picture by imhis1
Sacred Vow is a unique, ingeniously written visionary/metaphysical novel about one true love and its infinite expressions. It asks the reader to consider an experience where our interconnectedness and ‘self’ definition might extend far beyond the segmented (individualistic) awareness previously held by so many. It takes us on a journey deep within, exploring and discovering one’s own mystical longings and a wealth of endless knowledge. Be prepared for some surprises.—Spirit in the Smokies Magazine of Living NEWStories
Installment 5 of 22 Sacred Vow (Dragon's Beard Publishing, ISBN: 978-0-9774271-4-7, paperback, Fiction: Visionary/Metaphysical).
Ian and his new friend had quite a few pleasurable visits over the six weeks that followed. With the exception of a couple of short periods when she did not show at all, he saw her one to several times every week. Her visits lasted only seconds on his watch, yet the activity that he could recall made Ian feel that they had been together upwards of several hours at a time.
He came to call the woman Katerina sometime after her second visit. Absentmindedly interrogating himself after he returned from their time together, trying to get some better idea about what exactly he was experiencing, Ian realized that at some point he had begun referring to her by that name. The certainty and familiarity with which he used the name amused him.
Ian started to search for the justification of this inadvertent christening. Surely, he had picked up something in the vision without realizing it, something that suggested her name. After considerable deliberation, he found no such clue. And yet he experienced discomfort when he did not refer to her as Katerina. He was certain that he somehow knew her name. And even if it was not her name, what would it hurt to call her Katerina until he knew her name for sure? Using this name was much more soothing to him.
Ian next encountered Katerina as she was sitting in the grass under a tree of beautiful purple flowers. Comforting a dear, little girl, perhaps three years old, on her lap, Katerina acknowledged Ian’s presence at about the moment he became aware of her.
When Katerina spoke to him, the child looked about as if she had no idea whom Katerina was addressing. But, the little girl did not seem disturbed by Katerina’s response. Once the youth decided there was no one else with them, she laid her head back onto Katerina’s breast and closed her eyes.
“You have a lovely daughter,” Ian said.
Katerina shook her head, very slowly, in order not to disturb the child’s rest. The caring look for him on Katerina’s face gave comfort to the depth of Ian’s soul. He had never imagined that there could be so much connection between two people merely through visual communication. No wonder the child was so contented in the company of such an empathic woman.
“She’s not your daughter?” he asked.
Again, another slow denial, and then Katerina stroked the child’s hair.
He looked about at the surroundings. They were in a sculptured garden, spanning in all directions as far as he could see. True, he could not see much more than fifty yards in any direction, but the paths that disappeared in every direction implied there was much more beyond.
When Ian’s attention returned to her, Katerina was gazing intently at him. At first he was a little embarrassed with the attentiveness of her focus.
“You know. I suppose I should start by introducing myself, though it seems we are rather familiar already.” He was starting to ramble, so he calmed himself before continuing, “My name is Ian Sarin. It has been a joy to meet you, dear lady.” He bowed his head.
She nodded in acknowledgement, placed a hand on her chest opposite the head of the sleeping child, and spoke. It was obvious that she had introduced herself, but Ian did not catch her name.
“I am so sorry,” he responded. “I have always been inept at lip-reading.”
Then Ian started nervously rambling again, “You know, after we met the second time, I got the most assured idea that I already knew your name. I had no reason for it, but I just couldn’t help believing that your name was Katerina. In fact, having become so certain of it, I was afraid that I would just call you . . .”
Noticing her smiling and nodding, Ian regained his focus, thinking he had missed something she was trying to convey.
“I am sorry. What did you say?”
Again, she placed a hand on her chest, but spoke with slow, exaggerated movements, slightly pausing between each syllable. She appeared to say I . . . am . . . Kat . . . er . . . ina.
What she said seemed obvious, but Ian distrusted his eyes. Surely, his own preconception of her name was making him imagine that he understood what she said. Still, he had to check.
“Katerina? Your name is Katerina?”
She nodded with enough enthusiasm that the little girl stirred to see what was happening.
“That’s amazing,” he said. “How could I have possibly guessed that?”
Katerina kissed the little girl’s cheek, and tried to coax her head back to rest. Apparently, the little one had received all the comfort she required and was fully revitalized. Without any further indication of intent, the child jumped to her feet, looked quickly to one side, and started to talk excitedly.
Katerina nodded, and the girl rushed toward one of the many paths radiating from the clearing. Waving back to Katerina, the child barely missed running into Ian. She seemed no more aware of his presence than she had earlier.
He laughed at the transformation and watched the child disappear around a flowerbed. When he turned to look back at Katerina, Ian was surprised that she was now standing right in front of him, gazing into his eyes.
Katerina reached to touch him, but her hand remained barely suspended in front of the upper right side of his chest. “Hello,” she mouthed. He was sure of that.
Reflexively, Ian reached to touch her face.
He was so engrossed in her eyes, that he did not really pay any attention to his hand. Anticipating the touch, his senses informed him that his hand had moved enough that it should now be reporting the feel of Katerina’s skin.
Ian pulled his attention from her eyes and looked to where he expected himself to be touching her face, along her jaw line. The translucent distortion that he saw instead of his hand caused him to jerk backwards. He pulled his hand back, bringing it right in front of his eyes for a better look. Still Ian saw nothing but a fuzzy impression of a hand.
“What the . . . ?” he said, stepping back again.
Noticing that Katerina was waving her hand in front of his face, Ian let his attention follow her hand. She drew a single finger to her lips, gently suggesting quiet, calm. From her lips, his attention went back to her eyes; in the process he became as subdued as the child had been a moment before.
What difference does it make that my hand is not solid? he thought. Ian looked around himself and back to Katerina. It was an odd feeling to perceive himself as the only intangibility in the environment.
“Look where I am, what I am doing,” he said out loud. “Why should I be so surprised just because I see something else unexpected?”
Though still not completely comfortable with the appearance of his hand, he was calmed. Being careful not to point with his finger, Ian asked for a tour. “Let’s take a walk. Please tell me about this gorgeous garden.”
They wandered about for quite a while, winding through path after path. It was all much manicured, more like an arboretum or a study of wild flora than the garden of even a lavish estate. He didn’t see any indication of a dwelling of any kind. Of course, since Ian could not hear anything during the visitations he could not rely on sound to tell him if they were close to any houses.
With the sights and the company, it did not take Ian long to completely forget about the distortion he saw instead of his hand. The couple talked like long-lost, dear friends, spending most of the time looking into each other’s eyes as they talked and walked. He was surprised that neither of them stumbled, he especially, since he had no idea where they were going.
Though he did not ever feel the contact, Katerina reached out to touch or stroke Ian—or more precisely, his location—frequently. He was amazed how much intimacy could be conferred by the implication of such a motion. The gentleness with which Katerina carried out those gestures, the look in her eyes, almost satisfied any need for touch, to a degree that he had never known before.
When she was close enough, Ian “touched” Katerina. He had no physical sensation as a result of the effort, and he did not look for confirmation of that touch. He did not want the pleasure of his experience interrupted by what he suspected he would or would not see.
As Katerina continued with the tour of the endless garden, Ian’s conscious mind started to push for answers to questions. Was he only a matter of his consciousness projecting to a location near Katerina when he was in her world? If so, what were the perceived sensations of his body in this place? He experienced fragrances, experienced movement as he walked.
And there was one odd sensation that was starting to disturb him. Ian’s movement had a vague hint of being guided, as if he was in some confined space. He walked along with Katerina, but it didn’t fully feel as if he was moving as a result of his own physical effort. The idea made no sense to him. Yet, it did explain why he never stumbled as he kept his eyes only on Katerina during their tour of the garden.
Two little children came barreling down the path. Their little faces lit up when they saw Katerina. They began chattering and waving, without slowing their pace. She replied with similar enthusiasm. Off they disappeared in the opposite direction, without any indication that they had seen Katerina’s guest.
The interruption was good for Ian. It brought him back to the joy of his moment. He returned to the steady exchanges with Katerina, rather than dwelling on the pointless concerns of his conscious mind.
Shortly afterward, he and Katerina stepped into a clearing and the sky opened up over them. The flood of sunlight drew Ian’s attention ahead and then upward, where he noticed a magnificent old-world building.
“What a remarkable place, Katerina! What is that?” Ian said, looking back and forth between Katerina and the structure, which stood about fifty feet away.
Moving in front of him, Katerina lifted her left hand toward the structure, as if to introduce it to him.
Overwhelmed by its unique beauty, Ian repeated, “What is it?”
She looked him right in the face and began to slowly pronounce something. Ian hated trying to lip-read. He found the slow, labored pronunciations to be more distracting than helpful. For all he knew, Ian caught nothing of what Katerina said, despite her efforts.
“Do you live here?” he guessed.
Yes, she nodded. Motioning for him to move forward, they headed for a large, ornate entrance. Katerina began telling him about it, at normal speed.
Her home was the archetypal French country cottage. It was neither small, nor very big. The exterior was extremely well crafted with stone, stucco, and heavy timbers. Quite a bit of the stone and exposed wood was carved, apparently by various craftspeople on different themes, at different times since the styles were so different. The cottage had to have been ancient. Unless her world was much different from his, he thought, not even the wealthy built homes of this size with such detail and artistry anymore.
Ian realized that he was acting as excitedly as one of Katerina’s young friends. Moving this way and that, he tried to take in all the rich detail. Katerina moved toward whatever he showed an interest in and tried to tell him about what he was seeing. Nearer the main door, off to one side of the building, there was a sculpture that fascinated him. Katerina stopped to see what he was looking at.
A path led directly to the intriguing sculpture. She waited to see if he wished a closer look. Ian turned toward the house, concluding that he could see the statue well enough from where he was, and he did not want to delay their entry into the house. Katerina followed suit and turned to continue toward the door.
An instant later Ian changed his mind. “I’ll be right back, Katerina. I am going to run over there for a quick look at the statue.”
As he was behind her, Katerina did not see his change of direction. A few steps into his jog, a sense of internal strain, a visceral pull, started to get Ian’s attention. Another couple of steps and he experienced a rush of faintness. Before he could take another step, Ian lunged back—against his recliner.
The return to his study was abrupt, but he recovered without complication. His little stroll toward the statue alone let him know he was correct in supposing he could not move far from Katerina when in her reality. Based on that experience and the children’s unawareness of him, Ian concluded that in that place he was an apparition honed in on, and seen only by Katerina.
(Katerina to be continued next week)
last week, Tea Ceremony (part 2)
CG Walters C.G. Walters primarily writes fiction that focuses on the multidimensionality of our loves and our lives.
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Many thanks to Karen at Creative Carnival - September 2008 for featuring this article.