One evening, for the first time I swam naked in the sea.
I recalled the Apennines where, not as often as I'd wish -- for I lived under Tarso's constant surveillance and rigorous rules --, I could swim naked in that lake down the valley, that you know well and have visited yourself, Laurent. But the vastness of my freedom at the Île du Blanchomme was incomparable -- the closest human beings were on the ships of which I only guessed contours or saw the lights across the horizon.
The silence and the solitude inspired me to sit down to meditate more often, and with each passing week I could diligently follow my breath during longer periods of the day, making my daily routine one long meditation session. I lived at peace, lucid, contented, connected to all things.
Meditating was also a way of recalling Armand, my one and only master. And if sometimes I still felt like grieving his absence, I only had to look around to see him in each and every detail of the island. I would not be there, healthy and safe, without him -- or without the love that had motivated him to invite me to join his household.
If I sustained this in depth look on all things around me, I could see all people from my life present in every moment -- I was alive because of each and all of them, from my deceased parents to my grandfather who had raised me, now living isolated in another part of the planet, along with the many causes and circumstances that had brought me to the island -- my teachers, and their teachers, and all the farmers who worked to provide my daily food -- and their families --, enabling me to live day after day. I felt grateful to all of them.
I felt grateful and connected with all beings, contrary to what would have been expected in that deserted island -- even towards the illustrious stranger, Herr Weissmann, in whose house I had found shelter, and that allowed me deliciously long baths -- and in one of them I shaved, a last request by Armand.
"You're far too sexy with this beard, it is so hard to resist..." Armand had laughed when I blushed. "I am wondering how it rubs when you kiss..." After his coming out, he seemed comfortable with flirting, insinuating and amusing himself with me. He finally felt free to talk his heart out. Hadn't he even called me "Mon amour", just seconds before he boarded the boat, leaving those as his last words, fluttering in the breeze towards me?
Now I suspect it must have been the opposite, that he had wanted to kiss me without that beard, which gave me the looks of a beggar.
Actually, he just wanted bad to kiss me, regardless whatever beard, I now knew it.
I couldn't guess the hour I would go to bed. In Europe my best friend had been Orion, the Hunter, but the night skies, turned into the unknown over the Indian Ocean, confused me. I had wanted to talk about it with Armand, for I was sure he would have already get acquainted with the local mythology for the stars, but our scarce time together on the island had been devoted to much more intense matters.
I slept little -- no matter how heavily I worked in the garden, I did it as a meditation too, and I was constantly energized, never feeling tired.
I would wake up in time to watch the moon diving into the sea and, facing the opposite direction, sit still to meditate even before sunrise began.
With Armand's departure, the luminous boy reappeared.
The gap he opened from the future, and through which he came up to meet me inside a cloud of light -- I finally and clearly understood --, was destined to me only...
"Enough of this, Carlo!" I never thought I would one day yell at my father. "Stop fooling me!" I stomped my foot to underline my anger. "You were going to tell me about Armand and Catherine, remember? And now he's gone away from the island, and she hasn't appeared yet, and you bring back that damned little ghost! Soon, vampires and werewolves will show up and we already know what kind of stupid story this is going to be!!" I hissed.
But that outburst of anger and resentment had little to do with the story that was being told, and much more with twenty years of Carlo's absence -- who seemed to know and understand it perfectly, and did not let himself be affected by my strong emotions.
"We'll get to them, Laurent." he replied, serenely. "Didn't you say we had all night?" He looked at me inquiringly, with a bit of irony in the corner of a tired smile. "Honestly, I have no hurry to get to this point you are craving for... And this little ghost that annoys you so much, Laurent..." With a delicate gesture, as if he was amorously painting an invisible canvas placed in front of him, he opened his palm towards me. "He is you!"