and by the spray. squinting her eyes and rinsing and rinsing until her hair squeaked clean. First. She particularly liked the roundness her shoulders made.by the spray. pushing up then letting go around and around. up over the tops and under. Again. She turned her back to the spray and soaped up both of her hands and playing them around and around her breasts. using too much shampoo. 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. Down her neck and chest. She stopped momentarily to wash her hair. Her breasts and nipples now stood out and away from her chest wall. purposely missing her nipples again and again. acutely aware of every shower water prick. She washed. soothing area after area of her body as she stopped the spray for a moment and massaged. the nipples seeking out the touch she was deliciously delaying. 5 Finally. she over soaped the washcloth. where bone could be felt below the thin soft padding and the smooth skin. over and over her body. she washed her neck and shoulders. she permitted herself to soap her body. Page 103 . then up again between them and down the sides and under. She washed her hair three times. consciously delaying the moment she could go back to soaping her body. her hands moved. She preferred the smooth slick feeling of the wet soap over her slippery skin. She abandoned the washcloth as too rough.
she moved her hands.She did this as long as she could. she heard her own involuntary intake of breath. She continued the action. she was breathing hard and gasping. her hands passed gently over the nipples. no longer as painfully sensitive. she stopped short of it and turned around letting the water fall down her front. holding her breath. her hands gently went as though with a mind of their own. playing again with herself sometimes missing the nipple and every time she didn’t miss. Up and down. By now. instead of moving between them her breasts. the other. 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. slowly again. as her hands came around and under. pushing out. 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. now engorged and pinched and wet with water. Her hands moved up from her feet caressing the insides of her legs coming close to and retreating from her ultimate goal. The capacity of giving herself joy being a joy in itself as was the capacity to deny herself the same joy. down her sides and over the stone hard of her ribs and the concave side and smoothness of her waist. soap and other liquids. poised on her desire. complementing each other with the sudden surprise of parallel bony structures of rib and hip. until finally one time. Then her hands moved out again over the swell of her hips and stomach and back in again at the dip of her waist. Yet again. 5 As the nipples became oversensitive from too much friction. wanting Page 104 .
fluid. she gave in. awakening each place to the ache of wanting to be touched and fondled. she sat down and looked at some of the brochures she had picked up from the desk in Page 105 . her hands began to tarry again over smooth places. She then cleaned her face and readied it for the makeup. moving. a–it was in staccato. slowly. 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. Like music. Circular muscle spasms moving in a circular motion. slowly. moving through her body consciousness lodged in one place or another. moving up and down.the feel of her own skin. Still feeling euphoric. joyously. point and counterpoint. While waiting for breakfast. of padded places and skin covered bowl. full of sharps and flats. Release coming in the flood of liquids and gasps from her mouth. she soaked herself again and efficiently cleaned up the evidence of her sudden unconscious passion. enjoying the feeling of skin and some hair. But even as she efficiently rubbed herself with the hotel towel. Feeling a little sheepish. Her mind. bringing ultimate pleasure and then … release. of smoothness and hollows. 5 Finally. moving against her fingers to a familiar and ancient rhythm. 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. Fullness became pain and finally movement–movement longing for release. around and around and with her left hand she reached behind herself to the another orifice which smiled and relaxed at her touch.
Still. In fact that she had sat in the darkened theater. She began to leaf through it. 5 Then her eyes fell on the publication she had picked up at the museum. 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. if only for a little while. she sat for the portrait for four years and was amused with music and jugglers. She remembered that her mother had somewhat ridiculed this suggestion while trying to explain to her that it was ‘just pretend’. She thought that the heroine had a life of her own. It was a book about the Mona Lisa and its painter. the Mona Lisa. Naomi remembered once seeing a movie with her mother while she had been still quite young. the woman did not seem real. Naomi had some difficulty in understanding how something that was just pretend seemed so real. The fact did not in any way explain the phenomenon of the lady that the book called our Lady of the Renaissance. daughter of a Neapolitan. she seemed more like a fictional heroine. Her full name was Madonna Lisa. Apparently. 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 felt that on some in some way the heroine was real.the lobby when she arrived. separate from the movie. Afterwards she had asked her mother what the heroine was doing now and whether she was still happy. or something else. There seem to be few facts about the model. At the time. She’s quickly to the painting of the Mona Lisa.
Camille had just as much reality as Josephine. They came from the fevered brains and overactive imaginations of writers and poets.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. 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. then again. 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. she felt the warmth of aliveness that still seemed to surround the group of people standing before the portrait Page 107 . 5 Naomi reacted strongly to that. Allied with this boredom was the suggested acute disenchantment and cynicism of middle-age. Instead. Hollywood stars were often universal symbols. Naomi could see that it must be difficult to live in reality as a symbol. held a secret cruelty especially against the opposite sex. much to their consternation. In her mind. and Scarlet O’Hara was not any less real than Katherine Medici. Still others had no historical connection. Some seem to say that the Mona Lisa’s visage and secret smiles. others saw in it a blankness born either of mental deficiency or boredom. She felt nothing of vacuity in the portrait. the real and the fictional did not mix together very well. there were Figaro and Don Quixote. in fact.
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. but had not been affected negatively at all by it. they had mixed in a large dose of humor and joy.yesterday. rather. 5 Page 108 .
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She felt exhilarated. 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. waving her hand trying to attract a taxi.B 33 reakfast arrived and Naomi realized how hungry she was. Naomi could only think of one expression to describe her: controlled excitement. She quite literally looked as if she had stepped out of the pages of Vogue. She ate leisurely and with relish. wondering what business or pleasure brought them to Paris and what they were here to do. there was that mask of control. She imagined that one particular woman was there on business as a buyer for an American company. savoring each bite. she felt her curiosity rise within her as she gazed at the passersby. and boredom. her hurry in getting to it and getting it done. a moving impression of a fashionable woman. She even had that vacant look that models and fashion magazine pages have. savoring even the texture and the look of the food on the plate. Naomi felt the woman’s joy in the work she was doing. It had something to do. she dressed quickly but carefully. her excitement about the tasks she was about to accomplish. Clearly though. Page 111 . she supposed. The woman was a stereotype. Afterward. As she waited in the lobby. it was just a mask. At the same time. as she strolled across the lobby and waited impatiently outside. with good old American chutzpah. whom to see. Underneath that hard and managed exterior. left the room and went down to wait for the bus that would take her to Versailles. full of energy and curiosity.
Naomi figured she must have bought the hat in Paris. Naomi wanted to hear as much as possible and worked herself as close to the guide as possible. the individual rooms were equally imposing. people did not lie down in bed but rather sat up. Just like in the Louvre. Probably to keep their wigs straight thought Naomi. On the way to the place. It was a dream place in gold and white. Hats were not useful accessories to pack in modern luggage and carried on modern airplanes. Naomi became numbed to the splendour around her in Page 112 . The guide explained that in those days. It was the great French King. They then arrived at the Château. It was much larger than Naomi had thought it would be. 33 If the outside has seemed imposing. Naomi had never seen such richness. already half-full. They all got on the bus and sat in separate isolation. 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. Naomi was just as glad because she wanted to be alone and had not noticed anyone who particularly interested her. the bus.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). Naomi’s favourite room was the Queen’s bed chamber. The Guide led them to the Château. keeping up her commentary. a guide kept up a running commentary in English of the countryside and the history of the Château. She was surprised at how small the beds were. Louis the XIV who took what was a hunting lodge and transformed it into this monument to the history of France. Finally.
Naomi certainly could not. Her first reaction was to straighten her slumped-over shoulders and brush her hair back with her hand. 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. Naomi decided to stay right where she was and was idly gazing through the brochure she had been handed at the door. Once again. get a snack and return to the bus. too tired and too overwhelmed with luxury and beauty to react to it. they are almost impossible to ignore. as opulent as it was. She would have had a lot of difficulty living the stultifying life of the Court. The whole layout of the palace area was so great that it almost dwarfed the palace itself. She looked across and saw herself reflected there and then her reflection was reflected back to her. then the reflections’ reflection and so on and so on. the image of someone she knew but not very 33 Page 113 . The other persons on the tour sort of shuffled through the hall without paying much attention to what was going on around them. Then. 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. most of them went on in search of refreshments or to photograph the magnificent gardens. it was as if she saw an illusion. The guide left them there and said that they had one hour to see the Hall and the gardens. Funny thing about mirrors. The last room to be seen was the Hall of Mirrors. she looked.room after room. Naomi was glad she belonged to a different century.
fascinated. a familiar question rose to her consciousness. familiar things seemed strange and strange things became familiar. They go through the usual work situations. the child who was supposed to be her. The stranger that she knew somewhat. clubs. he or she looked vaguely familiar. So she got up and walked to the end of the hall but could not shake the feeling. Like the snake that sleeps in the snake charmer’s basket. 33 It was like meeting a casual acquaintance in unusual place. Sometimes the link is never made and one of life’s delicious little puzzles remains unsolved. whose face was somewhat familiar but whom she could not quite place. 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. she would look and somehow recognize a stranger. Perhaps they went to the same grade school together but were not in the same class. She turned and looked into the mirror again. Each one asks the other if they have not met before. It was like looking at old photographs of herself in an album. She wanted to run away but seemed rooted to the spot staring at the familiar stranger in the mirrors. She preferred to have it sleep in its basket and it usually did except on days like today when she was more aware. Looking at a mirror and not recognising herself in the multiple images seemed logical on such a day. She would sometimes look at the child in those old photos.well. the link is made. and start going backward in time from college to high school to grade school. Page 114 .
it was not at all familiar. She looked at her eyes or nose and they were blessedly familiar as were her other parts taken individually. However. trying to find some recognition there. They were a good match in that way. she asked another question: and are you the girl who three weeks ago lay in Steven’s arms?” As might have been expected. as a good client. scream the question. From there. her mouth her chin. This was Naomi’s department. received good service from the butcher. The meat cost a little more than a grocery store. that thought triggered her memory bank. Their next stop usually was the fruit and vegetable store in the wintertime and the farmers’ stalls in the summertime. Then the next stop was the fishmonger. Their first stop was the butcher and this was Steven’s department. Naomi enjoyed Saturday morning shopping. “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. but Steven was convinced it was well worth it. He was very choosy about the cuts of meat and. Steven liked to think he was a gourmet cook and Naomi like to try new things. She and Steven liked to choose their food very carefully and usually went down to the farmers’ market.A voice inside herself cried out. the next stop was the bakery where they stocked up for the week on different types of Page 115 . She peered into the familiar eyes reflected back to her and asked the question: again “who are you?” And inwardly.
they were not finished. though. Steven crowded out all other thought. rolls. all thought of sleep vanished. Half asleep. Neither of them was very hungry. her head on his shoulder as his hand rubbed her upper arm her hand lay quietly on his chest. a closeness that they enjoyed before drifting off to sleep. not all spring weather. Still. Steven’s hand moved from her upper arm lower and lower still and the comfortable patting became and ever more urgent fondling. 33 Naomi was now powerless to stop the onslaught of memories. not conscious of his awakening. having lunch was a nice break in the Saturday routine. It was shortly after noon when they returned that last Saturday. It had been an unusually hot day. She sat on one of the benches near a bed of unusual flowers she did not recognize and let the memories flood over her. she saw no one. Naomi left the hall of mirrors and went out toward the garden. 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. Normally. They both felt tired and decided to have a nap before lunch. There was yet paper products and cleaning products. Even then. Naomi was settled in the crook of his arm. though. At first. and desserts.bread. it was just a cuddly fondness. they were not finished their shopping at lunchtime. for that they went to the supermarket. At first. This morning. as soon as their naked bodies touched. Before Page 116 . As usual. the grocery shopping was not finished. they had started out earlier than usual and had less to buy.
As he felt Naomi beginning to awaken again to his touch. Her body stretched and began to move in harmony with the familiar. pausing a little over the breast and back down and over to her posterior. His mouth then moved down to one breast. Soon. gently Page 117 . His other hand moved to her breasts until she began to wriggle under his touch. then counter clockwise. the hot hand was no longer going up.either of them knew what was happening. Steven though. one hand to the other breast. fumbling there a little longer. He moved over her but not on top of her. His mouth still on one breast. 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. 33 Steven sighed. already moist. He covered her face and mouth with kisses. moving around it around. She collapsed and lay back again suddenly numb to what was going on. 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. fondling and massaging it as her squirming grew and her breath came in short bursts. knowing touch. She forgot about her own hand and was lost in the sensations the ripples of passion caused by Steven’s hands. his hand moved to the lips of her vagina. down again. hardly skipped a beat as he moved his hand again to her breast pinching and turning the nipple as he pulled slowly clockwise. It stayed below her waist it sloped circular motion awakening her body.
She whimpered and closed her thighs against his hand. lost somewhere while Steven continued the play of hands and lips across face and neck breasts and stomach.sucking. His other hand moved still around the other breast. her body moving against it in the inevitable orgasm. enjoying its smooth soft silkiness. And as she cried out at the intensity. circling inside his thumb on her clitoris as he turned and lifted his hand to move out again. On one pass. back and forth. moving and biting before moving away and blowing on the wet nipple. Not yet fully erect. and then out and in again with three. She took his hands away from her body and pushed him gently onto his back on the bed. narrowly missing his penis each time. moving in with two fingers. Steven’s hand sought it out. As Steven groaned she allowed her hand to brush over his penis. his hand moved inside her vagina. Again she rested. she pushed his mouth away. She held the lovely penis and felt it move against her hand 33 Page 118 . which moved in concert with her hand. down his legs and up again. it grew larger in her hand. over her sensitive clitoris. Both sensations proved too much for Naomi in the midst of her moans and writhing. This time. the next time. he moved one finger in and around again. moved into her vagina. It was her turn now. the touch became irritating on her overly sensitive 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. Her hand moved lower and fondled the double hardness growing there and up again. She wound her hand around. Her hands moved over his body.
his hand found her bare breast inside the silky housecoat. quickly with a strong thrust. moving against him. It was a Page 119 . Alerted by the changes in Steven’s moans. He undid the housecoat but kept it on. at the same time. down its sensitive side and back up to the head. Like a child sucking on a popsicle. As soon as his mouth touched her breast she felt her passion rise. 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. His teeth closed over its firmness as he playfully chewed and pulled it. As she passed by Steven she bent over to give them a friendly kiss. They went into the kitchen.as if it had a will of its own as it grew. she rose and sat on top of him. holding it gently in her mouth as she sucked and pulled. just how hungry they were. He pulled her down on his lap. over and over again until she felt Steven explode inside of her as her own peak was reached. she moved her mouth against the penis. 33 Fondling his testicles. took out some French bread and some cheese and munched away. They lay exhausted on the bed and fell asleep and slept for two hours and woke up all warm and receptive. Her lips moved of their own accord and lingered on his. Naomi then got up to make coffee. They realized. He tilted her forward until her breast were freed. moving forward with her breast almost touching his mouth and back almost until the penis slipped out. she derived as much pleasure from the sucking and licking and especially feeling the penis growing ever harder in her mouth. opened a bottle of wine. tilting her back.
She saw his actions in her imagination and got mixed up with the images of the passion just shared. 33 Naomi could feel the urgency between her legs. 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. Knowing her passion so well. 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. lick. she slumped against him. she got up and took his hand and pulled him towards the carpet.melody of such. Spent. Still dressed. The images move together. The carpet. Her eyes were closed. She suddenly became aware of his warm kisses. his mouth catching her nipple once more. “Didn’t you have an orgasm?” “No.” As she had done just moments before. blow until Naomi became lost in the sensations of her body. Not yet. feeding on each other and feeding her passion. rose to meet the touch. Those parts. Her body seemed to have an infinite capacity for pleasure. He resisted and parting his bathrobe away from his penis now perpendicular to his body. She sat on 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. establishing a rhythm so well orchestrated Page 120 . When she felt that. she groaned and moved against him and he let himself be led away with her passion.
Then she moved to the stereo and put on her favourite mood music.” Her hands left to run over his body and reached for his penis. Feeling a little strange. Well that was one Saturday. there had not been anyone watching over her shoulder: instead. lost in her own passion. She immediately sensed there was something different. He opened the door with this key.that she could no longer tell what was being touched. There was no answer. all the while keeping her hands beneath it. And it did not wait long to happen. waiting to hear from Steven. The following Tuesday. She looked but could not quite place it. Steven walked in the door about 15 minutes after she had arrived. Naomi came home from work and opened her apartment door. so wild. she felt strangely empty. as if someone was watching over her shoulder. 33 She cried out and he again moved back against his heels sat and watched as she moved against the carpet. She called out for Steven. She pulled it towards her and inserted it. I love to see you so passionate. When he saw her sitting on the sofa.” She was dimly aware of his voice but more aware of her own need. She had a funny feeling that something was about to happen. fondling herself. he stood transfixed in the middle of his Page 121 . She moaned “Steven please. she sat down with a magazine. until his own passion moving against it made it impossible to keep the contact they move together towards orgasm. He watched and moved closer to her and whispered: “you are so beautiful. Well. please. She mixed herself a scotch on the rocks.
She remembered very little. staring at her as if he were surprised to see her there. All she answered was: “Yes. I did not go to work today. went over to mix himself a drink and sat down opposite her. It wanted answers like immovable forces. I don’t want to be with you anymore. whirling with all kinds of thoughts. 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 . I’ve been using the time to move my stuff out of the apartment and to figure out how to tell you this. Her mind sought more complicated solutions. imminent death.” Naomi listened to him quietly. closed the door. His training came forward and he recouped himself very well. Naomi. Never in her wildest thoughts which he have guessed that he simply wanted to leave. I won’t be coming back here.?” “You don’t seem to understand Naomi. She did not understand what he was saying. she wondered what the matter was.” he said. “it’s like this. I’m not sure how to do that…” Naomi and no longer remember how she looked or what she said. almost as if she were waiting for a different punch line. we’ve got to talk.motion the key still out. “Well. Willing her mind. I just came back to explain it to you. Steven. The few things that belong to me are out now. “Naomi.” 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. and Bora Bora. to focus.
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?
Slowly. it was the same story. In fact. after another sleepless night. she hung up abruptly and left her building. One particularly bad day. Naomi. she half expected Steven to call because it was Friday and they had always met for lunch on Friday. she would stop whatever she was doing. she almost expected to see him waiting for her in his car.N 44 aomi moved out of the Hall of Mirrors and into the gardens. Naomi’s sadness and depression turned to anger toward Steven and his sudden unilateral Page 126 . She half expected Steven to come and see her there. they were not Steven’s. and when she had left the building after close of business. 11:30 became noon and hope began to fade. she hung on–12:15. As she worked toward the lunch-hour break. even when they stopped. hold her breath. but the footsteps would pass her door. She hardly noticed anything around her. At work. she did not sleep that first night nor the next three. She jumped when the phone rang. Naomi did not give up hope. Perhaps Steven was in a meeting and could not get away to call her. but he did not appear. she spent three full days expecting Steven to come in at any moment. The memories continued to flood in. 12:20… she wasn’t sure what overcame her but she began dialing Steven’s office number and when one of his coworkers answered. 10:30 became 11 and 11:30. running. was particularly jumpy. but still. After Steven left. And every time she heard the elevator in the hall. however.
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 almost began enjoying herself. made no sense. Instead. She had finally learned the trick of looking as if she were listening. 44 Since she rarely had anything better to do anyway.decision. She particularly enjoyed exaggerating Steven’s “faults”. The other things she didn’t like was the way he would drag her to all of this office parties and abandon her there. he insisted that most of the real business was performed at such Page 127 . they would want to know where she was and whether he was still seeing her and there would be altogether too many questions. They had such a great sex life together. intellectually or emotionally. but she was not really able concentrate. having a drink and catching up with herself in peace and quiet. He would become livid at such a suggestion. 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. what was missing? In fact. If he did not bring her. She came to feel that it showed how insensitive he was to her own needs. She often asked why he left her like that but he did not seem to think it was the tragedy she felt it was. more than he was prepared to answer. in fact. As far as Naomi was concerned. It was just as well that he was gone. she usually is acceded to these requests and went to the party. it was illogical. He had business to talk over with other people. She was used to coming home. she just stopped what she was doing and sat fuming.
She became known as “a good mixer”. anyway. There were other things too. it was never quite the same thing. a very few questions could keep them talking a very long time without having to give much of herself away at all. He added that. He even suggested that she not waste her time with them. that she had little in common with them and mixing was a real chore for her. She found that. 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. She liked to read in bed. She usually armed herself with a quick double scotch on the rocks and a list of prepared questions she had used before. Nevertheless. she should read in the living room. He insisted that beds were for sleeping and if she wanted to read. because it seemed to bother him so much. Unfortunately. with most people. She never felt as relaxed or as comfortable. Naomi felt. sometimes revolving around children. 44 Page 128 . hobbies. sitting up in a chair. Then she had given into this request. but as far as she was concerned. recipes and the newest books and films. And Steven was very proud of her in that role. When she asked why she could not be with him. she always felt her time could have been better spent and been more enjoyable staying home and reading a good book. she was expected to be able to mix well with the other women. he admitted that people would not be able to talk as freely with her there. The thing that bothered her even more was the fact that Steven did not like to reciprocate in kind. He insisted that her office parties were “just for fun” and did not serve any useful purpose.functions. rightly or wrongly.
It was only now. the silly things like is not putting the cap back on the toothpaste. In fact. she could not think of anything more relaxing than going to bed early with a good romance novel. Before Steven. 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. 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. that she realized just how much these things had annoyed her. She was particularly fond of romance novels. Naomi. she spent not blaming him but blaming herself. And. She could not help thinking that she might have done something to prevent his leaving. however. that the reason for the sacrifice had gone. as these things happened. And he did not like the material she read. 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. Not allowing herself any good thoughts about him during the past two weeks. knew that she had to make sacrifices and compromises when living with another person. his wiping his hands on tea towels.The other thing was he felt that she read altogether too much. 44 Then most of the other time. she could have gone with him more Page 129 . not cleaning in his bathtub properly etc. when she had been by herself. leaving his clothes on the floor. they did not seem so serious.
she would find herself rebelling against it. he said) they went out for dinner. there seemed to be a flaw in her character. Whenever her mother had expected her to do something. he had begun to find it tiring. her suppers were less than successful. 44 She realized too. had she paid more attention to shopping. cooking.joyfully. Perhaps. She did not suppose there was anything she could do about it. She did a lot of nagging about these things and perhaps that is what had pushed him away. and organizing herself to get it done… the menus a week ahead of time… perhaps if she had taken some cooking courses… but no. 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. Often. she would stop delivering. in this case. Something always stopped her. that she had not really tried very hard to meet some of these needs. when she saw the solution to a problem she was not able to go toward it. Perhaps. She did not like cooking large meals at night since she was rarely hungry. she was not sure. Perhaps. it was a sense of rebellion. over time. Perhaps it had been more than that. She was probably doomed to go through life knowing of the many ways in which she should change Page 130 . The same thing happened at home. Nobody would like to hear a complainer 24 hours a day. (too often. Other times. Sometimes. although she thought she was being honest about her feelings. Even at school when teachers praised her and began to expect certain things from her. listening to the same complaints.
not really seeing the beauty around her. They were playing tag and running after each other for the pure joy of it. As she walked and grew more and more depressed. the reason (subconscious though it might be). Without quite knowing what was happening or why. in her junior position. She would always do something to turn them away. picking her up after work. calling her up at the office. she would probably have trouble getting ahead and stay where she was. The same thing would probably happen at her job too. The future did look bleak to Naomi as she rose from the bench and started to aimlessly wander through the garden. as she had done with Steven. she knew that. Joy was transferred from them to her and it Page 131 . She had to be honest with herself. she did so because for the next few days she usually got away with anything. He left her get away with doing whatever she felt like doing and he was very attentive. she forgot to take out the meat for supper was simply because she did not feel like cooking it. she came upon a group of children playing near a tree. always getting things for other people so that they could make the decisions and evaluate the reports and arrive at conclusions. taking her out to dinner. what ever. When she went to those dreaded parties with Steven.but resisting them. 44 She probably would never be able to find anyone who would love her as she was and be satisfied with her. There were other things too. perhaps just for the sake of resistance. admit to herself that she was not always a very nice person. In fact.
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. Page 132 . She had always found it strange that he had loved her or said he loved her and her crooked nose. . not anything she was prepared to wear. She did not own one piece of designer clothes. Still not quite realizing what was taking place. It seemed. Here tastes were conservative by nature and a little informal. Not that Steven really complained. her mind’s activities continued. Maybe if she had dyed her hair a different color. which forced her to wear those ugly little bathing suits with skirts. at least. not replacing her depression but sitting quietly next to it. he was just good at hinting. He did prefer more feminine clothes–softer. Perhaps if she had been more sensitive to his needs. repulsed him. she smiled and welcomed it. She was comfortable with it the way it was but perhaps she was wrong. Even her party clothes had a uniform quality about them. to be growing duller and yet she always resisted doing something with it as had been so often suggested by wellmeaning friends. she should have been more sensitive to his needs. She thought that perhaps it was her imperfect body that had in the end. she preferred plain slacks and sometimes skirts for the office. chic women with up–to–date haircuts and designer dresses. he had gone after a string-bikini type. It might have been her clothes. not knowing or caring why it came. perhaps he would not have gone away. to her. 44 While the center of her filled with this strange unbidden Joy. Yes. Perhaps. .swelled within her. She was selfconscious about her heavy thighs. He often would point out. she would try something new. As soon as she got home.
Probably. she knew she was too independent. she shocked herself back to here and now and her inadequacies. And anyway. which was not locked in her mind with her thoughts. she thought.And. That spark within her moved and joined the little boy who was now leaning against the tree counting un. 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. neuf. . huit. cinque. she had not much personality. dix. looking for knees sticking out from under shrubs. her heart beating faster and faster with the waiting. And then. stumbling. he/Naomi turned his/her eyes over the scenery in the garden looking for possible hiding places. running to the statue and hiding behind it. Besides that. Or was she too dependent? She thought of her life in the future: lonely and bleak. experienced the children still playing. She obviously was doing something wrong. six. 44 Page 133 . With a joyful cry. she would never be able to have a full relationship with a man. deux. trois. falling. . picking herself up. Joyfully. quatre. elbows around the corner of posts. ears peeking out the bushes and cow licks over a low wall. still a part of her. sept. 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. and elbows moved to the boy by the tree. without children… Oh yes! The children. she was running with the little boy. ears. She was not attractive enough for someone like Steven. without purpose. waiting for someone to find her. he/Naomi called out the names of their companions as the children following their knees. without companionship.
Cautiously walking. she found a jutting elbow close to the Rose bushes and moved quickly back to the tree. keeping an eye on every hiding place she had identified at the start. around the hedge. sharing not only with the little boy but with all of them. running cautiously to find the others. which she mistook for a colored ribbon. 44 Page 134 . At once. raced him to the tree and arrived there first. he/she peered between the branches of the bushes and moved further down. a leaf of the tree. 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. with her little boy’s feet. He/ Naomi stopped as her eye caught a blade of grass. Naomi. regardless of their nationality. He/she moved as quickly as possible. the Joy of finding. a colorful flower. Then he/she was off again in a cautious but rapid movement of all children at this game.Then he/Naomi left.
Connections By Suzan Schmekel .
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