Friday, June 18, 2010

Muse Wars: Many Coloured Love

He gazed down upon the much-loved, lined face and saw not the septagenarian of today, but the vibrant twenty-something of yesteryear. He remembered the first time he laid eyes on her. It was not her beauty which caught his attention, but the infectious laughter which rang out across the square.  Not a delicate ladylike giggle, no, rather a deep belly laugh from some hidden depth within the Vivien Leigh exterior.

A myriad of coloured ribbons fluttered behind her like a glorious halo of rainbow lorrikeets suspended mid-flight. Laughing, giggling, guffawing, head thrown back, she brushed past him in a mist of musk and vanilla, vanishing down the worn stone stairs before he could think of any excuse to detain her. Disappearing from his lonely life almost as fast as she had garnered his attention in the first place.

A rasp of faltering breath brought him back to the reality of the sterile hospital room as her green eyes fluttered open briefly, he clasped her cold hand tighter between his. The once rosy cupid lips moved in a short-lived tentative wan smile, then she drifted back into the pain-free oblivion of medicated sleep.

Ron allowed one single tear to escape from his brimming eyes, then he rubbed the evidence away with the back of his thickly veined hand. He did not want Patsy to see him crying if she managed to open her eyes once more, he needed to be strong for her. He had always been the strong one. Exhaustion gradually overcame his weary body, and he dozed. His gray head beside hers upon the pillow, body perched on the chair edge, fingers tightly clasped to pull her back to him if need be.

In the early hours of the frozen dawn he awoke to the twitching of her swollen fingers.  The still thick eyelashes moved much as stage curtains do on opening night, swishing to reveal confused emerald eyes. They slowly cleared as her dazed gaze swept the room before meeting his wide-eyed ecstatic look.

"Ronaldo?" Rusty disused vocal chords faintly rasped his name. Never had it sounded so beautiful.
"Si, Patrizia." He smiled, hugging her forearm, and bringing the back of her hand to his dried lips.
"You found me?"
"I found you. I promised I would always find you no matter how fast you ran in your rainbow dress."
Tears welled, not only in the sets of aged eyes, but also blurred the vision of the two jaded care-givers standing just beyond the doorway.

"Oh, how sweet Paula. Aren't they a lovely old couple? Sometimes I just love this job." The matronly buxom blonde used the tip of her sleeve to try to stop mascara smudged eyes leaking down her cheeks.

Her companion wiped her wet face with an already soggy handerchief pulled from her pocket. "You have no idea Jen, this is quite the love story.
Ron met Patsy in the free-loving sixties in a little Italian village near Sienna. She was running from her arranged marriage ceremony, and he only caught a glimpse of her as she bolted past. It was love at first sight for him, but he thought he'd never find her again. He took years to track her down."

"Ooh, a tragic star-crossed love story. I love those! Did he chase her and woo her, fight off the evil fiance to marry her himself and whisk her away to a better life here?"

The brunette sighed, and raised her eyes to the ceiling. "It's quite the story. Look, I'll meet you in the courtyard in half an hour for our lunch break. It's too long to tell you now, I'll fill you in then."

The blonde grinned, nodded and walked to the next room. Paula met the bemused gazes of the room's occupants listening in to the conversation. She winked and left.

"If only they knew the truth, eh Patsy?"
"Oh Ronaldo, my Ronaldo."
"Shh sweetie, I promised you I would find you and take care of it all."

He knew the staff had romaticised the elderly twosome. He had known it from the moment Patsy had been brought into emergency with him by her side, refusing to leave it for even a moment.

"We had some great times over the years, hey,  sweet green eyes?"

"Si Ronaldo, some very special times. God was good to bring you into my life."

"Are you sure Patsy? Is this really what you want?"

"Ronaldo you promised, you gave me your word on that mountainside. You took a solemn oath, remember." The green eyes, now dim with age, were sure in their conviction. "You promised."

Eyes met, gazes held. Years of binding memories flowed past.

Ronald slowly walked to the cupboard and pulled out a spare pillow. She smiled trustingly up at him as he firmly placed it over her face, not struggling, lying serenely accepting this final gift of love. He held it down, using all of his strength as he watched the clock on the wall slowly, painstakingly count off the minutes. Five...ten...finally he lifted the pillow after fifteen long minutes had passed. Her eyes stared unseeingly to the ceiling, her lips, whilst blue, smiled. She appeared so peaceful and the deep lines of pain were gone, vanquished by his final action.

Ronald kissed her cold lips, wiped the solitary tear from his cheek, and walked out of the room. He strode down the corridor, out the entrance and marched calmly for blocks until he found the park. Not once did he falter, nor look back. He followed the meandering tracks until he found the flowering, flowing hillside gardens. He climbed to the top. Under the autumn colours of the shedding chinese maple, he sat and finally allowed himself to remember.

The chattering of children had lightly covered the more agitated grumbling and arguing from the adults. The jilted groom and his family became louder and louder as all parties realised the bride had fled permanently. Ronald understood so little Italian, but it was obvious that angry, bitter recriminations were flowing freely. He looked down the tiny path she had fled on. Not even a ripple of leaves hinted at her trail, she was gone. Vanished. His heart felt... lessened yet heavier. He heaved the backpack higher and turned to continue his journey.

It was three years before their paths crossed again. Fate, well he liked to think so. He had returned to Italy annually, never admitting to himself he was searching, hoping. Yet each trip he studied every titan-haired women who passed by him, looking intently for her familiar face, never owning to himself that he had no real memories of her looks, merely the echoing sound of her loud laugh of freedom.

Again he found himself heading north, past Siena, through San Gimignano -  the place she had grabbed hold of his heart so suddenly -  on up to Cinque Terre, the place of the rambling villages and soaring cliffs.

He knew not what drew him, but something about the romance of these five terrace towns appealed to his captive heart. He booked into one of the many pensiones mentioned in his tattered guide book, and then wandered out into the twilight to explore.

Ron walked the Levanto streets until thirst drove him into a small cafe hidden in the corner of the piazza. The dimness made him pause in the doorway, waiting for his eyes to adjust. Laughter broke out from the corner table, one woman's deep bray and his heart stopped beating. He froze, not wanting to believe until he could see for himself. The minutes seemed to drag endlessly as sight slowly cleared. Her russet hair fell onto her face as it rested in her hands and she tried to quell the uncontrolled giggling. Something in the manner of the stranger in the doorway seemed to make her pause and slowly her bright green gaze lifted to join his.

Still writing, this story has captured me and grown beyond the Muse War. Will slug away until done...


Ratz said...

This story is so beautiful. I felt like crying.... Oh dear god, you are a beautiful person...

Jemi Fraser said...

Wow - nicely done - didn't expect the pillow!

I thought I was already a follower - you're on my blog roll - but I guess I wasn't. I've fixed it now :)

Kelly HTandT said...

I just love your writing style, especially your vivid descriptions! What a great story. Thank you for sharing this with me :) x