An Archaic Connection

I stick together my eyelids and conform the function of my ears to the hovering sounds around me—the dancing vibrations communicating meaning to me and others for whom they are thrown into existence. That’s not the point though—it’s that these rhythms, almost like music, instill into the far corners of my brain a sense of steady peace, while for others they have some other design; that of forcibly squeezing meaning out of those words instead of just listening to the melody they echo. The voice I hear is not too shrill, but neither too grave, not too smooth, and neither too husky—it appears with all its melodic quality to be sort of a perfect balance; as fine as it could probably be. This sound is without a face, for my eyes do not dare break off the covenant they have now peacefully established, the result of which hinders my ability to perceive the appearance of the originator of those musical blows. And then I hear it no more and my senses suddenly exhibit the craving that I had feared all along as I had been subject to that divine voice. My eyes, forgetting their promise, fly apart and behold the view which the night with all its darkness could not hide from the frailty of my quick gaze. I perceived the clear outlines of a magnificent creature, who shone with almost a light of its own, and so enthralled did I find myself with this image that I could not but stare in the most gruesome of manners. Had it been not for luck, the creature would have seen me and been scared out of her wits, but beholding me just as my features had recovered their normal appearance, curiosity propagated all throughout her face, and she moved her hand above her eyebrows, scanning me in the most attractive of manners. I was devoid of any sense of myself for I had resorted back to staring, not unlike a madman. Can you imagine my surprise, my reader, at so unexpected a turn of events, of finding this creature in a solitary forest? I resolved to climb up the bushes to enter the other side to share an introduction, and after having achieved that end, I assumed so friendly an air in my manner of speaking that her surprise could not have been any greater, but alas, her mood, instead of brightening up as I had intended, dimmed considerably. 

“Pray tell, Señor, how hast thou found thyself in the cover of this forest, which wild beasts call their home? For this place is of the solitary kind, one that promises solitude to those who wish so, and death to those who but await their end.”

“I, fair madam, am hardly a stranger to the gloom of these places, for in here many a time have I spent my nights, and it is in here that I have found myself in harmony with the beasts and their manner of living.”

This I said while gazing relentlessly at the night sky.

“Dost thou mean that thy company, in thine approximation, is better suited for the beasts than they are for thy fellow man?” asked she with growing curiosity, for she had not in the last two days met another living soul.

“Aye, madam. That company that thou speakest so nicely of is one that has been of the most poisonous consequence to me, for it is by the misfortunes that they have caused me that I now trudge along these woods, with hardly any glimpse of a future in mind.”

“Pray, do tell me the wrong doings done to thee, for I am without any resolution to do otherwise; and thy case sparks in me curiosity which I dare not ignore at this hour.”

“I shall, only if I may claim the pleasure of hearing thine sorrows in return, for thy case is hundred times of more interest to me than thou canst imagine.”

“Aye, that you may surely hear. So, make me wait not any longer and begin thine account.”

And thus, he began his story:

“I come from a family of strict honor, and my father fulfilled a rank so noble and my mother, a wife of the house, spent her time grooming me in my father’s footsteps, for she had decided while I was but an infant that I shall be possessing of extraordinary abilities which shall amaze every one of the residents of our village, and that the highest of ranks would await my arrival by the time I would grow up to be a man. But alas, nature had its course and I could not part from the company of books that I had gotten so fond of reading that it worried my mother a great deal, for she sensed already the growing desire inside me of becoming an author, of pursuing that old tradition of stories and their writing. So, here I found myself facing a monstrous dilemma, for my mother had threatened to disown me, should I decide against her resolve for my life, but I had not in the least any desire for any other pursuit. I thought and thought, night and day, but I found myself no close to any decision and it would have remained the case, had not Athena, that is my finance, with all her wit, proposed so ingenious a solution for this case, that I could scarce thank her enough. For the next few years, I kept my mother under the impression that I was studying theology at the university in an adjoining village, while in fact, I sought only the company of friends and strutted behind loose women. Thou knowest the fuel for a bard is always hidden in such foolery. I became a drunkard and an adventurer, though I still am an adventurer. Mama was not in any way privy to the ‘depravity’ of my undertaking. That was so, until the curtain was lifted. Not through some idiocy of my own, I assure you, but due to the infamy of my sworn rival, Alfonso. He was no enchanter, but he might as well have been, for though I have no affection for his person, yet I must still confess that his wit did not have a match anywhere in this whole world, and his character turned so infernal as he grew into a man, only the devil could have matched him in battle. My sweet Señorita, beware of thinking I am exaggerating, for while it may make more of a dramatic effect upon thee, I assure thee thou wilt find enough drama in my tale as it naturally is. I see thou art yawing. Shall I delay my narrative till the rosy dawn?”

“Señor, do not mind my unrest, for I have not had a wink of sleep for the last two days, the reason for which will become clear to thee by the time my turn should complete. But continue, pray, for my sorrows shall get the better of me if thou dost not distract my mind elsewhere.”

“I shall grant thee thy wish and continue my story. Alfonso, of whom I already have informed thee, despite his wits was also possessing of a most handsome face, so much so that any young woman in our village would have dropped off every possession of hers, had Alfonso made the slightest pass at her. The bastard did not hinder himself from using this gift against me, for when I was drinking and enjoying my time at the university, he approached Athena, and told her of all my exploits. Dear Athena, as I was certain, did not believe his accusations in the slightest and accused him of being a malignant slanderer. How dreadful this whole business with her was. I do not think even now that I deserved an angel such as her. So, one night, he brought her into the village and showed her the sight of me while I was gambling with some friends of mine. As soon as I saw her face and the tears that trickled down her cheek, I ran after her, pleading for forgiveness. I fell on my knees, begging her for another chance. I did not for a moment imagine she could be fooled, for I would have done anything, even trick her, to stop her from leaving me. The very next day, she went to my mother and revealed the entire plot by virtue of which I had continued my dreams of being an author. She also threw the wedding ring I had given her in my mother’s face. I do not blame her for it; I was surely in the wrong. Alfonso was the only one subject to my wrath. He had seduced Athena and made her his own. So, him I found the next day at a brothel nearby. I was despite myself with fury. I could not forgive; revenge would be my only redemption from this dreadful business. It would be the perfect end, I thought. I nearly broke the door down before I saw him as he sat pleasuring himself in the room with a devotchka. I jumped on him like a panther and choked him with my bare hands. He frightened me even when in such a submissive position. He laughed a malignant laugh as he lost all breath and finally as he died, his corpse still assumed an annoying grin. After it had become common news that Alfonso had met his end by my hands, I was ostracized for having ‘ended the life of a most virtuous gentleman’. I was exiled then and thus have I found myself amidst these dark woods. Dear lady, this is the end of my account.”

The creature seemed to be meditating on something as I spoke thus. Then she turned her sweet gaze on me and spoke thus:

“Señor, I fear my account is, in comparison to thine account, a most boring one, but still, I must attempt to inform thee of my misfortunes that have led me to abandon everything for the solitude of this forest. My account is this, Señor: I come from a poor family; my father was a farmer, God rest his soul, and my mother a midwife. We lived in a small cottage nearby and in peace did we maintain our domicile, far from the politics that concerned the politicians of our village. I did not achieve an education from school, but I did my best by attempting to learn to read on my own. This well-intentioned enterprise was bound to fail from the start, I should have known, for in our village, girls are not considered in the slightest equal to boys, so much so that attending school for me would not have fallen short of sacrilege. Therefore, this enterprise did I keep concealed from my dear family as well as from any friend of mine. The kind priest, Father Quixone, would pass by our residence, and I would stop him in his path and we would retire to a stable nearby, where he would teach me the alphabets and such. He appeared to have a kind heart; his eyes seemed to have a pearl of sympathy for my predicament. This practice we continued for well over five years, when I had progressed very much in my studies; he had even started bringing literature for me to read. I often wondered why this man who had no relation to me and for whom I was no more than a stranger performed such a service without seeking anything in return. One day, however, while we were busy learning some grammar, the owner of the stable, Panza, burst in and turned furious when he discovered our design. He held me by my collar and dragged me to my parent’s cottage and proceeded to accuse me of seducing a priest. Deciding that this accusation was more tolerable than that of trying to educate myself, I played along. But the events that took place the next place, I could not have dreamed of. The next day at dawn, a swift pounding on our door woke all of us up, and opening the door, I saw Father Quixone standing pale as death without his priestly apparel and draped in a common dress. He took my hand in his and kneeling before me said, ‘my dear lady, thy beauty has steered me away from the path of the Lord. I can no longer suppress my desires. I have resolved to embrace them, whatever the consequences may be. I am here, Señorita, to ask for thy hand in marriage. Wouldst thou be mine? I would rather be a heathen than to draw a minute of breath without thy face to gaze at and thy company to enjoy. I love thee, more than thou canst imagine. Oh, Señorita, grant me this honor. I realize I am not much to look at to be sure; neither am I possessing of wits that thy person is surely deserving of, but I assure thee, I shall make every effort to keepest thou happy. Thou shalt not know of any hardship that we shall encounter due to a lack of will in me. I am no Romeo, but I can provide thee with sufficient provender and virtuous children to cherish. Answer! Wilt thou marry me?’

I did not know what to say. His face twitched and he anxiously awaited my answer.

‘Dear respectable, commendable, admirable, Señor, thy request for my hand is flattering, to be sure. Know only that I do not mean any disrespect for the loftiness of thy character. The path thou hast trodden on is thine own choice. I cannot marry thee. There is a whole world still for mine eyes to explore and experience. Thou understandeth marriage impedes such adventure, dost thou not? I am a woman for no man. I carve mine own path. If I were inclined to the domestic life, I would, without doubt, accept thy request. But my path is still for the making.’ At this, his face turned red, full of wrath such as I had never seen.

“Who else wilt accept thee? Thou art poor. If thou dost reject me, I assure thee that thy life shall be quite difficult. I possess many friends in higher places and they shall destroy any authenticity that thou may as of now possess.”

Saying this, he went away, without turning back even once to look back at my face. The next day, at our house, while we went on with our day, two officers of the law approached our house. They pounded hard on our door and as my father saw them from the window, he urged me to run. I stood, reluctant to leave my family to face such a monstrous charge against me. Thus, I found myself in these woods, Señor, and after a day or two, I stumbled upon the news, quite by chance, that my father had been beaten to death by the officers as he stood his ground, guarding my reputation against any harm. For two weeks since then, Señor, I have lived here in solitude. Only some books that I stole from a bookshop nearby have been my constant and tireless companions. This is my entire account, Señor.”

“Thine account is not too different from mine, Señorita. We both have faced deception and have been exiled from the company of those men.”

“Thou art in the right, Señor.”

“I do, Señorita, supply thy drug of choice.”

“Which is that, Señor?”

“Why, I talk of books.”

“Señor, if thou hast any intention of making me an offer, I shall not be pleased.”

“On the contrary, Señorita, I wish for us to be constant companions in adventure. I do not wish for thee to be tied down with me. Let thyself be a bird, leave any time of thine own choosing. Would that be pleasing to thee?”

“Indeed, Señor, I shall like such an arrangement very much.”

Then I outstretched my hand to the creature.

“Join me then, Señorita. Let us walk together through these dark woods. Let’s be together for the joys of adventure. Gallop apace, adventurers!”

And thus, we walked off together into the void of eternity hand in hand.


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