The party pad is holding things together well. Richard sees me and screams, “The sculptor is here! Woot woot!” He calls me “the sculptor” even though he knows full well that I am just a mason. Richard refuses to accept that people can be so mundane and ordinary. The way I see it, I put the pieces together, instead of taking them apart. Unlike Richard, who insists on rummaging through one’s life like a child looking for his lost stuffed dog. His own life has been coming apart at the seams for years. He remains on the fence of alcoholism, tempting fate, while all the while Clarissa spends her life trying to fix what he has dismantled. I fear that he has started to unhinge her to the point where she is losing herself, but I will make my best attempt at talking to her further in order to foresee the truth. I am glad that they never married, but, on the other hand, at least she would then be heir to his “kingdom” when he inevitably fades away. Clarissa is in the kitchen, so I pass through the crowd politely, accepting the requisite introductions, and head there to help out if I can.
“May I help you at all, Clarissa?” She is frantically trying to put together a plate of olives, when I come upon her from behind. She is evidently nervous about something. Her shoulders seem tense, and her hands are just not steady. “Oh Rino, thank you. I can always count on you. But, if I have to explain to you what I need to do, it could already be done. You can keep me company though. And give me something to look at.” She giggles that adorable little laugh that I clearly remember. I notice the bouquet I had given her has already been arranged caringly in a porcelain vase. It does not surprise me. Clarissa always had a way with sentiment. “Clarissa, you said you wanted to ask me something. What was it? Or did you decide against it.” She stops momentarily, and a frown dims her face. "I spoke hastily." She carries the tray to the living room and returns. She looks exhausted already. "How about we share a nice glass of wine. You look like you could use one." I find an impressive bottle on the counter and proceed to open it.
"Clarissa, you should know that you could never speak hastily to me. If you are feeling something, anything, you know you can confide in me. Truth is never spoken in haste, don't you agree?" She starts to say something, but it comes out in a jumble of words. Even with my strong accent, I feel easier to understand at this point. She composes herself, "I'm sorry. I just miss you. How long has it been? Three years? No, I think it has been four. I've had so much to tell you for so long, the words are not even recognizable any more. I feel them , but cannot express them. I am so sorry for everything. Things became so confused. I needed to separate myself. When I first saw you coming up the steps outside, it all came back. The times we had, the talks, the intense, yet comfortable connection. It was simply you. No masks. I felt happy again, free . Now, I realize it was just a mirage." I hand her a glass of wine, and we toast lightly, reluctantly. Is it the best time to toast? I am intent to make it a perfect time. At the very least, I will try.
"I can stay, you know. For good. I shouldn't have let you be by yourself. I see now I should have been stronger. For you. Someone should." As I speak, Richard is heard guffawing and jumping around. Soon, there is a loud crash and a rush of people. Our stolen moment has now passed into Richard's solipsistic oblivion. And Clarissa and I look at each other with the longing and sadness that two people are only capable of feeling when held prisoner by fate for much too long.
tiny canal cottage home tour.
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