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Monday, 27 April 2015

FROM WHAT SIDE DO WE ECHO

Hi, dear friends and followers. Welcome to my blog I am pleased to see you here. Today I have a two part fiction story for you, take five relax and enjoy the story 

FROM WHAT SIDE DO WE ECHO
By Iain Cambridge

PART ONE

It was a warm spring day in 1948 that I first made the acquaintance of the young lady known to me only as Miss Harmony Reigns after having moved into the small two-bedroom house in one of the more affluent suburbs of Paris. 


I had recently acquired the residence at a bargain price due to the misfortune of another poor soul, for it had been part of a bankruptcy sale. On entry to my new home, it was plain to see that some major decoration was needed as its previous owner had clearly fallen on hard times long before his home was taken from him. This was of no matter to me as I relished the chance to stamp my own personality on to this new abode, and so took to reshaping the rooms to my own design as soon as possible, and with great gusto.

The work was arduous and took more hours out of my day than I freely had to give, and the lack of sleep, due to an enthusiasm to complete my new home, was sometimes reflected in my performance at work. Fortunately, my superior was a genial man who understood the urgency of youth and allowed me, at such times, to regain the focus needed for my tasks, and to complete the work at my own pace.

During my renovations I would sometimes break for a light lunch, and would take to the little garden out back in order to enjoy the birdsong and silence that only this side of the noisy metropolis enjoys.

It was on such occasion that I first encountered Harmony Reigns.

As I sat, enveloped in the sounds of spring, there came on the wind the sound of a woman singing. Her voice seemed to mix in with the world around us as if it had always been a part of the call of nature – heralding in the summer.

There was an old wooden fence at the end of the garden that separated my property from the one opposite, and it was from behind this that the singing originated.

Years of unkempt weeds had grown over the barrier between houses and had set themselves in such a way as to dislodge a part of the fence.

It was from here that I attained my first view of the owner of such a beautiful voice.

Sitting on the ground, under an oak tree that grew mighty and strong was a sight that would stop the beating heart of most young men. Long red hair fell over a pixie-like face and flowed down her back like liquid fire and served as to frame her features that were pale in their complexion. Her eyes shone green and seemed to light up whenever she smiled. Unfortunately, this was not something she did a lot – for reasons that would become clear later in our relationship.

So as not to seem rude, I called over to her in order to initiate an introduction. ‘Bonjour Madam’ I said. On this, she looked up and around, seemingly confused as to where my voice was coming from. Over here Madam - The other side of the fence.'

Having located the broken panel she got up and walked over towards me and, bending at the knees, she peered through the hole.

‘Oh! Hello, she said. 'I wasn’t aware that anyone lived over there any more.'

I smiled and replied. ‘I have just taken possession not two weeks since – pardon, but is Madam English?’ Her smile remained.

‘Oh dear, is my French that bad’

‘Not at all – but your accent gives you away’

She laughed and said, ‘May I know your name, Monsieur?’

I blushed at my apparent rude behaviour at not introducing myself. 'Excuse me Madam; I am Phillip Rencall – at your service’.

‘Harmony Reigns’ came her reply ‘pleased to meet you’

‘And I you’

The fashions in Paris of late had dictated that young women should be of a slight build and enjoy a demure personality that borders of the aloof. But Miss Harmony Reigns was not such a woman that would conform to another’s views and wishes.

She was confident in her manner and solid within her build and was a refreshing stray from the norm. We spent an enjoyable hour or so talking of many things of interest to both her and I.

Sometimes we would find something mutual and dwell on the subject for a while and at other times we would spend a short time discussing a subject that was of interest only to one.
For example - Miss Reigns, it appeared aspired to be an actress and a dancer and longed to perform in London. I commented that she should also add singing to her repertoire, as I was quite enraptured by her earlier song. I told her of my work in the library, which by comparison to her lofty dreams of fame appeared quite dull. But the way she seemed genuinely interested in my work made me feel a little taller and less unimportant. That afternoon was as special a day as I have experience in a long time – if ever, and I would have happily spent my last day on Earth in this way.

The sound of a man's voice shattered the air and ripped the placid calm that had encompassed the day. It was a brutish sound, filled with anger and violence. At his call, Harmony’s face drained of the little colour it held and she jumped almost in fear.

‘I am sorry’ she said weakly ‘I have to go’ And with that she stood and almost ran to answer his call.

I could not feel but cheated of my pleasurable time with this most engaging woman, but I figured that this man had clearly laid claim to her affections long before I arrived and I was therefore in no position to complain. This rationale did not stop the feelings of jealousy though.

The next day, and the three that followed were filled with images of her face. Her voice echoed in my thoughts and dreams and I feared that my affection for Miss Reigns had crossed the line of decency and would not be seen as appropriate. I scolded myself for having such a child-like crush on this woman, of whom I had met only once. I washed the thoughts of her from my mind and buried myself in my work, and lost the memories of her within my home making.

Until one week later.

On taking a break from my renovations, I found myself back by the broken fence once more. I dared to sneak a look in case by some chance I would see her sitting under the oak tree. To my utter delight – there she sat.

‘You have been gone quite a while, Monsieur’ she said without looking up.

‘It does seem a long time Madame Reigns, but after your hasty retreat on our first encounter I felt it would be only good manners to leave you to your business.’

Her head remained bowed as she spoke once more. ‘Did you not enjoy our afternoon?’

I knelt down a little further, in order to gain a better view of the woman that had caused so many sleepless nights. A woman that had called into question as to what I would deem ‘decent behaviour’ from a gentleman’

‘Indeed I did, Madame.’

She laughed gently to herself.

‘I think we know each other well enough for you to address me as Harmony’

I smiled at her unseen face. ‘Then Harmony it is.’

At this, she turned to me and smiled. As her hair fell away, the smile that I had reciprocated with left my lips, for, on the left side of her face was such an abrasion that could only have been caused by an aggressor. My exclamation caused her to raise her hand to her wound and turn her face from me once more.

‘Miss Reigns – Harmony, what on earth happened?’ She lowered her hand and turned slowly to me once again.

‘Sometimes I speak too loudly and too candidly.’

‘And this is his answer?’ I exclaimed, more in anger than I meant to. But to be fair in the situation, it did demand a reaction that would show disgust for any man that would raise his hand to a woman. I composed myself a little so that I might continue. ‘I am sorry Harmony, but violence is never the answer’

She smiled at me and tilted her head a little as if addressing a child. ‘I am of the opinion that it depends on what the question was.’

I was a little shocked at her statement.

‘You surely do not condone his actions?’ I said.

‘I do not – but then I do not condone mine either.’

The pause in the conversation was such that it drew compassion from Harmony as to my struggle against what was clearly out of my control.

‘Do not worry, my friend, I have handled a lot worse and I have grown to live with his moods. He is not always like this, it’s just that sometimes the demon drink takes him over and I am not quick enough to recognise the signs’

‘Signs?’ I inquired.

‘Signs that I should start to curb my loose tongue.’

It angered me so much. Not only had this cur of a man had spent his anger on a woman of such devotion, but also that her devotion had now caused her to defend his actions. She had obviously sensed my discomfort and chose that moment to change the subject.

‘And what of you, Monsieur?’

I looked at her face in question. Even with the swelling and the angry purple bruising, she still held my heart captive with her beauty. ‘How have you filled your time during our hiatus?’

I smiled at her joke.

‘The making of a new home – work. Nothing that would hold the interest of anyone but I.’
Harmony looked at me for a few short seconds, a small measure of time that seemed to last a lifetime under her gaze.

‘Tell me, Phillip – is there someone in your life that you would share your affections with?’

I took my time to answer the question, a pause that evoked a small gasp of exclamation from Harmony’s lips. ‘Do I presume too much as to ask such a personal question Monsieur?’

I smiled. ‘Not at all, Madam - there is someone of whom I care deeply for, but alas she is betrothed to another’.

‘Is she beautiful?’

‘She is the spring and summer dressed as one. She is joy and happiness, sadness and woe.
My mind's eye sees nothing but her, and my heart beats only within her presence.’

Harmony Reign held my gaze for what seemed an eternity.

‘Does she know of these feelings?’

‘Alas, she is unaware of the effect she has on my soul’

We left each other shortly after, as it was getting late and I could see that she was getting increasingly distracted by the oncoming hour that marked ‘his’ return. But there was many a time after when we would meet by the broken fence and talk of things and of people. She would expand on her dreams of fame and I would sit and listen, totally enraptured by her presence and bathing in her beauty. On occasion, the sleeve of her dress would ride up and I would catch a glimpse of the bruising caused by the grip of a man's hand. When she adjusted her position, in an attempt at a more comfortable seating, her skirt would fall away from her knees. I would turn my head away naturally at these times as to save her modesty, but not before catching a glimpse of more bruising to her upper thigh. I said nothing as this subject seemed to be taboo between us, but it still tore at my heart.

The day came when I had completed the project that had kept me busy between work and my secret liaisons with Miss Harmony Reigns. My small house had become a home.

As the night drew in on that day I made my way to my bed with the full intention of inviting her to lunch the next day, and the offer of a tour of my new home. I wanted her to see what I had achieved, for I craved her approval and sought deeply her praise.

As I lay awake, making plans for our lunch date, I heard the most terrible scream. I sat bolt upright and the blood in my veins froze in fear of what I instinctively knew to be. Another scream caused me to throw back the bed covers.

I ran down the stairs, through the kitchen and out of the back door that led to the garden. I could see a light streaming through the broken gap in the fence, and so made my way toward it.

Through the hole, I could see the lights from her house – a light that illuminated both her and the object of my jealousy. As I watched I saw her run from him, calling to him to ‘stop’ and to ‘calm down’. He in turn was yelling at her and calling her names that would have drawn me to defend such vile comments.

But instead I sat and watched the dark play unfold itself in front of me.

When she reached the oak tree she stopped running and turned towards him with her hands outstretched, pleading for him to stop and think. But this was to fall on deaf ears as he continued his ranting, and his relentless pursuit.

When he reached her he pushed away her hands and clamped his own rough hand around her throat. I nearly called out in anguish, but my cry caught when I heard her strangled cry of...‘Papa –, please!’

Papa! This man that I thought as her husband - was her father! This realization caused a feeling of elation within me, for my love was attainable and not locked within a violent marriage. Her loyalty was that of a daughter and not of a wife. With this revelation came the resolve to stop this madness that had come between us, and put an end to this misunderstanding that had stopped my opening my heart.

At that point, my soul found its voice and I called to her, hoping that this would cause a distraction long enough for me to scale the fence and interject myself between my love and her assailant. On hearing me, both Miss Reigns and her father turned toward me. Harmony looked directly at the hole in the fence, whilst he turned this way and that, trying to locate the owner of the demands for him to stop.

I used this time to find something to stand on as an aid to climb the fence. I looked around frantically until I saw the small stepladder that I had used to reach the higher points whilst hanging the wallpaper. I ran to retrieve it and returned to the broken part of the fence. Having erected the ladder I climbed so that I could see over and into the garden of Miss Harmony Reigns.

What I saw though mystified me – for I saw nothing. No house, no garden – nothing. All that was to be seen was miles of open fields with not another house in sight.

Unsure of how to process this I jumped from the ladder and looked back through the hole. There was the scene that I had encountered earlier, only this time it had the pleading face of Harmony looking directly at me. Her hair hung limp and damp with perspiration and her eyes, that once shone so bright with laughter and happiness, now grew dull with fear and pain.

I leapt to the ladder once more in the hope that what I had seen before was nothing but my imagination. The scene was the same and yet the screams of Harmony Reigns still echoed within my skull.

I dropped to the other side of the fence and ran aimlessly around in circles, trying to locate what could be so clearly seen from the other side. I spread my arms wide in the vain hope that I would touch what had become invisible, whilst all the time her cries for help became more strangled as they were forced through an abused airway.

Then abruptly – there was silence.

I jumped at the fence and dropped to into my own garden once more.

As I looked back I could see that my love lay still and lifeless beneath the oak tree, in much the same position that I had first encountered her.

This time there was no singing, no laughter.

I turned and sat with my back to the fence, my heart as broken as the fence that allowed this impossible view. I wept for a loss I would never have – for a woman who had never been.

My reports to the authorities were met with ridicule, and my story of a murder, (taking place as it did at a location that did not exist, and with the victim being that of a mere phantom), was treated as madness on my part.

The question spun around in my mind – was I mad? Had I joined the ranks of the insane?

For as I am talking to you now, I would have sworn that she was no trick of the light, no mysterious entity.

She was real.

END OF PART ONE


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ڰۣIn Loving Light from the Fairy Ladyڰۣ

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