NEW STUFF TO READ INSIDE!!!!!!
Below i posted the third chapter of a book of mine in progress, called "AS TIME RUNS OUT," which is probably the most important writing project of my life so far. if you did not visit this website before, therefore missed chapters one and two, you can go to my Contact Page, click on the Blog link and look for the post of both chapters there. i hope some of you will enjoy this new chapter and hope, even more, a few of you might take a minute and send me a few words of feedback.don't get me wrong, i am not fishing for praise or compliments, i do welcome kind and constructive criticism just as much....both are helpful in the process of development! what i hope for most of all, though, is that one day in the near future one of you will break the ice and send me something to post here. that will be a wonderful moment indeed!
Before long, Franz found himself looking at the image of the frail old man he had become. There, in the shiny mirror-like pane, which appeared to have been cleaned this very morning, he saw what living his life had left of him. In this moment, his gaze did not take in any of the urban busy-ness behind the glass. All he saw was Franz in his favorite coat and, due to the windy conditions that day, not wearing a hat. He was watching his thin white hair being blown about, this way, then the other when, along with the next strong gust, a figure appeared in the window beside him. He did not know what to make of this. It had never happened before and it felt like an intrusion of the most disagreeable kind. During all the time he had spent outside the watchmaker’s shop, thinking about the passing of time, no one had ever disturbed him. And, strangely, he had not considered such an imposition a possibility.
“It must be a woman,” he thought, “because the hair is much longer than my own.”
He could tell that she was having a difficult time getting her mane under control and it occurred to him how funny they both might have looked to an observer. He felt paralyzed, unable to move, so he stayed still and pretended that he was alone.
The woman turned to him and said, “Hello, are you thinking of buying a watch? Or, perhaps, an alarm-clock?”
Franz was not sure what to answer, so he said nothing.
She turned and faced him, brushing strands of chestnut hair off her face. Her green intense eyes looked deep into his, making him feel uncomfortable.
“I love this shop.” She smiled at him brightly.
“I like to look and watch time go by. Do you live around here?” She asked.
He looked away awkwardly, wishing he could regain control of his limbs and walk away.
She frowned as embarrassment spread over her face.
“Oh, pardon me! I didn’t mean to intrude. It’s just… I never met anyone before who looked at this window in the same way I do. You seem… familiar. And, it’s something people object to. About me, you know. Because, I talk to strangers, to anyone I meet. You can tell me if you’re bothered by it. I’ll go away. Sorry!”
Franz thought that she was different from other women he knew. He could see that her face was wrinkled, not that of a young woman. Yet, her figure… and the way she moved…That combination of age and timeless youthfulness. He realized that she was beautiful.
“Don’t go!” He said.
“Forgive me for being startled. I’m not used to someone like you talking to me. Especially here, in front of this window. I pass this place every morning. I’ve never seen you before.” He stopped talking and looked at her helplessly.
Her face lit up.
“Well, I come here too, almost every day. Usually it’s in the afternoon, on my way back from town. Our city home is close by.”
Franz smiled, “I live a couple of blocks down the road. Where do you live?”
“In our – no - in my townhouse. Around the corner, in that little side street there. My husband and me, we fixed it up together, after we got married, so that we would have a real home to be in, whenever we came to our favorite city. We spent so much time here. And, hotels.... well, you know. He died…”
Sadness surrounded her. She looked away.
“I’m sorry for your loss. Has it been long? I am a widower too, you know. My wife passed away three years ago.” He was surprised that he had just said that. Normally he did not talk about it, ever.
She sighed, and offered her hand to him.
“It’s been nine months now. My name is Lisa. Glad to meet you.”
He took her hand and squeezed it gently; feeling her strong grip, then let it go.
“I am Franz. Nice to meet you too. Listen, would you like to go for a cup of coffee up the road?”
Franz watched her face as he spoke the words. He hadn’t done anything like this in years and he felt nervous. Maybe he shouldn’t have asked her. They were strangers, after all. And, he already had his coffee and was on his way home, where, according to his solitary routine, his writing was waiting for him. He always worked on his memoirs after having his espresso for at least two hours. What was he doing, changing things around? It made him feel insecure. Still, he found himself hoping she would say yes.
Lisa was watching the clocks in the window. Silence covered her like a shroud. Franz stood next to her, overcome by anxiety. He could see her outline reflected in the glass but not her face. The wind had picked up and swift dark clouds were moving in over the city from the sea, covering the sun, spreading grayness, threatening rain. Finally she turned and faced him.
“What do you do?” She asked him, with a serious look on her face that allowed her age to take over and hide the beauty Franz had admired earlier. It amazed him, how she had changed in such a short time, and he wondered how troubled her soul might be.
“I am retired, used to be a professor, long ago. Now I just write…”
“Books?” She interrupted him.
“Not any more. I’ve written many books, but now I prefer to just write short stories.”
“About what?” She wanted to know.
“Well, right now about my life. I guess you could call them vignettes, simply, my memoirs.
I am very old, you know. There is a lot to tell, too much, actually, so I’m sorting through it all and just write down the things that seem important.”
She nodded her face tense. Her hands were clenching and unclenching around her thumbs, but she did not seem aware of it. Her mouth tightened. He sensed her pain. But, he knew that she was isolated by it, beyond his reach.
“I write too.” She said, her voice sounding edgy.
“Really? What do you write?”
“Short stories, poetry, research papers, essays. In three languages. I have something, just one page, in my purse. Would you like to read it?”
Franz sensed that it was important to say “Yes.” He understood how lost she was. It reminded him of the time his wife died. But he also knew that her suffering was far greater than anything he had gone through. So, he said quickly, “Of course, I’d love to read it. Is it in English?”
A smile flashed across her face and for an instant Franz saw that other one again. It was incredible how fast Lisa could change. Or, maybe change was the wrong word, he thought. She seemed to be made of layers, which were all part of her and, depending on her emotional state, switched from the surface to somewhere underneath. He found himself fascinated by the multitude of expressions, flowing across her face, and realized that she was not playing a game, or acting, only reflecting every moment openly, like a child.
Lisa opened her purse and took out a folded piece of paper. She unfolded it slowly, glanced at it briefly, flattened it carefully and gave it to Franz.
“Take it!” She said. “I know now how to find you, here, every morning. Right? I’ll see you in a couple of weeks, when I get back from New Mexico and you can tell me what you think. Now I must go. I’m sorry but I can’t have coffee with you today. Maybe we can do it another day, after I return?”
She smiled one last time and, before Franz could reply to her vague question, she had already turned and was walking away quickly. A strong gust pushed her towards the corner and then she was gone.
Franz stood there, no longer aware of the window filled with passing time. He folded the page and put it in the inside pocket of his faithful old coat. It rustled against his chest as he walked home and he thought about how he had to keep it safe, from the wind and the rain that was beginning to drip down.
In the reception hall, he waited for the elevator to open its door with that melodic ring, entered it and rode up to his floor, looking at countless reflections of himself in the mirrored walls. He thought that he looked quite ancient, yet he felt the presence of the Franz who still lived inside of him, a little tired and sometimes weary of the body that was his vessel, but otherwise unaffected by the years. He walked down the corridor, unlocked his door, hung up his coat, took out her page and sat down at his table. He began to read.
Reflections on a theme
What’s the theme, you might ask? Well, it’s one of the inescapable ones. That’s for sure.
My husband died nine months and thirteen days ago. Am I over it? You be the judge.
The thing is, everyone in his family, including he when he was alive, have this idea that people come back as birds and hang around those they left behind, after they die. Sometimes there might be a cloud in the shape of a giant bird in the sky. His family members, who had descended like vultures for a visit, in order to “honor” his death, got all excited about that one. They ran out and stood there, pointing at the sky. I knew better and stayed in the kitchen, at the table, with my glass of scotch, smoking and thinking about what had happened, the first morning I woke up without my husband.
You see, that morning I was sitting in the bathroom, thinking about where my dear departed could be, when a big old fat fly came buzzing right past me, a few inches away from my nose. It landed close by, on the window next to me, and stayed there. I stared at it and it hit me like a flash.
“This could be my husband,” I thought. “After all, there are other creatures with wings that fly, and this is one of them.”
I laughed out loud and said, “Hi, baby. How are you? You must be as blown away as I am right now. You probably had hoped to come back as one of your beloved ravens. Well, things don’t always turn out the way we expect them to.”
The fly did a one-eighty and began cleaning its wings with great care. It obviously wasn’t able to say anything to me. But, the two of us remained there, in the bathroom, for quite some time, having more of that same one-sided conversation.
Since then, a lot of time has passed and, on occasion, I have one particular fly in my house that seems to search me out and behaves differently from the others. I suppose flies don’t live that long and so, perhaps, my husband is caught up in some insane Hindu-type resurrection cycle, being reborn as fly after fly. I can’t say for sure.
One thing I know, though, is that I have one living in my house right now, which follows me everywhere. And, at night, it sits on the ceiling in my kitchen, always in the same spot, so I sit on the counter, with my glass of scotch, still smoking, like I did on that first day, and I talk to it. Part of me knows that this is crazy, but another part of me really hopes that it’s him, that he can hear me and that he understands just how much I miss him.
What’s the moral of this tale? You make do with what you got?
© Corinne Wesley 2015