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By Suzan Schmekel
::: ad libitum publishing :::
Text and images are the property of the artist credited herein. Suzan Schmekel ad libitum publishing © 2011 Front cover and anterior images were adapted from Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher. ISBN-13: 978-1466483316 ISBN-10: 1466483318
This book is dedicated first to my mother, Gilberte Vallée who worked so hard to make a better life for me, who taught me how to be gentle with myself and others, as well as what selfless service and unconditional loving were all about. Second, I dedicate it to my sister, Paula Davies, the other important woman in my life who has loved me and supported me through all my growing, changing, some craziness and with whom I shared the first 21 years of my life. I also dedicate it to the three other women who made my life a worthy enterprise: my daughters, Athena, Melanie and Miranda who were ever-present with me as I wrote these pages so many years ago. I wanted them to grow up to be strong, independent women as Naomi struggles to be. And they have. These women and many others have been my inspiration and my teachers. Finally, I dedicate it to my husband who has been beside me for over 45 years, who has been a strength and a resource for me, who always supported me, who always saw the best in me and gave generously to me to help me reach my many goals. Our relationship continues to be a sacred adventure into the known and the unknown, always together.
Without her. this work would still be sitting as bytes in my computer. .Thank You I especially want to thank Melanie Paquette who did the graphic design for this novella as well as the typesetting.
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She had no idea that their relationship was about to end. what seemed to her to be a long time. She was now in Paris and should be full of joy. perhaps. now and then. without apparent logic or pattern. In fact. finally visiting the City of Light. she thought that she and Steven were ready to move on to the next level and she was half-expecting a ring soon. She had known Steven a long time or. as if it were yesterday. at least. She had another loss recently but not to death. again and again. or rather. she was just sad and the details of her brother’s death kept surfacing today for some reason. No. But. she had lost a relationship as suddenly and unexpectedly as Jim had died at the scene of that accident. nightmares. However. Page 7 . these moments were not as unconnected as she had thought.k N aomi had been fifteen years old at the time of her brother Jim’s death. Most of it. She remembered almost everything about it. as she tried to lose herself in sleep. Unwelcome memories often wafted by her consciousness at unconnected times. instead of joy. The images were like dreams. that came unbidden. some thirteen months. she really did not want to remember. Just here and there. now 10 years later.
perhaps that was why the images of Jim’s death and funeral kept tickling at her consciousness at the strangest times. unbidden but seemingly attached to each other with Velcro. Over and over again she had reviewed the scenes of their “courtship". or been more observant. Now and again she would stop them and try to consciously think of something else. in desperation. And yet she was not. suffocated. k Yes. just as Jim’s death had been. She should be very happy. The decision Steven had announced just two weeks ago was still a shock to her. Page 8 . she had decided to come to Paris even though she had supposed they would take such a trip together. He had said that he felt bored. things would have been different. now fully realized. He even admitted that there was nothing specific. and the days preceding the big announcement. more comforting than thinking about Steven. In a way. there had been signals missed. A trip to Paris after all had been a lifelong dream. Surely.What was even more disturbing than its suddenness was the fact that Steven had given her no real reason for the decision. these thoughts were comforting. they would waft by. She would think about it later. . Finally. It was senseless to Naomi. She had remembered happy times and sad times but always there was the nagging thought that had she only listened more. yet again. What was the word he had used? Bored and . Surely there must have been something she could have done to prevent Steven from leaving. And wanted a change. . like a gentle wind brushing against her face on a warm summer day. She was not yet ready to think about it.
quite unseasonal in May. that was easy to do since all the tables. While she enjoyed the people walking in front of her. out of eyesight. or worse yet. at one time. Maybe she washed it out herself in the bathtub at night.k And that is how she ended up here. This was quite unlike home. Naomi was aware that she should be reveling in the delicious feeling of the moment. She did not have to make small talk with anyone. where she dined al fresco facing her companion or the empty seat in front of her. It was closed up tight and looked as if. the theatre of the street. Her gaze returned again and again to an old lady sitting close to her. The style was a little out-of-date but it seemed to be well-tailored. faced the street. No. either explaining what had happened between her and Steven. Even the garçon seemed to guess her mood and stayed quietly in the background. There was no one to distract her. it might have had a bolder pattern. to Naomi’s surprise. She was happy to be finally blissfully alone. Naomi had done that herself many times in university when the cost of dry-cleaning had been prohibitive. in the heart of her beloved Paris eating lunch at a sidewalk café and drinking chilled white wine. But then again. she was also aware that passersby were also observing her. It was just so old that the colors seemed to have muted together. and certainly did not have the same priority as her precious books. Page 9 . enjoined in a mutual theatre of the human condition. Not that it was dirty in any way. It was the kind of lunch she had long dreamed of having. That was the most difficult. make small talk while skirting around the subject of her and Steven. with a tweedy green/ brown/grey-colored overcoat .
always. They said it protected them from colds. Naomi could not tell what she was wearing under the coat. Also. close to the straps as if to be sure she could snatch the bag back if anyone tried to take it from her. 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. made onion pie every meatless Friday of the winter for her large family Page 10 . Out of it peeked a newspaper. “if she survives on scallion sandwiches?”. a daughter of the onion-toting grandfather. Her mother’s parents had been much too refined to consider doing something so unbecoming. It was closed too tightly. k The lady sat at a little table by herself with her large canvas shopping bag by the left side on the floor. people used to eat onion sandwiches.It was a little too short and there was practically no collar. just a kind of folded over selvage. in a cold climate like Canada’s. these were now washed out and barely visible. In the winter. they were called during Naomi’s parochial childhood. 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. were thick flesh-colored stockings and sensible black shoes. Nun’s shoes. At the other end. too. He ate it like an apple. However. An aunt of hers. Aunt Mary. It. some green scallion tops and a breadstick. her small bony and vein-rippled hands hovering. A triangular kerchief was tied around her head and knotted under her chin. “I wonder. Naomi’s own grandfather (on her father’s side) always took a raw onion with him on his morning constitutional.” thought Naomi.
escaping its hold. was the closest Naomi k Page 11 . for someone her age . there was nothing of her Aunt’s earthiness in the face. No more. And yet. The tweedy lady had a pale face.and the numerous guests who often filled her large warm home. She seemed to transcend her parts. Of course. and gathering in a line from chin to throat under the knotted kerchief. slightly powdered an even paler shade. Then. Around the kerchief. she was more than the sum of this description. She was . She was about sixty. There was about her a kind of sadness and strength too. Naomi herself would never think of serving such rich. were a few locks of long blond-grey hair which seemed to have escaped a bun of some kind. Naomi remembered how good those pies had been with their thick white sauce. The rouge on her cheeks and the crimson of her lips stood out against her pallor.how can it be explained? In control. Still. She usually had salmon and potato pie too.brightly. carbohydrate-heavy meals to anyone. based on the shape of the kerchief. Her skin was practically unlined but showed its age by crisping around the corners in its parchment-like way. her fairly small and icy-blue eyes (Aunt Mary’s blue eyes positively twinkled with warmth) were completely outlined . Naomi sensed that she was a woman who would neither feel nor accept pity. equally delicious. Despite her clothes. No mascara. odd.careful blue shadow and black liner. she did have wonderfully warm memories of Fridays at Aunt Mary’s! The old lady quietly sipping a glass of liqueur at the other table did not remind her of Aunt Mary.
She thought of herself more like a ball. It was like the sun. the kerchief. pinker. a kind of source. or from other planets -. Except. an admiration touched with envy. as if her nucleus was around the center of her chest like a ball of tightly wound yarn. a sphere that was quite hollow and with all the energy dancing along the surface of the ball. the woman’s age. Yes. gayer. Despite the coldness. Perfectly spherical viewed from afar. she was impervious to their effect. But in fact its surface was a mass of licking spitting fires. Perhaps there were even different images than the one Naomi now saw. that was why she was so warmly dressed on such a hot day. permitted -. Naomi could hardly keep her eyes off the old lady and her regal but poor countenance. She seemed to begin and end in a magical circle within the space her body took and a little more. k If Naomi thought of herself in terms of an image. She gave the impression that she commanded -. looser.no. the clothes. She envied her self-assurance and her air of being satisfied with herself and the world.it was a small yellow ball. And. Naomi found herself admiring her.the sun to shine. that she let out from there to wind around and around like a spiral screen on which she projected the image of her body. She appeared to be complete within herself. Viewed from the earth. except that the ball was not spherical at all and did not make a complete closed circle. Since she commanded the elements.could come to it. But she doubted it. images that were younger. it was certainly not as a combination of concentric circles leading to a hard core of beingness. perhaps. but up close a mass of threadlike tendrils disconnected but Page 12 . in control of herself and somehow even in control of her environment.
she felt the same thing not on the surface of her skin but in the air around her. The surface of her skin was sensitive to the touchings and collidings as if they were nerve fibers with independent minds. the dead smell of dying flowers. moving in the breeze or colliding. the sudden blasts of noise as someone else opens the smoking/coffee room. the muted rustle of seldom worn clothes. the mahogany sheen of the coffin. Naomi wondered how many deaths had affected the old woman. Sometimes. She felt that way sometimes about people. though. k Sometimes. the rich white silk. the murmurs of melancholy mourners.sometimes touching. How often had she heard the news and refused to believe? Willed it not to be. at least for awhile. It would seem to take energy from the surface and stretch out to something or someone and become locked there. the pen scratching in the guest book. the dead smell of dying flowers. one of these tongues of fire would become quite elongated. the dead smell of dying flowers. or even events from her past -tendrils as strong as gut. 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. pushed in different directions. no. How many people close to her had she seen disappear? Probably a great many. a million-headed hydra. affecting her still. Maybe a husband or a child or a brother. pushing her forward. to deny the awful truth. the surprised look of mourners in other rooms as you go by (as if they Page 13 . holding her back. with every fibre of her aching to say no. of smoke from the other room. the clacking of prayer beads.
k And the loud cheerful people leave and there is only silence and that is just as bad. Naomi knew that eventually it did go away. as if the loudness and cheerfulness of their small talk will chase away the fact of this death. that you become convinced that the oppressive need will pass. Page 14 . son. including their own. the dead smell dying of flowers. She had already handled most of life’s challenges. All of these attacked the supersensitive senses. how well your head understands the stages. And then it is all over and people meet in friendship. They are very loud. each time. 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 the self-pity is somehow comforting and cannot be shaken off.cannot believe that some other family’s life has also stopped dead). there is but a hollow echo. But Naomi was not there yet with respect to her relationship to Steven. the still air heavy with things unsaid (out of respect) and things said without conviction. And yet. Eventually you do tire of it. trying to convince the brain that a husband. You suddenly have to admit what happened and you feel sorry for yourself and angry at the one who is gone. of being closed away. You find some other kind of outlet and break free. so. And survived. The old lady sitting at the table with the crisp white and red linen looked as if she had been through it often enough. They laugh and talk. and other deaths. you change. or bother is gone forever. it is only with difficulty. disparate images with no reality. when the messages reach the numbed brain. It did not seem to matter how many times someone was lost to you.
These girls had somehow learned to become immune to certain situations especially highly-charged. a little brusque. she was permitted to be a little impolite. “Get away from me”. 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. When they had come up to her at the funeral parlor. Page 15 . under the circumstances. In the end. feelings which might weaken them. at that time. almost. people. when Naomi saw them coming towards her and sometimes felt them enter the room she would feel like screaming. had been soothing and helpful. were totally impossible. The other girls. she somehow felt better. Of course she hadn’t. they seemed to give off comfort in waves as they approached. she had treasured the liberty allowed her in being rude in a totally socialized situation. Naomi felt somehow that she should be comforting them. She had as polite as she could. too. so that even before their bodies and voices reached Naomi. under the layers of grief and pain.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. on the other hand. Even then. knowing that. They were able. they were nervous. somehow. they often said the wrong things in the wrong tone of voice. When they approached her. emotional ones. k A number of her fellow students had attended her brother’s funeral. forget. to guard their inner selves against objects. Their voices.
After a long while. after the wake. There was not really any way in which they could share this experience and. they had to use the experience. to feel open and ready for new experiences. after the burial. and at very different rates. they all rattled around each other’s pain like planets with different orbits. though. talking about the weather and soon parting to rediscover their own solitudes. like animals tending to their own wounds in solitude and sleep. More importantly.But of all the experiences around her brother’s death. They knew that their experiences were different. Still living in her parents’ house. to feel joy. to feel free. though emanating from the same source. They began tasting food. It took them longer to reach that point of turning toward life again. When this had finally happened. telling a joke. when she was so totally alone. integrate it within themselves. She had somehow assumed that she would never again feel normal joy. especially not her mother’s. the one which had brought her most pain was that time after the funeral. Naomi had been quite surprised. even into the cells of their own bodies in a very personalized way. but it felt so good to feel human emotions again. And eventually the guilt had dissipated also. 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. Finally. the wounds had healed and suddenly they began noticing again what was around them. think it. k Page 16 . For a fleeting moment. sharing an experience. she had felt guilty about abandoning her brother. Naomi had always felt that her parents’ experience had not been quite the same as hers.
They were what she had once concluded was a “Mona Lisa type”. Naomi had seen reproductions and was looking forward to seeing the original.” Ever since she had realized what this might mean. She could understand that it was the strangeness of the smile that attracted and held the imagination. She grew to like it. The smile is like a door opening into either the answer or more questions.Are you real. . It is supposed to be the smile of the Mona Lisa which attracts.. she would pay closer attention to that. You don’t know what it means and yet you think you might. It seemed random at the time but perhaps there were reasons for it.the lady with the mystic smile.. In the future. It’s like a little taste of something..And when she had returned home after that. It makes you want more. It went something like “Mona Lisa. or just a cold and lonely. Her mother had often sung a song about the Mona Lisa at certain times. And the more you look at it.. of course. 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. and yet we don’t. there was still some sadness haunting the house like a ghost. Mona Lisa. the more you feel that you might be on the verge of knowing. The song was right. Mona Lisa.. lovely work of art?. It might even help understand her mother a little better. Mona Lisa. your mind seems to tire of the exercise and it reminds you that your underwear needs rinsing or something like that. or think we know why she is smiling. men have named you.. We know.. she had tried to remember exactly when it was her mother had sung it but had been unable to. Page 17 . the situation each time was a little better but still today. . And then suddenly..are you lonely.
. a kind of acceleration and fear. she might satisfy all of her own needs and ultimately would never need anyone.The mood is broken and the Mona Lisa becomes again a lady with a rather strange smile. like standing at the edge of a cliff. Eventually. I. something about those rich confident girls in college. She wanted to know. people would leave her alone and there would not be that chance of being hurt. independent and alone. self-sufficient. There is something that she should know about it.. The garçcon came up to her. “Mademoiselle? There is something?” “No. She felt. She felt somehow that if she were cold and haughty and mysterious like the lady in the painting or the song. k In this trip to Paris. Naomi felt that there was something more that she should learn. Naomi often felt that she wanted to be like the Mona Lisa especially after her brother’s death. Fear overwhelmed her. It was a puzzle that needed solving. something about her feelings about her brother’s death. She wasn’t as afraid of loneliness as she was afraid of vulnerability. at the same time. one of Naomi five objectives was to go and see the Mona Lisa for herself. feeling that if she could leave the café.” Page 18 . She could then remain her own woman. She got up suddenly from her chair. They were connected.I suddenly remembered an important meeting. something about the Mona Lisa. I am late already. she could leave these thoughts behind.” she answered. 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.
Page 19 . I would have given anything to be in Paris. in university. Even worse . She walked along aimlessly for six blocks not knowing where she was going. Events had not lined themselves up quite right since that day in grade six. her mind became too active. She was alone. Then suddenly she began to feel uncomfortable with the busyness of the city. Actually it was shortly after this that Naomi had got an apartment by herself.” she thought.She thrust some money in his hands and left hurriedly into the busy street. k When she was doing nothing. Her heart sank.she didn’t particularly feel like doing anything She could go back to the hotel room. even a few months ago. the maid was probably there and anyway it was lonely.” It had been the dream of a lifetime. She seemed to have lost interest in everything. she and a girlfriend had almost decided to leave on a summer student transfer. Once. However. No. Busy people were going about their busyness. an art gallery. In grade seven. The answer was to keep moving but that was difficult to do. She had been thinking about it and planning it ever since she was twelve years old. So. the other girl had backed out and Naomi’s parents had put pressure on her to stay at home. She could go to a museum. She didn’t want to do nothing.” she thought. Her body was not being cooperative. It felt tired. Naomi felt caught up in the rhythm of the city. she even told her parents that she would see Paris. she had never quite made it to Paris. She had nowhere in particular to go. Her imagination began to run away with her. No. She didn’t want to do anything. “Funny. not being apart of it herself. “How strange it is. “A few years ago.
Her ticket included a free trip to Versailles or to Giverny. She had studied it.” After that. Or maybe both. always. Monet was her favorite impressionist so she thought she would go to Giverny.“I never realized it before . she had found work and was busy and thoughts of Paris were far away. It was as if she could not remember why she had wanted to go to Paris. In a way. When I finally have the opportunity. she had always been enthralled by Marie Antoinette so she thought maybe she would go to Versailles. She knew the restaurants she wanted to visit. rather. all the museums. She knew the names of many streets and sections. Yet.that was right after Jimmy’s death. It was like pursuing the Holy Grail She was sure that one day she would see it. She sighed. And now walking along this Paris street. The only other time I had a real opportunity. she felt a strangeness. Although she had never quite been able to make it to Paris. feel it. she was still with Steven. “Now isn’t that the way of the world. But all this k Page 20 . . She just knew she had to see Paris or. 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.” 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 one day she would be here. That’s why I didn’t get to Paris. she had seen it in movies. the parks. the Paris of her dreams. And then she had met Steven and going to Paris felt even lower down the list of priorities. a street that she had felt she had known because she had seen it so often in pictures. .
” she thought. It had all been planned in advance. she walked past shops that should have enthralled her. Until she felt a little more festive. 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.thinking about the Mona Lisa. She should have waited until she felt a little better. I think”. The woman had sounded warm on the telephone. “I wouldn’t be very good company. Naomi decided to spend the afternoon at the Louvre and try to see this Mona Lisa for herself. k But maybe she should have waited a little longer. She had phoned the woman last night and made the final arrangements. I don’t think so. she had not wanted anyone along. And then she had tried to find someone but it was too short notice for everyone. And she Page 21 . Yet. 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. “and brought a friend”. She was glad that the evening hours were filled. Going to Paris now had probably not been a good idea. this was actually Naomi’s second trip to Paris. “No. aware of the need to fill the afternoon hours. at the same time. “I should have taken mother’s advice. Her mother had visited when she had been pregnant with her and had her in a Paris hospital. Very French. In the meantime.” she had answered her mother. She was consumed then by grief and knew that she couldn’t share that with anyone. charmed her. Naomi had thought at the time. So.
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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z Chapter 2 Z Page 24 .
On the way to her desk. She then removed her couturier coat. she started to go through her mail. and returned to her large and airy apartment in the deuxième arrondissement and went in. It was not this year’s model but was from a much respected couturier and still fashionable. She carefully took off her elegant little hat and placed it in its own special place in the closet. she stopped at her bureau where a special box of chocolates always lay. looked at her calendar and was reminded of the dinner with Madame Simpson’s granddaughter that evening. She put her gloves and purse away carefully where they belonged in their respective drawers. “those vivid colours.E z stelle Duprix returned home from an interesting luncheon with an old male friend.” she thought. At her desk.” She moved to her bedroom and carefully removed her grey silk print dress and hung it carefully in its appointed place in the closet. rewrapped it in its paper and threw it in the basket. She chose one. She then removed her shoes. put them away. took a small bite. As she crossed over to her bedroom. she was thinking that grey was now her best colour. removed her stockings and put on her mules and her robe. “Really. are too bright for such an old lady. yes I must prepare for that. 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. I Page 25 . yellows and oranges I used to wear. and holding it delicately between thumb and index finger. “Ah. those clear reds. The hat.
had become even more fertile over the years. her imagination. meeting an old friend. these people were very happy. youth! How many times have I been in that situation myself? A hundred?” “Ha! Ha!.” rose the voice of the little Gremlin of her conscience. Yet. And I would feel parts of my body remember the Page 26 . Mixed in was a kind of secret germinating joy and sweet guilt about the sadness I felt or was supposed to feel. I would sit in nameless cafés. like the bonnes soeurs had always told her. almost enjoying it. Always in a public place -. finding a perfect lover. got the impression that the young girl was in Paris on account of an affaire du coeur.” z Actually. finding a beautiful place to live. some sorrow. She had. “Many times I visited new places after a sorrow of the heart -. She must bring back to her mother the right impression of Estelle Duprix.must give the young girl a good impression. despite the little Gremlin. At least she had always supposed that the voice belonged to her conscience. And I would watch the people who came in and out and invent stories about them. Most often in my stories. and it now caressed the remembered scenes of many loves gained and lost. she was looking forward to meeting the young girl and telling her about her Paris. old lady you flatter yourself. gaining a new friend. sipping slowly. somehow. the more secretively so.alone in a crowd. through my body and my limbs. “Ah. feeling its warmth down my throat. savoring the taste of the liquid in my mouth.feeling inside some emptiness. having a baby. She preferred to call it Gremlin. They had just experienced some good fortune: an inheritance.
she had just lost interest. At other times. you were not so detached as all that. z Of course.” Damn little Gremlin. Leeching. almost overcome with sadness about the tricks of destiny.” And then.warmth of a lover’s touch and feel unutterably sadder. even when you no longer feel very much for him was so very difficult. She wondered why she had given it life and continued to feed it. This sadness was very real as I remember. 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. She supposed it was to balance out what many lovers had called her “flights of fancy. what he said was true. old lady. so inconsiderate. Having to break another’s heart.” The little voice of her Gremlin rose up again. He was like an old friend and there were so many fewer of them these days. rude. “Come. She had often been quite genuinely upset. before the shouting and the saying of the unforgivable things would start because both were trying to find some way of ending the relationship. Never a moment of peace. she had wanted to continue the relationship and the man had broken it off. and in a way. she was used to him now. Feeling more alone and sad surrounded by the happiness of others. At other times. she knew the relationship was in its last stages and she wanted to finish it sooner than the man. It was a kind of emotional cost/benefit analysis she Page 27 . increasing my own unhappiness. now. Quite often. that I felt I must expiate by at least feeling some sadness. feeding on their happiness and in that way.
to absorb and dissipate the pain . to look inward. to find out how you feel and then to find out what that might mean. “Old lady. Yes. children. You will not win this time. in complaints about time passing too fast and never having enough of it. lovers. You are being too melodramatic again.to do something with it. don’t you think?” z “No. There is too much time. ‘Mourning’ is a strong word for what you felt. Youth is spent in a world of activity. the little Gremlin. It was too full of people. “Our own sadness is something each of us has to deal with privately and alone. The problem was that the rest of life was too full. parents. “Perhaps then you are right. I am an old lady and I remember many things that you do not. The period of mourning that came after. they had closed retreats at the convent where this introspection was supposed to happen but it never did. caring for them. very strong and very valid to me. family. husbands.” “When I was a little girl. that there was little time to ask questions. I remember in emotions. seeing them grow and grow apart. Sometimes I do not remember in time and motives. It threw her back on herself. 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. on her own resources. And I will tell you that the emotions in those days were very strong. was good. Mourning is a time to collect yourself.” Again. They were mine. Perhaps mourning is a good word. friends. That’s what’s wrong with old age.did. of living with them. Gremlin.” Page 28 .
She was quite alone and had too much time to think. Now there is no longer any tide to move me. experienced. There were no longer the people who needed servicing. it only passed fast when looking back on it. to the next to the next. I never thought that I would rebel so much against this time of life. not over a loved one but for a life Page 29 .” z “Perhaps. I must do that myself. I am forever in a state of mourning. Being young and active is much easier. you are right. I would fall into bed at night and sleep before my eyes closed. I find it much more difficult.Now she had too much and it passed too slowly. Old age is all stopping. Old age is for reflecting on the experiencing. never stopping. to have lost the events. Now. enough of it.” it interspersed “Then the world would not be filled with old ladies with nothing to do but sit in cafés and blaspheme and use the name of the Lord in vain. You know the scientist in his laboratory does not write conclusions before he does the experiments and observes what has happened. Gremlin. There would not be all these old people unhappy with nothing to do. When I was young and so busy and tired. Youth is for experiencing. “It would make more sense that way. Gremlin. there were the days that must be filled. The tide of events moves you from one moment to the next. 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. old lady.” “Perhaps you are right. I have outlived my time. What good would it do to contemplate about life when you were young? You had not seen. Life was ridiculous.
And the Gremlin went back to sleep for now. Ah. It sounded a little Jewish. as you say. You are making progress. They were quieter but not as quiet as the English. They were somewhere in between but had their own strengths. It is all over. And now. She had liked them more than the Americans but still they were very much alike. what does it mean?” “Ah. yes.” With that. Naomi. old lady.” “Gremlin. I am happy to see that you are finally beginning to ask the right questions. Gremlin? Why do you say that?” z “Old Lady. Estelle’s friend Joan. It is good we have come to this today.in which I was the main participant. and in the end. you have been in mourning. Estelle thought that it was a strange name to call a child. Gremlin. The young girl for dinner tonight. That was the end of that discussion she thought. letters to answer in another and notes made in her agenda for the invitations. She then considered what she should do next. had explained to her that many Canadians have that quiet strength and willpower because of their Page 30 . But these Canadians are strange people. certainement. for a life that is no longer active. so went back to the desk and consulted her diary. Naomi’s grandmother.” “Am I. Estelle began opening her mail and going through the comfortable process of sorting it – bills in one place. What was her name? What was the name they had finally settled on? She could not remember. you tire me.
The smaller size she used for letters to friends. contrary to the Americans.constant battle with the elements. One. she did not seek out the companionship of other women. The silver-framed photographs. She had said that Canada was very cold and in the winter. Page 31 . Estelle felt that they were exaggerating the rigors of the climate although. She had always been considered a threat to other women and had always been happy to accept that fate. the larger size. She found that she now used the latter less and less. And the very smallest was for short notes and “billet doux”. the silver pen. The envelopes were graduated to match the paper and also had her return address in the same lettering. Everything on her desk had its specific place. she used for business transactions. more often than not. The paper was especially printed for her and came in three sizes. the crystal paper holders and different kinds of paper. they understated. These had the printed material on the front flap. Normally. she tidied it up. Canadians exaggerated very little. In fact. they measured snow that had fallen in feet and their temperatures went as far as 60 below zero. She simply knew that it was the price one paid for beauty and charm. 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. z She had liked Joan more than others in the diplomatic service into which she had married for a time. In fact. She answered the letters that needed answering and satisfied that she had done as much as she needed to do at her desk. she had many difficulties with them.
She had to be witty and a good conversationalist. It was a habit that was difficult to break. she had chosen a subject with which she felt men had more interest--politics and the state of the economy. She had audited courses in Political Science and Economics at La Sorbonne. instead of leaning towards art or literature. she loved the discussions in class or at the Café after class. However. Le Monde. some famous. Alas. She was usually well accepted by the other younger students because she brought a very different approach to the discussions. although still attractive. It saved a lot of time to know what to read and why. Elle. z She found it strange that she still felt the need to please men. she now did the same with the charms of her intellect. She Page 32 . And where she used to capture their attention with her physical charms. that had been her largest priority. And she had pleased many of them.Estelle then moved to her chair in the living room. She had spent her youth preparing to be pleasing to men. as she had grown older.Vogue. able to speak intelligently about things that interested other people. some of them influential. and during all of her best years. She had been a voracious reader and appreciated the reading lists that the professors gave to the students. She therefore became knowledgeable the way other old ladies do. And of course. She still saw a few of them from time to time. she was no longer beautiful. She was always anxious to keep up-to-date not only on fashion but also on current events. On the coffee table in front of it were the current magazines she was fond of -. Le Nouvel Observateur.
z She has always felt that the conquest was the thing to be sought. the capture that was never complete. after they had left. She did not realize how much she would miss the physical presence of men in her life. the most important reason you have become such a saint these years is that you no longer have ulterior motives for action. It was a marvelous time of life poised somewhere between naivety and cynicism. the game. especially those she met at the university. In the old days. She too was at a crossing. It was a time when these men had all of the freshness of youth without any of its childishness. She was at a point in her life when she could again become philosophical without feeling the need to excuse it. they had much in common. Hard to get and hard to keep.sighed for the loss of the merry chase. And yet. They were so energetic. She missed that now and often wished that she had kept a few mementos. she smiled.” Page 33 . still holding on to lofty ideals. She also had more time to see the beauty and truth in a world where few others had such time. She knew that part of her appeal (or maybe all of it) was in her aloofness and fact that she was hard to get. Just being with such young men seemed to revitalize her. Estelle was especially fond of young men. she felt a lack. All other activities had paled compared to it. Really. she would hurry to cleanse her apartment of their presence. never having had the opportunity to test them for themselves. so full of ideas. “Old lady. perhaps from cynicism back to naivety or maybe simplicity .
” “Yes. if you realize just how disturbing this is to me. And it is a role for which you are ill-suited and ill-prepared. I wonder. you are no longer one of the fighters. Gremlin. the most surprising thing about all this? I have found that in observing life. 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. You have lost the role you once had. again . In this war.” “Perhaps you are right. I often felt surrounded by enemies. I had a feeling that no one but me could be good and kind and often not even me. Gremlin what do you mean now?” z “What I mean is that you are no longer part of the mainstream. I have seen more beauty and more joy than I ever expected. it is a difficult question because it suggests that you may have wasted some forty years of your life.at l’Opera at seven. But you know. I guess I should begin. It is comfortable to sit quietly back and observe. 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. I don’t know. you tire me. she thought.” “Oh Gremlin. “I am no longer as fast as I used to be.“Oh. I feel it comfortable to no longer be part of that competitiveness. she could now proceed much more Page 34 .” Estelle had agreed to meet Joan’s granddaughter . old lady. She had two hours to get ready. The world was a much blacker place then where people only had selfish motives for actions. “Well. you are now an observer.what was her name. go away. Gremlin.” That was one of the advantages of old age.
service was better and les femmes had a tendency to stay with her longer than they did other people. enjoying every moment. It seemed all right. though. She checked the basin for cleanliness. just enjoying what was going on. She enjoyed nothing more than getting ready for an evening’s outing. She supposed that it was more motivating when people actually noticed what you did and had specific comments to give to make it better. A little later. There were too few occasions these days for dressing up for dinner. the z Page 35 . 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. her eyes moved around the bathroom. sitting in the bath. Before that.slowly with certain activities and enjoy them more. She often did them slowly. there is proof that I am getting old beyond redemption.” she thought to herself. She found that the only way of ensuring quality of service was to verify the work done and comment on specific details the next time. In fact. She always made sure that she had something positive to say every day about the work done the time before. she was surprised at how many positive things she had found today about growing old. “now.” While sitting in the tub and thinking. That way. “Ah ha. 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.
bit it gingerly and discarded the rest wrapped in its brown paper wrapper. the waste basket emptied and the carpet vacuumed. she found that the dressers had been rearranged. Estelle made a mental note concerning that. her femme de ménage had done an adequate job even though Estelle had been absent at the luncheon today. she observed that the silver required polishing. Perhaps she would have time next Wednesday. This time. Again. everything appeared spotless. she could see the rim around the inside of the toilet and the bidet. and everything was clean. Quickly.faucets were shining. everything was in its place. Automatically. From her particular angle. She went over to inspect the windowsills and they too had been properly dusted. she moved the sofa over a bit to make sure la femme had vacuumed underneath. In the bedroom. She checked out the other parts of the bathroom also. her eye took in all the corners and edges. In the kitchen. even without her direct supervision. She would have to remind la femme about that. she put on her robe and went out to inspect the rest of the apartment. Page 36 . As she passed her dresser on into the living room. Madame Lajoie. That was a place where rusty stains tended to gather but today everything appeared to be in order. She then moved to the living room which she had already automatically examined on her arrival. z She left the bedroom stopping at the night stand and the box of chocolates. She opened the cupboard to check inside. she took one. She leaned over and checked the corners. Apparently. The taps at the sink gleamed and the corners were immaculate.
not even as a middle-aged woman.“mince words!. “all is in order. “Good. she sat in her chair and leaned back picking up a magazine from the coffee table. As she leaned back. longing to be free.” had been her reply. That is an insult to good meat and an insult to good thought. 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. Page 37 . However. People had considered her to be spirituel beyond her years.” she thought. 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. not as a child. “to what end?” “I. It filled her with a sense of well-being. It was clean and in order. The apartment was just as she liked it.” She had often been able to get away with it when she was younger because she had been so pretty and so witty. But when she checked the vase. she had always been given the advice .” How many times had she been given that advice! She never did like it. she saw that it had been refilled. Ever since she had been young. she sighed with contentment. Her age now gave her that freedom.” she thought. “There certainly were advantages to growing old. Then she remembered the flowers. “Mince words!” “Ah. she had always felt hemmed in. not as a young adult.” z “Yes. She always saw an image of good steak being chopped up for dog meat. not as an adolescent.” The other thing she enjoyed about it was the freedom to speak her mind. She pulled out one of the flowers and saw that one of the stems had been freshly cut.Again.
It took a while for her to realize that people were seeing her with a quite different eye. It is all gone forever. People even now sometimes considered her to be mean. Your humour when you were younger was light and made fun of things without consequence.She secretly felt that the present was the best time of all. they feel your truth.” Gremlin interrupted. when she had crossed that invisible line.” Gremlin. But they accepted it and did not hold it against her. You know what is really funny. You know how they are fooling themselves. They seemed to hold it against some indefinable act of growing old. It was somehow forgivable because it happened to us all. old lady. People feel that. over which it appeared they felt she had little control. And she was simply considered to be a crotchety old lady around whom one had to watch what one said. “you are not honest with yourself. old lady. And they also feel a certain bitterness. some evolution into gaga-ism. “I have good reason to be bitter. She was able to say almost anything she wanted. 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. I lost my whole life with my beauty. And. She was not exactly sure when that had happened. You understand people’s basic contradictions. You have changed.” z Page 38 . “Ah.” “Well.
You enjoy all comforts of the body. You still have life. old lady. you exaggerate again. there is nothing there to move you.” “Ha. I thought that old people were finished people. Gremlin. Gremlin. almost as difficult as adolescence. You have a future. I am empty too. I do not like it. that they had somehow done what they had wanted to. z My problem is that I have no courage. Old age is a very trying time. You should be asking yourself whether your beauty was ever that important to your happiness. I have only empty days now. I find it a growing experience. I find it as difficult as any other stage in life. past happiness. reflecting happily on their past and enjoying the fruits of having finished what they set out to do. You must keep growing. Gremlin. Page 39 . I lack the courage to end it. However. Should you not be asking whether your beauty disappearing is the cause of your unhappiness? You assume it to be so. I tell you that is wrong. past joy. You have a past. You are not asking the right questions. Think about it. all this is very stupid. had accomplished all their goals and that they were now in a state of waiting. I do not like it at all. You are left to your own resources. You laugh at me. moving. It seems even more worthless when compared to past activities. meeting challenges and at the same time. When I was younger.“Ah. What good to me is my past? What good to me are all those memories? My life is no longer worthwhile. You know. I lack the courage to go on. Instead.
And that she is part of the flow of life. dying with the secret knowledge that he will not be discovered for a few days and then causing a great many people difficulty -.z I should have died much younger Surely.” “Old lady. You may be bringing yourself to the Page 40 . the heavy responsibility for oneself taken up by someone else. there is panic and then the comfort of knowing that the end is near. and somehow forgot about me.someone finally to show concern about his fate. At other times. Sometimes. there was movement and purpose. tea and biscuits. My only comfort has been that perhaps there are others like me in the world who have outlived their time. But be careful. I was meant to. living in a small apartment. the responsibility. that even in her death she is contributing to the society that gave her support. First. I imagine that there is an old lady like me in the world. or fell ill. the struggle soon over. an error of omission. You must be feeding it on the very best caviar and foie gras. I can’t help thinking that somehow a very grave error has been committed. And here I continue to exist. that in his death. eating dog food. But you may just be distracting yourself. You use your imaginative power and it is highly developed. there is nothing wrong with your imagination. I imagine myself a man in those stories from America. I think there was an order for my early demise and that the angel that was to carry it out became too busy. perhaps an Eskimo in the Canadian North finally abandoned by her people to die of cold and starvation on an ice floe.
” “Ah. is purpose. you continue to insist on talking nonsense.point of discovery and then imagining yourself away from it. You have seen enough to know that all is for a purpose and that all there is. for my sake and the world’s. I must prepare to meet that child. Joan’s granddaughter. I say. old friend. You know life too well to believe that angels make mistakes. Your job is not to envy those whom you believe to be better off than you and thus fall further and further into the clutches of your imagination and follow roads that lead you further and further away from certain realizations. I have no time to listen to you anymore. thank the good Lord for that. I am an old woman. Naomi.” z Page 41 . I will soon be dead.
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o Chapter 3 B Page 43 .
the clothes. and the weather – with a lucidity that often surprised her and brought her comfort too. especially when she was sitting alone and relaxed somewhere in a chair.sometimes an hour. she would be back to the present. last week or even last year. But there were also some scenes that were not so pleasant. She knew about drowning men whose lives flashed before their eyes before death. she had been given to waking in the middle of the night fully conscious as if it were the middle of the day. of course. her mind was off again running away from her with images from the past. imagining the wonderful things that would happen to her. in her bath.A o s Estelle prepared for dinner with Naomi. but slower. She could remember any past event . or even while she was using the commode. Suddenly. just before she went to sleep. There was comfort. She would go to the bathroom. then into her kitchen for a glass of water and sit down. Her mind would suddenly focus on a certain scene from her past as if it were yesterday. 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. Time would slip by -. Her thoughts were often in the far past. like yesterday. also. her mind wandered. it seemed to be mostly in the future.before the images would stop and then. sometimes reading a dull book. Those she hated most were Page 44 . In her younger years.the people. sometimes two -. but it had now moved back to the past and not even in the immediate past. Of late. Old age was like that.
rested the back of her head on the back of the chair. letting it unravel itself like a ball of wool that falls from the lap onto an uneven floor.those in which she had made a decision that she was not sure had been the right one. Today. In addition.” She sat in her chair.” she said to herself. put her arms on the armrests. avoiding the memory but inevitably. The child’s mother lay there when Estelle had visited her. Estelle came back to the present. the reasons she had made the decision. closed her eyes and waited. the ball of wool once again would roll off her lap and unravel itself even further. It was a useless exercise she knew but she was often three chapters into it before she even realized what she was doing. the results that were not very pleasant at all. “Ah yes. “Yes now I remember. it was usually a most uncomfortable social situation. She often replayed in her mind. she got up and retrieved the ball and wound it up again and start knitting again. And she could torture herself thinking about it. she felt that it was her duty and a social obligation for the Page 45 . It was always too late to change the past. o Sometimes. However. The child’s name. Too late. going over the details. she would take one of the possible alternate decisions and follow it through. leaned back. When she realized what she had been doing. It was that hospital room with green walls and white metal beds.all that sickness and death. There was nothing she could do. “How had all this started she wondered? Ah Yes! Now she remembered. “How Estelle hated going to hospitals -. asking herself what else she could have done.
And her mother was in Paris.grandmother’s sake.” All around her. I have not experienced the pain. old woman. pale against the pale pillows. “you know very well that you are uncomfortable in birthing rooms because you never had the courage to have a child yourself. were flowers: roses from her parents. tut.” thought Estelle. It would be good now to share memories with someone who has known me all their life. The new mother was leaning back. baby names.” It is true that she had entered the hospital room with some trepidation and was glad to see that it was a private room. Page 46 . etc. o “Now. the responsibility. Her daughter had decided to give birth in what was a strange hospital because she wanted to be near her mother. “ “You are probably right.” said the Gremlin. “There is something wrong. flowers from her father’s colleagues. bright brown eyes wide and just a little what was that? Wild? “Tut. 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. It is something that you now regret. The child has no make-up on. Gremlin. Estelle supposed were somewhat better than illnesses because it was a happy occasion and there was much to talk about: clothes furniture. But I have also not experienced the joys and I now see that there are some. Births. and a funny little arrangement in a botine from friends.
little one. I suppose it will but you know it is not a complete stranger to me. You know the belles emotions – they are very tricky at the best of times. “This is not proceeding well. “There is nothing you can get me.” replied Cynthia. I feel overcome by the responsibility of this little being. Tante Estelle. Page 47 .Estelle had brought with her a small bottle of very fine perfume. I suppose.” answered the Child.” “Yes.” “Yes. Maybe I can leave after 45 minutes. I feel let down a little now that it’s over and overwhelmed too. “I am as well as could be expected.” thought Estelle. Do not worry. The doctors say that it is postpartum depression and that it will leave very soon. “Mais alors. zut alors. She hoped that the child’s pallor was a result of the bleaching-out effect of the pale sheets and green walls. I am to see my doctor if it does not go away. she would have to keep a semblance of conversation going for at least an hour. o “Ah. she said. And the hormones too can betray us. what is the matter Child?” Is there anything I can do? Anything I can get for you?” “No. I am sure your mélancholie will soon dissipate.” These events are very joyous but emotionally draining too. I am sure that is correct. she thought.” But still. “How are you my Child?”.
I am not sure how I would respond. bringing a new being in the world. You are really very kind. Yet. I understand that in the hospital. The flowers and presents and the phone calls make it feel special but at the same time it is ordinary. No matter how great the experience. It is a very special day for me and for the baby. But I understand your concern. “I have never had a child. That should not take away from the other truth of your experience.my new and vulnerable daughter. We know it is special but it is not special for everyone. Soon. You have more courage than I had.” Page 48 . many times a day. 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. one that you will always remember. it was just an ordinary happening. it seems an ordinary day. there would be something beyond the ordinary.” Was it Estelle’s imagination. Of course. or did the pale head and feverish eyes relax a little more against the pillows? “That makes me feel better. But it is not really an ordinary day. I don’t know what I was expecting. You must have so many other things to do. after nine long months of waiting.” o “I will stay with you as long as you want me to and as long as I am useful to you. You have done a wonderful thing by bringing another soul into the world and it is a time to rejoice and feel proud. Tante Estelle to listen to my ravings. I just thought that for such an important occasion.” answered Estelle. how tragic. It is a very special day for you. I will have dinner and then I will sleep just like I always do. it happens on very ordinary days. At the same time. Do you know what I mean?” “Myself. Babies are born here every day.
being pampered by everyone. It was as if the whole world supported me in this condition. I did not always feel this way. I am sure most women feel a little like that. Then. that I had no real right to it. it belonged to this creature that was growing and moving inside Page 49 . I was happy. Here is my baby and now I am responsible for its care and even its happiness. I always got a seat in the Metro. At first. in the sixth month. I was really happy when I found out I was pregnant. It is quite a lot to take on. I am not sure I am really ready.“Oh. it was so easy to become pregnant when so many find it difficult. and turned into punches.” “Oh. I was not really ready and that I had accepted all the support falsely. things changed. My body no longer belonged to me. There was never any question that I would keep the baby. 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. I was very excited but then. I had a really easy pregnancy.” “Why would you feel guilty?” o “Well. and the best food in restaurants. I began to resent the baby and I felt guilty about that. But now. the best service in shops. Then as the small rumbles of the baby got stronger and stronger.“ “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. Then. And I feel a little guilty. I started to understand the reality and the responsibility of having a baby. I am faced with the reality of it. when I began to feel movement.
It was controlling my mind also. pretty happy with what was going on around me. comfortable. I was its prisoner. it terrifies me. and loose and . My whole world seemed to shrink and close in on me and my uterus. I had to almost force myself to keep up with current events.” “What do you mean?” she answered.” “Yes. I also did not have the all the rest of the experiences that come with having a child and I regret it today. To be perfectly frank. I would go out and realize that I did not understand what people were talking about. And it suddenly dawned on me that motherhood. parenthood was like that.” “But don’t you see? It is not all over. I felt the same way and that is partly why I did not have a child. It is just the beginning. I was placid. .” “And you may think this odd. It leaves you all lethargic. but I was thinking that the baby was not only controlling my body. I can see that it would be terrifying.me. That is what is so terrifying. However. It was as if I was the Mama bear in hibernation for nine months with her baby cub. . I am scared. But that is all over now. a never-ending job with no holidays and no breaks. “Pregnancy is funny. I did not question much or think a lot. I was getting so out of touch.” o Page 50 .” “I understand.
You rest now.” was the reply. Estelle asked if they had chosen a name for the baby.” “It is nothing. I would like to call her Mona Lisa.” Estelle was happy to see that the color had returned to the Child’s cheeks.” “What do you mean. it is very helpful. like the painting and also because I have a feeling about the baby. but I am sure you can. not sure you can control the beast. In the meantime. I have brought you a little gift to help raise you spirits. you are like riding a horse of your emotions. I could not share these feelings with my parents or anyone else. little one and remember your Tante Estelle. a feeling?” o Page 51 . Right now. like the painting in the Louvre?” “Yes. I am afraid that people will think I am unnatural and not a good mother. “Oh. It was at that point that the conversation had come up about the baby’s name. It is too much. “What. A bottle of Joy! Your favorite perfume. thank you Tante Estelle. You have been very helpful today.” “Thank you for listening Tante Estelle.“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. that you lose your own identity.” “Enjoy it. my little bird.” “Oh. In order to change the subject.
I chose it willingly and I am happy with the decision. It is just the way I was brought up. I want my daughter to have that legacy. She had.“My mother thinks that it is silly. a little like you. It was the first time that she had been cast in the role of confidante to her. Oh. And I have reproductions of it also.” “How do you imagine her to be?” “The Mona Lisa looks like a woman who knows her own mind. I can’t count the number of times I have seen the painting. I know that I am not the Mona Lisa type. you will be giving her the personality?” o “Well. I feel it is too late for me. Since I have been in Paris. it is a beginning. I am not complaining. I can’t imagine life without a family.” “I am glad to see you smiling again. over the years. I want to start things on the right path. I will leave you to rest now. I told myself that if it is a girl. I have already chosen another path.” As Estelle left. Page 52 .” “And you believe that by giving her the name. who does not let people take advantage of her. resisted motherhood with a kind of fierceness that she had never really understood. Estelle wondered too whether her own decision not to have a child was born of the same kind of reasoning. She is sufficient unto herself. I am sure you will think me silly too. she relived the discussion she had with the Child. I would not be happy any other way. I want her to grow up to be like the Mona Lisa.
Of course. If she remembered correctly the Father soon entered the picture and was also persuasive. 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. o Page 53 . She thought they had retained Lisa as a middle name but had settled on Naomi as a first name.
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The point of many of these stories was that Estelle consumed male attention much as she consumed a box of chocolates. detached maybe. Naomi’s grandmother and Estelle had taken an instant liking to each other. She radiated a kind of cool warmth.N v aomi had the impression from her mother that the woman she was to meet that evening. had been a little naughty for the times. she always seemed to have no lack of male attention. she had seemed to be eccentric and maybe a little colorful. had been maybe forty years old then. Naomi had also heard that Estelle had been very popular with men and had her share of husbands. Naomi’s mother had met her when she had stayed with her parents while they were in Paris. Naomi was told that she had always been a quiet. Naomi’s grandmother loved to tell the story of Estelle and Page 56 . a liking that had blossomed into a solid friendship. based on her outer demeanor. always calm. She apparently had a real knack for remaining cool and composed in all circumstances. at the very least. Very attractive physically. People often felt comfortable and comforted by her presence and were surprised by that since it was unexpected. lovers and affaires du coeur. in all emergencies and of radiating that calm outwardly so that others became infected with it. Naomi had been told that she was cool but not necessarily cold. Not that she was bubbly or energetic in any way. peaceful pool. Estelle. Estelle Duprix. Apparently. it was estimated. some twenty-five plus years ago but she gave the impression of being much younger.
there were few line-ups and she quickly went through the doors and into the museum. And she always had another box at the ready. she wanted to greet him like the friend he was to her. just like the pictures of it with the pyramid. Luckily in August. she would often throw a box away when it has only been half eaten. like the sophisticate she thought she was. She would never run out of chocolates. At the Louvre. v She suddenly was surprised to see on her right. there seemed to be a traffic flow that Naomi could follow. she thought. Estelle loved chocolate and bought expensive hand-made boxes often and always had some in reserve. It seemed quite strange to come suddenly and without warning on such a well-known work of art. She never finished one. Then. It was a somewhat confusing place. Naomi was intrigued and looked forward to meeting this unusual woman. Enough of that. Estelle would take a bite out of one and throw the rest of the chocolate away. The plane had taken off some twenty minutes earlier and she suddenly realized she had been sitting next to a television celebrity. And there it was. as she approached the Louvre. the Venus de Milo. And off she went on the adventure. She always had a box in her living room. She did control that spontaneity and. wanting to touch it but knowing it was Page 57 . Luckily. After the shock of recognition. she pretended not be recognize him. complaining that the chocolates were no longer fresh. It reminded her of the time she was in a plane. After these descriptions she had heard many times. she just stared at the Venus. saying that it was to maintain her figure.her chocolates.
not allowed. So, Naomi moved along the corridor filled with Greek and Roman artifacts in a kind of trance, then to the Egyptian exhibits, moving from room to room. Then there was a large room with a small painting in the middle of it, surrounded by a rope and a crowd – the famous Mona Lisa. Naomi got as close as she could to the rope that kept tourists away from the small, carefully guarded painting. It was so tiny! So hard to see! She could hardly see the background behind the head. Still, she could understand the centuries of fascination. She noticed how her hair was not straight at all but very curly on the ends and that her hands were very white and wax-like but very beautiful with long tapering fingers. She was certainly what would today be called a healthy girl. There was a shawl draped around her, especially the heavy folds of her sleeves near her arms made of some shiny material. She then stepped back to get a better look at the face. As she stepped back, she realized how very dull all the colors were and how brilliantly the hands and neck and chest and face stood out from them. It was a study of light amid the darkness. Light seemed to shine from her face. There was something very calm and reassuring about it. It was a face that seemed to be in movement in repose and it exuded a kind of confidence in the setting and it’s own place within that setting.
But it was also more than that. Certainly there was that aristocratic bearing, just a little haughty, and certainly the self-confidence. At the same time, there was that haunting smile, a smile that was made not only with the lips but with the
eyes. Funny, thought Naomi, how people always mentioned the smile and few mentioned the eyes. As she stood there, staring at the painting, it had a very life-like quality as if the woman painted there almost five hundred years ago could suddenly come to life and answer all of the questions people have asked about her.
She seems to be smiling, not at the painter, but at something far off, so far off it was inside of her. She seemed to be sharing a little joke with herself. It was as if she was daring the talented painter to capture her soul on the canvas knowing at the same time it could never be captured on canvas or any other way. And yet, it amused her to watch him try. It was as if she knew a secret about life. Not only that, but that she knew that the secret was a joke or at least something very funny or so unusual or so mundane that people or most people had not yet thought of it, had not even asked the question. At the same time, there it was, in front of everyone, if they would only look. Naomi could now understand how the painting haunted generation upon generation. Not only did people want to understand the mystery of the smile but also they were convinced there was a very important reason for it. Intuitively, they knew the smile had meaning and, if they could decipher it, they would have the key to something important, some mystery that would explain everything. Then, Naomi sensed her consciousness shift; she could almost feel something like gears changing within her. She seemed somehow to have taken a step up somewhere. She looked again at the
painting. Strange setting. Where can it be? What could it mean? Everything seemed upside-down and the other way around. The closer she came to knowing what it might mean by the force of staring at it, the more she wanted to move away from it. The painting had her in its thrall. It forced her to wonder about it, one thought following upon another, closer and closer to something she was afraid she would not like. One part wanted to rush forward and to know and another held back in fear. There was certainly something about the eyes. That was the whole of it. There seemed to be something interesting about the background but she gave it up. She became interested only in those hypnotic eyes. They in fact riveted her to a place, to the floor, going forward, holding back, moving inwardly but staying stock-still in front of a lively inanimate object. So many contradictions! Those eyes. They were saying something eternal, something vital, something people should know about, something she should know about, something she came all the way to Paris to find out, perhaps. There was the other thing, too, of course. The smile. Everyone said there is something mysterious about the smile. The enigma you want to solve. Yes, the strange cryptic smile. The smile smiling at itself. But it was in the eyes she would find a clue if only she could concentrate on them to the exclusion of everything else. Yes. She wanted to and yet she didn’t. What if she found something she did not want to know? What if that something caused her pain? Could she then transfer her pain back to the picture in the same way she took the energy from it?
or the one who captured the painter to capture her joy in living? v One clue Naomi found lay in her naked eyes. going into one room and out the other. Naomi got up slowly and headed back to the first floor. room leading on to room until suddenly Page 61 . the one who by brush strokes. she could look at the pictures and something else would come to mind. Naomi got up and decided to go down to the gift shop and get reproductions of the Mona Lisa. captured that joy in living.Who is the real artist of that picture. “toying” with her. Of course there is the danger. That may be the mystery. but refusing to be sucked into each other’s axis. She wanted to somehow capture the moment. yet enjoying the motion and the danger. sitting in her room. This time. It was the danger that produced that constant tension that moved them on from one event to the next. Perhaps later. naked with that realization. not that the male is playing a game with her. She lingered over many. He is in her eyes and in her smile. The uncomfortable feeling that we are missing something. she could not pass the other paintings and sculptures as quickly. Finally. willing whirlpools of experiences caught for a moment in each other’s vortex mingling. but rather that they are each caught up in it. though. Or at least she could get a notebook and write down some of these thoughts. The painter is as much a part of this painting as the model. feeling somewhat satisfied.
v Page 62 . took a taxi to her hotel room where she cleaned up quickly and arrived at the small restaurant a little late. Promising herself that she would return. It was already 5:30 p. she ran out. and she had to be at the restaurant by 7.she remembered the dinner meeting.m.
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Naomi. The maître d’ approached Naomi “Mademoiselle?” “Je dîne avec Mme Duprix ce soir. Mademoiselle. I am drinking the Kir but perhaps you have the American habit of the cocktail?” “No. Jean-François. the woman was courteous but aloof.” Page 65 .” The maître d’ lead her as Naomi had suspected. sit down and let me look at you. Naomi looked around the restaurant to see if she could spot an older lady. Suivez-moi.” “ Now that I look at you.” “Certainement. It was evident not only from the position of the table but also from the maître d’s attitude. I’ve always thought so. no a Kir would be fine. The maître d’ almost clicked his heels as he presented Naomi “Madame Duprix. I’ve never had it before. 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. Duprix was respected at the restaurant and got special service.” In replying. my child.W bbb hile waiting for the maître d’ to seat her. votre invitée. to the table where the older woman sat drinking. “Merci. you know I think you look more like your grandmother than your mother.” “Yes. that Mme.” “Now.
“Of course. I have the advantage because my memory of their faces is more than 20 years old. I have not found much I’ve disliked. Naomi smiled a little. you go ahead. No. I would like to order for both of us since I know what is good here. I leave it entirely up to you.” “Yes.” “Thank you very much. Estelle took both menus and gave them back to the waiter and said to Naomi: “if you permit me. Naomi was glad to be able to turn Page 66 .” Estelle then focused her entire attention on the menu. about then. the eyes of my very good memory and I can tell you that you resemble much more your grandmother. She was. Quite the contrary. the waiter came over with the menu and inquired if mademoiselle would have an aperitif.” bbb Naomi saw Estelle’s eyes crinkle a little in an eyesmile and Naomi relaxed a little. but this Estelle was very different. Luckily. She had been a little put off by Estelle’s manner with the maître d’. You are not allergic? Is there something you do not like?” “I have no allergies I can eat anything. Would you like me to do that? Or would you like to order from the menu?” “No. I think my grandmother was very beautiful. turning to the waiter from time to time for clarification.” “ Parfait. I have other eyes. and reddened a little more. So.
However. aside from escaping what happened at home and finally seeing her birthplace. some mascara and pink lipstick. that there might be a purpose to the trip. Estelle was not at all like the old lady at the café. Naomi figured she must see the hairdresser twice a week and the manicurist at least once a week. She was wearing a kind of dull blue suit that had been a disappointment to Naomi from afar. that Mme. Where the one had an aura of shabby gentility. she had to change her mind. Everything about her was understated elegance. Naomi was even beginning to feel that this trip to Paris may have been not been a mistake after all. No. It had some very fine over-stitching and there were many bbb Page 67 . Unfortunately. the Paris of her dreams. Naomi figured it must be a designer creation although she was not very knowledgeable about such things. this could not be further from the truth. by some strange kind of coincidence. However. 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. It was made of very fine wool and was beautifully tailored. Her makeup too was understated and appropriate for an older woman. at least physically. this friend of her grandmother was indeed soignée and not shabby at all. Her gray hair was pulled back to her neck in beautiful soft waves. Her first emotion was one of relief. Duprix would be the old lady she had seen at the café earlier in the day or at least someone like her.away from the conversation for a second. She suddenly realized that all day she had been half expecting to find. The little eye shadow. up close.
tasting a little like berries. I myself have done that often. I got in late and with jet lag. I like the little cafés on rue St. especially in the spring. As she got closer. The waiter then appeared with her Kir.” Page 68 . I sat at a café and I enjoyed watching all kinds of different people come to see come in or to walk by.” bbb “ The people-watching. Germain. almost like candy in a glass. “The Kir. It is interesting to watch the people who come in and the people who pass or who walk by. We can talk and enjoy each other. It is a favorite Paris pastime.pieces of cloth sewn together rather than just two backs and two fronts with lapels.” “Now. This is my second day” “But that can be a long time in Paris. “Today. She tasted it and found it to be very good. 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. not very long. I decided to have dinner at the hotel and go to bed early. the color improved. I sit and watch also. I taste mostly berries. Where have you been?” “Yesterday. There is always so much to do and see. have you been in Paris long?” “No. do you find it pleasant?” “Oh yes. Tell me. that is done. It’s wonderful.
Jacques you probably know. but of course you have a very special connection to that ancient lady. finally satisfied with Estelle’s satisfaction. I have ordered a scallop dish in a champagne sauce that resembles a little the Coquilles St.” “Well. they do it very well here.“I make up stories about them. Also Page 69 . Tell me what did you think of her?” “What do you mean. You went to see the Mona Lisa. This is a favorite restaurant of mine and the chef knows me very well. the waiter arrived with a glass for Naomi and some warm French bread. Tell me what else have you done?” “This afternoon. ‘Of course. The waiter left. Estelle asked Naomi if it would be all right for her to choose the wine and she did this. It is the imagining of all kinds of things about the people we see. that is the pleasure in it. most tourists who comes to Paris think they must see the Mona Lisa. I am certain you will enjoy it. she was warming up to this disarming woman with the friendly all-knowing twinkle in her eye.” “Yes. of course.” Naomi was not too sure why she said that.” bbb “Yes. Yet. I went to the Louvre. “I am glad that you are not difficult. how did you know? I suppose that everyone who comes to Paris must go to see the Mona Lisa. a special connection?” Before Estelle could answer. Estelle began explaining her menu choices. That is what I do also. she had not intended to.
for the fact that I made a very bad mistake and was very naïve.” bbb “Well. no?” “Yes. it was not a mistake. he said he did…” “Then. Now tell me. I’m not sure what in all of this bothers me more: the fact that I no longer have someone to love. You loved him very much.” “ I can look at you and I see. again a dish that they do very well here.” Page 70 .” “Did he not love you?” Well. I have just had a romance end.” “I guess from that you were not happy that it was terminated. I’m afraid I did and do.I have decided on the roasted lamb. What is the expression? “Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. 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’ve been very disappointed – a relationship recently ended. People have been telling me that but it doesn’t make me feel any better. I suppose it shows. or that I no longer have someone to love me. I am sure you will be pleased with them. I have only to look into your face. you’re right on all points. to comprehend that there is a man involved in this histoire somewhere. now. I fear you have been much disappointed. I have a feeling that you are here because of an affaire du coeur. non?” “Yes.
It’s just too painful. this man who has made you so unhappy. One is not permitted such things. spying each other “from across a crowded room”. She found that the more she drank. Now. I can’t.that is always permitted.” Between sips of the white wine and mouthfuls of seafood. “Yes. as for being naïve. it is very painful. to be naïve in a love affair at my age would be quite ridicule. it was a little like lightening striking. I know that – the coup de foudre.“And. correct?” “Yes. We were struck by each other immediately and gravitated towards each other. I think that is not a very bad fault for someone your age. the easier it was. Naomi started to laugh. and seemed to be ready to wait forever for Naomi to speak. Naomi began to explain about Steven. Finally. I suppose I should be more philosophical about it. it was Estelle who spoke “And what is his name.” “Yes.” Naomi hesitated while she was trying to put her whole relationship with Steven into words. She hesitated because she was not sure that she wanted to talk about it right now. I think he had a friend introduce us. She explained how they had met at her friends’ party and how they had liked each other immediately. But Estelle just sat calmly. “Well. Perhaps a little naïveté in financial affairs -. Tell me about it. Then she thought that it might be easier to talk to a stranger about Steven.” bbb Despite herself. We spent the rest of the party Page 71 . for me.
he made no demands on me. In my day. 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. one lived apart until one was married after which one lived together. Finally. I was very impressed. about four o’clock in the morning he drove me home and he was a perfect gentleman. Some even lasted years. You must understand that I find it difficult to understand these relationships.” “Ah. he was quite the romantic. he kissed me lightly on the lips and was gone. dancing together to the exclusion of everyone else. of course. But you were very lucky. I agree. the next morning.getting to know each other better. he got me out of bed at 9 AM. the liaisons. There were. These are to be enjoyed because they were usually brief. my child and how long did this last? Yes. From the beginning. and involved no responsibility and certainly no living 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. He did not ask to come in. but there was no bbb Page 72 . pleasurable. 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. I was very lucky. In a way. Then. It lasted thirteen months. non!” But I thought there were no romantics left in this age of computers and stainless steel. I was thinking that we would soon be moving in together.” “I am listening.
“Maybe you’re right. he was the first such man I met and I’ve never met his match before or since and probably never will. When she was done. he was my best friend. today. That’s the thing that bothers me most.” “I am glad you approve. I have no idea why it ended.” said Naomi. I was the envy of all my friends. Naomi continued the conversation.” Both Naomi and Estelle attacked their food silently. This living together. don’t tell me. “What a wonderful choice. We were so close. the waiter arrived with the wine and the first course. “this is wonderful. loving and gentle. he was the most perfect man I’ve ever met. We had a kind of storybook relationship. yes?” Page 73 . almost like living together. In a way.” “How old are you now? No. let me remember yes. 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.no thought of the divorce or the living together. I think often ruins a good romance. you will be 24 years old on June the 23. Steven was thoughtful and kind. I have never had such good scallops. I thought it would last forever. Really.” bbb At that point. 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. We shared everything. Now let us eat. Maybe we were too close. Still. Maybe that is what ruined our relationship. I sometimes think that they were perfect because one did not live together.
” “Oh yes. No. I should know why. I almost feel that I should know something about it. should learn something from it but what is there to learn? In the middle of a beautiful. But it is helpful. Happiness is something that one finds deep down within oneself. you were here then. you will admit. to have the help of things and people and the environment.” bbb “I suppose you’re right. 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 mean I was here then. 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. But. at my age that I can agree with that. The greatest happiness I have felt I think–you know. There’s something else. June 22. You are still very young to suggest that you will never find that happiness again. he decides that he must leave and never explains it Page 74 . perhaps that’s not quite right. Not when I was moved. Happiness you know it’s not something one finds reflected in familiar places or faces. but when I moved.” “Yes I have heard that. the perfect relationship according to my friends.“Yes.” “I’m not sure. complete relationship. You have the benefit of experience. of course you would remember. too. 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. 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.
It is important to eat it while it is still hot. Sometimes people have to work harder at their relationship than we did. We would often leave parties early in order to be together longer.” “Of course I’m angry who would not be? I mean we were the perfect couple. On the romantic front we were totally compatible and even in the days before Steven left. Even thirteen months after we met.” “No.” bbb It was at this point that the waiter arrived with the main course. not always.” “Yes. We were sexually compatible. I don’t think so. “Please begin.to me except to say that it cannot even explain it to himself.” Page 75 .” “I think that you are angry. and accidental touch can make us both respond like the first time we touched. this time. at least my friends have had other experiences. there are the signs.” “He was your first lover I see. how did you know?” “Oh. He and Estelle fussed over the plates and the wine. our relationship was still as responsive as ever. Whatever that means.” “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. a red.” “But surely that goes without saying at your age.
There is an unusual combination there. Naomi slowed down and. when she was almost done. Estelle changed the subject.” bbb It was at this point that the discussion turned again to the topic of Steven. I have a job in the government as a junior policy writer. I have interrogated Michel but it is of no use. Naomi felt a little ashamed of the exuberance of her appetite but she hated to see so much good food go to waste. 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. she pretended that she had enough and carefully crossed her knife over the downturned fork.” When I was younger.As was her fashion Naomi dug in. She sipped a little more wine and began to be quite talkative. It seems suddenly important to Naomi that she impress on this woman the perfection of her relationship with him. very delicate something I’ve never had before. the job?” “Yes of course. her own plate almost untouched in front of her. she became aware that Estelle was watching her with amusement. enjoying each mouthful more than the last. I have been too engrossed in my Page 76 . “You have of course. “That was delicious. I don’t know. I wrote poetry and I enjoyed that. but it’s nothing creative. He is a chef who likes to keep his little secrets.” “Yes I am not sure myself what it is. About half-way through. Indeed she was grateful for the interruption. eating efficiently. But I have not done much writing except at my job. She concentrated her attention on dispatching the food in front of her efficiently. there was something.
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
just ordinary. no longer pictures in books or movies. I wandered around in a kind of trance. Of course I’d seen pictures of it all my life especially in my history textbooks but somehow. again. It was as if my mind could not grasp it all. suddenly appearing before us as real as we are. And I could certainly see what has attracted people for generations. And yet. “And then there are rooms upon rooms of all these precious works of art. history brought to life -.” Estelle laughed.staring at me in the face almost as soon as I got through the door. I guess I never thought it really existed. It has an aura that reproduction cannot convey. and it became ordinary – millions of dollars per room. 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. that it was almost too much. the mysterious lady. And then there was the Mona Lisa. It is just her and a dark background of mountains. Tell me what did you think of her?” “There. I had seen dozens and dozens of reproductions of her everywhere. even in advertisements. “Yes. I was struck by its reality.” bbb Page 80 . there was something to be said for the real thing. There are no points of reference. It is as if wandering through Holland.” “And what was that?” “I guess it is the smile. It is difficult to see what she is smiling at. I chanced upon the little boy with his tired finger in a centuries-old dike.
or as I care to think. something which responds to their own interests and needs. like an ink-blot test?” “Yes. I guess what she means to me is aloofness. To me. I think that is true. many people have tried to explain the mystery of her and have not been very successful. Hautaine. it is that enigmatic smile. tell me what the lady means to you. there was a certain aloofness.” “Now that’s an interesting thought. That is why it continues to enchant us. For example. “Yes.“Yes. I think so.” “How is that?” bbb Page 81 . Hautaine means aloof? Yes. but maybe detachment is a better word. I think no one has found the reason for it. would you say? Or even arrogant?” “No. Because there is nothing else in the painting to give us clues. All of them have been successful. all of them have been successful. Do you understand what that means?” “Yes. not arrogance because she seems to have a fine sense of humanity.” “Well. I think it may have to do with what is called the war of the sexes. it seems that she is thinking to herself about something and finding it a little funny and that is the reason for her smile. Do you mean that everyone sees in her something different. because she is alone and the one painting her is a man. to a large extent. something personal. It is the mystery.
” “In a sense.” bbb “But it does not matter what the real woman was like. confident. the secret is in the laughing smile that reaches the eyes. quietly joyful. unable to hide her wisdom. That is why I had no doubt that viewing the Mona Lisa would be one of the first stops on your Page 82 . I believe that da Vinci used her to show us this Eternal Woman: strong.” “The Eternal Woman. not being coy. da Vinci’s interpretation of her. was a woman -.eternal woman -. I think I can see that. I got a reproduction and will look at it more closely when I return to my room. as your Monsieur Shakespeare has pointed out.” “And I think your Mother saw much the same as I did. there is still the playing of the Game of Life -. she is la Femme Éternelle. nothing in life is serious -.the game that men play with women and women with men.” “Wow! Now I really want to get back to my room.knowing. Even with these two people in a kind of client/artist relationship. captured but yet never captured. And Mona Lisa is aware of this. 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.it’s all a play. This is the knowledge that she holds. that lifts her from the day-to-day world with the altitude she needs to be on the neutral. sure of herself.“To me.” “Yes. but forever knowing and understanding life’s short game. Or at least. In that moment captured in da Vinci’s brush stroke. that makes her smile.
. I have put myself in a difficulty most embarrassing. I did not know it was a secret. for your mother.” “My name? What about my name?” “Oh. But perhaps. I don’t know how that came about.” “What are you talking about? What about my name?” “I suppose now that I have begun. I mean. I thought your mother would have told you well before now. . you are certainly old enough to now about your beginnings. earlier you mentioned that of course I would be interested in the Mona Lisa.perhaps I am being indiscrète. it is still a painful subject. now. a secret to you. at least. . yes it is. your mother did not wish to call you Naomi. that you would have wanted to see her. and then all of that confusion about your name. the Mona Lisa was so important to her. . oui? I see that there is nothing left to be done but to explain.Parisian visit.” Page 83 . altogether in all innocence -. although I never use it. I regret . To me. Tell me is your second name still Lisa?” “Yes.” bbb “My mother? What do you mean? That reminds me. . Or. Naomi. especially at the moment of your birth. but I was so sure that your mother would have . I just assumed that your mother . it is not to be believed. when you were born. non? I did not know. Why would you say that?” “Oh.you will reassure your mother of my innocence. . So painful. after 24 years.
Please forgive me. Frankly. Perhaps I am not phrasing this properly. They say – I do not know this myself from personal experience – that such things can strangely affect pregnant women. you know. That is why I was so sure she would have told you about your beginnings.” “I think I understand some of what you mean. 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. well. Les emotions. and in a strange place.“Yes. you know. 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. perhaps she was affected even more because she was pregnant. she had decided to call you Mona Lisa. That is one of the things I now see more clearly. I will say a few things. you see. I saw you when you were born and I talked to your mother then. It’s funny. too. You understand that it was something about her own need rather than yours. are very sensitive about that time. She felt lost in her motherhood I think. and you were a girl. Your Mother then had just seen the Mona Lisa and when you were born.” “What beginnings? What are you talking about?” “Well. 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. your mother. that discussion had more of an effect on me that I realized. 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.” bbb Page 84 .
That is done. present and future perhaps as strong as the bonds of the flesh. Naomi said that she would take care of it but she was closed out completely. She gave Naomi written directions to various places she had enjoyed. Despite her protests.” bbb Then although Naomi had not seen any signal. There are connections between things past.“Well.” That was the end of any in-depth conversation for that evening and they fell again into discussing tourist attractions with Estelle giving Naomi some suggestions about places to see while she was in Paris. Naomi sat back. out-of-the-way places. she gave her the names of restaurants and the names of the Maître D’s. Page 85 .” Naomi laughed nervously.” “Yes. Are you ready? I have asked that two taxis be called to take us to our destinations. enjoying the moment. That is an interesting way of description. the waiter came up to Estelle with the bill. I have said enough. I think it is best for you to speak to your Mother yourself about it. “There. In some cases.” “My psychic roots. Estelle and the waiter were lost in a well-rehearsed dance of the payment of the bill.
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” “I suppose. I have finished with that. You see.” “She said many things.” “Oh. But it was an excellent lesson for you. There are connections that are difficult to explain. Also I think you found it surprising that such a young one could teach you about the life. Also. Tonight was just one such meeting. Perhaps now you will listen a little more to me when I explain things to you. 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 -. Saw and heard. I met that little one tonight.that there are. Gremlin. moving from one generation to the other. You know I have left all that behind.not only the physical roots -. I did. She started me to think about these psychic roots–ideas being transmitted through ourselves or perhaps somehow through the atmosphere like Page 88 .“G 1 remlin. that meeting with Naomi showed you what relationships there could be between people. They are like electrical impulses which are activated when soul meets soul. yes. I do not think she realized that she was teaching me. that you learned something tonight from that child. you are again getting religious on me. old lady. Were you there? Did you see her?” “Yes.” “Yes. I think. She is concerned with her own problems. although I think I did tell her. Let us not talk about souls. It was what the girl said that interested me. Let us leave that to the priests and the nuns of my youth.
not down to up? But building up slowly a little bit each time. 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.” “Excellent! Old Lady. It would have to be much faster. I just now realized that. with a wide base that slowly but suddenly reaches its apex. overall though. I went on pursuing or repeating the same action. I think there is a pattern superimposed on cloths of different colors but of the same quality. You are no longer lost in the contemplation of the exquisite color and workmanship of the fringe. has been a kind of succession of experiences. And I realize that I do not know the theme of my life. The experiences are different. My life. then. I realize. fooling myself that I was progressing. 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. If I were to write an autobiography. There seems to have been some kind of lesson that I failed to learn from the very beginning. Yes. Ah! That. I would not know how to tell my story. side to side. You have finally given yourself over to the vital task of the aged. instead. You are finally doing that which is most useful to you. You understand. always at that lower level. moving on. but in the consecutive pattern rather like a pyramid. one beside the other. of the dying (and we are all in the process of our 1 Page 89 . You are rolling out your life and looking at it and beginning to see the patterns there.genes through bodies but probably faster. Yes. overlapping. excellent! You have finally arrived at this point.
Most people have enough to do. 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. At first. The task of seeing and solving the puzzle. the emotions etc… They must drink and feel the life of being course through their veins. If you were further advanced. you could stand and observe this reality and become aware of the pattern but that is not possible for everyone. I do hope she gets the information she requires from the only person who can give it to her. now you have lost me. Most people must live in the pattern and be the doer. They must use their bodies as finely tuned instruments of living.” “The mother?” Page 90 . Few can live in it and stand beside it and be both the Doer and the Observer. after a little exercise. They must also exercise their minds to full potential and so on and so on with the intuition. of joy. patterns are seen involving a short lifecycle. again with the religion! Gremlin. or a job.own deaths). Sometimes the very coursing of life awakens them. the senses. this facility extends to larger and yet larger things until the patterns are seen with respect to soul and destiny infinity and eternity. being themselves locked in physical bodies experiencing the depths of human experience through all layers. of deciphering the pattern out of the beauty of varied colors and forms. awakens them to the pattern in all things and the connections between patterns. Let me get back to what the young girl said yesterday at the restaurant.” 1 “Bien non. or a relationship.
However. It surprised me that she did not know.” “And. How was I to know she did not know? No Gremlin. It was only while I spoke to her that I realized just how much that meeting with her mother had also affected me.” “How is that?” “Well. that is not what affected me most. her mother. that white hospital room.the action that is and yet that continues itself. I guess I got a look at what infinity might mean.“Yes. you are ridiculous. too. I could see quite clearly the mother and the child of 24 years ago. I saw a woman who was becoming older.” 1 “What do you mean? Who else could tell her? Not I. although I did in fact reveal that which I think I should not have revealed. Do you understand?” “Yes. Cause and effect together in one moment yet separated by many years -. in a way. as I was sitting there. This is true. perhaps. while also seeing before me in the flash the results of that hospital day. It is not something I was conscious of at the time nor have I thought about it much ever since. that something seemed to awaken in me.” “Something?” “Yes. It was by reviewing the scene in my mind yesterday.” Page 91 .” “Well.
Further. That also passed. always by an accident that was not really accidental. I do remember though that there were Page 92 .” “And if you are correct? What of it? I find you cruel. I was able to fool many people. even then?” “Yes. if I remember. You were leading a bit of a double life. 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. old lady. Somewhat. then.” “Yes. you had a very young lover whom you kept somewhat hidden from your other friends. They all found out soon enough. you had some fear even then. however. I saw my face. If I remember. young as you pretended to be.” “I would say not. I was. better people even than you hardheaded Gremlin. of growing old. Do you remember Gremlin? Were you with me. As I saw the scene in my mind and heard that young child who was newly a mother speak. It was almost a halfcentury old but my age was not on my face as it is now. You still have your young men. but not totally.“Becoming?“ 1 “Well. Let me continue. I began to remember what had been happening to me then. Instead of meeting them in boudoir. It was a kind of sickness that I had for a little while this madness for young men. you meet them in the university. I was with you then and always will be although you were not as aware of me.
a good friend of my youth and of my middle-age. I want you to know Gremlin.” “Before you became immune to love?” “Yes.” 1 “Yes.” “What stopped you then?” “What stopped me then was.” “And loved you still the same?” “Gremlin. Yes that was a surprise to me. before. the baby Naomi. Page 93 . At any rate. when I was still naïve. he knew me better sometimes I think that I knew myself. Alfred thought that I had perhaps slowed down a little and would be ready for him. You see. too demanding. that I did seriously consider his proposal and under other circumstances I might have acceded. I do! He is that good friend of your youth. to me. He was a good friend who was with me most of my life. that love was too overwhelming. Did you know he asked me to marry him? In fact. You see. I was thinking about the proposal when I went to see the baby Naomi. You must remember also Alfred do you?” “Yes. Gremlin. he knew me when I was still young. in part.. But. At the same time it felt reassuring.those young men but it is not of them I speak.. before life took away my innocence. Alfred was not like the other men. be serious. although again I find that to be too severe a judgment. comforting. perhaps you are right. the lovers who have moved in and out of my life. He loved me still the same.
I do not like uncontrolled things. To me she was an aristocrat. I had much time to think about Alfred and what I might do. horrified me. She could even control the tenderest of feelings towards another human being. I was afraid. He used that to entice me into a marriage with him. the image of the Mona Lisa came frequently to me you see.like a soft feather bed in my grandmother’s house. I need to be free. You loved Alfred and were afraid that meant you would become vulnerable. It is exhausting to talk to you. he knew my real age. I cannot be caged. She was someone who could control her life absolutely.” “Yes.” “You were afraid. In that week. I admire that. perhaps. I do feel the need always to be in control. and I could not wait to leave the room.” Yes. It is strange but I remember now. not be able to control. Gremlin you always get to the point too fast. You see. Yes. that too. and in that vulnerability. that in the weeks that followed. What else could it be?” “It could be fear of losing control. of happiness I suppose. You understand.” “Of happiness?” 1 “Oh. It appeared to me to be like a cage. like you. I think I was about to accede when I went to visit that hospital room. It was just that the idea of marriage seems suddenly so suffocating. I Page 94 . I was too old then to have children. What she said about the Mona Lisa and her feelings on motherhood terrified me. And I could feel my age creep up upon me.
And he married another and I lost a good friend. I will leave. gremlin that is too much.” “Now. I decided that I could not open myself to what Alfred was offering me. And it is getting late.” 1 Page 95 . old lady. I am under your control.envy that. it is getting late.” “Yes Gremlin. Leave me now I have much thinking to do.” “Always. Alfred was the small exception. I think you chose them because you did not love them. In all your other relationships. 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. you always had control. I do think I begin to see what you meant when you talked about patterns.” Quote. when you ask it.
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There were no trees no vegetation. The road was a little to the right of the tree and bypassed it. She felt herself being pulled into the dream into the dancing trio. Page 98 . Ah! A familiar place! There was a tree. so. which now seemed at least twenty inches thick. There was no other way to explain it. No one was sitting on the seat. Resisting the temptation to move forward to the tree. no flowers of any kind. she stopped to watch the children dancing. She gave in and fell back into the heaviness swirling. down the path and then down the little hill. Around that. a kind of large. She was caught up in swirls and swirls of dreams enveloping her. swirling. There was a little hill but it was a nondescript gray-brown. Instead. but not an oak tree. catching her inert body and pressing it back to sleep. As she awoke. 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. toward the roots. She was too sleepy to resist. three people – perhaps they were children – danced around and around. They were so gay and happy! In her dream. she felt heavy – lost below the ticking of the mattress. she continued past the tree. no animals. gnarled oak tree. and finally reaching her destination. She went a little way until she became conscious of the nothingness around her. Naomi walked toward the tree. or back to a conscious state. was that kind of circular seat that surrounded it like a wooden tutu.N 5 aomi slept well during her second night in Paris.
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 stood and watched the children quite satisfied with being the observer. That thought though. It is not Page 99 . she thought. at least. was colorful and real. 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. making it a foursome. Then again she felt that irresistible urge to join them. actually she was pulled backwards until she reached the tree again. As she became one of them. came the joy in waves and washed through their bodies. especially this kind of joy. For some reason. she wasn’t able to see their faces. lasted only an instant because almost immediately. she realized that they were not children. Their connection through their clasped hands spread the joy and intensified it at the same time. There is no reason. she became immersed in an overwhelming feeling of joy. She turned back. perhaps because they were going too fast. Without thinking.She might have been in the middle of the desert except for the fact that there was no sand. 5 That scene. It was indescribable. And joyful. Joy. is a great gift to receive. Naomi felt that she was not only one of the people dancing there but all of the people at the same time. She was one of the group and the whole group at the same time. she moved as if on wheels and joined the trio. nor logic to it. But that was all right because she felt no need to describe it. Even from the root system under the earth. The joy seemed to come from the tree in waves straight out from and parallel to the trunk. neither a cause nor an effect.
She felt anchored by the tree. It swells through your body like an ocean swells. she became aware that she was a sleeping body. almost as if the stretching of the 5 Page 100 . not because of a reward. Perhaps not childish -. money or praise or winning. swirling around her only to awaken a few minutes later in the same sleep–drugged body. swirling. Perhaps it was the wine last night but she knew it was much more than that. Slowly. The only way to stop them would be to find the source and it is too deep. It finally washes up in your face and you can’t help smiling despite everything else that is happening. In fact. she felt much like a cat growing more and more lazy and indolent in a sunny window. just because that is what it does.childlike. stretching. unable to break the dream tie to that other world. You feel a little sheepish but still are unable to control the width and brilliance of your smile and unable to control the tears. 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.caused by anything. or satisfaction of the self for a job well done. sudden. It hardly matters because there is little motivation to stop joy except perhaps the guilty feeling of being somewhat silly. 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. while she continued to be perfectly satisfied with her activities of dancing. for no evident reason. It is the kind of joy that comes unbidden. and then turning to find a more comfortable position then settling into a circular sun receptacle. somewhat childish. They come from a source deep within.
Her next thought was the time. Estelle last night had said something about that. her own self. It did not make much sense. and then curled up on her right side clasping the pillow in her arms taking up the space beside her. Her first thought was that she was feeling very good. Consciousness was returning. the palace of French kings in the countryside. the furniture. She could no longer remember what it was Estelle had said that seemed so important a moment ago. She turned back into the covers and closed her eyes. full consciousness coming a little closer to the surface. she could be free. bringing to her self her own individuality. 5 Her half-open eyes took in the sunlight playing on the cover. half–dozing again. her own uniqueness.muscles was undertaken only to better enjoy the indolence of the body. she stretched again. It was as if they both had a new shape to fill. like the beam of sunlight hitting a counterpane. She peeked at her clock. To this exercise. She saw the dust particles dancing in the sunlight. her own state of being different. She stretched again. It was only eight o’clock. compared to how negative and ambivalent she had been feeling the day before. The dust particles seem to be doing just what she was doing: stretching out to fill a new place. and moved in different ways. the life she had left to live was that kind of elastic space. to this shell. the shell of a thing that must be grown into stretched into. exercised. Page 101 . In a sense. She did not have to be anywhere until early afternoon when she had a scheduled trip to Versailles. the carpet. she thought. But she was now fully awake. Like a cat.
Naomi knew then that she now wanted to stay in Paris as much as she had wanted to leave just yesterday. She took a long. or could not have permitted to enter. she was vulnerable enough to revel in it. 5 The state of her body seemed to be affecting her mind. becoming less efficient and more sensual. she arose and went to the bathroom to take a shower. the feeling that all is right with the world. picayune. she felt good in her skin. As the French say. thoughts that before she would not. or was it the other way around? It too seemed more relaxed.She lay back on the bed luxuriating in the feeling of well-being. 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. Naomi didn’t quite know what it meant she knew only that it was somehow related to freedom. She laughed at the expression and thought how her Aunt Mary would have liked that expression. Knowing why seemed unimportant incidental. feeling the pin pricks on her nakedness and following them with her hands. almost as if certain barriers were down now such that random thoughts could enter. Slowly. She was satisfied only to feel. her hands massaged each little spot ‘hurt’ Page 102 . Although she had no idea why she felt so good. hot shower. Whole lives could pass through. 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. No longer able to tolerate the inactivity of her body.
she permitted herself to soap her body. then up again between them and down the sides and under. She preferred the smooth slick feeling of the wet soap over her slippery skin. Page 103 . the nipples seeking out the touch she was deliciously delaying. squinting as the suds ran into her face and then rinsed and rinsed until she was satisfied her hair was as clean as it could be. She stopped momentarily to wash her hair. using too much shampoo. She particularly liked the roundness her shoulders made. over and over her body. where bone could be felt below the thin soft padding and the smooth skin. acutely aware of every shower water prick. She abandoned the washcloth as too rough. awakening the few places that had not yet been awakened by her previous touching and by the spray. She turned her back to the spray and soaped up both of her hands and playing them around and around her breasts. First. She washed her hair three times. soothing area after area of her body as she stopped the spray for a moment and massaged. pushing up then letting go around and around. Again. She washed. she washed her neck and shoulders. Down her neck and chest. Her breasts and nipples now stood out and away from her chest wall. she over soaped the washcloth. up over the tops and under. 5 Finally. consciously delaying the moment she could go back to soaping her body. purposely missing her nipples again and again. her hands moved.by the spray. squinting her eyes and rinsing and rinsing until her hair squeaked clean.
her hands passed gently over the nipples. holding her breath. her hands gently went as though with a mind of their own. 5 As the nipples became oversensitive from too much friction. instead of moving between them her breasts. 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. she heard her own involuntary intake of breath. wanting Page 104 . until finally one time. the other. she stopped short of it and turned around letting the water fall down her front. She continued the action. no longer as painfully sensitive. Then her hands moved out again over the swell of her hips and stomach and back in again at the dip of her waist. Up and down. Yet again. she was breathing hard and gasping. 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. complementing each other with the sudden surprise of parallel bony structures of rib and hip. soap and other liquids. playing again with herself sometimes missing the nipple and every time she didn’t miss. poised on her desire. as her hands came around and under. she moved her hands. By now. The capacity of giving herself joy being a joy in itself as was the capacity to deny herself the same joy. slowly again. pushing out.She did this as long as she could. Her hands moved up from her feet caressing the insides of her legs coming close to and retreating from her ultimate goal. down her sides and over the stone hard of her ribs and the concave side and smoothness of her waist. now engorged and pinched and wet with water.
she sat down and looked at some of the brochures she had picked up from the desk in Page 105 . While waiting for breakfast. bringing ultimate pleasure and then … release. she gave in. of smoothness and hollows. moving. Her mind. Feeling a little sheepish.the feel of her own skin. slowly. slowly. She then cleaned her face and readied it for the makeup. Circular muscle spasms moving in a circular motion. moving up and down. joyously. fluid. moving through her body consciousness lodged in one place or another. she soaked herself again and efficiently cleaned up the evidence of her sudden unconscious passion. enjoying the feeling of skin and some hair. awakening each place to the ache of wanting to be touched and fondled. Still feeling euphoric. Fullness became pain and finally movement–movement longing for release. point and counterpoint. 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. 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. 5 Finally. of padded places and skin covered bowl. a–it was in staccato. full of sharps and flats. around and around and with her left hand she reached behind herself to the another orifice which smiled and relaxed at her touch. her hands began to tarry again over smooth places. But even as she efficiently rubbed herself with the hotel towel. Release coming in the flood of liquids and gasps from her mouth. moving against her fingers to a familiar and ancient rhythm.
and became more interested in the strange man who could paint a woman who was laughing at him with the process. Page 106 . She remembered that her mother had somewhat ridiculed this suggestion while trying to explain to her that it was ‘just pretend’. 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. 5 Then her eyes fell on the publication she had picked up at the museum. In fact that she had sat in the darkened theater. the Mona Lisa. the woman did not seem real. There seem to be few facts about the model. The fact did not in any way explain the phenomenon of the lady that the book called our Lady of the Renaissance. Her full name was Madonna Lisa. she seemed more like a fictional heroine. She began to leaf through it. Still. separate from the movie. if only for a little while.the lobby when she arrived. she felt that on some in some way the heroine was real. It was a book about the Mona Lisa and its painter. Afterwards she had asked her mother what the heroine was doing now and whether she was still happy. At the time. She also took out the list of names and addresses that still had given her the night before. She thought that the heroine had a life of her own. Naomi had some difficulty in understanding how something that was just pretend seemed so real. she sat for the portrait for four years and was amused with music and jugglers. Naomi remembered once seeing a movie with her mother while she had been still quite young. daughter of a Neapolitan. She’s quickly to the painting of the Mona Lisa. Apparently. or something else.
Naomi could see that it must be difficult to live in reality as a symbol. much to their consternation. others saw in it a blankness born either of mental deficiency or boredom. she felt the warmth of aliveness that still seemed to surround the group of people standing before the portrait Page 107 . They came from the fevered brains and overactive imaginations of writers and poets. and Scarlet O’Hara was not any less real than Katherine Medici. Allied with this boredom was the suggested acute disenchantment and cynicism of middle-age. 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. Some seem to say that the Mona Lisa’s visage and secret smiles. the real and the fictional did not mix together very well. Instead. She felt nothing of vacuity in the portrait. 5 Naomi reacted strongly to that. 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. Still others had no historical connection. there were Figaro and Don Quixote. then again. held a secret cruelty especially against the opposite sex. Hollywood stars were often universal symbols.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. Camille had just as much reality as Josephine. In her mind. in fact.
5 Page 108 . they had mixed in a large dose of humor and joy. but had not been affected negatively at all by it. rather. She had felt that both the artist and his model shared the same knowledge of the inner workings of man’s relationship to man and man’s relationship to woman.yesterday.
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Naomi could only think of one expression to describe her: controlled excitement. savoring each bite. Naomi felt the woman’s joy in the work she was doing. waving her hand trying to attract a taxi. As she waited in the lobby. full of energy and curiosity. Underneath that hard and managed exterior. a moving impression of a fashionable woman. a mask through which her native enthusiasm broke through for those who stopped to look. she supposed. At the same time. she felt her curiosity rise within her as she gazed at the passersby. as she strolled across the lobby and waited impatiently outside. with good old American chutzpah. she dressed quickly but carefully. savoring even the texture and the look of the food on the plate. Clearly though. there was that mask of control. whom to see. Page 111 . The woman was a stereotype. She imagined that one particular woman was there on business as a buyer for an American company. She ate leisurely and with relish. She felt exhilarated.B 33 reakfast arrived and Naomi realized how hungry she was. her excitement about the tasks she was about to accomplish. and boredom. her hurry in getting to it and getting it done. wondering what business or pleasure brought them to Paris and what they were here to do. She even had that vacant look that models and fashion magazine pages have. it was just a mask. She quite literally looked as if she had stepped out of the pages of Vogue. those pages devoted to what the best–dressed career woman is now wearing. left the room and went down to wait for the bus that would take her to Versailles. It had something to do. Afterward.
Naomi had never seen such richness. The Guide led them to the Château. keeping up her commentary. The guide explained that in those days. Finally. a guide kept up a running commentary in English of the countryside and the history of the Château. They all got on the bus and sat in separate isolation. Louis the XIV who took what was a hunting lodge and transformed it into this monument to the history of France. Hats were not useful accessories to pack in modern luggage and carried on modern airplanes. They then arrived at the Château. Naomi wanted to hear as much as possible and worked herself as close to the guide as possible. Naomi was just as glad because she wanted to be alone and had not noticed anyone who particularly interested her. 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. 33 If the outside has seemed imposing. the individual rooms were equally imposing. Just like in the Louvre. Naomi’s favourite room was the Queen’s bed chamber. On the way to the place. Probably to keep their wigs straight thought Naomi. She was surprised at how small the beds were. people did not lie down in bed but rather sat up. Naomi became numbed to the splendour around her in Page 112 . It was much larger than Naomi had thought it would be. Naomi figured she must have bought the hat in Paris. 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). It was a dream place in gold and white. already half-full. It was the great French King.
one grander and more opulent than the next and each one steeped in the history of France. get a snack and return to the bus. The last room to be seen was the Hall of Mirrors. As her hand moved towards her hair she looked again at herself poised in the action at if time had suddenly stopped.room after room. She would have had a lot of difficulty living the stultifying life of the Court. Once again. The whole layout of the palace area was so great that it almost dwarfed the palace itself. they are almost impossible to ignore. she looked. the image of someone she knew but not very 33 Page 113 . Funny thing about mirrors. too tired and too overwhelmed with luxury and beauty to react to it. Her first reaction was to straighten her slumped-over shoulders and brush her hair back with her hand. She looked across and saw herself reflected there and then her reflection was reflected back to her. Naomi was glad she belonged to a different century. Then. The other persons on the tour sort of shuffled through the hall without paying much attention to what was going on around them. Naomi certainly could not. then the reflections’ reflection and so on and so on. most of them went on in search of refreshments or to photograph the magnificent gardens. it was as if she saw an illusion. Naomi decided to stay right where she was and was idly gazing through the brochure she had been handed at the door. 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. as opulent as it was. The guide left them there and said that they had one hour to see the Hall and the gardens.
the child who was supposed to be her. a familiar question rose to her consciousness. the link is made. Like the snake that sleeps in the snake charmer’s basket. She turned and looked into the mirror again.well. whose face was somewhat familiar but whom she could not quite place. she would look and somehow recognize a stranger. She wanted to run away but seemed rooted to the spot staring at the familiar stranger in the mirrors. fascinated. Perhaps they went to the same grade school together but were not in the same class. familiar things seemed strange and strange things became familiar. and start going backward in time from college to high school to grade school. The stranger that she knew somewhat. Page 114 . 33 It was like meeting a casual acquaintance in unusual place. he or she looked vaguely familiar. Somewhere along the way. She would sometimes look at the child in those old photos. That is how Naomi now felt about the image reflected back to her 1000 times off the walls. They go through the usual work situations. It was like looking at old photographs of herself in an album. So she got up and walked to the end of the hall but could not shake the feeling. Looking at a mirror and not recognising herself in the multiple images seemed logical on such a day. clubs. Each one asks the other if they have not met before. She preferred to have it sleep in its basket and it usually did except on days like today when she was more aware. Sometimes the link is never made and one of life’s delicious little puzzles remains unsolved. especially those old-school photographs.
Then the next stop was the fishmonger. Their next stop usually was the fruit and vegetable store in the wintertime and the farmers’ stalls in the summertime. She looked at her eyes or nose and they were blessedly familiar as were her other parts taken individually. She and Steven liked to choose their food very carefully and usually went down to the farmers’ market. the next stop was the bakery where they stocked up for the week on different types of Page 115 . This was Naomi’s department. as a good client. trying to find some recognition there. He was very choosy about the cuts of meat and. received good service from the butcher. From there. when she stepped back and looked at the composite. She peered into the familiar eyes reflected back to her and asked the question: again “who are you?” And inwardly. her mouth her chin. “who are you?” And “who am I?” 33 She moved closer to one of the mirrors and stared closely at her face. that thought triggered her memory bank. Naomi enjoyed Saturday morning shopping. Their first stop was the butcher and this was Steven’s department.A voice inside herself cried out. However. she asked another question: and are you the girl who three weeks ago lay in Steven’s arms?” As might have been expected. They were a good match in that way. it was not at all familiar. The meat cost a little more than a grocery store. scream the question. but Steven was convinced it was well worth it. Steven liked to think he was a gourmet cook and Naomi like to try new things.
as soon as their naked bodies touched. This morning. She sat on one of the benches near a bed of unusual flowers she did not recognize and let the memories flood over her. Normally. not conscious of his awakening. they were not finished. Naomi was settled in the crook of his arm. At first. they had started out earlier than usual and had less to buy. Naomi left the hall of mirrors and went out toward the garden. she saw no one. though. As usual. rolls. Neither of them was very hungry. Even then. Still. Steven’s hand moved from her upper arm lower and lower still and the comfortable patting became and ever more urgent fondling. the grocery shopping was not finished. a closeness that they enjoyed before drifting off to sleep. it was just a cuddly fondness. they were not finished their shopping at lunchtime. Half asleep. her head on his shoulder as his hand rubbed her upper arm her hand lay quietly on his chest. Before Page 116 . for that they went to the supermarket. At first. It had been an unusually hot day. They both felt tired and decided to have a nap before lunch. It was shortly after noon when they returned that last Saturday. 33 Naomi was now powerless to stop the onslaught of memories. not all spring weather. There was yet paper products and cleaning products. 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. having lunch was a nice break in the Saturday routine. and desserts. though.bread. Steven crowded out all other thought. all thought of sleep vanished.
33 Steven sighed. Low moans escaped as she moved against his hands with increasing urgency until her body became stiff with her first climax. the hot hand was no longer going up. gently Page 117 . She forgot about her own hand and was lost in the sensations the ripples of passion caused by Steven’s hands. moving around it around. His mouth still on one breast. His mouth then moved down to one breast. knowing touch. he moved his mouth over her other nipple. He covered her face and mouth with kisses. Naomi laid back to enjoy the sensation of being pleasured. Steven though. 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. It stayed below her waist it sloped circular motion awakening her body. He moved over her but not on top of her. already moist. As he felt Naomi beginning to awaken again to his touch. pausing a little over the breast and back down and over to her posterior. down again. his hand moved to the lips of her vagina. hardly skipped a beat as he moved his hand again to her breast pinching and turning the nipple as he pulled slowly clockwise. Her body stretched and began to move in harmony with the familiar. then counter clockwise. Soon. one hand to the other breast. She collapsed and lay back again suddenly numb to what was going on. fumbling there a little longer. fondling and massaging it as her squirming grew and her breath came in short bursts.either of them knew what was happening. His other hand moved to her breasts until she began to wriggle under his touch.
moving in with two fingers. back and forth. It was her turn now. moving and biting before moving away and blowing on the wet nipple. moved into her vagina. circling inside his thumb on her clitoris as he turned and lifted his hand to move out again. the touch became irritating on her overly sensitive body. which moved in concert with her hand. This time. her body moving against it in the inevitable orgasm. She wound her hand around. Again she rested. Her hand moved lower and fondled the double hardness growing there and up again. his hand moved inside her vagina.sucking. She held the lovely penis and felt it move against her hand 33 Page 118 . His other hand moved still around the other breast. Her hands moved over his body. On one pass. down his legs and up again. Not yet fully erect. As Steven groaned she allowed her hand to brush over his penis. the pleasure between her legs was almost pain so that the feelings on her breast became almost annoying as she wanted to place her full concentration on that other delicious spot. She took his hands away from her body and pushed him gently onto his back on the bed. she pushed his mouth away. and then out and in again with three. lost somewhere while Steven continued the play of hands and lips across face and neck breasts and stomach. he moved one finger in and around again. Steven’s hand sought it out. She whimpered and closed her thighs against his hand. And as she cried out at the intensity. over her sensitive clitoris. Both sensations proved too much for Naomi in the midst of her moans and writhing. the next time. it grew larger in her hand. narrowly missing his penis each time. enjoying its smooth soft silkiness.
As she passed by Steven she bent over to give them a friendly kiss. He pulled her down on his lap.as if it had a will of its own as it grew. opened a bottle of wine. moving forward with her breast almost touching his mouth and back almost until the penis slipped out. Alerted by the changes in Steven’s moans. over and over again until she felt Steven explode inside of her as her own peak was reached. took out some French bread and some cheese and munched away. quickly with a strong thrust. As soon as his mouth touched her breast she felt her passion rise. He undid the housecoat but kept it on. They lay exhausted on the bed and fell asleep and slept for two hours and woke up all warm and receptive. Naomi then got up to make coffee. They realized. tilting her back. It was a Page 119 . Like a child sucking on a popsicle. 33 Fondling his testicles. just how hungry they were. He tilted her forward until her breast were freed. 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. holding it gently in her mouth as she sucked and pulled. They went into the kitchen. his hand found her bare breast inside the silky housecoat. she moved her mouth against the penis. moving against him. down its sensitive side and back up to the head. Her lips moved of their own accord and lingered on his. at the same time. she rose and sat on top of him. she derived as much pleasure from the sucking and licking and especially feeling the penis growing ever harder in her mouth. His teeth closed over its firmness as he playfully chewed and pulled it.
she groaned and moved against him and he let himself be led away with her passion. blow until Naomi became lost in the sensations of her body. 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. “Didn’t you have an orgasm?” “No. He resisted and parting his bathrobe away from his penis now perpendicular to his body. 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. she slumped against him. feeding on each other and feeding her passion. When she felt that. rose to meet the touch. Her eyes were closed. Knowing her passion so well.melody of such. Still dressed. his mouth catching her nipple once more. She saw his actions in her imagination and got mixed up with the images of the passion just shared. She sat on him. she got up and took his hand and pulled him towards the carpet. 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. establishing a rhythm so well orchestrated Page 120 . Spent. Her body seemed to have an infinite capacity for pleasure. Those parts. lick.” As she had done just moments before. The images move together. She suddenly became aware of his warm kisses. The carpet. Not yet.
Well that was one Saturday. lost in her own passion. please. Steven walked in the door about 15 minutes after she had arrived. until his own passion moving against it made it impossible to keep the contact they move together towards orgasm. she felt strangely empty. so wild. She pulled it towards her and inserted it. I love to see you so passionate. as if someone was watching over her shoulder. waiting to hear from Steven. She immediately sensed there was something different. She had a funny feeling that something was about to happen. fondling herself. When he saw her sitting on the sofa. And it did not wait long to happen. Well. There was no answer. Feeling a little strange. He watched and moved closer to her and whispered: “you are so beautiful. all the while keeping her hands beneath it.” Her hands left to run over his body and reached for his penis.” She was dimly aware of his voice but more aware of her own need. She looked but could not quite place it. he stood transfixed in the middle of his Page 121 . He opened the door with this key. there had not been anyone watching over her shoulder: instead. She mixed herself a scotch on the rocks. She moaned “Steven please. She called out for Steven.that she could no longer tell what was being touched. she sat down with a magazine. Then she moved to the stereo and put on her favourite mood music. The following Tuesday. 33 She cried out and he again moved back against his heels sat and watched as she moved against the carpet. Naomi came home from work and opened her apartment door.
motion the key still out. I’ve been using the time to move my stuff out of the apartment and to figure out how to tell you this.” Naomi listened to him quietly. closed the door. staring at her as if he were surprised to see her there. All she answered was: “Yes. Her mind sought more complicated solutions. Never in her wildest thoughts which he have guessed that he simply wanted to leave. It wanted answers like immovable forces. She remembered very little. Willing her mind. went over to mix himself a drink and sat down opposite her. “Naomi.?” “You don’t seem to understand Naomi. Steven. His training came forward and he recouped himself very well. we’ve got to talk. I did not go to work today. I just came back to explain it to you. She did not understand what he was saying. 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. she wondered what the matter was. I don’t want to be with you anymore. I’m not sure how to do that…” Naomi and no longer remember how she looked or what she said. to focus. “Well. 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 won’t be coming back here. imminent death. and Bora Bora.” he said. almost as if she were waiting for a different punch line. “it’s like this. whirling with all kinds of thoughts. The few things that belong to me are out now.
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?
she did not sleep that first night nor the next three. and when she had left the building after close of business. Naomi did not give up hope. At work. She jumped when the phone rang. She half expected Steven to come and see her there. was particularly jumpy. 10:30 became 11 and 11:30. 12:20… she wasn’t sure what overcame her but she began dialing Steven’s office number and when one of his coworkers answered. Naomi. One particularly bad day. but he did not appear. running. In fact. Perhaps Steven was in a meeting and could not get away to call her. The memories continued to flood in. After Steven left. hold her breath. And every time she heard the elevator in the hall. they were not Steven’s. 11:30 became noon and hope began to fade. she hung on–12:15. she hung up abruptly and left her building. Slowly. she spent three full days expecting Steven to come in at any moment. she almost expected to see him waiting for her in his car. however. As she worked toward the lunch-hour break. she half expected Steven to call because it was Friday and they had always met for lunch on Friday. but still. even when they stopped.N 44 aomi moved out of the Hall of Mirrors and into the gardens. she would stop whatever she was doing. but the footsteps would pass her door. Naomi’s sadness and depression turned to anger toward Steven and his sudden unilateral Page 126 . after another sleepless night. She hardly noticed anything around her. it was the same story.
It was just as well that he was gone. As far as Naomi was concerned. she usually is acceded to these requests and went to the party. he insisted that most of the real business was performed at such Page 127 . in fact. He would become livid at such a suggestion. but she was not really able concentrate. 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. Instead. made no sense. She had finally learned the trick of looking as if she were listening. she almost began enjoying herself. She often asked why he left her like that but he did not seem to think it was the tragedy she felt it was. They had such a great sex life together. She would often suggest to him that she not attend. He explained to her how important it was to his advancement with the company to show stability by bringing the same woman. He had business to talk over with other people. She particularly enjoyed exaggerating Steven’s “faults”. what was missing? In fact. intellectually or emotionally. If he did not bring her. She came to feel that it showed how insensitive he was to her own needs. more than he was prepared to answer. She was used to coming home. it was illogical. she just stopped what she was doing and sat fuming. The other things she didn’t like was the way he would drag her to all of this office parties and abandon her there. having a drink and catching up with herself in peace and quiet.decision. 44 Since she rarely had anything better to do anyway. they would want to know where she was and whether he was still seeing her and there would be altogether too many questions.
sitting up in a chair. When she asked why she could not be with him. He even suggested that she not waste her time with them. Then she had given into this request. And Steven was very proud of her in that role. recipes and the newest books and films. that she had little in common with them and mixing was a real chore for her. There were other things too. She never felt as relaxed or as comfortable. Nevertheless. sometimes revolving around children. She became known as “a good mixer”. hobbies. He insisted that her office parties were “just for fun” and did not serve any useful purpose. 44 Page 128 . she was expected to be able to mix well with the other women. Unfortunately. He added that. a very few questions could keep them talking a very long time without having to give much of herself away at all. but as far as she was concerned. He insisted that beds were for sleeping and if she wanted to read. with most people. she should read in the living room. The thing that bothered her even more was the fact that Steven did not like to reciprocate in kind. pets. She found that. She especially liked to go to bed early with some work from the office or good book and read for two or more hours. anyway. she always felt her time could have been better spent and been more enjoyable staying home and reading a good book. it was never quite the same thing.functions. She usually armed herself with a quick double scotch on the rocks and a list of prepared questions she had used before. because it seemed to bother him so much. rightly or wrongly. he admitted that people would not be able to talk as freely with her there. She liked to read in bed. Naomi felt.
that she realized just how much these things had annoyed her. his wiping his hands on tea towels. 44 Then most of the other time. Not allowing herself any good thoughts about him during the past two weeks. she could have gone with him more Page 129 . 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. leaving his clothes on the floor. 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 the reason for the sacrifice had gone. Naomi. Before Steven. she could not think of anything more relaxing than going to bed early with a good romance novel. when she had been by herself. not cleaning in his bathtub properly etc. she spent not blaming him but blaming herself. the silly things like is not putting the cap back on the toothpaste. 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. She was particularly fond of romance novels. It was only now.The other thing was he felt that she read altogether too much. She could not help thinking that she might have done something to prevent his leaving. And he did not like the material she read. they did not seem so serious. knew that she had to make sacrifices and compromises when living with another person. And. In fact. as these things happened. however.
She did not suppose there was anything she could do about it. Often. Perhaps. The same thing happened at home. (too often. She hated to cook and clean and often forgot to take something out for supper. Sometimes. listening to the same complaints. Something always stopped her. that she had not really tried very hard to meet some of these needs. She was probably doomed to go through life knowing of the many ways in which she should change Page 130 . Nobody would like to hear a complainer 24 hours a day. Even at school when teachers praised her and began to expect certain things from her. cooking. Perhaps it had been more than that. Perhaps. She began having a light lunch so that she could eat with him at dinner. he said) they went out for dinner. 44 She realized too. had she paid more attention to shopping.joyfully. Perhaps. when she saw the solution to a problem she was not able to go toward it. in this case. although she thought she was being honest about her feelings. it was a sense of rebellion. She did not like cooking large meals at night since she was rarely hungry. She did a lot of nagging about these things and perhaps that is what had pushed him away. she was not sure. he had begun to find it tiring. and organizing herself to get it done… the menus a week ahead of time… perhaps if she had taken some cooking courses… but no. there seemed to be a flaw in her character. Other times. her suppers were less than successful. over time. she would find herself rebelling against it. Whenever her mother had expected her to do something. she would stop delivering.
she did so because for the next few days she usually got away with anything. she came upon a group of children playing near a tree. she knew that. There were other things too. When she went to those dreaded parties with Steven. always getting things for other people so that they could make the decisions and evaluate the reports and arrive at conclusions. They were playing tag and running after each other for the pure joy of it. taking her out to dinner. admit to herself that she was not always a very nice person. in her junior position. what ever. perhaps just for the sake of resistance. He left her get away with doing whatever she felt like doing and he was very attentive. not really seeing the beauty around her. the reason (subconscious though it might be). The same thing would probably happen at her job too. She had to be honest with herself. Joy was transferred from them to her and it Page 131 . she would probably have trouble getting ahead and stay where she was. she forgot to take out the meat for supper was simply because she did not feel like cooking it. As she walked and grew more and more depressed.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. calling her up at the office. picking her up after work. She would always do something to turn them away. In fact. as she had done with Steven. The future did look bleak to Naomi as she rose from the bench and started to aimlessly wander through the garden. Without quite knowing what was happening or why.
her mind’s activities continued. 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. not knowing or caring why it came. Perhaps. she should have been more sensitive to his needs. at least. not anything she was prepared to wear. She was selfconscious about her heavy thighs. . he had gone after a string-bikini type. It seemed. Still not quite realizing what was taking place. she would try something new. she preferred plain slacks and sometimes skirts for the office. He did prefer more feminine clothes–softer. which forced her to wear those ugly little bathing suits with skirts. . chic women with up–to–date haircuts and designer dresses. not replacing her depression but sitting quietly next to it. to her. to be growing duller and yet she always resisted doing something with it as had been so often suggested by wellmeaning friends. perhaps he would not have gone away. Page 132 . She had always found it strange that he had loved her or said he loved her and her crooked nose. repulsed him. Not that Steven really complained. As soon as she got home. Maybe if she had dyed her hair a different color. he was just good at hinting. It might have been her clothes.swelled within her. He often would point out. Here tastes were conservative by nature and a little informal. she smiled and welcomed it. Even her party clothes had a uniform quality about them. 44 While the center of her filled with this strange unbidden Joy. Yes. She did not own one piece of designer clothes. Perhaps if she had been more sensitive to his needs. She thought that perhaps it was her imperfect body that had in the end. She was comfortable with it the way it was but perhaps she was wrong.
she had not much personality. dix. still a part of her. which was not locked in her mind with her thoughts. 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. trois. she shocked herself back to here and now and her inadequacies. ears peeking out the bushes and cow licks over a low wall. cinque. she was running with the little boy. And anyway. he/Naomi called out the names of their companions as the children following their knees. her heart beating faster and faster with the waiting. That spark within her moved and joined the little boy who was now leaning against the tree counting un. she thought. waiting for someone to find her. Besides that. without children… Oh yes! The children. experienced the children still playing. ears. She was not attractive enough for someone like Steven. 44 Page 133 . six. without purpose. he/Naomi turned his/her eyes over the scenery in the garden looking for possible hiding places. Or was she too dependent? She thought of her life in the future: lonely and bleak. and elbows moved to the boy by the tree. without companionship. quatre. elbows around the corner of posts. laughing and shouting their joy in the garden and that something within her seem to move out from her and into the small child body. she would never be able to have a full relationship with a man. She obviously was doing something wrong. picking herself up. falling. And then. sept. deux. Joyfully. With a joyful cry.And. Probably. neuf. running to the statue and hiding behind it. huit. . . looking for knees sticking out from under shrubs. she knew she was too independent. stumbling.
He/ Naomi stopped as her eye caught a blade of grass. around the hedge. 44 Page 134 . running cautiously to find the others. the Joy of finding. reaching it just before a little girl did. Naomi. which she mistook for a colored ribbon. raced him to the tree and arrived there first. keeping an eye on every hiding place she had identified at the start. a leaf of the tree. regardless of their nationality. he/she peered between the branches of the bushes and moved further down. sharing not only with the little boy but with all of them. Then he/she was off again in a cautious but rapid movement of all children at this game. with her little boy’s feet. a colorful flower. 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. Cautiously walking. she found a jutting elbow close to the Rose bushes and moved quickly back to the tree.Then he/Naomi left. At once. He/she moved as quickly as possible.
Connections By Suzan Schmekel .
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