Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Episode 43 | Return to the 20th century

There was a decision I had been procrastinating. One quiet afternoon, after Catherine had again vomited and was lying in bed, deep asleep from the exhaustion those bursts brought her, I made up my mind. 

I hadn't been meditating any longer, and though my mind was no longer bright and clear, I just had to open my eyes and senses to Nature on the Île du Blanchomme to feel calm. With that new season, storms often swept the horizon -- yet, as the legends proved right, keeping their distance from our Portal Island. On those occasions, a light rain that was barely enough to replenish our water stocks and wet the garden, was all we got on the Île. More frequent than not, sunsets were now hidden behind thick, dark clouds, and days seemed shorter -- it probably was winter in the tropics. The wondrous golden light of past days had been replaced by a more melancholic bronze tone, that rapidly grew into a soothing lavender blue, before becoming silvery when the moon rose. That beauty was enough to pacify my heart and help me think.

How many weeks had gone by in our love idyll? Six, perhaps seven, maybe eight? The boat's irregular schedule didn't help calculating the passing of time, and neither Catherine nor I were concerned with it. But we were running out of provisions on the Île du Blanchomme. I had once gone down to the beach to greet the natives and ask them to bring food the next time they came around -- but maybe because I was not specific, or they did not quite understand me, what they brought was not exactly pleasing nor appealing to Catherine (nor to me, I have to admit), and it was so little that it couldn't have sufficed for a picnic on the beach. 

Though not even in the Apennines had I been a good angler, I tried fishing. At the ocean I was worse, as it was total improvisation for me. And even if I had often encountered plenty schooling of fishes while swimming around the Île, I never caught a single one.

Thus I had finally decided to again face the world outside. In part, for reasons similar to those that, in Paris, had led me to abandon my voluntary exile in the old abandoned factory -- food, health. We needed to buy more groceries or we would soon starve, and secondly, because I was truly concerned with Catherine's vomiting bursts, which seemed to cease at intervals of two, maybe three days, just to start over again. Like her, I had suffered from food poisoning myself, but she had had a heatstroke to complicate the matter. Her complexion was so frail, and I feared she would become weaker and grow seriously ill if that went on much longer.

I had even changed the side of the house I was painting to be far from the office where she spent her days writing and reading. But the smell of fresh paint would also banish her from the kitchen, and almost prevented her from using the bathroom... Finally, I decided to postpone the painting of the house until she was cured -- but to achieve that, we needed to go to a hospital. The booklet that had helped us through her heatstroke listed a series of tropical diseases and some first aids, but I was not the person to try to diagnose her. I could have tried the radio, that I had unplugged and hidden to shelter from the storm -- and it still lied at the bottom of a trunk. Would a doctor be able to diagnose her over the radio, hearing her symptoms and without physical examination? Would that have been possible, or ethical? And if she needed medications, would they be sent with a boat? It was imperative to go to a hospital, I had concluded.  

At first, and maybe because the decision had been mine, Catherine refused it. But when she began to feel weak and malnourished, affecting even her sexual desire and the capacity to concentrate on her readings, she agreed we should go.

Having changed her mind, Catherine soon grew delighted and excited with the  imminent journey to the Elder Sisters Islands -- "to see people, cars, go shopping for books and clothes, listen to the city noises and breath in some smoke, to remind myself that there is a world that is civilized, and return to the twentieth century!" --, while I again feared she would want to leave the Île, for good. After she was cured from the heatstroke, I had never understood her reasons to prolong her stay on the island. At that stage, though completely taken, I still doubted our relationship and even my skills as a lover.

On the morning when the boat arrived, I had been expectantly watching the horizon. When I saw the seagulls, I warned Catherine to get ready -- and my expectancy peaked. Only when I saw her descend the stairs without her backpack, I relaxed, so happy to learn she had no intentions to leave. My heart swell, and I started already dreaming of our return together to the Île du Blanchomme, as a couple, to continue with our love...or sex idyll. 

But that young, innocent, impassioned couple who left the Île would actually never return.

For happiness was fleeting, and lasted only a few minutes. Because I had immediately to occupy myself with Catherine, who began to feel ill from the first moment she stepped onto the boat.

She vomited with such violence like I had not yet seen her throw up on the island. She started moaning and begging to disembark, but there was no way back once the boat was offshore. And the nine-hour crossing to the Elder Sisters Islands was just beginning.

She could not stand on her own, and I carried and snuggled her in my lap. One of the passengers, a lovely, exuberant young woman dressed in really bright colors, approached to offer help -- at least that's what I understood, since I had not learned a word from the local language.

"Who is the whore?" Catherine asked loudly, her voice hoarser than usual, and  although the young lady was so close to us, certain of not being understood by the natives.

"She is just trying to help us, Catherine..." I answered quietly, like an antidote to her discourtesy, almost whispering it in her years, holding her tenderly.

"Are you really so innocent?" She looked at me intensely, though she couldn't get her eyes more than half open only. "Or do you think I am the naive one, here?" I had to turn my face away from the strong whiff of Catherine's vomit, and thinking I was avoiding her stare, she lost her temper. "For a slut like her, a foreigner like you is a treasure... You are her way out of this hole and her passport to Europe..." Catherine clarified, angrily. Somehow, I was content imagining that perhaps she was jealous of me.

But it was that 'slut' herself who helped me carry Catherine to a shaded spot on the other side of the boat, where she finally fell asleep on a bench, after having vomited a little more, right on my lap.

I had to agree on Catherine's judgement, however, when the woman started cleaning the vomit stain off my shirt -- a new shirt I had borrowed from Armand -- without my having asked for her help. And in doing it, she  kept deliberately yet discreetly rubbing her breast against my arm. I had never felt another woman's nipple in my life other than Catherine's, who lied right there on the bench next to me. I was embarrassed. The native woman would not let go off me before she finished with the stain, and even then her hand continued running up and down along the trail of hair from my chest to my stomach. Despite my discomfort, and against my will, I felt that familiar tingle in my groin which announced my erections. I gasped, but remained motionless, surrendering to the pleasurable sensations.

What where her intentions? She had clearly seen I was with Catherine. And despite being the same age, we did not look like sister and brother, did we? But why was I blaming the native woman, who had ventured the trail of hair bellow my bellybutton, as if the decision to what could happen -- and was happening -- was only hers? And when I finally and gently pushed her away with a firm gesture I was still enslaved by the fine sensations her fingers stimulated -- but looking into the woman's eyes, I saw malice and evil. I had read Armand's translations of Herr Weissmann's reports about terrible witchcraft and charms made ​​from a single hair -- and why not from the hair on my chest? If I were to be a treasure, blonde Catherine was a true rarity on those islands, I suddenly realized.

And I never again left Catherine's side during the nine-hour journey to the Elder Sisters Islands -- where, I hoped, we would find a cure for her mysterious disease.

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. Hi! I've been reading your story through and through, and I think it's great. There's some vibrancy to your writing that's truly compelling :-D.

    It seems Catherine and Carlo's relationship's is already doomed from the very beginning, given her rather cold and uncaring personality, and his conflicting emotions towards both her and Armand.

    Can't wait to see where this goes from here :-).

    1. Hi Marsar! Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

      Sometimes I wonder how this story would have unfolded if it had started with a conversation between Laurent and Catherine, and not with Carlo... because we are seeing Catherine through Carlo's eyes, and how would it be to see Carlo through her eyes?

      Part two to chapter nine is going to be long and decisive in the life of this love triangle -- Carlo, Armand and Catherine -- but also for Laurent's life :)

  2. Reading this chapter truly hurt. Perhaps it comes from seeing too many people like Carlo and Catherine who are a clear mismatch and hurting each other through their clear lack of compatibility. Perhaps it reminds me too much of a once-dear friend who was the "Carlo" of her relationship, desperately trying to convince her "Catherine" to change his mind and love her. Perhaps I just don't like seeing good love go to waste. Whatever it is, I truly hate Catherine now. But that just speaks to the strength of your writing. :)

    1. Maybe I should worry about your comment, spladoum!

      Not because you're pointing out how Carlo and Catherine are a mismatch -- because they truly are.

      But it's the fact that you can hate Catherine that struck me... Because it's Carlo telling the story, and it is only his point of view so far, and this is Catherine through his eyes... Does he hate Catherine, to inspire that hatred in you? I would say he doesn't. Nor does he pities her -- in his spiritual practice, he cultivates compassion to all beings, and Catherine is an excellente master, giving him a hard time... Maybe his practice is not as deep as it could have been and compassion is lacking in his words about Catherine.

      In a way, it is as you say, "good love go to waste". But what love? Whose love? And maybe their mismatch shall lead Carlo to a greater love...

  3. Hi Andante Zen! :) Yes, I have been reading your replies to my comments. I enjoy both commenting on this, and hearing your replies, it's been fun conversing with you through your blog. :)

    I understand Catherine a little more from this chapter, how she was afraid of Carlo, especially because of the way his body was reacting to her presence. I see how as an outsider coming into the island, and then having to stay in a strange house, where the only other person there is a stranger as well, who keeps insisting that it is not a hostel... can be frightening. Then it becomes as if Catherine felt like she landed on an island at some strange man's house, a strange man who can't keep his erections in check. O_O No wonder she was terrified. It is ironic that the body's reaction when someone is a virgin can be mistaken for those of a sexual predator as well. I am glad she finally realized that Carlo intended no harm for her. I do understand Carlo as well being offended, that how could she think such mean things about him.

    Their relationship evolving over time on the island is a bit sad. I did have a feeling Catherine was the one who was going to be the powerful one, who was going to eventually lord her power over Carlo. I say it's a bit sad because they never seem to really love each other. As if they are only together because they're the only two people there. Carlo might have thought back when she was suffering from heat stroke that he loved her enough to take care of her, but I feel like perhaps it was just more of his good nature, and the simple fact that he did not want her to die.

    1. Thank you for your very thoughtful comment, LKSimmer. I've been enjoying replying to your comments!

      You nailed it -- Catherine has her wrong perceptions about Carlo and misjudges him, while Carlo has his own wrong perceptions about Catherine and cannot really understand her. She acts out of fear and a superiority complex, he acts out of shame and an inferiority complex. I like how you express the difference between the horny virgin guy and the sexual predator that Carlo appears to be one time or the other to Catherine -- but the fact is, his mighty erections remain and that is what shows :)

      "As if they are only together because they're the only two people there." And again, you are right. Here, I am reminded of Radiohead's lyrics to "All I need": 'I only stick with you because there are no others' I actually plan to use this line in Book Two, that I am writing at the moment.

      Carlo's love expression is still being constructed. He has never been in love before, though now he feels he is in love with different aspects of both Catherine and Armand. And I think a very strong component in Carlo's love is kindness, or loving kindness. He is not the romantic type, and he could never play the romantic hero in a novel ;)

      Thank you for reading "the last canvas", LKSimmer!


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