Classified as metaphysical fiction, Sacred Vow is a love story of a very unusual nature. …. Any new relationship has complications, and Katerina and Ian, the lovers in this story, are no different. However, there is one catch. Ian and Katerina are trying to build a relationship across dimensional planes; visiting each other through meditations and visions. Walters does a fine job of expressing not only the awkwardness of a new relationship, but the hesitancy anyone might encounter in trying to explain non-quantifiable experiences to those around them. —Kate Turner for New Connexion Magazine
Installment 9 of 22 Sacred Vow (Dragon's Beard Publishing, ISBN: 978-0-9774271-4-7, paperback, Fiction: Visionary/Metaphysical).
Ian had acquired the teapot from his friend Liz’s bed and breakfast the year before, while on vacation in the mountains with his long-time girlfriend, Beverly. Ian thought he wanted her to have it as a reminder of the good times they seemed to have had on that trip. Sadly, a few weeks after returning, from the mountains they found it necessary to accept that the relationship was not fully providing either person’s needs. The only resolution they could agree on was to separate.
It was a sad time for Ian. Their relationship had been his most enduring since a short, failed marriage when he was much younger. It had seemed obvious that his relationship with Beverly had been falling apart even before the trip, but he had not wanted to see it.
When Beverly tried to pack the teapot with her things as she moved out, Ian was annoyed—and thus became aware of whom he had really bought it for. He was irritated, yet somewhat amused, that Beverly would now choose to claim a gift that she had all but rejected when Ian had given it to her. If anything, she had expressed almost contempt for the teapot and had repeatedly indicated an interest in giving it away.
Ian was surprised, however, by the attachment he found himself expressing for the teapot. After all, it was wholly unremarkable in appearance, manufacture, and function. From the beginning, however, the teapot’s impact on his life proved to be much the opposite.
Ian’s fondness for that simple teapot had seemed to have a special ability to upset Beverly. He could not understand how they had such opposite reactions to a simple ceramic pot. As he looked back on those days now, Ian felt fortunate that Katerina had not visited the few times Beverly used the pot to make tea. He was sure that such an inopportune visit would have spelled doom for his beloved teapot.
Despite its association with the end of Ian’s relationship with Beverly and the beginning of some strange activity in his life, it was good to see Elizabeth—Liz—Fontilineau’s bed and breakfast again. It had been the centerpiece of his vacation with Beverly.
When seen while driving up the country road, Liz’s bed and breakfast appeared to be a one or two-story flat-roofed building with some Victorian enhancements. But once past a green border of trees and bushes on the approaching side (or sooner when it was winter), you would become aware that the house was deeper than it was wide. It was built on a steep bank bordering the road. This fact hid the extra height of the building. If you were not stopping at the upper guest parking, on the approaching side of the B&B, you made a right turn on the opposite side of the house and drove down and around back to Liz’s parking place and gardens. From there, the south side, the B&B looked like a townhouse, three stories over a basement.
Liz told him that the building had once been a general store and feed supply. Though it took a lot of work to fix up, she had bought it for the location and the space it provided for the price. Now Liz had multi-bed guest suites on the upper two floors. The common dining area and her private living space were on the bottom floor. The basement, exposed only on the east and south, was used for storage and gardening supplies. The two upper floors had balconies, and the first floor was wrapped on two sides with a wide deck.
Liz was a joy to be with. She and Ian had become good friends since they met on his trip with Beverly. Over seventy years old, she was a tall, remarkably elegant woman . . . elegant for any age. She spent much of her time in the bountiful gardens that spread around the house.
Ian would not have expected to find Liz inside, except that it was winter. She opened the door to greet him. Three weeks of abstinence from visiting Katerina had not brought about quite the health recovery that he had convinced himself it would. Though it would take far more to force Liz from her usual decorum, her eyes betrayed fleetingly her shock at Ian’s haggard appearance.
Then she said, “Give me a hug, darlin’.” She spoke in a charming deep-South accent—not heard very often in the mountains of the Northeast—and opened her arms to greet him.
Ian stepped through the door, glad to wrap his arms around her.
“Hello Liz. It’s wonderful to see you again.”
The year before, Beverly, Ian, and Liz had had many enjoyable conversations. Liz proved to be not only gracious, but a very wise, fascinating woman. During those leisurely conversations, Ian had never been able to extract from Liz just how she came to her knowledge. Her attention was focused on the “here and now,” to caring for her gardens and being cordial to her guests, which she did so intently that it was almost a mystical art.
Now Liz led Ian through the door to the dining room and said, “The water for tea went on as soon as I saw you pull up.”
“Thank you, Liz,” Ian said. “You are such a wonderful hostess.” He pulled back a chair from her large, double-pedestal dining table and sat down. She always had a way of making a person feel special.
“It is what I enjoy. It is what I do,” she replied, and she disappeared for a moment through the double hideaway doors that led to the kitchen.
Every move Liz made, everything about her appearance, and all the choices she made were graceful and genteel, Ian thought. He realized that the music playing softly in the background was a recording of a Mozart concerto, performed on original period instruments.
He got up and looked through the windows toward the river west of the inn. Ian called, “How have you been, Liz? Did you have a nice Christmas?”
“I’ve been doing very well. Thank you for asking, Ian.” Liz came through the door, carrying an exquisite silver tea service with a plate of the most fragrant scones. “It was a lovely Christmas. The weather was cold, with just enough snow for the mood of winter, without being troublesome. I spent time with many dear friends, of course . . . By the way, thank you for sending me that lovely Christmas card.”
Just being around Liz brought out Ian’s best manners. “My pleasure, Liz.”
“How have you been, Ian?” The tone of Liz’s voice held none of the alarm Ian had seen on her face when Liz had first greeted him.
“I’m alright, Liz.”
Liz paused for only a moment before responding, “I’m glad to hear it.”
Ian could not overcome feeling guilty about his obvious lie, so he added, “Though I’ve been working too much. It’s been wearing on me lately. But I think that’s about to turn a corner.”
“That’s good,” Liz said. “One always needs to care for the spirit.”
Ian looked around the room, seeking to diffuse the nervousness that was starting to build within him. Against the wall next to the kitchen, Liz had a pie safe with glass doors. If this had been her busy season, the cabinet would have displayed several cakes and pies. Now it was empty. The standard flower arrangement was absent from the center of the table, replaced with holly for the winter season.
Placing tray on the table, Liz looked up at Ian, “I hope you like scones.”
They sat and sipped green tea, spending the next hour relishing the maple-flavored scones and finding out what each had been doing since they had last been together.
“I was sorry to hear about you and Beverly,” Liz said. “You two seemed so happy together when you first arrived.”
“Thank you, Liz. Obviously something was not quite what it should have been. Anyway, the separation seems to be best for us both.”
“Well, that’s good. I know it had to be painful. But if you are both happy, I’m glad for you,” she said sympathetically.
Liz’s enjoyment of the simple pleasures of the moment and her unwavering attentiveness were, as always, so infectious that until she brought it up, Ian had completely forgotten about the teapot and the visions that he had been obsessed with for months.
“So, tell me, sweetie, what is it that you want to know about this teapot of yours?”
As comfortable as he felt with Liz, Ian realized that their conversations had never entered into esotericism. If Ian had to guess, he would have speculated that Liz had no such interest. He’d wondered whether she had never been drawn to such things or had just passed beyond the need of like expressions.
Ian answered carefully, not wanting to sound insane, “Oh, I don’t know, Liz. I’ve just come to believe there is something very special about it.”
Liz leaned back and gazed at Ian in a way that made him feel she was looking right inside of him. He was becoming uncomfortable. Always before, she had maintained a mix of Southern politeness and New England reserve. Never had he felt the slightest impulse in Liz to be openly curious. He would have assumed that she considered prying to be bad manners. But today, her quiet look felt almost intrusive.
Eventually, Liz shifted her gaze, smiled, and tilted her head to one side as she lifted her teacup. “It’s a pretty teapot, darlin,’ but there is nothing special about it. I was glad to give it to you when you asked to buy it. I’m not really sure why I kept it after that couple said they didn’t want it back.”
When Liz had given him the teapot, she had told Ian that a previous guest had left the teapot behind, but she had said nothing more. Its history had seemed unimportant at that time. He had been happy to have a token to remember a wonderful, peaceful time, and the teapot had served that purpose well. Beyond that, Ian had not thought much about it.
But all that had changed. Now he was curious. “A couple left it?”
Ian’s question was not as telling as the quick way he spoke, the tone of his voice. He was embarrassed, and he hoped Liz failed to pick up on his expressed eagerness.
She smiled and put her teacup down. “Yes, it was a couple, a husband and wife.” She paused. “Now it’s your turn, dear.”
Lost in his thoughts, Ian was slow to respond. He had hoped that the previous owner had been a single woman. It came as a surprise to see how much of a romantic fantasy he had built up. Ian imagined that he had been experiencing a connection with a proverbial “soul mate,” through the mutual connection of the teapot. Ian had not been aware of it until now, but despite all the elaborate trappings of the visions, some part of him had adopted the notion that the person he was visiting had previously owned the teapot and was “of this world.”
Liz waited patiently for his response, smiling and giving him all the time he needed. She took a bite of scone and gave him an encouraging look.
Initially, Ian was not ready to accept his disappointment. “Excuse me?”
Liz leaned forward and reached across the table. She touched his hand gently and said, “I will be glad to tell you everything I can about the teapot, Ian. You don’t even have to tell me why you want to know. But I think you’ll be surprised to learn that I know a little something about a lot of things you might never imagine.”
Copyright 2006 CG Walters
(Liz continued next week)
last week, Dark Visits
C.G. Walters primarily writes fiction that focuses on the multidimensionality of our loves and our lives.
Purchase as ebook, the Amazon Kindle version, or autographed copy.
Please join me as a friend at any of my other favorite hangouts: Facebook, StumbleUpon, Friendfeed, Twitter, Plurk, or Digg
Thanks to JM at October Scribes Blog Carnival for featuring this serialization segment.