Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Episode 22 | The trunk and the rock

That evening, there were no ships to be seen anywhere. The vast horizon was calm and dark, a line that could barely be divisible between sea and sky -- to which did the horizon belong, actually? 

With the lights of the house turned off, and the moon not up yet, a myriad of stars seemed to have come closer to Earth. In the past, lying on the grass of Parisian parks looking at the skies, Armand and I had been fond of sharing mythological stories about the constellations. But that night, on the Île du Blanchomme, we chose to remain silent.

For everything else was incredibly still, that evening. Sometimes I doubted Armand's plans of having more flowers on the island to attract insects and birds. Wasn't it uniquely perfect, peaceful and silent the way it was?

"How are you feeling?" I asked Armand, after the night air had refreshed our senses.

"Relieved." He smiled. "What was the name you used on your first day on the island? Renato! That's it, today you can call me 'Renato, the reborn'!"

"Can my Renato be friends to your Renato?" I joked.

"Only if it is... Forever!" Armand had replied, playfully. I did not refuse his touch, when he gently placed his arm over my shoulders, though again I felt those goose bumps that had not been there, in Paris. I then placed my hand on his hips, and after the electricity that ensued again calmed, we leaned against one another.

For a while we remained quietly watching the stars progress across the sky, perhaps waiting for the moon to break the dark blue of the horizon with its silver shine. The ocean, though starting its boundlessness at our feet, sounded distant like a tender murmur, or a fluttering whisper, and seemed to disconnect us from the rest of the planet, the ocean a dark belt of protection pushing reality farther away.

After a while, it was too cool and humid to remain outside, and again we entered the house. We decided to leave it dark as it was, and the candles remained unlighted that evening. Armand's room was illuminated only by the moonlight, that had come out once we left the beach.

"Can I ask you one last question?" I spoke very softly, for that evening had provided us with a very delicate balance between our old friendship and the new feelings of love that now bonded us. Continuously popping into my mind, I met the imaginary figure of someone from Armand's confession, though it was an image without a face, for I had never met the guy. "What about Raymond?"

"Are you trying to find me a boyfriend already, Carlo?" Armand laughed softly. "I just came out to you, and you want to pair me up? Haha!" He was silent for a few moments, and I could hear him gulp before answering. "He is in Bangkok, at the French embassy." He looked out of the room, towards the ocean, as if he knew where Bangkok might lay on the planet. And then he looked at me again. "I wrote him a letter. A confessional missive, that I did not send, guessing diplomats must have their personal correspondence scrutinized." Without parting, his lips gave way to a sad smile. "I just sent a note inviting him to come to the Île du Blanchomme. I don't think he ever will. But most important -- you, Carlo, did come!"

So that's how it had happened, I thought. Should I feel jealous that Armand had written to Raymond first, before finally deciding to send me a letter? Somehow, I did feel less important than the diplomat. But at the same time, despite Armand's frustration, I was happy that the guy had never shown up.

"I'm not sure I have loved Raymond, the way I'm sure... about you. I'm sorry to bring this up again, Carlo..." And I noticed Armand's eyes were full of tears, gleaming in the dark.

Suddenly I thought how unfair it was for someone who could feel such great love, and suffer because of it. To have to apologize for loving. To be punished because of love -- but where did that punishment come from? Who was punishing my friend? Had Armand been punishing himself? How strange to cultivate love and desperation in each moment and at the same time. What would be the offspring if two opposite feelings paired to create a single one? What torments would one feel? Love like a torture, love as shame. How must it have been to have hope and be so helplessly hopeless at the same time?

Armand must have been feeling so lonely, I realized, his mother on a death bed, his father with some other family, and me, his best friend... sitting just across the bed, but ages distant from his longing, as if I were sitting on another planet, a dry trunk fallen dead in front of a heavy, motionless rock.

"Can I give you a hug, Armand?" I murmured, and reached across the bed for him.

"It's alright... I am here for you." I whispered in Armand's ears, as he cried on my shoulder. For a long time I held him tight, nestling him in my arms just like he had confessed he longed for. I wanted to requite his courage, for telling me all that he had. I still recall that hug as perhaps the softest, most tender moment of our whole lives together until then. Slowly, our bodies adjusted to one another, and we lay on the bed, side by side, cuddling. I placed my hand on his chest, and I could feel his heart beating underneath it, gradually calming down, as the blood rushed elsewhere is his body.

I wanted him to know he was no longer unseen, no longer alone, but accepted and loved.

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. As Carlo recounts their past it paints a picture of how they seem so perfectly matched. One having lived an aristocratic lifestyle and know so many different philosphies and cultural differences with the other knowing more about the little things in life. They both bring a lot to their friendship and learn so much from one another!

    It was sweet the way Carlo let Armand down but I don't think it really eased the fears of Armand's rejection any less. :( very sad! That last line was very beautiful!

    1. thank you for your comments, Daijahv, they are precious to me!

      Carlo and Armand... it's beautiful how they've opened to one another during the years, and both lives have been enrichened... They would never have met, were it not for the love of Art they both share... I also think it was love at first sight for Armand, though he was not aware of it at the time...

      With Armand's coming out, there has to be a subtle change in their relationship's harmony and balance, and they are both working on it... Armand with his expectations, Carlo with his limitations, both very carefully taking care not to burden the other, not to hurt the other... It's a new and intricate coreography of acceptance, and I think they are both good dancers :)

  2. What a rich history Carlo and Armand have had together, full of wonderful experiences.

    Their heart-to-heart conversation was very touching. It brought tears to my eyes. You told their story beautifully.

    1. "Because I'd rather suffer with you around than suffer without you, or not suffer at all, Carlo..."

      Their friendship is indeed beautiful, and there has always been a brotherly love between them, though they never actually shared about that.

      Now there is a new sincerity to their words and in their sharings, and they seem to be carefully exploring it... Being as tactful to each other as they can, taking turns talking and listening with their hearts -- and for now, this is how they express their love.

      It's beautiful that, even if he does not reciprocate the desire Armand feels for him, still Carlo wants to assure his best friend that he is loved and accepted. That is love already, isn't it?

  3. I suppose when you don't feel the same, you have to do the best you can to ease the sting. Carlo is a good and considerate friend, and it was kind of him to continue the friendship, even if the love can't bloom.

    1. Carlo feels deep gratitude for Armand and all that he has received from him -- and we have seen a bit of it in this chapter, the loving friendship, the generous support and dedication, their sharings for so many years -- and now, a love declaration.

      Though somewhat perplexed, Carlo feels honoured instead of being scared, and based on the strong roots for their friendship, he can easily accept and embrace his best friend, even if he cannot love him back.

  4. Although it is sad that Carlo is not attracted to Armand, I am happy to see that he is trying to make sure Armand knows he still loves him as a brother. I was glad too, that Armand didn't push Carlo away when Carlo told him what he felt, instead doing the exact opposite and telling him to stay. I enjoyed seeing the two of them together at their days in the Ecole, and how they became friends. :)

    1. Though their friendship might seem odd, for Armand and Carlo not only came from very different backgrounds but were still leading very distinct lives, it is deep and truthful -- or as truthful as they are to themselves.

      And after Armand's coming out, because they did not want to part from one another, they have found a new depth to their relationship -- that of love, romantic from Armand's side, and brotherly as coming from Carlo.

      I don't think Armand was expecting Carlo to fall right away in his arms -- though he might have dreamed of it. And I don't hink he ever thought of making that a condition for Carlo's permanence on the Île du Blanchomme. In fact, he needs Carlo to stay behind and take good care of the island for him -- otherwise, he would have to simply abandon it to go to his mother's deathbed in France.

      This temporary setup is good for both -- but let's see what's comes out of it when Armand returns from France...

      thank you for reading and commenting, LKSimmer!


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