WHAT’S IT LIKE…
In the dim and silent room he heard again Catherine’s whispered words: "I’ll be home tomorrow by noon, Vincent! I miss you. Good night, Love. I’ll be dreaming of you."
She’d rushed to Jenny’s apartment across town when Jenny had slipped and broken her leg…two endless days ago, he thought, longingly. But Jenny’s sister was due in the morning and Catherine would be home ‘by noon’.
They’d spoken on the phone at every opportunity: Vincent composed and spoke a little prayer of thanks for technology. The telephone had partly replaced the Bond… He sighed, recalling how deeply he had once mourned the loss of that connection: her feelings surging through him and her heartbeat close to his own. Catherine had consoled him, suggesting that as they were at last ‘truly together’ perhaps the Bond, or its absence, no longer mattered so much. Catherine was right, he thought, and there were other gifts, glorious gifts, to be shared in the arms of the woman he loved beyond everything. There was no place for regret or sadness in his life.
The golden figure shifted slightly on the spacious bed to lie on his back. He entwined his fingers beneath his head, keeping his eyes closed. The small grin that Catherine so adored curved his lips. Another sleepless night - but he cherished it. Joy radiated from within him at the thought of her! He was clearly reluctant to relinquish this blessed state of wakefulness for anything as secular as sleep.
"What’s it like…to have a Love?"
Mouse’s question of long ago drifted above him. Mentally he reached for it, still smiling, examining the words, thinking deeply. Oh, he’d formulated a response for the young man, though he could not recall it precisely. For that had been the time of…beginning…when all was so new, quite miraculous, even frightening. His very being, his life, was in transition, evolving from an almost single-dimension existence – rather like the journal pages where he once summed up his days – to this…this limitless reality. Now he penned beginnings of thoughts that would not flow to completion…fragments wholly incapable of touching, poor words barely sketching, the inexpressible feeling that is loving and being loved!
Earlier, while on a work detail Below, it had come to him humbly yet powerfully: he was actually one of the men now! He had a Love… and that made all the difference – or created the sameness, he happily corrected himself. In the past there were the others and there was…Vincent. He could share in and contribute to conversations about repairs to the place they called home, ease security concerns and guide Council decisions. What was beyond his experience was everything else the men discussed among themselves. He was not married, he was not a ‘confirmed bachelor’, nor was he among those who anticipated marriage one day. No, he was Vincent, forever forbidden that which was the essence of a human man.
Now that was changed. Now he had a Love. Now his life was…so much more than human. It approached the Divine - for the Love he had been given transcended humanness. It was Infinite. It was All. It was for Eternity. This Love of his was one of those truths Father had spoken of as being beyond knowing: simply, it was, and that left him nearly overcome with amazed gratitude.
"What makes you smile?" The cherished voice whispered those dearly familiar words from beside their bed.
Blue eyes flew open, the sheet was tossed aside, and in a moment she was caught up in his welcoming embrace and spun around. "You, my Love, my Catherine!" he told her, all but breathless with happiness at having her in his arms again. "You make me smile! You fill my heart so that I cannot contain my joy – it leaks out!"
She laughed delightedly then spoke close to the alluring lips she craved, "And I’m doubly glad Marlene arrived this evening…so I could get here in time to collect all that…leakage!"
The following morning Vincent glided down the few steps to land easily on the worn, carpeted floor of his Father’s study. A group of workers was assembled there, coffee mugs cradled in chilled hands. They spoke quietly among themselves, as one is apt to do in the first hours of the day.
"Ah, there you are, Vincent. Now, shall we take a look at today’s repair sched…?"
"Catherine is home."
All eyes turned toward Vincent, drawn by his ardent, heartfelt declaration.
As his words faded, an extraordinary thing happened: a sort of muted echo was heard in that candlelit chamber. Each man was granted a moment’s discernment of what Vincent and Catherine shared and LOVE seemed to warm every heart
"Hmmm, yes, well then, why don’t you remain behind today, Vincent, and spend some time with Catherine? This job will not require any strenuous labor and I understand space will be quite limited…"
"Father, no, no. I am fully prepared to go…"
"Vincent, listen to Father. We were discussing this before you came. In cramped quarters we’ll just be in one another’s way. We were preparing to choose a smaller team from among us anyway." Kanin held crossed fingers behind his back as he created the very logical fib. "You can go next time. Now, suppose the rest of us write our names on slips of paper and let Father pick today’s work force."
Everyone nodded, agreeing easily with the wholly unexpected proposal, as they gathered around Father’s desk to find paper and pencils. Vincent crowded in as well, though a few of the men tried to dissuade him.
"Vincent, come on – be a gracious loser for today."
"Go home to your wife."
In the end he, too, wrote his name but Father was wily enough to note how the scrap was folded. When he shuffled them all he was able to keep track of his son’s and chose others. Although Vincent suspected the deception he was very grateful for it. After bidding farewell to the four men remaining to receive Father’s instructions, he walked out with Cullen and Brian. When the three men separated, two headed back to Father’s study to rejoin the day’s work team.
Once away from them Vincent broke into a trot. If Catherine was still in bed he intended to join her there! He reached the underground entrance to the house he shared Above with the Love of his life and nimbly climbed the ladder. Letting himself quietly into the kitchen he made his way through and out into the hallway to the stairs leading to the second floor. The house was silent; Catherine hadn’t been down for the coffee he’d set to brew before leaving earlier. Taking the steps two at a time he was careful to tread lightly on the soft carpet and avoid any places where the old boards might creak. He hesitated in the doorway of their bedroom for a moment – trying to make himself believe that the vision before him was real! Catching his breath quietly in the wonder of her he approached the grand mahogany bed, its embroidered sea green comforter and matching jade sheets in sleep’s disarray, enfolding the most beautiful creature he would ever know. Across the room luxuriant velvet draperies trailed almost imperceptibly on the oak floor, teased by a morning breeze drifting through a barely open window.
With what Catherine called ‘enthusiastic agility’ he began to shed his clothing. Slipping in as gingerly as he could, Vincent lifted the quilt to cover himself and be enveloped with Catherine in her warmth. She stirred and opened her eyes to smile at the sight of him.
"Good morning, Love." Lifting herself up on an elbow she whispered, "I don’t know if I shall ever not be surprised to find you here beside me. I love you, Vincent." She brought her lips to his.
He helped her lower herself more fully upon him. "Mmmm, as long as it always pleases you to find me here…" He wrapped his arms more tightly around her slight body and kissed her again.
"I think thrill is a better word for what it does to me, Vincent," she told him, a little out of breath.
"The feelings you bring, Catherine…"
Catherine lowered her head to nibble briefly at his neck then rested her cheek contentedly on his silken chest. "Tell me, Vincent."
"Would you know what it’s like for me to have you, to know your love?"
"Mmmm, yes, please."
He moved ever so slightly so that she lay fully atop him, needing to feel her in this way. "Your skin is satin," he told her, as his hands explored. "It soothes and excites me to touch you like this… I must hold you as I try to find the words."
She snuggled deeper into the muscled length of him, then lay still to listen.
"I was …incomplete…barely an outline …shades of smudged gray on a black background. Your love illuminates and infuses my existence with a luster of rare and nameless colors, bestows substance and grace … you create our extraordinary world for me. You have given me a soul that is ever bewildered yet completely fulfilled, Beloved. This joy that beguiles me is your gift."
Catherine smoothed the glossy hair on his chest, leaving kisses everywhere she could reach. "My Love, you deserve everything. I hope you know I have only just begun my life’s work of giving to you."
He hugged her fervently. "Tomorrow, if you ask me what it’s like for me to be loved by you, Catherine, I will have something new to say. Your love makes each moment a revelation, an awakening. Let me spend eternity telling you…and showing you… how precious is this Love you bring to me…"
* * *
The coffee remained on the warmer late into the afternoon.
As always, this is dedicated to my Love