[ Excerpt from my novel "Lord Jocelyn". A fictional story from writings by my main character. Someone's time for reminiscence. ]
All Colours of Dawn
That summer of 1886 went as usual, in out part of the world, but the summertime was too short, burning away quickly like gunpowder. The boating with cousins, in the morning; cricket or tennis at noon; and after lunch, in the round hall, my cousin s tutor performed chansonnettes for gentlemen only --
Il y a des jours... et des lunes...
...Play the flute,
Be game for anything!..
& Sans maman!
Sans maman!!! --
And I watched his singing lips that knew oh so much, and I didn t believe in the frivolous words, preferring believe that there was a charm in amorousness and love was sooner tender than cruel, but I was ready for admitting that my theory was erroneous. In short, I hated the very thought of leaving for the town and going to college. But the sad cold smile of autumn never lies, and soon I had to leave.
I was late both for the beginning of the academic year and on my first day in particular. Changing in the vestibule, I passed by several swots, going straight to our classroom. Eric Hartberg told me all recent news and remarked, as thought by the way, I have four of those whom I fag.
I felt vexed: I had not any, for the present.
With a small nod, he pointed out a new student, That one seems rather amusing. Well-read, almost like me.
Almost like you? Well let s see. I went to the new classmate.
The blond boy looked at me, smiled friendly and closed his book--perhaps, d Aurevilly.
You read at breaks? Good for you!
His white skin was too pale; a soft-pink glowworm seemed to shine within his jasmine cheeks. And his eyes were like two lakelets.
I said, Something divine is in you, but what it is, I can t understand& for the present.
Scratching the book-cover with his penknife, he replied melancholically, And your mouth is rhomb-like. It opens on four sides.
I said softly and condescendingly, Before saying a paradox or nonsense, one should think twice, or else a misunderstanding or mistake would cause a lot of problems to the joker.
He turned pale, and I got surprised that a human could be yet paler; then he began coughing, and on his white handkerchief, the glossy droplets of his blood looked like lady-bugs. His name was& Let s say, his name was Ulrich. Ulrich Drottningholm. He was named after his grandpa.
The autumn came early, too early, like death of your favorite poet.
Shivering, the leafless saplings nodded to the gusty wind; two young dogs played tag running over the round stones of the yard; and I walked around the hall and learned a Latin poem by heart. Ulrich approached, and shaking his blond chevelure, he took my hand and pressed my fingers. It seemed to me that he wanted to make me kneel. I said softly but imperiously, Don t. I know, Huldericus, you are stronger than me, so, don t.
Weak, he gripped my both hands then angrily shook off his hands, and went away.
I smiled: I enjoyed my teasing. His white face glimpsed now and then the day long as he turned it or lifted it a little, having a charm and latent exaltation which kept my eye.
Far in the day I lit upon an interesting idea and the next day, on Saturday, I said to Blond, Ulrich. You are a beautiful damsel. Put your mama s coat on and we shall go for a drive! You should have a dorothy-bag about. This is how it must be!
L aventure, c est l aventure. At the Quay, we seemed to attract everyone s attention. L enfant du carnaval, he looked lovely like a young cocotte. Touching his plaid covered knee, I looked in the shade of his dark hat, where, behind the dark veil, the eyes showed blue especially languorously, and watching the rouged lips, I whispered, Ulrika, a water nymph! Ulla, the goddess of the rococo universe! Falling in love with a mortal man, you would lose your immortality.
Smiling, he said, All right.
I want to fall in love with you, Ulrika, or& I paused and added, & I d rather not. I removed my hand from his knee.
I carried the dorothy-bag away with me when we parted company.
Far in the day, in the dortour, I greeted Eric by kissing, and to him, Ulrich, I held out my hand, and then I asked, frowning, as though seeking to remember of something, Do we shake hands?
Shuddering, the blond boy left, with no reply.
At dawn, through the mantle of sleep, I heard somebody was brought to hospital--hysterics. Animula vagula, blandula.
Later, in the morning, he approached and put a banknote in my hand, The money, which I owed to you.
I shrugged, Could one owe anything but money?
Now, the first snow fell, white and heavy, on the brown remains of grass. Frozen, white and fluffy, thin branches interlaced with one another, making a beautiful pattern against the gray sky; on a long bough, a fledgling of a raven ruffled up sadly.
That Tuesday was cloudy and frosty. The snow began falling, covering the old manege. When Eric came running in the classroom, I was late noticing his coming, because I contemplated the stray sunbeam wandering over blots of my notes. Out of breath, Eric aspirated, He shot himself! Blond shot himself, this morning!
They said I turned pale. It s not true. I was only surprised. Dead?
They say he isn t. Eric took breath.
They said I drew a deep breath. Not at all, I only said, Of course. One shoots at his heart not to die but to try a new role.
Here, I heard, Graf! Oscar Graf! Phone call for you! The porter Werner led me to the phone-box and stood aside.
& Hullo, I said.
Ulrich s mother is here. Mute tears. Are you his friend?
I think, yes, I am.
Didn t you know that& a reason why he shot himself was you?..
I was about to reply, but the receiver dropped out. Strangely. They said I turned pale. Nonsense. It was but dismals.
Ulrich was in St Eugenia Community hospital, lying in a separate ward. Seeing me first visiting him, he gave a wan smile of bliss, and I began visiting the white room, every day, after class, to stay by his bedside.
A message from Eric to you, I said, one day.
Read it for me, he asked languorously, For I can t do it.
I opened the letter and read it aloud--
Come back, Blond!
Every day, I come to your desk& It s so sad to read the books which we read together& Get better, Ulrich!
The thin germinating branches whispered, close against the window, as though asking permission to come in the room. Bookended by brilliancy and murk, Ulrich smiled. The cold winter melted into the next season.
Now, the breeze and birds made the green-plumed springtime rustle, slow and captivating. The springtime came early, too early, like your first love. A little bird settled on a branch, for an instant, on the way to its nest. A nurse came noiselessly in, with a cup of fresh broth in hand. Then the door closed again and the white uniform disappeared.
Abed, Ulrich murmured blissfully, Would you like me to tell a story?..
Anima persa. I frowned, Don t! Enough slobbering and twilight! I turned on the switch, and almost instantly, all colours of night left the brightly lit room.
Lara Biyuts © 2012