Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Episode 19 | A turmoil of feelings

nudity and sex

And immediately I mouthed, "I love you too, Armand."

 Because it was true. Armand was my best friend, like a brother to me; he had always been my greatest supporter, and what I felt towards him was stronger than the fearful respect and the due gratefulness I had always felt towards my grandfather, who'd brought me up. Little did I remember about my parents, and what I felt towards them was a longing mingled with a curiosity of what could have been if they hadn't died when I was a child. I didn't know much about love, but what I felt towards Armand was certainly my deepest and longest experience of... love.

"Mon cher Carlo... Thank you. But maybe we are talking about different feelings here..." Armand was apparently calm, but his heavy breathing denounced otherwise. I realized he had started sweating, tiny drops glistening over his mouth and on the hair on his chest and arms, though the evening was cool. I could only guess the effort involved in such a heartfelt confession. "I can say I loved Irene too, just like you are now saying you love me." He smiled sweetly, as if kindly correcting a child's mistake. "She was a lovely girl whom I admired and respected, whose company I truly enjoyed. But it was with her brother that I fell in love with..." Armand took another deep breath. "I am in love with you, Carlo."

"I guess I've always been in love with you, Carlo." Armand continued in a hurry, not allowing me time to react nor respond. "It was love at first sight. It has survived my own internal struggles, my doubts, my fears. And all the rejection and guilt I have cultivated during these five years, almost six now, that we have known each other. I didn't know my feeling for you was so strong until I saw you again a few days ago, at the port! Now that I'm not burdened with my own prejudice, I could see it so distinctly... My love for you. Pure and sincere as it is, it has carried me through the years, bringing me faith and hope where there would only have been suffering and instability. But to express it clearly in words, like I'm doing now..." Armand used again his breathing technique to find the courage to continue. "Honestly, I still don't know if I am capable of doing it, or if I should be doing it, Carlo..."

"I've experienced a turmoil of feelings since you've arrived, mon ami. And I know you've been sensing it. And I'm aware it has hindered our communication..." Armand glanced at me, expectantly, like he had just before I had told him about the apparition. And I started to understand where his frustration about my 'confession' came from. "You know, I've been sitting by your side all this time, secretly wishing you were in my arms... actually, more like was in your arms..." He smiled as he blushed. "And then, over and over I've been feeling aggravated, and I reacted in ways you probably didn't quite well understand, even if I was trying to hide my frustration. Yes, there has been tension and discomfort these past few days, and I apologize for that."

"I've been questioning myself since your arrival, from the moment I laid eyes on you and love started revolving in me... How can it be love, when it could destroy friendship? How can it be nurturing, when it makes me discontent, longing for more than I've always had, that has always been so satisfying before? I was always happy in your presence, but suddenly... I found myself desiring more. Why can't I be content anymore... with sharing all meals, all moments, all day long, like it has always been, in Paris? When I'm standing close to you... I'm willing to hold you, or to be held by you, to be nestled in your strong arms." Armand seemed to tremble. "And I've lived in fear, these past days... Fearing you'd sense my desires and reject me, fearing I'd never find the courage to tell you, and if I ever did... Right now... I am still fearing... your reaction.... Your rejection."

And my reaction was springing up to my feet.

 It had been overwhelming, to suddenly regard myself as the depositary of such an immense, long lasting love. Too much and too intense in just one gush of words evoking feelings, emotions, expectations. I suddenly felt like I was suffocating in that corner of the house, too close to Armand and to his bedroom. Trapped in that corner of the world, and submitted to a treacherous test. And I considered walking away, going down to the beach, back to my easel and painting the night away.

Startled, Armand sprang to his feet as well, and we bumped our heads. It was funny, and for a moment we laughed. But it was also embarrassing, when we stood with just a few inches separating our bodies, yet already joined in the heat and tension that emanated from them. For the first time to me, our physical proximity, that had always played an important role in our brotherhood, felt disconcerting. I was a new discomfort, and quite acute. Because now, I knew Armand was longing for more than just embracing or cuddling with me.

"I have to go to bed." I mumbled. I suddenly felt so tired, drained of energy, with no courage nor any discernment left.

"You mean... you want to go to bed with me?" Armand giggled, as he brushed his sweaty forearm against the muscles of my abdomen. And a gesture that before would have been left unnoticed was now an invasion, when it sent shivers up and down my spine, that I felt as deep as into my bowels. I felt invaded by his musky, masculine smell, too, that somehow was another declaration of his lust. "Do you want to try it, mon cher Carlo?" 

Having for days believed my friend was crying over his dying mother, over his disintegrating family, over some mysterious disease he might have acquired in Asia, I was now starting to realize my own responsibility in Armand's recent -- and past -- suffering.

Now I could not fool myself anymore. Just like he wasn't fooling himself anymore, nor was he deceiving me any longer. His love, and lust, were open and on offer. And so weren't I to deceive nor fool him anymore. His presence and proximity demanded a response.

Falling silent, Carlo once again concentrated on eating his food, that by now must have been cold. His eyes were vague, his gaze distant, and I realized he was absorbed by the past, lost somewhere in the Indian Ocean -- and it was as if he had again abandoned me, this time at the restaurant, to be once more in Armand's company. 

And wasn't that the same reason why he had left home twenty years ago?, I now wondered.

I was feeling a bit calmer and contented, since the story had now started making sense to me. I was thrilled with the possibility that my father had had a male lover in the past. It seemed so... redeeming to me!

Yet, I observed my mind as it was running fast, and jumping at conclusions as I envisioned one justifiable hypothesis after the other. When had all that happened, exactly? Carlo had said some 30 to 40 years ago -- that was typical of him, his inexactitude with time.  Since I was 33 years old, his affair with Armand -- if there had been an affair -- could not have lasted long, because he must have met Catherine shortly after that. It felt like I was being told a major secret, something that turned the 'Hermit of the Brushes', a nickname given to Carlo by the art critics, into an improbable Don Juan... That was rather unexpected -- I never thought I'd be thrilled about my own father's love life!

next episode

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. I could only stand Juliette's superficial chit chat coming in her nasal voice among a cloud of strong perfumes because I kept in mind the books I wanted to finish.

    ^^ hahaha that made me laugh. It's interesting hearing how his "relationships" were nothing more than monetary obligation on behalf of his father. Of course he could never truly love any of these women because they weren't the right gender plus he'd already given his heart to someone else.

    Armand's confession was beautiful. So raw and full of emotions. I could feel his torture and regret over lost time and at the same time his relief for finally confessing it all to the one he's always loved. I am curious about Carlo's reaction and how he'll treat his friend in the coming days. Already he feels their closeness is uncomfortable. I really hope he doesn't reject poor Armand :(

    1. thank you for reading and commenting, Daijhav! Your insights on the story are so precious to me.

      Armand was very brave to finally come out to Carlo -- yes, the one he loves most, and that made it even harder for him... He has feared so much losing the precious friendship they have for the remote possibility of romance... But coming out is not about that, I think -- a time has arrived when his sadness about the lies he kept telling to his beloved friend was hurting more than his fear of rejection, that he has not totally overcome...

      Carlo has been slow and seemed oblivious to the true reason of Armand's suffering, but Armand did notice Carlo's efforts in digging his sincerity -- but how sincere could Armand actually be with Carlo, how much could he tell his friend... As much as he needed, that's what finally struck him!

      I don't think Carlo will reject Armand -- he is a good soul, very caring of others --, but will he be able to love Armand thoroughly, as Armand dreams of and longs for?

  2. I'm glad Armand has finally felt able to unburden himself to Carlo. What a weight it must be off his shoulders.

    1. When Carlo left Armand sitting alone at the firepit and walked away angrily, it finally dawned upon Armand that his fear of losing Carlo's friendship was already eroding their relationship.

      But still he waited until Carlo came after him -- sometimes Armand is too polite, afraid to invade his best friend's privacy even... And it's so typical of him that he has started his confession by asking Carlo a personal question...

      Surely Armand has lifted a weight off his shoulders, but I think his heart is still heavy... They have always had an intellectual complicity, their friendship being based on happily sharing their different backgrounds (we'll see more of it), that became a bit more personal by the time Armand's family crisis ecloded and there was no way of hiding his feelings and his personal turmoil in the apartment they shared...

      But now their friendship has a new and deep emotinal component... let's see how they both react to this new openness in their relationship...

      thanks for reading and commenting, Lily!!

  3. Ah ... that moment! That moment of telling someone you love them, and having no idea how they might respond! Been there ... and it's like teetering on the edge of a cliff. It changes everything in a relationship, and sometimes you can't undo what it changes. I feel for Armand, so much.

    1. thank you so much for empathizing with Armand, spladoum!

      Being an impeccable host, Armand was really worried as on how to behave to Carlo who, first of all, was his guest on that tiny island lost in the Indian Ocean... I mean, do you invite someone to such a far away place, almost out of reach, to impose your feelings on that person?

      To worsen this moment, Armand had always thought of his love as filthy and unworthy, so that sharing it with Carlo must have been really a scary experience... He was not just sharing his love -- he was coming out to the object of his affection. The fear of being doubly rejected -- his love and his sexuality -- must have been terrifying.

      Yet, he finally did it! Like you say "it changes everything in a relationship, and sometimes you can't undo what it changes". Let's hope for the better for these two, during the few days they have left on the island together!

      And I hope that moment and experience has been a good one to you, spladoum!

      Thank you for reading and commenting!

  4. Awww I was touched by Armand's telling of his story and how he came to find out about his true self. I am glad that he finally decided to stop pretending with those girls, even though it made his father mad. It's sad that Raymond and him never got to be together, although if Armand had always been in love with Carlo, that might have been for the best. It's so sad to hear Armand thought how he felt was filthy. :( No one should ever have to feel like that.

    1. Though still fearing Carlo's reaction -- or simply, rejection --, Armand can now express his love, open his heart and share it in tranquility.

      Because he has understood that others might still think his way of loving is filthy, sinful, abnormal -- but that is the problem of others, of the people who feel -- and fill -- anger in their hearts. Armand feels -- and is filled with -- love.

      That feeling filthy and unworthy was coming from the hatred and intolerance other people, and groups of people, were directing at him -- maybe not personally, but in the form of discourses, jokes, attitudes... Holding prejudice against himself is something he learned from others since he was a child -- but now he knows how to let go of that introjected suffering.

      And what he wants most is to cultivate peace and compassion towards all beings, starting with himself... If he loves, that is so beautiful, and such a blessing! Hatred and intolerance are never a blessing, never good, and he can still feel compassion for the poorly spirited people who have that in their small hearts -- and after a few retreats he dropped the prejudice he had against himself :)

      He doesn't know what to expect from Carlo, though he is his best friend... but by opening his heart he can make peace with himself, and that is already a lot!


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