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 Urs and Catherine (By: Marie Humphrey) 2nd Story

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PostSubject: Urs and Catherine (By: Marie Humphrey) 2nd Story    Sat Sep 18, 2010 8:12 am

BEYOND THE FINAL SCENC FROM A PAPERBACK NOVEL—GOODBYE DARLING DIVO



Her heart had stopped. Literally. When it began to beat again she was sure that people could see it pounding against her chest wall. It was the primal beat of jungle drums carrying a message of danger. It was the result of adrenalin pumping to put the body into fight or flight mode. There would be no fight—no war—not even a skirmish. This beautiful young woman he had just introduced to her was the one. Neither he nor the young woman was privy to this knowledge, but she was. In that blinding instant she knew this was the one that was to share his life—a traditional life of love and family. She had known that this day would come and had told herself that was as it should be. During their too few years as lovers, she had become so attuned to him that she knew things he had yet to realize. He had told her, on that fateful night two years ago, that they were connected in the soul. He had pronounced that out of the depths of passion—the beginnings love—and it had been true—had remained true—would always be true. But now she knew she had seen the one who would draw him, be his life’s companion, the mother of his children.

There would be no fight, nor could there be flight. This was a small party—her hurried departure would be noticed—would raise questions. That must never happen. Their relationship had escaped notice—they had gone to great lengths to assure that it had—circumstance had allowed both of them to attend this party but none here knew of their connection—one’s guard could not be let down now. Breathe—in—breathe—out….

Somehow the evening had ended—she was alone in her room, having pleaded a headache. Such a cliché! A headache! When her heart was being torn from her. They both knew from the beginning that their relationship would change—she knew this was that moment and in this knowledge she could not be with him tonight. To do so would have been to diminish what they had shared. She had always been aware that she would know first. She must help the transition be less painful for him. She had loved him from the beginning—their passion had been—what had he called it—“a gift?” It had truly been that. Now it was to be pressed into their book of memories—to be shared, but never again fulfilled. Her love must now be selfless and let him go, even before he knew about the going…

The sleepless night was filled with thoughts of their times together. Idyllic vignettes—scenes shot out of sequence, as if for a movie. Their last time—their last time—oh, God, would he later remember it was their last?

She had finally been able to visit him in Switzerland. A tiny hotel. Anonymity—how difficult that had been to achieve. She had laughed at the owlish glasses, the unstylish cap to cover his trademark curls and most of all she laughed at his attempts to keep his face impassive and not flash that dazzling, recognizable smile. He kept muttering under his breath, “You’re not helping—you’re not helping! Ok, one more joke and you will pay—dearly.” The “price” would be “dear,” most assuredly worth the paying, and she always paid her debts.

They had spent the morning in the Lower Engadine Valley, first in the village of Guarda where they climbed the steep cobblestone streets and admired the 17th century buildings. They moved on to Ardez where they sat sipping coffee and entertaining each other with stories they made up about the medieval tower in the distance. One scenario had her being held captive in the tower and he, of course, rescued her. Their favorite plot involved them living together there, locked away from time and the outside world.

Their exploring finished, they had driven to a small Alpine meadow. He had insisted on bringing their picnic lunch himself. She gave a skeptical glance to the very small basket but its contents proved to be exquisite—a bottle of their favorite wine, crusty rolls, a wonderful cheese and…could she believe her eyes? Teuscher’s Dom Perignon truffles! She adored this wonderful confection produced by the Swiss chocolatier, but sources were limited. Of course, he had picked them up in Zurich on his way to meet her. The day was glorious—the mountains, the sun, the blue sky, the flowers—she had the urge to extend her arms, spin in circles, and break into song, “The hills are alive….” She knew better than that! No singing! She chuckled aloud, realizing how trite her thoughts were.

“So you’re laughing about…?” He smiled. They knew each other so well—were so at ease—finished each other’s thoughts. It had been that way since their first night together as though they had sensed that there would not be time to learn slowly. The smile became a wicked grin—“You’re singing in your thoughts again!” ‘Sound of Music,’ right? RIGHT?” He laughed at his rhetorical question.

Her singing was a running joke between them. She loved music. She loved his music. While she did not cause people to cringe or put cotton in their ears, she could not sing. Oh, she had sung in community programs, always within a large group, no solos, no leads, not ever! And she wanted to sing—he had even suggested lessons. They had proved fruitless. Her range was hopelessly limited and no amount of breathing exercises had been able to give any power to her voice. She denied to him her urge to play Julie Andrews, but to no avail. They had been sitting close together, elbows touching. Now he turned, threw her playfully onto her back and began tickling her. They laughed until both were gasping for breath—on this perfect afternoon, in this bucolic setting, they might have been teenagers with the rest of their lives before them. The fates were smiling. Finally, showing her mercy he declared she did not deserve, he sat up and pulled her into sitting position beside him. Drawing up his knees, he sat pulling at blades of grass between his feet.

Looking down, seemingly involved in the grass pulling, he said softly, “Sing for me.” Still not looking at her, he raised his hand slightly to stop her protest. “Sing for me.”

Something in his tone dismissed any coy retort from her. She began very softly, “Edelweiss, Edelweiss, every morning you greet me….” His lyrical voice joined hers in harmony. Every note perfect, every nuance of emotion exact; their voices soared then glided slowly to earth, “Bless my homeland forever.” They finished the song in unison without looking at each other. A long silence followed—there were no words. That perfect complement of voices would never again be achieved or even attempted—it had been another temporary gift to them. They looked at each other and smiled.

He broke the silence, “Perfect choice.”

“I could have done ‘The William Tell Overture’ if I knew any words!” He broke into peals of laughter at the prospect of how that might have sounded. The deeply serious tone the afternoon had taken on quickly reverted to the light enjoyment that had begun the day. They lay back on the grass and talked about everything and nothing. Sometimes touching, sometimes not.

At twilight they had driven back through the village. Each—watching the emptying streets and the twinkling lights in the windows—would have been happy to call home, one of those little houses with welcoming lights and the other waiting inside with arms open and eyes shining with love. Those thoughts must be put away. The only home they would ever share would be the unseen place where their hearts dwelt as one.

That had been a perfect visit. She could count on the fingers of her two hands the number of meetings in their two years together. His schedule allowed so little time; but each time they had met, they had managed to have at least two or three days and once they even had two whole weeks—an absolute miracle.

There had been the three days in Paris when rain had fallen continuously and they never left their hotel room. They stood in the tall window watching the cascades sheeting the glass, he standing behind her with his arms wrapped around her waist. Viewed from the outside, they were an old photograph, all color having washed away; and if touched, would crumble into dust. The torrents outside cast a spell of melancholy over the watchers in the window, yet it was one of the most memorable times they spent together. Their words were whispered, their touches tender, every moment precious.

They had been snowbound for a week in Vermont. Those memories were a jumble of roasting marshmallows in the fireplace, lying together on the rug in front of the crackling fire, holding him close to warm him when he came from carrying in more wood, brushing snow from his hair, frantically dodging around the room to avoid his cold hands which he was threatening to slip under her sweater onto her bare back, helping to warm those hands when he caught her.

His hands—those beautiful hands. Women all over the world were attracted to him; they admired his eyes, his lips…. His hands had drawn her initial attention. She had first seen them as he was signing autographs. She kept peeping around the person in front of her, mesmerized by his hands. Those hands that now knew every inch of her. The thought made her shiver.

The two weeks spent together could not even be put into complete thoughts—private island, secluded beach, days in the sun, nights….

The night of torment and bittersweet memories ended. A long shower and extra make-up got her through their morning leave-taking. Their kiss was lingering and she allowed herself to cling to him for just the briefest moment.

It had been three months. The phone rang; it would be his voice on the other end of the line. For most lovers this would be a common thing. For them it was not; there had been few phone calls except to arrange trysts. Longings—voiced over the distance, would have made their separations harder and their relationship more difficult to keep private. The times spent together were the sum of their common existence. The rest of their lives were apart with random fleeting thoughts of what the other might be thinking or doing. Perhaps their psyches were conditioned in this manner to enable them to completely enjoy all they shared undimmed by what was impossible. To most lovers this lack of constant communication would seem bizarre; to them, it was simply what was.

The meeting was set. There had been nothing in either’s voice to indicate that anything was amiss.

She opened the door. He looked at her and breathed a low groan, “ You know.” He started to ask how—there had been no publicity, no gossip—but of course she knew! Her intuition had always been keener than his.

“I knew when you said her name when introducing her.” She had managed! Her first words were out without a quiver and while her eyes might contain a slight shine; there were no tears. Good! She had practiced for weeks to have this control, this composure. Please, God, let it get her through.

He had taken his usual seat beside her. “I’m not ready; it’s too soon.” The pain in his eyes made her look away. He took her hands in his and she returned her gaze toward him.

“We’ve had a lifetime in two years.” It was up to her to remind him that they had known this time would come. She wasn’t even aware of the next words she uttered; they were meant for his comfort. Surely, a Compassionate Power had put the right phrases into her mouth because he sighed gently and a small amount of the tension left his body. The beautiful shoulders relaxed ever so slightly. She continued, “Within two years your career will have settled into a stable pattern that will allow you to have a home base. At that time I will relocate to where you are. That will have given us opportunity for sorting out and acceptance. We will be free to move in the same social circles—we will truly be friends. The time we’ve shared will be remembered but is never to be spoken of again; never to be regretted; never to be renewed. Years from now when we think of this, and we shall, it must be only in fond memory.” She was in full command of herself now but it was a fragile thing,

He tried to find a coherent thought within the chaos of his mind. He remembered his words to her that first night—there would be passion for as long as that gift was given to them and then love and friendship always. It was understood between them that he would find someone his own age to share his life and give him children. He had found the woman with whom to build a family; but he was not ready to part with this woman who had been the other half of his being for the past two years. She completed him. He did not understand how it could be that even though he loved the woman he would marry, he still loved and desired this one with every fiber of his being—could not look at her without wanting to hold her, kiss her, touch her….

The revelation burst suddenly into his consciousness—their passion would never die of its own volition; they must sacrifice it willingly to the future. He looked at her with a sad smile—knowing that this knowledge was a burden she had borne alone since that fateful night of the party. She had trusted what he was saying that first night they were together; he must trust what she was saying now. He could only manage a choked whisper, “You will always be my dearest friend, always a part of me, part of my life.” What pathetically inadequate words, but he had no others. Reluctantly, he let go of her hands.

They rose together, smiled wanly at how in tune they still were. Pausing in the doorway, each swallowed hard, wanting to say, “I love you,” one last time but neither could find a voice. They looked hungrily at each other’s lips then quickly dropped their eyes. Timidly, she kissed his cheek. He grasped her shoulders, kissed her on the forehead then walked out the door.

Her body now shook in silent sobs and tears streamed down her face. She could not look away from his retreating form. When he had gone a dozen steps, he stopped. Still unable to turn away, she lifted her eyes heavenward and silently prayed, “Please don’t turn around—please don’t turn around—please don’t turn around…please…don’t….”

Urs had stopped, started to turn—paused—then with a deep breath, straightened his body to its perfect posture, lifted his head, and without turning, walked away. She could not see that his lips were set in a thin straight line, his face carved of stone and tears coursed down each cheek.

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Urs and Catherine (By: Marie Humphrey) 2nd Story
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