Thursday, August 21, 2008

Serialization of Sacred Vow: Katerina (continued1)

photo by JF Sebastian

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 6 of 22
Sacred Vow (Dragon's Beard Publishing, ISBN: 978-0-9774271-4-7, paperback, Fiction: Visionary/Metaphysical).

Katerina (continued)

Katerina didn’t appear every evening that he had a cup of tea in his red leather chair, and she never appeared when that particular teapot was not in the study. Nor would she visit Ian in any other room, even if he had tea with that teapot there. One evening Ian found out she could materialize in the study when he was not having tea, but had, nonetheless, brought the pot into the room.

Planning to have tea a little later, Ian was in the kitchen rinsing the teapot when the phone rang. Still drying the outside of the pot, he went to the study to pick up the cordless extension. As he talked, Ian sat down in the antique recliner and placed the teapot on the table to his right. When the conversation was over, Ian turned off the phone, and laid it on the arm of the chair.

For no particular reason, Ian continued to sit and stare at the teapot. Suddenly he felt Katerina’s presence. Although it had not been that way in the initial visions, he had recently noticed that his awareness of Katerina was now instantaneous. No progression of sensations led to their connection. During the last few visits, she had consistently appeared someplace in his study, as if out of nowhere, without warning. Or, more likely, Ian had suddenly found himself in her world.

On this particular visit, Katerina was sitting on a bench near the very statue that had caused him trouble in a previous visit. She was playing a wooden flute. Of course he couldn’t hear the music she was making, but she painted a serene picture and seemed to be enjoying herself.

Quite content that he could move only in proximity with Katerina, Ian got her attention and pointed at the statue, to make sure it was not too far away. She nodded to confirm his intention.

The countenance of the statue looked uncannily familiar. It was a woman who looked very similar to Katerina, but it was not she. The stature and dress were regal. Ian leaned forward and stared right into the eyes of this stone woman. Even in marble, those eyes implied a wisdom that could recognize a person by his or her spirit within.

An unbelievably loud, grating noise rose right up Ian’s spinal chord. When it reached the base of his head, a shattering pain shot through the top of his skull. Ian jerked away from the statue, unable to believe that even in this place stone could generate such a sound.

“What is that?” he said.

The noise stopped. But he was back in his study as well. The noise had been the phone ringing and it only stopped only after Ian’s convulsion knocked it to the floor, breaking the connection.

In panic he looked at the table next to the chair, where he always set the teapot.

“Thank you, thank you,” Ian said. He had flung out only his left arm to silence the phone. The teapot sat safely on the table to his right.

He got up, disconnected every phone in the house, and pulled the curtains closed. He made tea and had a cup, hoping to return to Katerina and relax. He was unsuccessful in both pursuits.

“Tomorrow I will disconnect the doorbell as well,” he said, finally rising from the chair. “I’ll never again be yanked back before my visit is complete!”

From then on, Ian went through an invariable process of closing the house up, sealing himself off, and switching off all the phones before each tea.

The day soon came when Ian was able to visit Katerina in her cottage. With all his precautions in place, he settled into the recliner one night, hot pot of tea prepared and on the table beside him. He had not poured himself a cup. Yet, an old room of large stone and timber-frame opened up before Ian. The interior reflected the same grand artistry and craftsmanship as that he had previously seen on the exterior.

It took him a moment to become aware of his new surroundings, but Katerina was already smiling and talking to him—as she worked with some herbs.

“Hello, dear one,” he said. “Your home is even lovelier inside.”

With her hands in a pot of a liquid mix, she motioned with her head for him to look around. Fearful of encountering the limit of his energetic tether, he turned slowly around where he stood, taking in every detail of the environment.

The room was reasonably large, perhaps twenty-five by thirty feet. Judging by what he had previously noticed about the exterior size of the cottage, the staircase to the left of the area, and the windows he had seen from outside, Ian knew there were several other rooms in the house. This room seemed to serve as the all-purpose area. It was kitchen, dining room, and study. Shelves of books and a couple of large, comfortable upholstered chairs sat at one end. He and Katerina were at the opposite end.

The primary entryway was through an arched door in the center of one wall. The floor beneath Ian’s feet was of stone similar to slate, but more rustic. A few feet in front of the door was a sturdy, old rectory-style dining table, flanked by benches. Opposite the door was a very wide span of deep-set leaded transom windows, set over a kitchen counter made of large, handmade ceramic tiles. The cabinets under the counter were handmade, with wooden knobs. Shelves holding many kinds of ceramic jars covered the wall on either side of the windows behind the countertop. Between the windows and the back of the counter top, there was a window box filled with various flowers and herbs. Dried bunches of plants hung from the ceiling in several locations.

While Katerina worked with the flower essences, and another pot of dyes, Ian stayed near her. He could not assist her with her chores, for he still proved to be without substance in her world. Though unable to hear what she told him about her tasks, Ian could smell the aromas and was happy just to see the sights and pastimes of her life.

Obviously, Katerina had acquiesced to Ian’s innate inability to lip-read, no longer seeming to expect further progress. Ian was convinced that they understood much more of the intention of their communication by speaking naturally. One thing he was certain of: the silence did not diminish their enthusiasm for communicating with each other.

“What is your vocation, Katerina? I still don’t know if I visit only when you are away from work,” he said. “That happens to be the case with me because I initiate the visits, and can only do so at home, after work.”

Katerina watched him, considerately.

“At least I imagine that I instigate the visits—perhaps foolishly.” Ian had to question just how much of this experience he could afford to make assumptions about. It was all so anomalous.

He looked back at Katerina. She warmly smiled, continuing her work and patiently waiting for him to go on.

Ian speculated that the image of his form must be clearer to Katerina than it was to him in her world. When he spoke, she was always attentive for the duration of his monologue. Ian considered that this conduct might have been due to a difference in their cultures, but the ardor of her attention sometimes made him uncomfortable. If not for the familiarity that she also expressed, Ian might have thought she believed him to be a visiting dignitary or luminary. Maybe such a visitor as himself was not so common in this reality either.

“Never mind talk about work. I’m finished for the day,” he said.

Starting another look around the room, Ian changed his focus. “I think I like your world better than mine. With you being here, I am certain of it.”

It appeared that Katerina was reasonably well-to-do, for even if the house was an old, inherited family home, it would have cost a fortune to maintain the structure and its ornamentation, not to mention the extensive gardens that surrounded it. Even though the gas oven and the lighting that was similar to electricity implied that Katerina lived in a time with some modern technology, the furniture, doors, and windows of her home followed the d├ęcor of an architectural “period display”. It crossed Ian’s mind that he had only seen a home furnished with such a disassociation to present time when it was a part of a cultural heritage display, or perhaps a church property used as the home of a vicar in a wealthy parish.

When Ian returned his attention to Katerina, she began a very lively, cheerful conversation. He watched closely and picked up what little he could. From her animation and facial expressions, he took in the joyfulness she was conveying. Ian caught his name a couple of times, and a few hand gestures certainly were referring to him. She seemed to be speaking of some interaction that she had had with others, concerning him.

Stopping mid-sentence, Katerina jerked her head toward the heavy, arched door. The top half of it was open. She rose quickly from the stool where she had been sitting, and wiped her hands dry on a towel that lay on the counter. Ian had no idea of the sound she was responding to, but it now had her full consideration.

She moved quickly across the room, and swung open the bottom of the door. After a momentary delay, Katerina stepped out onto the stoop, awaiting some arrival. Of course, Ian followed, as he knew he must if he expected to continue the visit.

A little boy charged up the pathway, crying. Katerina kneeled and scooped him into her lap. She rocked and stroked him, speaking all the while. Ian slipped out the door and came close to watch her perform this magic. His movement disturbed neither the child nor Katerina. Though Ian believed that no one but Katerina could see him in this place, he suspected that the little boy would not have noticed anyone else anyway. The boy was completely focused on the comfort he was receiving from Katerina.

Apparently the child had scraped his leg. Katerina was consoling him, his head on her shoulder next to her face. She had one arm wrapped around him, and the other hand pulled various salves and herbs from her pockets and applied them. It was quite a ballet of motion. No wonder the children came to her. Ian could see how the rhythm of her speech and the loving way she touched the little boy would soothe him. Watching it was enough to hypnotize Ian into a state of tranquility.

Katerina must be the village godmother, Ian thought. He didn’t doubt that she was particularly adept at healing small injuries, whether to body or to spirit.

After a while, the boy was sufficiently soothed. His energetic predisposition returned, and he slid off Katerina’s lap. She gave him a little advice and a peck on the cheek. Away he went as fast as he had come. Katerina’s face was sublime radiance as she rose and returned her attention to Ian.

“Lovely,” he said. “What a lucky child.” What a lucky man, he thought of himself.

Fully returning from what almost seemed a meditative state, Katerina beamed a smile at Ian and continued with what he assumed was her previous conversation. They moved back into the cottage.

Thinking about Katerina’s manner with the children, Ian wondered why she was the only other adult he had seen in this place. But that question was soon to be resolved.

Ian and Katerina had a particularly long visit that day. As they talked Katerina sketched some pictures. Then she painted for a while. Later, she wove fragile baskets from the stems of the flowers that she had used in the essences earlier that morning. Ian was so comfortable and involved in their visit that he did not even notice when he started to return home. There was no warning at all. Instantaneously, he was sitting in his chair, still wrapped in the warmth of Katerina’s company. But he was alone now.

Without thinking about it, Ian looked at his watch and realized it showed he had eased into his chair only a few minutes before.

Enjoying his immediate memories, he thought about Katerina with the children during his various visits. It crossed Ian’s mind that she was not only supremely attentive with them. She paid the same special consideration to him as well. She possessed a remarkable selflessness, a singular thoughtfulness that made one feel more significant with her than when outside her company.

Ian’s visits with Katerina continued to be silent, but with every visit he felt a greater intimacy with her. He knew that much of what he felt was all in his mind. Ian became acutely aware, however, of the value of kind and loving gestures—of touch and conversation. He began to give greater value to the many other ways people can convey affection to each other, but so often take for granted.

(Katerina to be continued next week)

Last week, Katerina (part 1)

copyright 2006

CG Walters C.G. Walters primarily writes fiction that focuses on the multidimensionality of our loves and our lives.

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