Cassandra’s Tears

Tears of joy, tears of pain, we are reflected in the salt-water pools we create. So let us build a fleet of paper boats and sail them on our ocean of indecision, laughing at the wind-whipped white-crested waves that would wash over us, drowning us in our own despair, yet somehow never vanquishing us in the end.

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Location: Lennoxville, Quebec, Canada

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Sehnsucht

“Typewriters are always better than computers, for writing anyway, and there are no exceptions to that rule.” Alice reread the sentence in the book in front of her and burst out laughing. You don’t write with typewriters, she thought, you write with pens and pencils. You type with typewriters, and if we were talking about creative writing, then nothing beat a pen or pencil on lined paper, double spaced with lots of room for crossing out and scribbling in additions, one-sided so you could add whole paragraphs on the blank facing pages. Crazy, she mused. Who thinks up these things anyway?

It was lunchtime, and Alice could feel the hunger pangs and hear the growls as her stomach insisted on being fed. She had such an appetite these days, and she never seemed to be full. It was insane. Maybe she had a tapeworm, like her great-aunt Mathilde had always joked about. But then, great-aunt Mathilde had been grossly obese. The tapeworm excuse was only so she could keep filling her maw with rich pastries and chocolate bonbons. Alice was thin as a rail and no matter what she ate or how much of it, she never seemed to gain weight.

The cat stalked into the room, looking for a scratch and a cuddle. Alice obligingly picked him up and started stroking the soft fur under his chin and behind his ears. The cat purred contendedly, shutting his eyes in pleasure. If only someone would pick me up and stroke me like that, Alice thought wistfully. It had been a very long time since she had had a boyfriend and she missed the intimacy and other pleasures that came with it.

She put down the cat, washed her hands in the kitchen sink and thought about food. That was one pleasure she could definitely afford and was readily available. Her roommate, Gwendolyn, had just come back from shopping; the fridge was full of fresh produce and the pantry had been restocked. Alice considered what was available and then settled on a sandwich: aged cheddar, dill pickles and sprouts between two slices of fresh pumpernickel spread with dijon mustard. Her mouth watered as she set it on the table with a glass of milk alongside. It seemed somehow sinful, that she should enjoy the simple act of eating so much. This was why she preferred to eat alone, so that she could concentrate on the tastes, aromas and textures without being distracted by conversation. That first bite, even of simple fare, was almost an orgasmic experience.

Just as she was raising her sandwich to her lips, getting ready to savour that first explosion of flavours in her mouth, a man, a stranger who seemed somehow familiar, entered the kitchen. Alice quickly put down her sandwich as though she had been caught in a forbidden act, feeling guilty for no reason. She felt ashamed and angry at the interruption at the same time.

“Oh, hi,” blurted out the stranger, “I’m sorry to interrupt your lunch. I’m Stephen, Gwen’s brother. I’m visiting for the weekend. You must be Alice.”

Oh my god, Alice thought as she blushed, how could she have forgotten? Gwen had told her that her brother was coming for a visit; that was why the larder was so well stocked all of a sudden. No wonder he seemed somehow familiar. The family resemblance between brother and sister was quite strong and they had the same inflections of speech. Alice looked down at her sandwich, afraid to bite it now for fear of revealing something about herself to this young man to whom she suddenly felt an overwhelming attraction.

“Um,” she stammered, “have you eaten yet? I could make you a sandwich.”

“Sure, if it’s not too much trouble,” replied Stephen. “What have you got there?”

Alice described the contents of her sandwich all the while looking at Stephen’s mouth, imagining the bread spread with the dijon, the thinly sliced cheddar, the salty pickle and the hairy sprouts passing between those lips, being tasted on that tongue. She was feeling increasingly uncomfortable. She wanted to be that sandwich.

“Look,” Gwen’s brother said suddenly, ”you eat your lunch, I’ll make my own. I didn’t mean to interrupt you. I just got here and Gwen’s gone to the bank, so I thought I’d get some food while I was waiting.”

Alice sighed and nodded. Quickly she chewed and swallowed her sandwich while his back was turned to her, preparing his own. For some reason, she didn’t want this young man watching her eat, and that took away from the pleasure she was anticipating in enjoying her chef d’oeuvre. She swigged down the last of her milk just as he turned around with his finished creation.

“It was nice meeting you,” she mumbled as she pushed her chair away from the table. “See you around,” and fled. In the quiet and solitude of her room, behind a locked door, Alice hugged her pillow and wept.

2 Comments:

Blogger Etienne D. said...

I have spotted a typographic error!
It should be "then" - not "than" - in the first paragraph.

Girls are complicated.

2/08/2011 10:57 PM  
Blogger Eleanor said...

All fixed! Thanks for pointing it out.

2/08/2011 11:09 PM  

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