Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Episode 17 | Coming from the future

That afternoon, after another marvelous healthy lunch, we worked in the little garden by the swimming pool. Armand had bought several plants when he had been to the bigger islands, but his first attempt on trying to cultivate them himself had been a failure -- they had all died. I thought the problem was the sandy soil, and I proposed him to grow some compost to enrich the earth. He loved my idea -- from classical he had turned into ecological. India had changed him so much, I thought, but the changes seemed to be not over yet.

And I loved his vision -- or more concretely, his plans -- of planting more bushes and flowers all around the house, like a colorful frame to the building he wanted painted white. And he wanted colorful patterns on all textiles too, "to bring the flowers and foliages inside the house", as he put it.

There would be plenty of work for me during the time my friend would be in France. I was excited about it!

Armand had painted some beautiful watercolors showing how he envisioned the garden, the flowers and bushes represented by splashes of different colors on the paper, mingling and creating a circle around the square of the house. He had always been an amazing colourist, perhaps much more than me if I were to be honest, but now he was going beyond his many talents -- and putting them to work.

And that was my main impression about the new Armand, as we walked around the island and he pointed the spots where I was supposed to work at. All that used to be in the realm of ideas and concepts for him was now becoming reality, turned into concrete expressions of the deep transformations he had undergone in the past few years, with the collective revolution in his family, and his personal revolution with the trips to Asia, especially India.

His personal transformation was so inspiring -- more than that, it was contagious! And since Armand had always been the utmost generous person, helping people around him -- and towards me his generosity had been superlative --, he was now integrating me in the most important and positive period of his life!

When Armand went for a nap, and after having slowly wandered around the island, I suddenly felt driven to paint. It had been a long, long time since that last canvas completed in the abandoned factory, that had turned out well, and that I did not want to burn with the others, having given it to the doctor. All that seemed to stand in another life, or someone else's life. Now I wanted to experiment with that glorious light of stark contrasts that bathed the tropics.

I installed my easel right on the beach, and for a while I just stared at the blank canvas, so shiny under the sun that it almost blinded me... Where were the decadent themes I had been working on at the factory? All around me it was Nature in poignant bursts of colors and forms and textures, leaving me in awe.

Later in the afternoon, Armand had approached and for a while just stayed there, silently and contentedly watching me paint, like he had often done in Paris, when I'd bring to our room a canvas I wanted to go on painting after the École had closed. For I was not among the students who would break into the school in the evenings to continue working, or even as it was often told, make love.

"C'est magnifique!" He was suddenly effusive. "I did not want to pressure il signore D'Allegro, but I'm very happy to see that the artist has decided to work again." He applauded.

I was so content! Armand had always been my greatest supporter, and it meant a lot to be painting in his company again, just like it had been so usual for the five years of the École des Beaux-Arts

He had seen it all, and so I asked "What do you think about this, mon cher Armand?"

"Haha, if you hadn't asked, I would have told you anyways..." Armand dismissed his cheerful tone. "Mon cher Carlo," he began, with his rich, silky and sweet voice, "I see you have come a long and beautiful path... The time spent as a hermit, fasting in that abandoned factory, has given your strokes an intensity they did not have. Look, even your posture, standing there before the canvas, has changed! Your chest is broad where it used to be narrow, and your neck is straight up, when it used to curve in anxiety towards the easel. You don't seem to be suffering nor fighting anymore, when you paint. That's a great change, I think, and how this new posture reflects on your paintings! Great things await you, Carlo, I'm sure about that. And I hope your art will profit just as much from the time that you are going to spend on your own on this island."

With his generous heart, Armand soon devised a scheme to turn my paintings into money: he would buy them from me, hang them in the rooms and inform the future guests -- "the European aristocracy, not the backpackers, haha!" -- they were for sale. His guesthouse would then double as an art gallery for my paintings.

And I finally found the courage to unroll and show him the paintings from my Parisian 'hermitage', like he had so elegantly described the abandoned factory where I had starved.

"Mon cher, cher Carlo..." Armand had tears in his eyes. "You must have suffered a lot..." He was impressed with how dark and gloomy my paintings were, and how they focused and acutely portrayed decadence. "They are very impressive, my friend. And surprisingly contemporary! I thought you would never leave the Academy... Seeing this, what would your teachers from the École have said? They would call you a traitor, to say the least! What a glorious, compelling traitor you have become!" It sounded funny that, from his perspective, Armand had always thought I was the conservative one.

He then chose one of the paintings I had brought with me to hang on the wall of his bedroom, 'buying' it from me -- it was his way around the fact that he wanted to pay me for the work I'd do for him in the house, when I actually wanted to pay him for housing me.

We went down for another sunset at the beach, but it was not the same from the past days. Having shown my paintings to Armand had drawn us even nearer -- he had transformed a lot, but in the meantime I hadn't completely frozen like I had thought... I had beautifully evolved, he assured me.

Those were the first days for a new Armand, but for a new Carlo as well. It felt like something was opening -- it was a physical sensation, even, that my chest would broaden and my heart swell whenever I became aware of how far the horizon seemed to be, in the biggest contrast ever to my personal experience of life in the mountains and in Paris.

Yet, it had been my art that apparently stirred something in our relationship, bringing up old accents to our dialogue, and our connection, or re-connection, felt complete again. We hugged, and fell into a pacifying silence.

As we parted, after a couple of minutes, Armand led me into the sea, with a whisper-soft touch that gave me goose bumps. The water was gleaming with the moon shine, and being warm still in the evening, it welcomed and blessed our old, new friendship. I had never dived into the sea at night, and it was even more magical because Armand was there, his presence magnifying each moment and all of my first experiences on the Île du Blanchomme. I thought I'd better not mention to him that, before arriving on the island, I had never swam in the ocean. It was a dream of the mountain boy come true, but I feared he would be the more concerned with those tricky currents that made us continuously watch out, even as we leisurely swam around the perimeter of the Île.

Without any of us mentioning it, I understood that dive was a form of primal baptism for both the prince and the peasant, reborn and set free.

And since Armand had always been so honest and generous with me, I decided to tell him about the apparition. I thought he was anticipating it, for he was clearly expecting something else from me.

"I have something to tell you, mon cher ami... And I don't know how you'll take it..." I introduced the subject as skillfully as I could.

Armand looked at me attentively. His expectant glance was encouraging. And I thought he knew what I was going to talk about, which made that weird confession much easier to me.

"Really?" As I spoke about the apparition, Armand's eyes lost their glow, and in the end he was pointlessly glancing at his own hands. "It must have been one of the children that was unable to incarnate since they have forbidden giving birth on this island." He dismissed it immediately.

"No! It's nothing like that." I was filled with enthusiasm, since I had begun to devise a meaning for the apparition. "It's not a lost soul, not a soul coming from the past. And it doesn't look like a native boy at all! He's very pale, even his hair is white..." As I tried to explain it to Armand, the apparition seemed to make more sense to me. "It's a child with a very antique soul... It's coming from the future to meet me... It's like... This child... He is my future!"

"If you say so..." It was Armand's only comment. By his look of dismay to my mention of the apparition, I immediately knew he had never witnessed anything like it on the island -- and he probably was frustrated because he had been anticipating something much deeper and much broader than that subject.

I was continuously hurting my best friend, though to my defence it must be said I was completely unaware of it.

But I was hurt, too, more than I was worried about his reaction -- or lack of  -- to my story. His apathy to my confession was alarming. There was really something wrong with him.

"I think I'm going to paint a bit more." And I was ready to explain how I had become fond of the night light to work on my paintings, though I had never tried painting under the moonlight, but he didn't seem to have heard me, absorbed by his own feelings.

I just left him sitting by the fire pit. And I don't remember it happening before -- I was mad at Armand!

Author's note: having been imported from a former version of the story, some of the comments below are dated previous to this post. Once the plot has not been altered, just the pagination, I am keeping them since they are very dear and precious to me.


  1. Poor Armand. He was hoping that Carlo's story was about how he felt about him. It must have been really disappointing to hear about some apparition on the beach :( And blind Carlo has no idea that he's hurting him because he can't see how Armand feels and is now mad at him! It's a shame Armand can't come out and openly admit his true feelings towards his friend. Not wanting to pressure him with even the slightest thing it has to be so hard.

    And had Carlo admitted there to Laurent that it was indeed "like father like son"?

    I think that child is a future glimpse of Laurent. It does look like him anyway. But then that means at some point Carlo left the island to become a father, but then returned? :( Hopefully he wasn't living a double life as well with both Catherine and Armand!

    1. Thank you for showing interest in Armand, Daijahv! He really appreciates it!

      This is a very difficult moment for him, and he seems unable to make a choice -- either he opens his heart and comes out to Carlo, expressing his love and being truthful to himself... and risks losing Carlo's friendship, or he keeps his forbidden love in silence, to keep his friend. Will Carlo accept his love? And if not, will Carlo accept his sexuality? No matter what, such a revelation would have an impact on their friendship... Will it survive? It won't remain untouched, for sure.

      Armand invited Carlo to the Île du Blanchomme with the strong determination to come out to him. But now that his friend is actually before him, words don't come so easily... Theirs is a beautiful friendship, with strong and sincere bonds, and both treasure it. What Armand sees is not so much Carlo's blindness for his feelings, but his total confidence and satisfaction in their relationship as it is now. When they hug, for instance, Armand perceives that is the culmination of their brotherhood for Carlo, while he is no longer satisfied... He wishes to caress, not just touch Carlo's body.

      That's what troubles Armand -- should he risk losing what he has, precious, genuine and deep as it is... for something he's not sure Carlo will be able to give him? Does he really think Carlo will make a better lover than a friend? Is it romantic love so much better than friendship in their case? But when Armand looks at Carlo's strong arms, he longs to be nested in them… At the same time he is deeply tormented at this desire, wishing he hadn't these feelings for his best friend.

    2. "at some point Carlo left the island to become a father, but then returned? :( Hopefully he wasn't living a double life as well with both Catherine and Armand!"

      this is a comment coming from another writer (well, they all are :)... this is totally different from what I had envisioned for the plot, but so interesting! It could have been another book! thank you for sharing your ideas!

  2. Their lack of communication is causing hurt on both sides. :(

    Thank you for the wonderful explanation in your reply to Daijahv's comment. It gave me additional insight to Armand's inner conflict.

    1. Carlo and Armand are communicating just on the level they have accustomed themselves to during years of a long and nurturing friendship... Which sufficed for their relationship before, but now there are too many words left unspoken, and emotions left hidden, and they will both suffer as long as they don't create a new channel and new intensity in their communication.

      But this is not so much for Carlo to do -- as he says, he keeps bringing out the sincerity in Armand, which is not spountaneous... So it's up to Armand to overcome his fears and set a new path for their empathy. That's tough on Armand, and he knows it. Often his heart comes up to his throat, blocking the words, bringing tears instead...

      I think I've said it before... maybe someday I'll share Armand's journals so we can have an insight on the deep waters he's been moving for a long time now...

      thank you for reading and commenting, Lily -- it really makes me happy!

    2. I'm a hopeless romantic, so your story is right up my alley. I'm enjoying it so much that I stayed up later than I should've last night to read just one more chapter. :D

  3. I'm having to skip the comments, lest I spoil the storyline for myself :D It's always one step forward and two back with these fellows, isn't it ... the poor dears.

    1. I'd say Carlo and Armand are trying to dance together, but to different songs, of very different rhythms, and then "it's always one step forward and two back".

      They go both through the same day, doing the same things, yet their experiences, and their needs, their longings, their expectations are so different. Let's hope they can harmonize!

      whenever I reply to the comments, I try to avoid spoilers, yet adding more detail to the characters and their feelings, if that is the case.

      But I see your point, here, and I'll try to be even more careful! Thank you!

  4. Oh poor both of them! LOL. It was so sad they became closer through Carlo's paintings, only to be pulled further apart from things gone unspoken. It's too bad Armand was so lost in his own thoughts that he couldn't have a discussion with Carlo about the future boy. I wonder how or if Armand will ever go about telling Carlo... XD

    1. It's the first time they have a grievance in their relationship, and both Carlo and Armand might be lost in their wrong perceptions of the moment the other is going through.

      They have so little time to spend together that it's a pity to see their hearts sinking while they are going apart -- though they will have to resolve this, for they cannot stay away from one another on such a tiny little island, sleeping in the same house and sharing the meals.

      Thank you for reading and commenting, LKSimmer!


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