Thursday, July 26, 2007

Epilogue : When it comes it 's so, so disappointing

This week’s deadline was approaching fast, and I knew that I had to have an interview ready for this week’s magazine. Sadly, though, I had absolutely no idea who to interview, and worse, I hadn’t the foggiest idea of how to conduct an interview that would have to be done just to… well, just to fill up space.
Sure, there were loads of people the world over that I would immensely adore to hold under my inquisitive mind, but most of them seemed so out of reach… either because they were quite literally out this world, in more ways than one, or because other reasons conspired to keep them away from my quill.
Fact is, it was deadline day minus three days, and I lay awake at night, wiping the sweat from my brow. I tossed and turned in bed, and when my phone rang, I only wanted to smash it against the wall.
I picked it up, though, as much out of a sense of duty as out of a sense of curiosity, and saw that it was my editor calling me.

“Damn”, I thought, “She’s going to ask me about the deadline.”
“Sam”, she said, “about that deadline…”
“Yeah, about that, Maureen… I have this great lead to a story that’s going to pan out tomorrow… if that one doesn’t work, I have another angle into a story that’s just so amazing… I can’t even tell you about it’, I lied.
“You are such a liar, Sam. But look, even if you do have any of those crackers, I want you to backburner them. Boy, are you going to love me for this or what?”
“What, exactly, are you talking about?”, I questioned her.
She took her own sweet time to answer back, and I could hear her sucking on a cigarette for a long while, clearly savouring her time.
She drew her breath then said these two words : “Jon Snow.”
“Jon Snow, the writer?”, I retorted. “What about him?”
She laughed, maliciously, and said. “I’ve got him. After all these years, he finally agreed to do an interview. And I’m sending him your way.”
My jaws dropped to the floor. How I went from having no story to potentially having the greatest scoop of my career, I couldn’t imagine.
“Sam? Sam, are you there?”, Maureen’s voice asked.
“Yeah…”, I trilled, like a schoolboy.
“This is… Mo, this is going to be huge… if I get this right…”
“Oh yeah”, she said. “You do this right, and I see something that begins with a ‘P’ and ends with a ‘ulitzer’ for you”, she beamed.

Sam Wood : And so here we are, just the two of us, a log crackling merrily on the fireplace… My first question for you would have to be ‘Why’? Why now, after all these years, did you finally decide to give an interview, Mr. Snow?

Jon Snow : Call me Jon. Well, Sam… you don’t mind me calling you ‘Sam’, do you?

S.W. : Not at all.

J.S. : Thanks. I thought that the time was right, the time was now. I also wanted to make it clear that though reclusive I may be, I am not some misanthropic beast, as so many of your contemporaries chose to paint me.

S.W. : Ok, fair enough, but you’re telling me that this didn’t come from the fact that your most notorious novel – ‘One Nation’ – has recently been adapted to the theatre? And that some serious allegations have been made as to whether you really wrote the book?

J.S. : … (Strained silence. Gazes at the fireplace for a few minutes, gets up and pours us both a glass of brandy, each.)

J.S. : Well… the movie was ok, I guess. I always knew that it would be extremely hard to properly translate it, to make it as faithful to the book as possible. Did you know that every time they had a script they sent me one round, so I would say if I liked it or not? But in the end, sure, it was good enough. The casting may have been off in some places, but… yeah, it was entertaining. As to the rumours… I know where they came from… I know who spread them, and why.
Here… (Gets up again, fumbles in a drawer for a while, looking for something.)
Take a look at this.

S.W. : No… is this what I think it is?

J.S. : Oh yes, my original manuscript. And see those shelves over there? I wrote over a dozen bibles, detailing everything about the story, each and every character and scene was fleshed out even before I even started to write the story itself. Those lies that were put out… well, I attribute them to lesser writers; to those who dwelled in mediocrity from the outset. And they know damn well who they are.

S.W. : I’m not sure that your tirade just now proves anything at all, Jon. But I will confess to being completely and utterly amazed at what is surrounding me right now. All around me I see book upon book upon book… many are, as you have claimed, bibles for your books. But now… riddle me this : you are not, by any standards a proficuous writer… I mean, your entire work consists of the novels “One Nation”, “Future Perfect” and the many times adapted to the stage novella “When it comes it’s so, so disappointing”… and yes, I do know that both novels were international bestsellers, and your novella earned widespread accolade… but why was that, exactly? Why, when you clearly have so much talent?

J.S. : Well, you do know that I was accused of being a one trick pony after my first book came out, right? I was cheered by some, and jeered by many more. Had I not been steadfast in my purpose, I might’ve buckled under the terrible pressure those awful critics put me in. I would have quavered, I would have stopped dead on my tracks if only I paid attention to any of those bloody stupid jokes they made about me.

J.S. : (Laughs)

J.S. : But the joke, you see, was on them…

S.W. : How so?

J.S. : Truth is, I had already authored a book well before ‘One Nation’ even came out. It’s a little book called ‘How it ends’.

S.W. : Come now, you have got to be kidding me… you claim to have written the cult classic ‘How it ends’? Now, Jon, you know I have the utmost respect for you and for your work, but to make such a claim… it’s so unlikely a claim, that you’d have to have hard evidence to back this up.

J.S. : (Smiles enigmatically. Gets up once more, fumbles for a number of minutes in various drawers, then produces a sheaf of papers.)

J.S. : There. It’s all there.

I study the papers for a while. I find, among others, a numbers of hand written chapters, full of annotations, and a contract with a long gone publisher, agreeing to publish the book ‘How it ends’, clearly stating the fact that it had to be published under the pseudonym “Lloyd Llewellyn”. This changes everything, so I decide to change my strategy, too.

S.W. : Talk to me, Jon. Why the need for such secrecy? Surely you must know what that book means to so many people…

J.S. : Does it? I wonder. Well, now I’m sure people will have an opportunity to know what I really think about it, eh?

S.W. : Tell us, then.

J.S. : Sam, to tell you the truth, I haven’t thought about it in a long time. For me, it was like I wrote the damned thing lifetimes ago. It’s in the past, you know? But it was something that I felt I had to write.

S.W. : Where did that story come from? I ask this because it’s something so different from everything else you wrote… so why write that story?

J.S. : Basically, it came from all the unhappiness I sensed and saw every single out on the streets, you know what I mean? I saw all these disappointed people just drifting by, gripped by an invisible fear… the fear of loneliness. So one day, as I was going out of the subway, I see this woman, and let me tell you, I never saw someone as miserable as she was. I just hugger her then and there, gave her this heart-warming big hug, and call it what you will, but I felt her sadness too.

S.W. : What did you do next?

J.S. : Oh, I just wrote, and wrote. And I kept on writing. And in the end, I saw how much good it did me : it taught me how to write, what to write, and what not to write.

S.W. : So, was the end result to your liking? Did you do what you set out to do?

J.S. : Well, by no means I meant to open the hearts of minds of anybody who read that story, no. But you know, I was so young, so much younger then. It was written fifteen years ago, did you know that? But ultimately… heh. There was this song I really loved way back when, and the bloke who sang said something like ‘don’t get sentimental, it always ends up drivel’. And that story? That was me getting sentimental. And look how it ended up. But I digress…

S.W. : Oh wow… so, how did it get published? Is there a story to that as well?

J.S. : Yeah, there’s a story behind that. But let me tell you, it’s not a particularly droll one, nor is it meaningful. My ex-wife, Louise… back when we were dating, one day she was rummaging through my stuff… spring cleaning, you know? And she just finds some of the stuff I had written, and she started reading it. So one time I caught her in the act, and she said to me that it should be published. Now, I never wrote that story with the intention of ever publishing it, it was more of an exercise in style. But she had this friend who worked for a publisher, and that got the ball rolling… the rest is, as they say, history.

S.W. : Walk me through the story for a bit… it’s a memorable story, for me at least, and what intrigued me about it, and now doubly so, is that it’s a story with such a small cast… where did those characters come from? What archetypes did you use?

J.S. : Let’s stir these little grey cells, shall we? Well, Jon Snow was obviously me, right? I mean, he was the person I wanted to be, and his virtues were the ones I desired for myself. He was me, sure enough, up until his final choice. But then… I was also Sandor / William for a while… the kind of person he was, all that womanising… that was all me. But the drinking, no. That came from an old friend of mine, James, he used to drink himself stupid every single day for God knows how long. And those talks Jon has with him? Sure and they were talks I myself had with him years and years ago.

S.W. : I did not know that. I can see now how this novel can be yours, though it is highly distinct from what you later wrote. I base this assumption on the fact that you always had an uncanny knack for writing strong female characters. What can you tell me about Natalie and Marcia?

J.S. : (Silence for a while. Closes his eyes briefly, then opens them, misty eyed.)

J.S. : Ah, but do you know, even though I based Marcia on a true person, she was even called Marcia herself, I never actually met her? She was this girl I used to see every night in this club I used to go, and she used to do these amazing hair flips… I guess I was sort of in love with her for a while, and when I started to write, she just came to me as a natural for the story. Of course, she never even knew about this, and why should she? After all, I only used her physical traits, and none of the personality she might’ve had.

S.W. : And Natalie? Was she based on a real person too?

J.S. : No.. and yes. You see, she was based on a few different girls I knew. The fact that she was a nurse came from my cousin Sara, who was very close to me when I was a child. The fact that she uses braces and is named Natalie came from this girl who worked with me also called Natalie. But physically… yeah, that part came from my ex-girlfriend Sara… except she wasn’t blonde, no. That came from another girl I used to know when I was younger, Katina. So, out of that amalgam of people came Natalie… and what a joy she was to write, I tell you. Every single word she said… all those little lies… the way she moved me… it was sheer pleasure.

J.S. : But the thing is… I wrote that story in one of my lowest points. Life wasn’t that good for me, you know? Plus, I also had the basis of what would turn out to be ‘One Nation’ floating around my head for the longest time, and the fact that that particular story managed to get out first stung me a bit. In hindsight, I can see how much better for me it was that I did write it first. It was a true learning experience for me, that was.

S.W. : One thing that always intrigued me is the allusions you make to the year 2012… is there a particular reason for that?

J.S. : You mean you don’t know? You have no idea what it means?

S.W. : It was ten years ago, sure, and I can’t recall anything important having happened back then, so I’m kind of drawing a blank there. And if I am now, you can probably imagine how readers felt over fifteen years ago…

J.S. : I will shew some light into this. According to the Mayan belief system, December 21st 2012 was the date they predicted for the transition of the current Creation world into the next. They actually thought that the world was going to end in 2012.

S.W. : Right, you used the same ideas for ‘Future Perfect’.

J.S. : That’s right. But in this context, I used it as a metaphor for the cycle of relationships. Everything ends. That’s called Entropy. What I wanted to say was that the world ends every day in the tiniest ways for everyone one, until the day it finally ends for them personally. After all, the world does end for lots and lots of people every day, right?

S.W. : Point taken. Now… I number among those who feel that the story’s ending… well, the way it ended for all involved… it wasn’t very pretty, was it? There was so much mirth, so much unhappiness… from what you’ve told me, you wrote it because you felt the sadness that surrounded you. Isn’t writing a miserable story an antithesis to that?

J.S. : I wrote about life, Sam. And life is, more times than that, ugly and unfair. But I guess I see what you mean. After all, It didn’t end very well for Jon and Nat, did it? And as far as I recall I really wanted to people to know how it would end for them long before the story itself ended.

S.W. : Yeah, I got that. What can you tell me about Will’s ending? It’s not very clear how their story ends, is it?

J.S. : (Beams at me. Somewhere deep down I get the feeling that I’ve just taken the bait that was so cleverly laid out in front of me.)

J.S. : See that shelf over there? Go and get my copy of ‘Future Perfect’. Be careful, though, it’s a first printing, and it’s signed by the author.

I smile, knowingly. I get up, reach for the drawer, and take out a hardback edition of the book.

J.S. : Good. Now be so kind as to read the last two pages of chapter 27, please.

I read in silence. The cogs in my brain whirr, and I see something, a light of the end of the tunnel.

S.W. : How is this related to what we’ve been talking? Surely not…

J.S. : Understand, when I wrote ‘Future Perfect’? I never felt so good as I did when I was writing that book. The story itself came so seamlessly to me… all the pieces just fell into place, words flowed naturally. I felt… unbeatable. To quote Albert Camus, ‘Within the depths of Winter, finally I learned that within me there lay an invincible Summer’. I was so happy back then, that it showed… Ah, those were the best days of my life.

J.S. : (Looks back to the fireplace, as if looking back on a memory from the past.)

J.S. : You see, I wanted them to have a happier ending. But their song had already been sung, right? So they lived on in my mind, and when the time was right, they came back, and this time… this time… it was good.

S.W. : But their story, Jon… The real story. How does it end?

S.W. : Tell me how it ends.

J.S. : You already know how it will end.

"Now you’ve seen his face
And you know that there’s a place in the sun
For all that you’ve done
For you and your children
No longer shall you need
You always wanted to believe
Just ask and you’ll receive
Beyond your wildest dreams."

DeVotchka, How it ends

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Chapter 30 : This is what you get when you mess with us...

There were a couple of things that he needed to sort out. First, he went straight to the bathroom and stared long and hard at the mirror. “Ok”, he thought, “I need a shave”. He couldn’t quite remember when he had shaved last, but like as not it had been two, maybe three weeks ago.
So he drew a bit of hot water, and wet his face. He put some shaving cream, and started to hack away at his shaggy beard.
Ouch, ouch, ouch. That bloody hurt. The bottom half was done, the easy bit. Now came the complicated part. Woo-hoo, no more sideburns. No stupid goatee for him, neither.
Ah, decisions, decisions… should he shave his admittedly not-very-manly-maybe-even-a-bit-gay moustache, or should he leave it?
Shaven it is.
Bugger, this hurts like all get out. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ok, just this bit in the middle and then I’m done.
Oh fuck shit shit shit! No wonder Hitler never shaved that bit off, it was sheer medieval torture.

Ok, that’s done, let’s take a shower. That went on, thankfully, quite uneventfully. But he wondered why the hell he always scrubbed his left arm last…
Now, there was something else he wanted to do… but what was it? Ah, yes. He needed a dictionary.
C’mon, somewhere in the midst of all these books, he had to have a dictionary.
In fact, he did not.
He went out, got on the tube, and headed downtown. Loads of bookstores there, plus it’s kind of in the way to where he needed to go, too.
In one of the major bookstores he finally found a dictionary. Let’s see, ‘A’. He searched for the word he was after, and after a few seconds, found it.

avatar \AV-uh-tar\, noun:
1. The incarnation of a deity -- chiefly associated in Hinduism with the incarnations of Vishnu.
2. An embodiment, as of a quality, concept, philosophy, or tradition; an archetype.
3. A temporary manifestation or aspect of a continuing entity.

Good. So it was as he remembered it. And what that meant was that a story had to be told, it needed to unfold. Another song had to be sung, though he felt that between them all songs had yet to be sung, he yearned to sing a song to say goodbye.
His heart was set. This is what he was going to do. If no one wanted a happy ending for him, he would fashion one for himself.

She worked long, dull hours in one of those places that people go to when they want to make copies. In fact, her job was so dull it was mind numbing. But she quite liked it this way. Oh, she knew she could get a better job whenever she wanted to, after all that is the true purpose of getting an education, and all that. But there was something to this job that had its singular, unique charm. Where else would she see so many weirdos and barmy people? No, dull as it may be, she felt she wouldn’t trade this for any other job in the world.
Maybe later when she was older, someone else could be her when she’s gone.

Now, she only wanted something that was as easy going as she was. Besides, the routine, boring though it may be, kept her somewhat busy most of the time, and that kept her from thinking about everything else in her life.
Outside working hours… now, that was different. She usually just went home, fixed a TV dinner, watched a movie or read a book, then went to sleep… all the while trying her hardest not to think about him… about what she gave up on.
Weekends, she goes out, there’s a club where she likes to go. She goes on her own most of the times, then she goes home, and she cries, and she wants to die.
Today, though, it has been a good day so far. It’s raining outside, and she’s smiling. Sometimes it seems she’s only happy when it rains.
Another guy works with her, a fat and lazy moron called Gonçalo. She doesn’t like him very much, he’s got no real sense of other people’s personal space, and he has a very unique method of approaching his personal hygiene, i.e., none.
She had her back turned to the counter, and there was no music on. She said, “G., will you put something on?”.
A few seconds later, as the first familiar, melancholic chords of Radiohead’s ‘Let down’ evoked good memories deep inside her, she said, absent-mindedly flipping her hair, “Oh my god, it’s my favourite song!”.

Will said, “I know, Marcia.”

"The neon lights in the night tonight will say "everything will flow"
The stars that shine in the open sky will say "everything will flow"
The lovers kissed with an openness will say "everything will flow"
The cars parked in the hypermarket know "everything will flow" "

Suede, Everything will flow

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Chapter 29 : Who will love me now?

All stories, it is said, must have an ending. And for quite some time now I’ve been struggling with how this story ought to end.
But where does a story start? Where does it end? After all the words have been said? Can a story unfold even if there is no one to witness it?
But it is also said that every story has two sides to it... and that is where I disagree.
For, you see, I believe that a story has as many sides as it desires in order to be told.
Now, this particular story entails with it the fate of two people: so different, and yet so alike, bound by this one fate, this universal law that dictates how one chooses to live one’s life or not... the power of hope over the emptiness of despair, the might of love over the void of loneliness.

We view this story through the vantage point of a fly; wandering around, aimlessly, until it reaches a certain place.
This was some time ago, and we see a couple walking, close to each other.
There is that physical nearness, sure, but more than that, their hearts and minds drew closer.
There is also that tension, that so natural tension of a sexual nature between these two people, for they have not yet fallen into each other’s arms.
The end of this story begins at the very beginning.

It is a summer’s day; the sweat hangs to their bodies, sweet, sickly, tantalizing.
They feel tired, and retire under the shade of a nearby tree.
He lies down on the grass, and she lays her head on his legs.
No words need be said in this perfect moment.
The girl looks admiringly to him : how could this perfect stranger, this man who up to days ago had meant absolutely nothing to her, be so close to her? How had he gotten inside her heart so quickly?
Of course, it helped that he did look good, and sure, he also had a really nice body, but that alone wasn’t enough.
There was something else... there was a quality to this man, a certain kind of quietude and tranquillity that appealed to her.
She sensed... no, she knew, that this was a good man. A Good man, with a capital G.
He saw in him, much like everyone saw on Jean Baptiste Grenouille, the most perfect man in the world.
Surely, he must be perfect... how could he not be?
And that thought nagged at her.
For there is a curious thing to perfection, a dichotomy of sorts : perfection demands perfection.
And she was anything but perfect.
She was deeply terrified of him, but only in the best way possible. In her little mind, she afforded the luxury of dreams; and she dreamt of a perfect future for the both of them, a small but spacious house, and a sort of bohemian life that they would both adore... but why? Why does she do this? Why, when she knows the terrible price that must be paid for these dreams?
Ah, if he only knew everything about her... he’d be just one more to leave her, like they all did.

But he couldn’t care less.
Fact is, he was already so enamoured with her, that nothing else mattered.
All that mattered was the moment, and it was a perfect one. Well, or near enough as makes no difference.
Silence... that’s where they were... in silent slumber, gazing adoringly at each other.
They were united states of mind... together.
She sat beside him.
Her lips got closer to his.

“No”, he said. It would not be the first time.
“Ah...”, he felt for words, but they seemed out of his reach.
“What’s the matter? Don’t you want to?”, she asked.
“Oh yes... yes I do. So very much. More than anything. But... not yet. There are things you should know.”
“Oh, Will, I don’t care, just give in to this moment...”
“I’m not the man you think I am”, he said.
“Marcia... I haven’t done this in a long time... the reasons for which will be apparent soon enough. And... call me crazy, call me what you will, but in my heart of hearts? I want this to be magic.”

Time flies, and so does the fly. That story got told, for better or for worse; life moved on, choices were made.
It is said that true love will out, and when it does it cannot be held back.
Ah... but human nature is a beast... and an untamable one, at that.

Weeks had passed since they were together for the last time, and it seemed to Will that entire life spans had passed, not just mere weeks.
He knew why. It was her absence… that emptiness created by her not being close by, the void that her silence provokes… it hurt. It hurt him very, very much.
She would not return his calls, nor answer his messages.
A fitting punishment, he thought, after all he had put other people through. And people are fragile things, this much he knew by now.
It was still early in the day, not yet lunch time, and so he decided to go for a long, hard jog; the physical pain it would cause might help him get his bearings straight.
That’s what he needed, to not think about anything else, to not think about her, to not think how it could’ve been if he’d only lied.
But he had changed, hadn’t he? For so long he chose what was easy over what was right… now he can’t afford to choose anything else than what is right. The minute he starts choosing what is easy again… well, he knows where that particular road leads to.

His body ached, after a hour and a half of running. He wanted to go home, and shower, and lie in bed.
And please, please, please, let me not dream of her again.
He got home, and checked his mailbox. He took the wad of letters and assorted stuff, and went up the three flights of stairs to his house.
Goddamn keys, I should get this fixed, always the same shit. Do I have to kick this door in? Ah, that’s better.
Now, let’s see what we’ve got here. Telephone bill, just great. Power. Lovely. My hearing’s just fine, thank you. Ok, no, I do not need Viagra. What’s this?

It was a letter from Marcia.
He sat down, and carefully opened it.
He began to read :

“Dear William :

I have so much that I want to say to you, that I have no idea what to say, or where to start.
I want you to know that… there is a part of me that also loves you, that deeply loves you.
But as you had the courage to tell me all about yourself… well, I’m not so brave. I fear I must do this from a distance, fighting back the tears just as I write this.
I guess we always knew how this would end, right?

I’m not a very nice person, Will, really I’m not.
And why am I not a nice person? Because…huh. Even writing about this hurts me deep inside.
I don’t think that you’ll understand what I’m going to say. Or maybe you will, I don’t know.
But can you imagine that I thought that you were the most amazing guy that I’ve ever known?
Oh God…I just… I just saw in you something that I thought I’d never see again… something in me… you made me feel so good about myself.

I’m not making any sense, am I? You must think I’m completely crazy, right?
I must be… but I’m telling you now, Will, I want you to know things about me…
Please, please, stay with me just a little while longer.
Do you know… before you…those days before you came, had been so shallow, and frivolous, and empty.
I missed myself terribly. Can one miss oneself? I don’t know, but I missed so much who I was… I miss being in love… I miss saying ‘I love you’… I miss all the little things that I never thought I’d miss.

But look at this… all these lines that I wrote, all these words that I’ve wasted… this is me getting sentimental, and we know how it always end up.
No more lies. No more half-truths. This is me.

Will, I

He tore the letter in half. He couldn’t read it anymore.
In his heart, he knew it to be true. He knew what he had to do.

"What happens when you lose everything?
You just start again...
You start all over again!"

Maximo Park, Apply some pressure

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Chapter 28 : Pretty girls make graves

There are moments in this life that are absolutely unique, and chance plays such an important part in them, for it is up to chance, in a way, that we are ourselves in turn able to witness or even experience those moments.
Note about me :
Ever since I was very small that one of my greatest qualities is that I am very, very observant (Something, I am told, that comes from my astrological sign – Leo –. But I’d rather think it’s because I just like to see the way people interact with each other.), and that very same quality had imbued me with an uncanny power of deduction, regarding the motivations of others.
Bear with me now, all this has a purpose.

As a child, one of my neighbours was a Japanese man that had come here a few years after World War Two.
He had come here in order to leave behind the life he didn’t have after the war had taken all his family, to find some sort of inner peace that he couldn’t find anywhere else, and finally after having roamed half of the world, he settled here in Lisbon, and lived out the rest of his years alone.
He was known as a courteous but somewhat distant man, and that distance earned him, in the finest traditions of scorn and hear say, and in the minds of the very old and the very young, the distinct honour of being seen as some sort of bogey man, and his house something to be dreaded, his existence reduced to a threat parents made to their children.
“You’d better behave, or the crazy Chinaman will come and eat you”, they would say.
Uematsu, he was called. Mr Uematsu. And he was Japanese, not Chinese.
So one day, when I was younger, so much younger than today, for no reason that memory will still serve right, I decided to go inside his house.
Oh, it wasn’t that difficult; after all we lived on the same floor, and the back of our building was ample enough so that the surrounding buildings to the left and to the right of ours, made a small courtyard where I would play as a child.
And, out of habit, he always left his door unlocked.
I kept my ear glued to the door, waiting for him to go out to go shopping, or to go walk his enormous Rottweiler, named Daigoro, as docile as he was fat.
And he was very fat indeed, to this day I cannot fathom how the poor animal managed to just walk.

I came in by the backdoor, and lost myself in that small world that was his home : a tiny Shinto shrine in one corner, books upon books upon books (Haga Kure, Mishima, Musashi, Bushido, and so many, many others), that sweet fragrance that smelled like… I don’t know, even after all these years words still elude me, but it smelled like green, like trees, like freshness, like nature, like life!, and above all, I stood contemplating that beautiful, ancestral sword he had… my God, I fell in love with it the minute I saw it for the first time… and I so lost myself in quiet contemplation that I didn’t notice him coming back.
He asked me in the most perfect Portuguese if I liked the sword.
I jumped in alarm, mumbled a few apologies, tried to run away, quickly, desperately, but he was so much faster than me… and, when I was expecting maybe a clout on the ear, or worse, to be dragged home by an ear, e told me to sit down, took down the sword from the wall and placed it in my hands.
He left the room, went to the kitchen and fixed me some tea (What tea, what tea!), and when he got back he told me the sword’s story; how it had come to his family, and been in their possession for countless generations. As he had no family of his own left, he sought someone worthy of her.
We spent hours, days, weeks talking, and became the best of friends. The fact that I was an only child, coupled with me not being such a sociable child at that, plus the fact that my parents professional lives was quite an active one, meant that every moment we spent together was one to be cherished.
And he taught me so much… the stories he told me about the war chilled my very bones. He had survived Hiroshima by a matter of days, and after that, he told me, life had lost meaning.
‘Brutality is something that only the weak succumb to’, he said, ‘and I became weak… for a long, long time. There is no greater crime than taking another’s life, and every single day I get down on my knees and pray for forgiveness for all the atrocities I committed.’
He had been a soldier in the army, and he left with deep scars, at every possible level bruises that won’t heal.
And so in war, he found peace. In death, he learned the value of life. In ignorance, the doors of perception were cleansed for him, and everything appeared to him as it is : infinite.

He told me that once, while he roamed this world in search of knowledge, he met a very odd character, someone who to his dying day he could not clearly describe, for as the sun fell down on him, another aspect of this being was revealed to him.
He came first as a tall and tanned, long haired man, bleeding profusely from various wounds, and when he came closer to him to see if he needed help, the man had given place to another huge, fat, completely bald, with an oriental look to him, and sat down by the road eating a bunch of grapes.
‘Traveller’, the fat man said, ‘ I will teach you the secrets of the universe. They are neither many nor deep, but it will be in your hands and in your hands alone, what to do with this knowledge I will presently impart.’
‘Ask no questions. Say or question nothing. This may not be happening at all, but maybe this has already happened before, or may yet come to be. This is just your imagination. After all, reality is a state of mind.’
The fat man leaned further back, ate some more grapes, the said, ‘Patterns. Everything and everyone obeys to pre-determined patterns : continuous, perpetual, repetitive; a line. The line becomes a circle. Deduce those patterns, and eternity will bare her secrets for you.’
The sun shined with terrible intensity, and when he looked again, before him stood a woman, tall, dark skinned, of terrible beauty and many armed who said, ‘Understand, little insect. Everything in important, and nothing is important. But some things are more important than others, and others till are of so little importance that should they fail to be, or happen, our universe would not exist. It’s important that you always know where you are, because the right person, at the right time, in the right place, can indeed make a difference… and usher us into a new age, one of reason and of peace, even if by so doing we must fight the most heinous of wars.’
A cloud obscured the sun, and brought with it a few drops of rain. It was very hot, and that warm summer rain that fell felt refreshing on his tired body. He closed his eyes for a few seconds, to better appreciate that moment of tranquillity.
A small rainbow let itself be noted from between the trees, and the rain fell in cascades from the leaves.
‘It’s beautiful’, a voice said, and when he opened his eyes he saw before him a little boy; and this little boy became the long haired man once more, but devoid of wounds, and he appeared to be peace and quiet personified.
‘Along with sunsets, it’s what I most love, rain… to feel the scent of the wet earth, to feel all this life… you were right, Father.’
The man looked at him and dais, ‘All you heard is true, but not the truth, just a truth. The only truth is love. Love, and love all, for all of creation loves you in return. I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.’

He woke up the next day on the same road where all this has occurred, not knowing if he had had the strangest dream. But something deep inside told him that what had happened had been real, what he had witnessed he knew it to be true; though it may not have happened then, or there, or to him.
Now, all this I’ve just said still holds a purpose, believe me, and that purpose isn’t about telling all about Mr. Uematsu’s life, or how he died alone… it’s just to make you better understand that I am someone who really learns a great deal from the people I know, and I’ve always known a lot of people.
Networking, it’s called, and I do it really well. I have people skills, I guess.
I don’t want to sound too full of myself or arrogant, but I think I am someone who is very patient, charitable, kind… I know how to listen to other people, and I know what words to say, and when people are close to me, then I am exceptionally loyal, a true friend, and I will give all my love selflessly.
Which also means that, if I learn a lot from people, then I must make sure that use that knowledge wisely, be it in my personal or professional life.
Oh yeah, another good thing to know about me is that I did ballet until I was fifteen.
And what does this have to do with anything? Oh, not much… only that this means that I am quite nimble, light on my feet, silent… almost inaudible.
And this virtue of mine, furthered by serendipity, allows me to witness an unforgettable moment.
I tell you, you’ll never forget this one, because I’m going to take photos. And how great is it that I have one of those cameras that make no sound at all?

You didn’t even notice it. Bwa-ha-ha, I laugh, a tad on the evil side. Time to make myself noticed.
“So!”, I say with an innocent smile, while I looked at you, naked as the day you were born, lying on the bed.
“What’s this? Playing ‘pocket billiards’, are we?”
Love, I swear you’d have seen the look on your face, you’d die laughing.

Good for me, I’m fast.
“Am I not enough for you?”, I teased perniciously, savouring your confusion, to make you suffer a bit.
“No!”, you answered, embarrassed. “I mean, yes! Hum…”
“This is, er, this is not what it looks like…”
“Baby”, I said, taking great delight in the words that I was going to say next, “It seemed to me as if you were manually tuning some musical instrument that requires blowing… surely I’m not mistaken?”
“Er…no! Ah… that is, I was just, huh…”
I nodded my head this way and that lightly, took my index finger to my lips to shut you up, then said, “Honey… really… tsc, tsc… we’ve been together for how long now? Three years?”
“Sounds like you still have no idea of what I’m capable of… and you would betray me with so many? And all from the same family?”
It broke my heart to see you suffer so, but it would be just for a few seconds more.
“Hum. Same family?”, you asked doubtfully, a small bead of sweat forming on your forehead.
“Why, yes, silly! Mrs. Palmer and her five daughters!”
“Don’t tell me that you prefer them”, I said, taking off my coat, revealing my nurse’s uniform that was neither short, tight, revealing or made with vinyl, but that for some reason men always have that fantasy, “to this”, I continued, taking it off.
Sometimes I think that you’ll never know just how lucky you are.
That excitement that seemed to have disappeared so quickly when you saw me staring at you, seemed to be wanting to come back, a bit reluctantly at first, but soon your brain stopped being in charge of the situation, and taking advantage of this situation, I got on top of you before you could even react.
You came inside me real slow, but deep and hard… Then it was fast, me and you, like racing horses, so good, so wild, so intense…

We lay looking at the ceiling, your hand in mine.
“Is it me, or the cracks in the ceiling are almost four hundred, now?”, you asked.
“How should I know’”, I replied. “Why? Do you count them? Don’t answer, I’m only joking!”´
“so… how was your day?”, I asked, massaging my aching womb.
“Pfff… not bad. Normal, I guess.”
“Just like any other day, I suppose. There’s no great magic or science to what I do… I just spend my days taking orders from idiots, and ordering stuff for others… It’s all terribly dull, but they pay ok and on time, and no one bothers me much.”, you concluded.
And that was all you wanted, right, Jon? That was all you asked for.
After all that you had been through, having someone like me must be wonderful.
Just like having you in my life is.
“How about yours?”, you asked.
“Yeah, normal too. Surrounded by people either very ill or dying, and very old men that now and then like to feel my butt.”
“What?”, you said angrily.
I kissed you, then said, “Relax, love. I only said that to see how you’d react. I was just kidding with you! I see you still like me, though…”
“Like you? I love you, Natalie!” , you said, and it seemed to me that there was a certain hurt to your voice. Strange.
“And I love you, Jon Snow”, I smiled, and you smiled for me, too.

“Oh yeah!, I got to tell you something!”, I enthused. “Today I had to go to the ward where the people who have lung cancer are, I had to talk to one of the guys who’s going to be responsible for that internship I’m going to be doing, and I saw that one of the people there was this old friend of my mother’s.”
“Truth is, I never did like that guy much, since I was small it seems as if the guy wanted to touch me, and once when I was maybe fourteen, and because my mother insisted, I sat down on his lap, and the bastard either had a gun in his pocket, or he was very, very happy to see me, if you catch my drift… So, anything bad that comes his way is jus divine justice, as I see it.”
“I hadn’t heard anything about him these past few years, until one day I overheard my mother saying something to someone about his health. Actually, now that I think about it, she may have mentioned it before, but mothers, right? Who listens to them?”
“Anyway, so today I was just passing by, and as I was about to leave, the bastard notices me, and calls me. I tried to dodge him, but he’s sneaky as hell, that guy is… I know this is just evil, and I will burn in hell for this, but when I saw him I just burst into this huge grin, I could barely contain my laughter… not because I was exceptionally happy for seeing the guy suffer, but because he was hooked to one of those machines that help you breathe, and he sounded like Darth Vader breathing.”
I breathed Vader style for a few seconds, and you laughed so much… whether due to my poor imitation, or to the other’s misery, you laughed.
I would give anything so that you may laugh always, my love. Anything.
“Oh! Oh! And when he speaks, he sounds like Stephen Hawking!”
If at all possible, you laughed even more, and I laughed with you. When the laughter died, I got a bit more serious, and sadder, too.
“We must make the best of this weekend”; I said. “I’ll be leaving Monday, and I’ll only be back in three weeks.”
“I know…”, you said, with such sadness in your voice.
“I want you to stay so much… you’re still here, but already I miss you so.”

Oh, baby.
It will be over soon. This internship will be so good for me on a professional level… And it really is one of those once in a lifetime chances. I’m so glad you understand. It doesn’t make things any easier, but it helps.
And when I’m back, all of our dreams will start to come true… should my calculations prove correct, I’ll have a huge surprise for you when I get back.
“So do I, sweet little boy. So do I. But let’s not think about that right now, ok?”
“Tell me, do we have plans for tonight?”, I asked.
“Sounds good”, I agreed. “But what?”
“Well, the new Peter Jackson is out, I’ve seen the trailer, and it looks so awesome that…”
I gave you my patented milk curdling look, one that contained the promise of absolutely no sex for the rest of your life.
“… or we could go and see that re-run of Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’, it’s in a theatre nearby, I know you like that one”, you managed to say.
That one won you the right foe another one later on, when we get back.
“Lovely”, I said. “Do you know what time it starts?”
“Nope”, you admitted, “but I’ll check on the net, just give me a minute or so.”
I went to the toilet to rinse my face, brush my teeth. When I got back, you tell me that we can go to the one that starts at nine thirty, which was great, because that meant we had time for a shower, and would have plenty of time to get dressed.
We left early enough so that we could still grab a bite to eat; the theatre was pretty close, so no worries there.

The movie was as good as I remembered, and I left the theatre feeling good. We still went for a quick drink, then we got home.
You went to the toilet, and after about twenty minutes I started to wonder if you were having fun all by yourself again.
You came out of the toilet so deep in thought, that I thought better about saying something witty.
“I was looking myself in the mirror”, you said. “I think I’m going to cut my hair.”


“Oh, are you? You’re a real comedian, you are. Very funny, indeed. Or not.”
“Well, I don’t see anyone else smiling here, Nat.”, you said gravely-
“I think you’re crazy”, I answered. “If you do it… then I’ll shave mine off!”, I threatened.
You looked at me, your face full of doubts, and after a few seconds, you smiled shyly and said, “Don’t even dream about it.”
“Your hair is just so beautiful. It was made to be just the way it is, long, free, unfettered… It looks like pure platinum, molten, liquid and fluid on your head. Don’t even dream about it!”
I blushed, and said, “I’m glad we reached an agreement.”
You moved fast as a feline, a tiger running after his prey, and I didn’t even saw you coming at me.
You held me with one arm, kissed me, and quick as that we were in the bed again.
If before it had been quick and wild, this time was slow, slow but so perfectly in tune with our bodies, and so much more intense… I had never came so hard, and when you yourself came, a tear fell down your eye.
We turned to face each other, and we both said at the same time how we felt for one another.
You must have been so tired that you just fell asleep after that.
Jon… sometimes I’m so glad you didn’t actually know me before…
Before you, even before the other disaster, the other bastard that left me to crawl through the wreckage, I was… cold? Cruel? Mean? Insensitive? Selfish?
All too human.
And I pretended so much, so much. That I wasn’t alone. That I wasn’t afraid. That I wasn’t unhappy. That I was loved. That I would never be betrayed.
I pretended that I was respected.
But it wasn’t true. Never true. Those were just the lies I told to myself every day.
And so I pretended throughout this life, through all these years.
And so much I pretended, that I ended up believing what I was told, and what I was living.
And because I believed… inevitably, I fell.

I fell.
But there you were to pick me up, and I never, ever told you how I was before, or thanked you for all that you did for me, that smallest of gestures, never made you see how much you mean to me.
I confess, in all honesty, that though it was more me than you who sought all this out, in the beginning I didn’t know if I wanted things to happen the way they did, I had my doubts, little boy, but I fell in love with something real.
Because you were so excited, and I let myself be carried by that wonderful and magical enthusiasm, that seemed to permeate your very being, and resonated from within… and so here we are, three years later.
And if one day I should lose you, may God forgive me, but I’ll kill myself.
Because I will never meet somebody like you ever again.
I look at you, as you lay sleeping next to me, and if you only knew how much I love seeing you sleep, Jon. You do something to me… something deep inside.

Because, and truth be told, you make me want to be a better person. There’s just something about you, my love. Something that gives me an endless strength, but at the same time makes so very shy, and kind.
You make me happy, happy for you, for myself, and you make me feel happy for being alive, alive just for love.
And that’s the thing, honey. You make me a whole woman. You, and only you, complete me.
And I know, my God, and I hope that you’re listening to me, that I complain a lot… there are times in my life when I can barely feel your presence in it, and so You and I sometimes don’t see eye to eye.
But for these moments, for these days and these nights you give me with him, for these deepest feelings, for him, for everything… I thank you, Lord. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
Eventually, I fall asleep, naked, close to you, naked as well.

Sometime before dawn, I saw that you were up already.
“Luv”, I asked, “is everything alright?”
The smile you smiled for me seemed like the saddest smile in the world.
“Yeah. Everything’s ok. Don’t you worry about a thing.”
That’s good to hear. I smiled in satisfaction, leaned my head against the pillow, and beckoned you closer.
“Never leave me”, I begged, fear echoing in my words.
“Don’t be foolish”, you said.
I was so sleepy, and all I wanted was to sleep at your side. You sensed that I was sleepy, and closed my eyes with your fingers.
You kissed me tenderly on my face, and whispered in my ear, “Now sleep. And dream.”

And I dreamt, I dreamt that we were in the future, but not a too distant one… a few years from now? A few months? I have no idea, but not that distant, not really, and I saw myself lying in a bed, looking at you, but it couldn’t be me, I was so sick, so frail, so sad, too weak to tell you how much I loved you, and you were looking at me, fading away, slowly fading away…
Then the dream changed, or maybe it was still the same dream, but seen from another perspective, but I was up again, I was strong again, talking to you, but… where are you? You’re no t here… this dream seemed further ahead in time, and I was in a graveyard… talking… to you? Looking at your grave, and it was so, so cold, it was winter that g«had come, and I was there, knowing that you were dead no no no no no no noooooo…
I woke up.

And I was right next to you, and you were alive, so alive.
I kissed you so much, and just hugged you fiercely. “Hey”, you said tenderly, “Don’t you worry, I’m not going anywhere!”, you continued.
“I’ll still be here tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that, and forever.”
“You promise?”, I asked?
“Promise. Have I ever failed you on a promise?”
We got up soon after that, and pondered briefly about what we might do. You suggested that we go for a walk, and I agreed in a very good mood. “But it’s up to you to decide where we’re going”, you said, while we had a very late breakfast.
We spent the day in Sintra; the ancient mountain imposing and mysterious in the background.
Rain fell in tiny drops, dripping from trees. All around us echoed with life; butterflies flew lazily, birds sang merrily in the perches high above, cats looked sneakily at us from under the cars… glorious and radiant life!
We didn’t have lunch, we weren’t that hungry, and we agreed on eating something later.
“Around nine, nine thirty we should be at Jamie’s house, he’s having that happening of his.”
“Do we?”, I asked.
“We don’t, but I’d really like to go. I think it would do us some good to see those guys again.”
“Besides, Sandor will be there, and I’d like to talk to him. I worry about him…”
“Yeah, he’s changed a lot”, I said. “Sometimes I hardly recognize him at all.”
“Yes”, you agreed “And he changed for the better. He’s almost the way I knew, all those years ago.”

And it was true. I had met William the same time I met you, and I found him to be an arrogant and unbearable idiot.
But today… today he’s someone who does nothing wrong, polite, civilized, courteous.
And this I know to be, because you told me so, due in part to a talk you and him had once.
My good, good man… your heart is enormous, and I feel blessed to be a part of it.
“But tell you what, I promise we’ll not linger there for too long, ok? We’ll come back early, and spend what little time we have together whispering sweet nothings to each other. Sounds good?”
Of course it does, love. And my smile said it for me.

“Jamie”, you said, clearly happy to see it your friend, “long time no see!”
“Too long, my man, too long”, he answered, with a vigorous handshake. “Natalie”, he said, “Give us a kiss, then.”
“Sandor”, you asked, “Is he here already?”
“Yep”, he admitted, “And boy, is he been drinking a lot or what? Too bad he only drinks water. He just went to the toilet. Ah, speak of the devil, there he is.”
I left you guys to talk, and got something for me to drink. Vodka and lemon? And why not?
While I fixed it, the most disgusting guy in the world decides to make a pass at me.

“So, Will, how are things going for you?”, Jon asked.
“Ah, you know how it goes… one day at a time”, he replied, taking a sip from his water.
“Huh-huh. And Marcia? How are things between you guys?”, Jon asked, while he watched intently some guy trying to pick up on his girlfriend.
“I don’t know. We had this talk like two weeks ago, and I told her everything, I told hear all those things that I’ve done, so now she knows what kind of person I was”, Sandor explained.
He looked at Jon and said, “Are you even listening to what I’m saying?”. Jon took his eyes from the sad spectacle the other creature was providing, and answered, “Hmm?, Yes, of course. Sorry. I was just paying attention to that guy that’s with Natalie.”

And the worst part is, instead on just saying ‘no’, I led the guy on.
God knows why, but I let him go on and on, and now the guy won’t shut up, and don’t even ask me how or why, but we ended up talking about sex…

“It’s up to her now, I suppose”, Sandor said, again getting the feeling that he was being perfectly ignored.
“Have you listened to the trash this animal’s talking?”, Jon said, gripping his glass tightly.
“Doesn’t he remind you of anyone, Jon?”
“Who?”, Jon asked. He thought for a few seconds, then answered, “Oh. No, no. You were nothing like this.”
“But who is this guy anyway?”, Jon enquired.
“A friend of Jamie’s”, he admitted. “Goes by the name of Gonçalo, I believe.”

And then I said, “No, wait a minute, in any given sexual relationship, and if it should happen, oral sex is a matter of quid pro quo. And by this, let it be understood with all proper reservations, that what I mean is ‘I go down on you, you go down on me’.”
And the guy just laughed in my face! The nerve!
He smiled a cynical smile, sure of himself, and said, “No, my dear. Nuh-uh. Wrong. You got it all wrong.”, he said, drinking the rest of his beer in two long gulps.
“You see, the sine qua non condition for oral sex is, you go down on me, and I’ll maybe go down on you. If I feel like it.”
Oh boy. This will end in tears. Do I know you from anywhere, you filthy pig?
Fuck, but just being in the presence of this guy makes me feel dirty…

“Sandor, man, I’ll be right back, yeah?”, Jon said, making his way to Natalie.
“Jon”, Sandor said slowly, putting one hand on his friends shoulder, gently, but applying some pressure “The same way you did this for me, now I do it for you. Stay cool. That guy has no idea of what he’s doing, or saying. Just look at him, he’s completely drunk. When you’re like that it’s very, very hard to remember the meaning of words like integrity or honesty. Remember that. Remember me, and hoe I was. But do not forget yourself, Snow. He’s not worth it”; he advised.
Jon looked at Sandor, a fierce, fierce pride in his eyes, and replied, “No worries, Will.”

“Love”, you said, “Who’s your new friend?”, you asked jovially.
The idiot’s face contorted so much, that I would have sold my soul to be able to capture it in a picture for all to see.
As quickly as he appeared, he was gone; no doubt helped by your presence.
“My knight in shining armour”, I said, kissing you generously.
I sensed that you were somewhat mad, and I led you to Jaime’s kitchen, where we could have a bit more privacy. “That fucking weasel”, you said, your voice full of rage. “Who the hell does he think he is?”, you said, your voice low, hissing like a snake. You thumped your hand loudly against the wall, and if left a considerable dent.
“Well, I know who he is not”, I told you, “he’s not what you are, not even half of a third of the man you are. He’s not my boyfriend. He’s not the man I love.”
That managed to quiet you down a bit. I guess I never saw you this way, and I confess a part of me was a bit frightened.
It seems that even you sometimes feel the darkness…
We lingered in the kitchen for nearly an hour, drank a few more drinks, until we were interrupted by an inhuman sound, the sound of the world coming to an end.

We went to the living room, and saw that everyone was gathered around a corner, watching something intently with a mix of curiosity and terror.
When we got closer, we saw that it was the other cretin who was lying on the floor with his bulging stomach turned upwards, and who was clutching the family jewels, probably afraid that they might flee from him, snoring loudly, as if there was no tomorrow.
Even in that respect he resembled a pig. Jaime tried to plug his nose, but instead of the noise dying down, it just went away for a while, and brought along a few of his friends.
We saw it as our opportunity to say goodbye, and Sandor left with us.
Down on the street, we made our farewells. “Sandor, man, let me know how things pan out, yeah?”, you said, hugging heartily, and I don’t know why, but I felt jealous.
Maybe he even noticed it, because he replied coldly, turning slightly his eyes to mine, equally warm, and said, “Right, Snow. Natalie”, he said, with a curt nod.
I replied the same way, “Sandor.”

The trip back home was quick, there wasn’t much traffic, considering that it was a Saturday night, and what traffic there was, it was thankfully in the opposite direction.
The cabbie looked glum, and my considerable experience of riding cabs in this city tells me that he is so because Benfica lost this weekend.
Once home, we felt too tired to do anything else, looked at each other, looked longingly at our bed, and I think we were asleep before we even hit it.

It is truly alarming to think how fast Sunday just flew by. The hours seemed to be as seconds, and before we knew it, eleven o’clock had come.
I know I’ll only be away for three weeks, love, three long weeks, but I swear, each and every one of them will seem like an eternity.
You helped me finish all the packing that was left, and after you put them in the hallway with the rest of the luggage, you asked me, “Natalie? Why do you like me? What is it that you see in me?”
I was perplexed, and replied, “What do you mean?”
“Just like I said.” Where did that ice in your voice dome from, Jon?
“Why do you like me? What is it that you see in me?”

“Because I don’t know why. I can’t imagine the reason why. And what you see in me, I will never know.”
“Look at me”, you said. “it’s not that I’m ugly, but I’m sure as hell not the prettiest guy around. Just look at my body… I’m starting to look like the Michelin man…”
“I guess I’m ok in bed, sure, but I’m not a porn star, or anything… and look at the stuff I like…. It’s stupid, just stupid stuff. I like comics, and videogames, and the movies I like have to have lots of special effects… I can’t be bothered to watch a movie that requires a great deal of thinking… I feel old.”
“I’m just not interesting, I don’t have a fancy degree like you do… I’m a simple person, Natalie. Just another regular guy.”

“Now look at you”,
“You are beautiful. And when I tell you you’re beautiful, I say it I the same way I would say that a Klimt painting is beautiful. Unique. Amazing.”
“You are, all of you, a masterpiece, Nat. you have an amazing body. Ninety-nine percent of the feminine population would gladly kill their relatives, and cut their firstborn in half, as in some perverted song of Solomon, just to have a body like yours… and you hair, Nat, is one of nature’s true beauties.”
“You help save people, day in, day out, every single day, time and time again…”
“You had that something that has always eluded me, that fortitude of heart and mind, that will to triumph, to want to be more, more than this, to take a course and further your own knowledge.”
“You are, no doubt whatsoever, the most intelligent woman I’ve ever known, and I can’t even imagine how, but you still find the time to read as disparate as Shelley, Comte or Vonnegut.”
You stopped, suddenly, and began to cry, just like a child.
“Stop, Jon”, I said, “you’re scaring me with all this.”
“Natalie… when we’re together on the street”, you said, amid all those tears, “Everyone looks at you, and everyone looks at me, and their eyes tell me that I’m not worthy of you.”
“Stop it, Jon, please!”
“No, it’s the truth. You deserve someone who… who’s got like a model’s body, or an athlete’s… all muscles and abs. And he should be beautiful, beautiful and perfect, so that you can have perfect children together.”
“That’s what you deserve, not me. Someone much better than me.”

Oh Jon, but I had someone like that once!
Or don’t you remember anymore? Don’t you remember the state I was when he left me?
Don’t you remember the sorry state I was in, the rag I became after all that?
Is it possible that you don’t remember how you found me?
The words came out without me even thinking them, and they sounded as if spoken by somebody else, not me…
“Please, don’t say that it’s over…”

You stared at me, your face washed in tears, your face white as freshly fallen snow.
“Over?”, you asked, “But I love you, Natalie…”
“I just don’t know why you don’t like me…”
And It seemed to me then, that all your strength had ebbed from you. You fell down on my knees before me.
I kneeled in front of you, hugged you tight, and said,
“Because you are the first and last thing I think about every day, Jon Snow. You are all I long for, all I worship and adore. You are all I dream of being, and having.”
“Because you are the single greatest human being I’ve ever known. You have a heart of gold, and you give me all you have, and all you are.”
“Because you’re my best friend. The best lover I ever had. You are the one for me, my choice to live my life extended. The one who will father my children.”
“Because I love you, Jon, more than my very life. Because of all this that I just told you, and this is the smallest fraction of how I truly feel for you, and of what you mean to me.”
“Without you I’m nothing.”
“Shhh… not one more word.”
“Not one more word, Jon. Because I’m not letting you go. I will not lose you!”
“This conversation’s over, Jon.”, I said, smiling. I had taken control of the situation, and now nothing can take you away from me.
“This conversation is over”, I repeated. Then I said, “You will be the death of me, my love”.
I held you by your hands, and took you to bed.

For the first time in a long time, we made love; not sex, not fucking, but we made love, as perhaps we never done it before.
You were weak, spent, and so was I.
It was good, but somehow it felt more like a duty than anything else : for the first time since we’ve been together, I did not come.

Morning came, all too soon, and we left together bound to the Airport.
We left in silence, and in silence was our trip.
But we were always close to each other, always holding our hands.

It’s time to say goodbye, my love, but I’ll be back soon. I’ll be back.
“Jon… about last night…well, in three weeks time I’ll be back, ok? And then we’ll talk some more?”
You smiled, beaming with confidence, and said,
“In three weeks time there will be no more reasons for you to worry about anything. Everything will flow, you’ll see.”
I’m glad, my love.
“Will you wait for me?”, I asked.
“Forever”, you answered.
“I love you, Jon. Never forget that.”
“And I love you, Natalie.”

We kissed, we held each other, we laughed, we cried, and then we said goodbye.

"Now I'm trying to wake you up
To pull you from the liquid sky
Because if I don't we'll both end up
With just your songs to say goodbye..."

Placebo, Song to say goodbye

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Chapter 27 : All these things that i've done

“I dreamt that we were looking for each other, but we couldn’t see our faces, for small veils covered our eyes.
I called for you, and I wanted so much to hear your voice, my beloved, that I fell prey to despair because silence was my only answer.
Whole lives flashed before my eyes. Generations went by in a blink of an eye.
After I wandered for an eternity, the horizon brought white shores, where a siren’s voice beckoned for me; as if calling the ships to port.
I found you there, wrapped in a cloak of leafy green, arms wide open for me.”

“I held you by your hand, and in it I left a kiss, frozen by all the Winters that were, and could never be…
And we danced, through all nights, though the ages, to the end of all loves… We danced.
The stars paraded themselves before us, and surrendered to our infinite grace.
Wrapped in that starry blanket of nightfall, my Queen, we were poetry in motion.
Celestial pantheons stood in awe before our perfect union. It was written in the stars; our destinies forever entwined.
Then… a pull, as if my very life was being taken away from me… and I saw you fade, disappearing into nothingness, away from me, further and further away, until the distant horizon claimed you.”

“And I wept, my love, for it was as if my soul had been stolen from me.
I cried for lo those thousands of years, my muse, for light itself had fled from my life.
And I cried to the heavens, with such grief in my words.
With God’s own voice, I said :

There will never be one that will love you like I do; For loving you is like dying anew every single day, thinking only of the moment when reborn I would be with you again.”

“And I woke…
Inside me, nothing but the emptiest of feelings. Inside me, the will that had to become my Destiny made manifest, that one day, I would find your arms, even if I had to search for them my whole life.
Inside me, the will to show you heaven through my lips.
But above all, inexorably, inescapably, the will to make you mine until the end of time.”

I didn’t even know you, but I missed you so much… I hungered so for your voice… I yearned for your touch. For your lips.
And I didn’t even know your name, Marcia.

We had gone for a walk by the shore, and after lunch, we sat down on the rocks to watch the eternal struggle of the waves, breaking valiantly against the sea-torn fingers that stuck out from under the roiling waters, against the walls eroded by salt and age, one after the other.
We sat motionless, silent, and out of nowhere I started to tell you the dream I had with you, one year and a half ago.
Sure, I may have omitted certain parts, I didn’t want to leave you thinking that I was maybe some hopeless romantic, or even worse, that I had just escaped from a mental institution… but I told you enough so that you had a nice picture of it in the end.

You know, I remember so well the night I saw you for the first time…
As soon as I looked at you, I knew it would be a bad idea if I ever saw you again, and so for a whole year, or near enough as makes no difference, I didn’t so much as go out even once, for fear of seeing you again.
Stupid, I know, but it did it for me, and for you, and I’ll even own up to giving done it for secretly harbouring the thought that maybe one day there would be an ‘us’.
It’s curious, but when I saw you next, I felt that cold feeling inside, those butterflies in my stomach; something I hadn’t felt since I was maybe, fifteen, sixteen.
And if part of me felt awkward, even slightly bothered, another smiled a naïve and childlike smile; and dared to dream of something.

Where I found that courage, I will never know. But I went to you, said something that was very probably very stupid, and you laughed.
For long seconds, I confess, I feared that you were laughing at me, before finally I understood that you are laughing for me, just for me.
We talked all night long, and in the end you gave me your phone number, and I gave you mine.
It took a fortnight of gathering my nerve, just to call you, and when I ultimately did it, you sounded so mad at me…
You said that I had forgotten all about you, and for one second I lost my words.
You laughed again, that laughter that seems to come from the very core of your heart, and you told me that you were happy that I called.
We started going out, and throughout all these months I dare say we became the closest of friends, and now there aren’t that many people in this world that know me as well as you do.
You know things about me that only Jon ever knew, things so intrinsically mine that even Sophie never knew.
And soon I must tell you who I am.
Soon I must tell you the truth.

We walked in silence for some minutes, trudging slowly over wet sand, and wind bore with it a fragrance full of salt and melancholy, bearing songs from other time, other lives.
You felt a sudden chill, and closed your jacket. We sat down again, and we looked ate ach other, then to the sun that set even as we watched him, in tones of red, and orange, and closer to the horizon, in a deep purple, as the lengthening shadows mourned the coming night.
“Wow”, you said, years, hours, minutes later. “It’s beautiful.”
“And I don’t mean just the sunset. What you told me. Your dream. It’s the most beautiful thing anyone’s ever told me “, you said.
“But tell me”, you asked, squeezing my hand hard, “how is it possible that you can dream about someone you’d only seen just the once, and how can you have a dream like that, so beautiful, so amazing, so… I don’t know, so poetic? Is that the word? I don’t know.”, you continued.
“I don’t know how to describe it”, you said, “but at least to me, it looked like a collection of beautiful portraits, or… or… and I was in it!”, you enthused joyfully.
“Why me?”, you asked.

I don’t know, I can’t imagine, how long I sat thinking about your question.
I don’t have an answer to your question, little girl.
I am not, nor have ever been an oneiromancer, one to interpret what my dreams mean, and I had stopped caring about my dreams long ago.
You want me to tell you why I dreamt of you that night?
You want me to tell you that I could have only dreamed that dream if you were in it?
You want me to tell you that that night, in the midst of so many people, surrounded by that veritable wall of sound, I saw the richest sunset in your eyes, just as I see now?
That in the laughter that I didn’t hear, I heard a choir full of longing, and that I have never stopped thinking about you since?
I pulled up my legs, so that I could be a bit more comfortable, and you put your arm around mine, leaning your head to my shoulder.
In a moment of madness, I kiss you on your forehead.
You drew back, and stared at me perplexed.
“Where did that come from?”, you asked.
Great, I only manage to fuck things up. Nice going.
I got a bit disoriented, totally and utterly lost. I had forgotten how to deal with people.
I had forgotten my place, and who I am.
But, and against any and all expectations I might have had, I see you smile.
And with that smile that played upon your lips, you stared longingly at me, and then, as if in a movie, as in one of those romantic movies where everything always has a happy ending, your lips slowly got closer to mine.

“No”, I thought.
“No”, I told you.
“No?”, you asked, disbelief echoing in your voice.
“No”, I repeated. “Listen…”
I stopped for a few seconds, breathed deep, then said, “I like you, Marcia.”
“You do?”, you smiled.
“It’s good to know that”, you continued, still somewhat stunned, “but then why did—
“, you were saying, but I had to interrupt you.
“Because there are things you should know. Because you have to know what I did, and who I was, and what I am.”
“I don’t care about that, Will, You know that.”, you said.
“You should. Now, please, listen to me.”
Then and there, I wanted so bad to just go for something, a beer, a whiskey, anything…
I curse the day I ever made you that promise, Jon Snow.
And I am glad I made it.

“I suppose I’d better start at the beginning?”, I said, more than asked.
“Fair enough. I, huh… a long time ago I had this relationship with a girl, Sophie.”
“And I guess it was quite a long one, our thing, at least according to my patterns. Almost three years, it was.”
“And it was so good. Well, for a good long while, it was very, very good. But towards the end…”
I paused.
I got up, caught a pebble and threw it into the water.
I sat back down and said :
“I don’t know what happened to us, you see? One day everything was just perfect, we played with the idea of maybe getting married, having kids, you know the drill.
Those small lies we keep saying in a relationship to make it last, to keep us together, so that we’d never feel the bitter sting of loneliness ever again.”
“And truth is, however much we try to stretch things, one day you’ll stretch it just a bit too much, and it will break. So one day we started fighting, and that’s all we seemed able to do. Days would go by and we wouldn’t even kiss each other, or touch each other.”
“It’s likely we weren’t having sex together for months, when we broke up.”
“And I have no idea what happened to us, even after all this time”, I repeated.
“So one day she tells me she met somebody else, that she felt happier with him, all the usual stuff, blah blah blah.”
“And that was the end of our story.”
“Well, sort of, because you see, I was still madly in love with her.”

I hope to God that you didn’t catch the look in my eyes, Marcia. I had so much pain and anger in them, anger at all that had happened, at everything that I became… if you had seen my eyes, you would have thought me some kind of animal.
But that’s what I am, right?
A vulture.

“The mere thought that she was with some other guy left me sick. And trust me, this was not a frustrated macho thing, some stupid territory issue I might have. It was because I deeply loved her. I really did.”
“And one day I see them together.”
“My heart, already so battered and bruised, broke in to so many little pieces. And I did something so stupid.”
“What?”, you asked. “What did you do?”
“Understand. Or don’t. But I was severely depressed, and even worse, I was very drunk.”
“And when I saw them…. Well, had Jon not been there, it would have been so much worse.”
“What the hell did you do, Sandor?”, you asked.
I sighed a long sigh of grief. It was years ago, but It still feels like it was yesterday…

“I called her names. Ugly names. I said that she was a fucking whore. And then I tried to hit the poor guy she was with.”
“But that’s relatively nice, compared to what I did after that.”
I coughed violently and suddenly, and I closed my jacket too. Autumn was cold this year, too cold.
And we all know what comes after Autumn.
“Oh God”, you said. “I’m actually afraid to know. What could be possibly worse than that?”, you asked, impatience in your every word.
“Not much”, I added. “I just begged her to take me back. Or I might have said that she could come back to me, I don’t know. But I crawled, literally.”
“And what did she say?”, you asked.
“She said I was pathetic”, I admitted, with a shrug.
“Maybe she was right, too. And the worst thing in all this is, the guy she left me for? Jeez, he’s just so… so normal. He’s just like so many other guys you see out there, so unremarkable. Well, could be he was a real Rocco Siffredi.”
“Who?”, you asked. “Never mind”, I said. “The truth is I felt like shit. Like a germ. Worse than that. Less than nothing.”
“And for months on end, I came to hate the face that looked at me from the other side of the mirror. I literally spent entire months completely drunk, and to my great dismay, every time I went out, I always managed to see her. With a different guy.”
“The fucking slut”, you said indignantly.
“Nah, don’t be like that.”, I said. “I’m not trying to defend her, I’m just trying to say that after all that, I still managed to fall even farther.”

“I hated myself so much, that I knew deep down that no one could ever hate me as well as I did. And I felt so hurt, that I thought that that pain gave me the right to hurt other people.”
“So one night I meet this girl in a bar I used to go to, and by God, it was so easy to seduce her, and take her to bed. I thought, if it had been that easy, why not keep on doing it?”
“And so, for two years, two long and unending years, that was what I did. I became the shell, the shadow of who I was. I became an animal. And I liked to thought that I was truly a bird of prey, a silver eagle, my talons sharp.”
“But, heh, I got it all wrong. Sure, I was a bird, only a bird of the carrion kind.”
“And I hurt so many people… I saw them as so much chewing gum, to be chewed, then spit out.”

It speaks volumes for my courage the fact that I was telling you all this without even so much as looking at you.
And the minute I do look at you, I see you crying. One more you hurt, Casanova.
“Secretly, I think I wanted to kill myself, Marcia. Somewhere along the way I had lost all my will to live, and I was killing myself slowly. I never was brave enough, or stupid enough to do something like that, but I killed myself in other ways.
I felt scorn for myself… I had become so cold. An alcohol-fuelled iceberg that fancied himself a playboy, shallower than…”
I nodded sadly.
“The best thing is, no the worst, actually, is that I wasn’t like this before. I was someone so different. Not this.”
“I loved to read. I lived poetry. I would go to the movies, and to plays, I loved music so very much. I was always wandering around, constantly mazes at the true beauty of all that surrounds us.”
“One day I woke up, and I no longer was that person. That Sandor was dead. And he died because I chose, conscientiously, to let him die. I chose to be an awful person. And I lost all I had.”

“One day I hit rock bottom, and got so drunk to my job… an hour later I was on the street, they fired my sorry ass. I was working in a publishing house, and I kinda bullied the guys at work that day, and I very well told my boss that he could go fuck himself.”
“But I also did manage to drive what few friends I had away from me. Do you know, Snow is the only one I have left.”
“Out of a job, all my meagre savings were spent in no time, and boy, was it money well spent”, I said sarcastically.
“Soon after, so that I might survive, I had to sell for a fraction of their real price things that were precious to me; the books I promised I would keep forever, the books that I so loved and was so proud of. And believe me when I tell you that it is indeed a very cruel pain to hear some stranger making you a ridiculous offer for something you know is worth twenty tines over what you are offered, and especially that person makes it sound like she’s doing you a favour, that her time is of such great value that she can’t listen to your complaints… but in the end, you have to, you must accept what is being put on the table, because you direly need it.”
I got up once more, and spat into the sea.
“And when you thought I couldn’t do any worse…”

I would have given anything not to have seen that look you gave me, full of horror and revulsion.
“Why the hell should I bother to make an effort just to get laid with some girl, I thought one day.”
“Oh, I had a number of girls on my cell that I could call anytime; tele-fucks, I called them.”
“Only most of them, maybe even all of them were girls that I might had to apologize to, and you know, call me crazy, but I never thought that calling a girl and say “Hey, how are you doing? So sorry I never said anything, you know me, busy man, barely have time for myself, but I kind of fancy you, wanna fuck?” would be such a nice strategy.”
“I had an epiphany. A revelation, of sorts. ‘And God said, “Let there be light”. And there was light!’, Genesis, line three. And I saw the light : if I get me a girlfriend, why, that’s like sex without all the effort! Brilliant! How had I never thought about that? And you want to know what the best bit is? I didn’t even have to like her!”
“So I went and did it. I met a girl around ten in the evening, twenty minutes or so later we were kissing, before three A.M. I was doing her, and come next day, we were an item already.”

To this very day I cannot understand how you were able to hear me speak all that crap, and not once did you hit me, or threw up on me. You should have called every name in creation.
Because if I were you I would have done it. And I deserved it.
“Ah, Marcia… I was so mean to her… so mean…”
“I made her so many promises, and lied so much. So much. I made her fall in love with me. I made her love me.”, I sighed.
“So, happily for me, one day I go out and meet another girl. And something I wasn’t expecting happens.”
“I was getting ready to go to Playboy mode when my… consciousness, or whatever it’s called, made me feel guilty. An echo from the person I used to be once upon a time appeared from God knows where and opened up my eyes. I stood staring at this girl I had just met, without a single word to say to her.”
“I panicked. I faked a phone call, rushed out of the bar so I could pretend that I needed privacy, or maybe because I couldn’t hear anything, or some other stupid reason.”
“And I ran to my place.”
“I had the most awful night, like, ever, full of nightmares. When I woke up the next day, I knew what I had to do. Without any explanation given to the girl that I was going out with, I stopped talking to her. I didn’t return her calls, or her texts. I even had to change my phone number.”

“And I thought I would change. That I could change. But needless to say that after about three or four day, I returned to my old haunts. And that was my life up until two and a half years ago, give or take.”
“Important things happened to me back then.”
“One of them, and maybe the single worst thing I ever did, was calling that girl I used to go out with one day, and I asked her if she’d like to maybe to for a drink, or something. I ended up asking her if she would take me back. Understandable, she said that I go fuck myself.”
I don’t know why, but I laughed. A madman’s laughter, like some crazy soul dancing over that thin razor’s edge we call sanity, until I started to cry.
“The day after that, I met a friend of mine. Well, at least just this girl I used to know, and when I thought I knew how this night was going to end, she blows me away. Oh yeah, my crowning achievement that night was having the shit kicked out of me. I almost died.”

And I should have died, I thought. At least that way I would bring some comfort and justice to everyone I ever hurt.
Naturally, you were distant from me, though you were by my side.
What I didn’t understand, at least not then, was the tenderness in your eyes.

“I woke up on a bed on a hospital, you know? Something I never thought would happen to me. In the middle of people crying, and howling with pain, and that awful smell of sick or near dead people, I wanted to be reborn to life. I swore to myself that I would change, that I would be someone good again… oh well. The road to hell and good intentions, right?”
“I was barely out of the hospital when I picked up some girl, a Barbie doll that I met during my stay.”
It had gotten violently dark, night fell with all her force, and the cold started to seep.
I wanted so much for you to hold me, but I knew I had a very slim chance of that.
“I went out with her soon after that, and that night… well, I was also with Snow, and his night didn’t quite go according to plan, and he just freaked out with me. He dragged me away from where we were, by one of my ears, no less, and the next day he opened his heart for me.”
“I swear, it was as if Jesus Christ himself had descended just to talk to me. He told me so many things… things I knew, that I could not deny, that were there for all to see. I realized then how disgusting I had become. I saw all that I had lost during all this time, all that I had sacrificed. All that made me the person I once was, the person he so well knew, and that no longer was.”
“And after hearing his words, and after he left, I made a decision.”
“I decided to die.”

“The next day, I just left. I left all behind. I do admit I could have done things some other way, but there you go, that was the way things happened, and no good will come out of thinking otherwise.”
“For a year, a very long year I was away from everything. I stayed for a while in northern Africa, then in a convent, too. I forced myself to forget the meaning of a touch, of a kiss. I willed myself to forget what it felt like to hear laughter, or to see someone smile.”
“I taught myself, through silence, how to be good.”
“And I think I was successful; nowadays I’m able to look myself in the mirror again.”
“For a long, long time now, Marcia, I have not kissed anyone. I have not touched anyone. And I feel good because of that. I’m not saying that I’m perfect, nothing of the kind. I know I deserve some cosmic retribution for all these things that I’ve done. I firmly believe that there is a very special hell saved just for me.”
“But I dare say that I’m a nice person, now. Or at least I labour under that misapprehension.”
“This is my truth, little girl, and now that you know it, now that I’ve told you the worst I could ever tell you about me, I will tell you why I dreamt of you, that night when we first met.”
“I’m not afraid anymore, you see? I’m not afraid to say it. Do you want me to say it?”
“Tell me”, you asked, and your voice, Marcia, your voice! How it hurt to hear that voice that made me cry…
“Because I love you, Marcia. I have loved you from the first second I laid my eyes on you. And I tell you this without any reservations whatsoever. I tell you this because this is something I’ve carried with me for a long time.”
“I love you, Marcia.”

“Now, I’m not going to ask you to take my word for all that I have claimed, or to give me any kind of chance, no.”
“A while ago you wanted to kiss me.”
“After all that you have heard, do you still want to? Think about that.”
“Now you know who I was, and what I was. Now you know how I feel for you, and only you can say if it means anything at all to you.”
“Think about this. It’s all I ask.”

I'll keep my distance
These things I never seem to mean
So I leave the murder scene"

Editors, Distance

Friday, June 29, 2007

Chapter 26 : Days before you came

“Poor little baby”, I said, playfully, “poor little Jon can’t even get up from bed!”
You were bed-ridden with a cold, taking a variety of meds the doctor prescribed; though I knew that in days you’d be up and about again, and our lives would go back to normal, seeing you in bed like this still hurt more than I cared to admit.
I was standing by your side, my arms folded protectively over my stomach, when, and with great exaggeration you said,
“Love… listen to me… these will be… the last words I will ever… ever say.”
“I want… I want you to have all… all my CD’s and DVD’s… and the photos, too, ok?”, for added effect, you coughed dramatically.
“Nah”, I answered jovially. “I’ll sell that stuff, and burn the photos… what I really want is the keys to the car and the fortune I know you’ve been amassing all along in secret”, I said, with a small laugh.
“Ah!”, you sighed audibly, “Oh horror upon horror! Be gone, o form of man! You wish to take all I have saved for us all along!”
“Have you no respect for a man’s pain that you have to come here and mock him?”, you asked.
“Pain?”, I asked, ”Bah, what do you know? If you were a woman you’d have reason enough to complain.”

You looked at me for a few seconds, some playfulness in your eyes, and said, “You know nothing. Now, shut up, and get ready”, you concluded.
I didn’t have any reaction, quick and agile as a tiger you jump on me, and roll, then get on top of me, your hands on my stomach.
“Oww”, I said, “be gentle, it still hurts a bit.”
“Yeah?”, you asked. “Why?”
I looked at you and I wondered how could someone be so daft, then I remembered : Men.
“Well, think hard, Einstein”, I said.
You either had no idea, or just couldn’t find the right words to say.
“Hmmm…”, you said.
“Ok”, you agreed.
“Really?”, you asked doubtfully, as if it was just an optical illusion.
“But… but just a few weeks ago… surely not…”, you mumbled, clearly out of your depths.
“Honey”, I said, “Maybe this will come as a shock to you, but you know, this is a cycle? And it means it repeats itself! Yay! And to my sorrow, yeah, it kinda comes in a monthly basis?”
Wow. I think I never saw you blush so much.
God only knows how you were able to retain your sanity after that episode all those months ago.
So I decide to change my strategy.

“But you know, it’s near the end now, and maybe I kinda miss having sex, so if you want to…”, I suggested, with a wink.
“Oh, yuck, no way!”, you said, “Nuh-uh, that’s gross!”
“Yeah? Is that right? I didn’t see you complain last month… or the month before that, come to think of it.”
“Yeah, well, I was Count Dracula then”, you said. “Mwahahaha!”, you attempted to laugh in my patented Donald Duck laughter, and failed gloriously.
“C’mere”, you said, pulling me to your side of the bed.
“Hey, hey, no touchy! I don’t want to get sick too, or take back with me all kinds of diseases to the hospital, ok?”, I said, maybe a bit brusquely.
“I just wanted a kiss from you”, you said tenderly.
Because of that, I covered you with kisses.
“Fuck, it’s true… this weekend I’ll be pulling double shifts at the hospital, so we’ll only see each other now on Monday, yeah?”, I said, checking the time.
“And in about ten minutes I should start getting ready to leave, babe.”
“Ok”, you said, “I love you, Natalie. Never forget that.”
“And I…”, I love you so much, Jon, so much. More than anything.
Then why can’t I say it? We’ve been together for almost a year, now, and I’ve never said it, though you say it every day, as if it was the easiest thing in the world, as if it came as easily as breathing to you.
“And I…”, I repeated.

“Natalie”, you said, “you don’t have to say it.”
“But if I don’t you’ll end up thinking that I don’t feel it, that I don’t love you.”
You got closer to me, held me in your arms, and whispered in my ear, “It’s because you don’t say it that I know for sure how you feel. It’s because you don’t say the words, but because you do so much more than that, that I know that you love me.”, you said, and in your eyes I saw an immense pride in me, in us, a look that told me that nothing would keep us apart.
So I went and got ready to go, and when the time came for us to say goodbye, I swear a piece of my heart broke in two.
Never leave me, Jon Snow. Never.
“Wait for me”, I asked.
“Until the last star fades into darkness”, you said.
We kissed for along while, but too soon our lips were parted.
“I’ll see you soon, love”

Monday arrived, and I got home feeling exhausted; there was no part of me that didn’t ache.
Weekends at the Hospital are always very nice, watching sixteen year old idiots coming in comatose from all they drank, or worse, o.d’ing from some shit they took.
I feel filthy, and I’m going to take a long, long shower.
I scrub myself real hard to wash away all the smells from the Hospital; the vomit and piss of drunks that seemed to permeate my very essence.
I got out, dried myself, and yeah, at least ‘the curse’ was over.
I decide to put some cream over my body, to help me relax.
I still feel smelly, so I put on a bit of perfume : a dab behind the ears, another on the wrists; then on my neck, and very slightly, on my breasts.
I wear a fresh pair of pyjamas, and when I get into bed next to you, I hold you, and think about how much I really love you, Jon.
And I love you. I love you.
I love you more than anything else in this world. More than my own life, even.
You’re the one for me, the one with whom I would spend my remaining days, and have kids, and then grandchildren.
You make me want things I never ever wanted before.
You make me dream about things I thought I could never have.
I love you, and tomorrow I will let you know.
Because, my love, I want you to know that I will always be here for you, and that all I ever wanted is you.

We wake up at the same time, and it was late, way past lunchtime.
We stayed in bed, in silence, looking at each other.
No words needed be said, in the purity of that moment.
I lay next to you, my beauty, and want you to feel close to me.
Take my hand to you, touch you softly, your fair and warm skin.
Wordless, I felt the hardness of your arousal, and your fingers, those fingers that know me so well, find my secret and wet sweetness, only for you, yes, yes, oh god, like that…
You cover me with you, over me, and under you. I pull you into me, and as one we lay entwined, for hours on end, silent words lingering in between.
After a while, we fall asleep in each other’s arms. If only you knew how much I wanted to scream that I love you…
Every time I came, the words ‘I love you’ fought to get out, but they didn’t; I feared I would shatter creation itself with the strength of my thoughts alone.

When we get up, we were quite famished, but the fact that it was near midnight left us few options.
“Stay in bed”, you said and kissed my lips as if for the first time. “I’ll fix us something to eat.”
“Be right back”, you said.
“You promise?”
You laughed, and said, “Yes, I promise. And this time there will be no silly business that’ll keep me from standing by my promises.”
”Well… I mean, maybe you might get food poisoning from what I’m gonna cook…”, you said, on your way to the kitchen.
And from the kitchen came noises that made me think that maybe a whole legion was cooking, instead of just one person.
“Babe?”, I asked, “Is everything ok?”
Your head appeared from the kitchen, I could see that your hair and face had flour all over, and said, “Just dandy!”.
“You want help?”, I insisted.
A sound like a thousand pans falling, followed by the sound of something breaking, made you come to me to give me a floury kiss, and say, “Trust me. I know what I’m doing!”, and with that you disappear into the kitchen again.

I decide to leave you to your own mysterious ways, turned on the TV, saw that there was nothing good on, and I turned on the Playstation 2. But what to play?
I know, a classic.
My old Final Fantasy VII got dusted off, and memories came by the hundreds.
So many hours playing this game… And that Sephiroth… Yummy, yum.
Yeah, I know he’s only a cartoon, but oh my god…
I load the game directly to a part where Shephiroth commits an act of terrible cruelty.
“Sephiroth… oh boy”, I sighed loudly.
“Yeah?”, you say, holding a tray in each hand. “You would prefer a cartoon over me?”, you asked, the words playing upon your lips.
“Oh you know, that amazing, huge long silver hair, and that enormous sword… oh yummy, what’s not to like?”, I asked, while I was looking at the trays. Whatever it was, it sure did smell good.
“Oh really? It’s all a matter of size, is it? Ok, sure, you keep him… I’ll keep Aerith all for myself.”
“What?”, I shouted, “No way! You’ll keep me, and that’s the end of that”, I boomed joyfully.
“So I give up on her, and you give up on him? That it?”, you asked.
“Quid pro quo, Clarice”, I replied.
You laughed.

You set the trays on the table, I jumped at you, my legs rolling around your waist, and kissed you.
“Hmmm… that’s good”, you said. “But let’s grab a bite to eat, yeah?”
“Ok”, I agreed. “So… what the hell is it?”
“Well… it’s sort of fusili by way of sun dried tomatoes, and Turkish olives. I added a dash of olive oil, and vinegar too”, you concluded.
“Wow”, I said. “Sounds delicious. But… how come you had flour all over you?”
“Oh, that. I don’t know, I guess I thought it just made me look more, er… cook-y?”
“Oh brother”, I replied. “So what do we drink? There’s some wine left, I think…”
“Nah, don’t worry. Water’s fine.”
“Hey, you want to see a movie while we eat?”, I asked.
“Hmmm…”, you thought for a while, “Yeah! And I know just the one”, you enthused.
“Try and see if you can find out what movie it is… it’s got this great song : ‘it’s the eye of the tiger / it’s the thrill of the fight’ “, you sang.
I thought for a few moments, then said, “Rocky IV? Nawww… you’re crazy! No way, pick another… or I will!”, I threatened gently.
“Oh no. No no no no no. But it’s a pretty easy mistake to make, you see? The songs from Rocky III and IV were made by Survivor. And ‘The eye of the tiger’ is from Rocky III, not IV. That was ‘Burning heart’ “, you said proudly.

The look I gave you made you draw back, and lose the idea of us watching ‘Rocky’.
You started to hum the ‘Imperial march’ from Star Wars, but without any sort of hope.
“Well”, I said, “I guess it’s up to me to pick a movie… and I pick…. Let’s see… Ah, yes.”
“ ‘Man on the moon’ “, I said, in triumph.
You mumbled something, but I knew you were no match for me.
“Have you seen it before?”, I asked.
“Not really, no… it’s just that I’m not really into Jim Carrey that much, and the last good Milos Forman movie I saw was ‘Amadeus’ “, you said, defeated.
But you liked it, I know, because by the time the movie was finished, your eyes were pretty wet.
“Love, what’s that?”, I asked, “Are you crying?”
“Hmmm? What? No…”, you answered hurriedly. “it’s just something, ah… something in my eye, that’s all.”
“Heh”, you laughed. “I know we didn’t actually do anything very tiring today, but what about if we just hit the sack?”, you asked, your mouth wide open in a yawn.
“Sure”, I agreed. “Go on ahead, I have to go to the toilet, then I’ll be right back with you, ok?”

I brushed my teeth, saw myself on the mirror, then combed my hair sitting on the bed by your side. You were lying naked; only seldom did you sleep with any clothes on.
I sank into your arms, stroked those very arms that enfolded me, passed a hand through your hair, and you said,
“I love you, Natalie.”
“And I…”
“And I will tell you a story”, you said.
“Is it another one about your famous ancestor?”, I asked.
“It is”, you admitted. “But listen closely”, you asked.

“This story takes place a few years after the other story I told you. My kin of old had returned to the village, and built it anew. In time, it was peopled enough, so that prosper was made self evident.”
“The townsfolk, though, said that he was a cursed man, and as such there was no prospect of him getting married again, though his lands were rich, and the bounties plentiful, happiness was denied him for ever.”
“In a nearby village, there lived a young girl of legendary beauty, who, at the ripe young age of fifteen was a widow four times over. It was said that she, too, was cursed, for the seal of her virginity would render the purest of loves into sin.”

You stopped telling the story.
You got up, went to the kitchen, and brought a pitcher of water, and glasses for both of us.
“Drink”, you said.
“My ancestor set out to meet her one day, and when they did meet, it was as two souls that were but one, and had been halved long ago, were finally reunited.
Soon they were one, and on the day he took her for the first time, all the leaves fell from the trees, though it was high summer.”
“At the dawn of their first day together, all seemed as if taken from a fairytale, where hope prevails over lies, and truths that lurk hidden in the dark make dreams be filled with joy.”
“Suddenly, there was a light, of terrible beauty.”, you said darkly.
You topped up your glass of water, then shook your head.
“All had changed. The sun that shone faded behind clouds. Flowers no longer blossomed, animals fell sick, and all the children died. The only thing to be harvested was sorrow.”
“Then, all the blindness was taken away from us; our eyes finally began to see, when she closed her eyes. The Tear maiden rose from her throne of winter, and left.”

You said nothing more for long minutes after that. You cried a little bit, then I held your hands.
“Then”, you said, “my kinsman went after her, and he cried her name for all men, and angels, and demons, and the very Gods of heathen times to hear.”
“He cried her name, and said ‘I love you’.”
She looked back, and said, “And I love you, Ned Snow.”

I let silence follow your words.
I didn’t know what to say.
I knew. I just didn’t know how.
You saw that I was crying. You turned off the lights, and we were lit only by the moon that loomed phosphorescent outside.
You dried my tears with your lips, held me with such passion and love, and right then and there, Jon, I loved you with the intensity of all the stars, and planets, and suns, and all living things in the universe.
I put my face next to yours, and we just looked at each other for a long time.
“Don’t you worry”, you said, while you stroked my hair with one hand.
“When you feel the time is right, you will say the words I know you feel”, and your other hand fondled my breasts slightly, and then one finger circled slowly my nipple.
I stifled a sigh, and kissed you.

Again, you looked at me, then you closed your eyes. You said, “Let’s sleep.”
“Yes”, I agreed.
“I love you, Natalie”, you said with your eyes closed, but you were smiling, because my hand was tracing your beautiful lips.

“And I love you, Jon Snow.”, I thought.

"She's too invested in the hours That Pass Her By
I'd Pay Attention If I Thought It Was Worth The Time
I tell her easy but Her Hands They Find A Way
Confusing Passion For The Laws he never gave
Fall Back On Reasons That We Know Won't Stand A Chance
Watching Our Shoulders Like A Memory From The Past
I tell her easy but Her Hands They Find A Way
Confusing Passion For The Laws he never gave."

Timbaland, Time