|The Red Rose
Author: Writer Without Inspiration PM
She was a poor girl in love with him. They meet again when she becomes a courtesan, but he doesn't remember her. A story of love about how the man of arts falls in love with the girl of roses and their mortal love that never dies. 2ND EDIT. Reviews are most welcome.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Chapters: 21 - Words: 112,759 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 10 - Follows: 7 - Updated: 01-08-13 - Published: 12-16-11 - id: 2979851
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"LUST FOR LIFE"
-as narrated by Rose-
The first week of April found us, I — willing to forget that there was a world we had left behind, and William — dedicated entirely to my own happiness, at the edge of paradise once again, or so it seemed. I was a sinner before, deserving to spend my afterlife punished, spinning through the air in darkness endlessly, among the souls of great lovers such as Helen and Cleopatra but my life now was Heaven on Earth. I recalled having read a book in which love lifts the two lovers to Paradise, erasing their sins completely. So it was our case; the noble feelings that I nurtured towards William acquitted me from all previous mistakes, and whatever had happened in the past was now if not diminished, than at least buried somewhere where it could not harm us anymore.
I was fairly sure that this had happened to us, that our love had raised us to something less palpable, yet more substantial, for what else would you call a place where no harm could ever reach you, the state of pure bliss and ideal peace that comforts even the most pained of the hearts? No, this was no real place; it was the Garden of Eden itself, presenting before us every morning in the form of fresh green fields basking in the warm soothing sunlight.
We spent the first days on our own, took long strolls along the seashore and sailed over the Seine, musing ourselves with the thought that, should we let ourselves go with the waves, we would someday wake up in Paris. Every time I mentioned it, William asked me, in a dreamlike manner, but also very determined, if I would, one day, like to visit the capital of France. Sometimes he asked me with such seriousness, that it made me believe all it would've taken him to carry me to Paris was a single word of 'yes' spoken by my lips. However, in all cases, I offered him the same reply as answer: 'Why search for the Empyrean[2- when we have our own Paradise on Earth?'
So madly in love was I, so drenched in fantasies and bliss, that I did all the crazy little things that a little girl would do without realising that she's hurting herself. William called it a 'lust for life', and I owned it was true. I breathed life through every pore of my skin. My heart never beat so wildly as now that there was nothing which could stop us from being too much in love, nobody to pull us back or to control us. And it all seemed so natural and inartificial. We were part of the great universe which was nature itself, and nature was a part of us. The sky above us was our only protector. The universe acknowledged our attachment and this recognition was self-sufficient, more than enough for us.
Every morning I woke up I kissed the sunshine, every night I turned to the moon for reassurance. It was only in the stars' eternal light that I found the answer to my questions. "Do we have a star?" I heard the words in my head. Then: "All lovers have. Ours should be the brightest." Yes… the one which will last longer, too. But even stars meet their end, don't they? Indeed they did, but what's the life of a star compared to the one of a human being? It is infinitely endless, and so was ours, because our lives were marked by this grandness which was our never-ending love, the miracle of it, the great joy which came from our blessed luck… my chance of having met William and his of having met me. It was a great blessing indeed, and I was very much indebted to Fate. Fate asked something in return from us both: from him to love me and cherish our marriage for the rest of his lives, and from me to accept his true love every time, and in every form that it was coming, and never deny anything that is written in the laws of nature. I could no longer work against the natural right that I had… that of being a mother. And thus I have been waiting… and waiting idly… for our love to prosper.
Meanwhile, I have ceased to give any thought to the matter and to anything else as well. "It is not our mind that makes us human," William said to me one morning, while we were philosophising over breakfast. "Of course, we cannot dispose of this faculty, but does it ensure happiness? I have been thinking too much, and felt too little. Your friend, Miss Jones once told me this, you know."
"Ah, I see. You men are taught to value intellect too much, and your senses too little. And you are lead to believe this lie until a woman comes into your lives and opens your eyes. Am I right?"
"Perfectly right, even if it feeds your ego perhaps a little too much."
I smiled and straighten my posture with pride. "After all, where would you men be without us?"
"Where I was before... in an ugly place, living a miserable life. I never want to go there again. It is dark and there is no hope for the future, no wish for a long-lasting life! There is no beauty there... no place for girls like you. There is no wonder that I could not be happy there."
"Alas, I have been there, too. You're forgetting that I was unhappy before."
"Yes, but you thought you were happy."
"Which is even worse."
"It may be so. Does it not seem to you —?" Discarding the remaining piece of cake, I stared at his face. He was so focused on the course of our small talk, that I stopped breathing for a moment to hear what he wished to say. "Permit me," William added, a frown setting upon his face — a sign that he was not sure of what he would say—, but having the spark of a man who makes a grand discovery, "to say something, and pray look at what I will picture with words with a kind of detachment. Exclude yourself from the equation. Will you try at least?"
"I will try."
"I was pondering upon my affairs with the other women in my life, and yours with the duke." He looked at me in search of any sign of jealousy or inquisitiveness, but he found none, thus he continued with confidence, "And perhaps..." Here the course of thought broke, but short after he started anew, "Do you think we were predestined to be together? Do you believe in this silly thing about man and woman's fate being decided before they meet?"
"I don't think I do..."
"It is absolute nonsense. Why should we be more likely to fall in love with a certain someone? This silly idea does nothing save for promoting the idea that we are different when in fact we aren't. The only thing that makes us different is our prejudices. We are all human at the base, but society spoils us at our heart."
"What you mean... is that if we all thought this same way, I could've as well been happy with the duke, and you with another woman?"
"Yes. You don't seem too horrified by the thought... I was afraid you would not understand me. You've grown to understand me, my dear Rose... and it makes me very happy."
"But then, on which ground has our marriage taken place? Your theory doesn't give us an aim in life. What gives us the right to think that we are perfect for each other, when we could be perfect for any other person?"
"The time we spent together. One chooses his mate and makes it a perfect match. To want anybody else when you already have somebody by your side is just a sign of shallowness and self-concern."
"Well, isn't this too much of a philosophy of life for one single morning? Let's dress and walk among the shore... I haven't shown you the surroundings yet... Listen, the sea is calling for us."
We spent the whole day outside, running like crazy children along the shore and among golden fields. In fact, that was all we have been doing during daytime, since we set foot in France. After the sun would set, we would retire to our hotel room, but still leave the window open so that we would feel the faint sound of waves that crushed one under another, the wind that blew so lightly, that we had to stop our hearts for a few seconds (so close we stayed to each other) in order to hear it.
"How do you like it so far?" he asked me while we were on our way to the hotel.
"I like it very much and this says it all."
"See that hill over there?" William asked one day while showing me a rock that was probably the highest point of Le Havre.
"It sure must be tough to climb it."
"I think it takes less than an hour. Some things are easier than you think they would be, my dear Rose. See how simple it was for us to be together? You only need to get rid of your fear and misconceptions." I identified that challenging expression on his face and knew that he would come up with an idea within seconds.
"Shouldn't we keep on strolling along the seashore, though, or go back? I thought we were going to return to our room."
"Would you miss that great view?" he retorted, resuming his walk toward that hill, leaving me behind. I would've greatly missed that hill and have no regret. What William did not know is that I had a great fear of heights. Though, in the end, I had nothing else to do but surrender. He was so thrilled about the idea, that I could not shatter his little dream in pieces. Of course he knew I would not. A self-satisfied smirk curved his lips upwards and I returned the happiness, even if my knees were shaking.
He was right, though. In half an hour we managed to climb on top of it. We were now practically standing on a big rock, on top of what seemed the world, or rather the gardens of Eden. William stepped forward to behold the scenery while I waited there, gasping for air. He invited me to join him but I turned down his invitation.
"This is a beautiful view, you know that? This is the reason I brought you here; I can't believe you're missing it because... Well I don't know why, honestly. Why have you no longer that desire to feel the freedom? The answer for it lies right here, in this beautiful view. You can't but feel free when you are standing on the top of the world. Are you afraid of heights?"
"No... not really... well, a little."
"So that was it... Give me your hand," he indicated, extending his arm to me. "You do trust me?"
"You know I do, but..."
"Then give me your hand. The satisfaction will be greater than you imagine."
I accepted and stepped closer. William whispered to me to close my eyes and indicated me to take a few more steps forward. I followed his instructions, eyes closed, feeling nothing else than the wind blowing against my face and William's strong arms which moved around my waist, holding me firmly from behind. "Can I open my eyes now?"
"As you wish."
My wish was to behold the view as well, because it was the view which William had before his eyes right then. My eyes opened, and my whole senses came to life. The landscape was truly breathtaking, the enormousness of it, the smell of fresh sea and damp grass, the touch of wind against my skin and of William's skin against mine... Once again I tasted the grandeur of life, the wilderness of freedom on my lips. I marvelled at the seascape; seen from there, the hotel — barely visible now — looked extremely small. So small did everything else seem compared to what we had. The troubles, the worries I've once had, they were small as a grain of sand, and our love was vast, and never-ending.
"William, this is wonderful… you were right."
"It is, only do not look down," he warned me. I don't know what was in my head right then, when, for a moment of unawareness, I dropped my gaze. I felt my knees weakening and my body went numb, and, at the same moment, I lost my balance. William pushed me back and I pulled him closer, shaking with fear.
"I thought I told you not to look down."
"Forgive me; I lost my mind for one second. It happens when I am with you. Didn't you say that the mind and the heart do not go well together? I've just surrendered myself to my feelings, and lost my mind."
"No, it can't be so."
"But your theory..."
"My theory has to be wrong somewhere. Otherwise it would mean our self-destruction... One cannot lose his mental faculty completely in order to love unconditionally. Are you still scared?"
"A bit. I am not now, when you hold me so tight." And he did hold me tight until I calmed down. "After all, it all depends on a moment of silliness. One little mistake and everything is gone."
"Come, we'd better return. The sky seems cloudy. Not the perfect time to lose ourselves in the nature." William's guess was right. As soon as I arrived at our hotel, it started to pour. Because of the gloomy weather, we both decided to stay in our room that evening.
The following day we returned to the places we visited the day before, and strolled along the seashore, taking our time to admire the landscape for a while, and to drown in the peace that was surrounding us. Unlike the other day, the sky was free of any cloud. William stopped to take a deep breath of fresh air, and I followed him. I could understand why we both liked so much to surround ourselves with nature. There was something soothing, and peace-bringing about it. Still, everything was perhaps too still around us...
"How about a bath?" I suggested, all of a sudden.
"A bath? Have I heard well? Have these words come from the girl who was too much afraid of heights yesterday?"
"Very funny, William! But you know we all have our moments of madness! Now I am enjoying mine! Are you scared or what?"
"Scared? I don't know the meaning of the word, but the water must be dead cold."
"But only for a moment, William! I want the sea to acknowledge our presence! One more thing on our list of things we've done together, remember?"
"How could I not remember? But the sea... could the sea not acknowledge us as well as if we stay here and watch it, instead of being part of it?"
"No, you have to be a part of it, feel the waves against you! Come, William, don't be such a coward! I've waited for this moment for a lifetime! We only have one chance! The waves are whispering our names. Hear them?" I urged William, but he would not stir. "You are a coward after all!"
"Call me whatever you want; you are right, I am a coward, but only when it comes to you. I don't want to put your health in danger."
"Lies, lies!" I threw my coat on the shore, and plunged into the water. To no avail could William stop me, I was already waist-deep in the water. I dived into the cold water, until I could not be seen. It was a terrifying feeling, so insane was I following my instincts that I could not estimate on the temperature of the water. I was cold, but I failed to realise it. A huge wave crushed against me, and I heard William screaming my name.
"Rose! Rose, come here right now! Are you alright?"
"I am! You should try this too! It is exhilarating!"
"First, you scare me to death by losing your balance on that hill... now you make me think you've drowned yourself... What is next, I wonder?"
"This," I replied and, without hesitation, I encircled my arms around his neck and pressed his lips against mine. I thought it was just a way to shut his mouth but it quickly developed into a breathtaking kiss, which I ended with great difficulty. I felt that lust for life once again, running through my veins like an elixir of which I could not get rid.
"Are what?" His eyes widened as he waited for me to finish the sentence.
"You are lovely when wet!"
"And you are mad! Let's... let's return." Hardly had we parted when I caught his lips once again with intense passion that redoubled as I angled my head to match our lips into another deeper, heartfelt kiss, refusing to let go of him until my mouth would be one with his own. My hands were wrapped around his neck, tugging him closer. It took all of my willpower to withdraw from him, my heart beating faster than usually, gasping for air.
"I think you are right. I am mad... I could as well get rid of my dress and love you right here in the sea."
"You ought to change your clothes, but not here. Let's go back!"
"Same goes for you. Look who's talking!" I measured the length of my soaked dress and squeezed the fabric, trying to dry my skirt, and watched William do the same with his shirt. I was very much amused.
"This is not funny."
"You can't say you didn't like it."
"Which part? The one in which you threw me in the sea or the moment when you scared me to death? You still think it funny?" Now the child within him that had just awoken desperately wanted to get revenge. William started to splash with his hands into the water and spurt me with water, but I could not give up. Of course, I did the same to him and it didn't take us much until we were actually drenched to the skin… again.
"Just imagine that somebody should see us like this... somebody we dislike... say, that grumpy man who calls himself my friend! What would Henry think, eh?"
"That you look just as handsome now as when you are not wet," I dared to tease him.
"That is the least possible thing that would cross his mind! Now, let's get out now, shall we? If there is something I really meant, that is I am too scared of the idea of putting your health in danger."
"No! Let me stay!" I protested, while he tried to get a hold of me.
"Don't be a silly child! Enough is enough!"
"But I want to stay! Father would've loved it... He wanted to take me to the seaside, remember?"
"He would've also loved to have a healthy girl."
Without hesitation and denying all my little pleasures which came from the accomplishment of a dream long forgotten, he raised me up in his strong arms. "No, don't do this! You're hurting me, William! Don't you see I want to stay here! I'll imagine that he is with me, instead of you. You are too mean!"
"You are a very bad girl, my petite Rose. By no means will I let you catch a cold! Why do you have to be so stubborn?" he said, seeing that I would not let him take me to our hotel. I haven't the slightest idea of what has gotten in to me. Memories of my young years as a child came to me, and suddenly I was cold, and crying, and trembling... and finally inside our room, lying on my bed.
William was right by my side, his arms around me. I was now dressed in dry clothes, and so was him. "Rose... you were shivering, you stubborn thing! Oh my love, why are you doing these foolish things? Is the happiness we have now not enough for you? You've had these outbursts before... when you were not happy. I thought that was the cause... but now, are you not happy with me now? What is the matter with you, my darling?"
"I miss him, William! I miss my father! He wasn't there, at our wedding!"
"No, my dear girl, he couldn't have been! Could it be that you need a family so desperately? We just have to wait... You have me till then. Am I not your friend, your lover, and protector? What more do you need?"
"This is the thing, William. You've given yourself too much to me, and I too little of me to you."
"Nonsense, Rose... let me take care of you and I shall be glad for the rest of my life."
"I might be too weak... too weak... what if I can't give you... you understand what I mean? Oh, William, I am so scared... Am I sick?"
"You are perfectly well. I have summoned a doctor. You were asleep, though... You don't remember, do you?"
"I don't. Is he still here?"
"No, he left. He assured me you were in perfect health."
"I might be... on the outside, but I am rotten inside, William. I can't give love. They were right... all the men before you, they all made me feel rotten."
"If only I knew them, I would kill them for making you feel so awful. A man should never treat a woman so poorly."
'If only you and I had met before, William! Forgive me... for ruining your happiness."
"No, listen to me, Rose. Let's go back if you want. Maybe you miss your friend, Miss Jones. You've always felt so attached to England, even when it made you sad... Would you like to go back? How does this sound, eh?"
"Yes, maybe you need some other person to talk to... Woman's talk, I mean... Wouldn't you rather be with her as well?"
"Yes, I think I would. It is of no use... trying to isolate ourselves from the world, after all, is it? But let's stay one full month at least?"
"As you wish. We'll be staying for another week, in fact for as long as you wish. Then we'll return to our home, and you will introduce me to that Mrs. Miller you were speaking of some time ago, and we'll go back to our ordinary life, to Miss Jones's parties..."
"Yes... that would be perfect. Forgive me... forgive me..." I kept on saying over and over again, and he kissed my forehead for every time I said this.
 allusion to Dante's Inferno, where all the humans that gave more importance to lust, and not to the love of God, resided;
 the highest reaches of heaven, believed by the ancients to be a realm of pure fire or light;