To reach him
There are many reasons why I am grateful to you, Teacher, but perhaps the one I hold dearest in my heart is how you showed me how to reach him, my long-lost lover who never was. There was so much separating us: those years in darkness, his “lost” years when he was still a young man lost in a war he did not understand – if ever soldiers understand war – and the people he then met, all so far, all strangers to me.
You helped me to see that Sarah was the key, and not the enemy. You see, for a long time, she was the girl I had seen, those eons back, in the little town, triumphant at his arm… And I was afraid of her, she was alive, and I was not. Sarah is my gate to Julian, and I respect and love her, I know now the depth of her feelings for him, and, now, only now, I know what it means to be loved by Julian.
How different is this love to the soft feelings I recall, the chaste friendship that I hoped to translate into passion, if only I could seize him… But I could not, whereas she possessed him when she wanted, as she wanted. He never knew how much I had wanted to be like her: the deep lover, the mistress, his owner. And I did not know how to tell him.
Now I have, and as he makes love to Sarah he knows he makes love to me too: slowly I have become her, and she me. When the three of us visit your home, Teacher, there are really only two of us: Sarah and him, for I am part of her, she knows how to navigate to you, as much as I know. And sometime I feel my life is really Sarah’s. As for him, Teacher, he’s accepted the evidence: his wife met him long ago, in those narrow streets, as she was still Melissa.
She is my guardian angel, and I know for certain that, without her, I would not be alive: I owe her my life, and finding Julian, again. She is my mother and my angel, my teacher, my redemption. Without Gabrielle, I would be nothing, just ashes scattered by the wind. My first memory of her, is her standing over my crib, in the “cocoon”, the little place I grew up in – or at least I grew up since being myself again, thanks to her. I remember her smile, the kind brown eyes through the thick glasses.
I only know of the circumstances of my death through the documents she helped me to uncover, the old newspapers, the pictures. There is a blank I cannot fill, although I expect she could, but she wants to protect me from the horror. She is kindness personified. Yet I do not doubt her power, her infinite knowledge. She does not age, and she said to me that neither of us need ageing, we are in some ways protected. I think the truth is that she protects me, and she, is immortal. I don’t think she is from here, from this world. She may be an angel, in truth.
Since my teens, I have studied, and she’s taught me many things that few humans know about: like the Lagrangian mathematics that explain much of modern physics. One day, in the little house which is our home – where the “cocoon” was but a small part – I walked into her study, and she was not there. Or, at least, the short plump woman I knew as Gabrielle, was not there. The room was full of diagrams and lights gyrating in the air, and changing at great speed: I was amazed, the colours were so beautiful, but I did not understand the symbols that looked like strange hieroglyphs… Then she appeared, her usual self, as if out of nowhere. “Oh, Melissa, my apologies my darling, I did not realise you were here: have you been here long?” I said, no, I just entered the room, which was not exactly true. I was there, long enough to know that it was her, computing, at a speed and a language that defied human understanding. But she had then no shape: a pure computing being. Gabrielle smiled and gave me a hug. The diagrams had disappeared and she conjured up a computer screen, near the oak table in front of the window: “I am going to show you something”… She then opened a series of table, full of equations, that amounted to an explanation of Fermat’s principle in the Lagrangian schema. It’s about how light travels. I just about followed the maths, the diagrams and Gabrielle’s explanations: it seemed to be important to Gabrielle that I understood those equations, and she finally said, “Later I will explain why this is the basis of the next generation of simulators, ones that will allow you to travel far” – and I asked: “Gabrielle, dear mother, do you mean me, little me, or the whole of the human race?” And she smiled, her kind smile.
The house we live in is real: of bricks, wood and mortar, but it appears invisible to anyone else. From the street only me, and I guess Gabrielle, in her human shape, see it. The garden is beautiful, and I can walk there in safety: an angel guards me.
Your sister is sweet, Julian, indeed she reminded me of you, as a young man, the same soft brown eyes, yet a firm gaze, the beautiful skin, healthy and latin… You are beautiful people, not coarse like me… But you know what I mean don’t you? Or maybe you don’t? Have you forgotten? A peasant is what I am, or rather, was. Still I was pleased to meet her, and I do apologise for surprising her. In truth we were both amazed, I might have expected you, but not her. In some ways I got the name wrong: she’s the resident, not you. But of course, I recognise her immediately, from the pictures on your page… You have such a happy life, a beautiful sister, a gorgeous wife, who both love you… And you are a free man, with still a good many years of happiness in front of you. I cannot see anything going wrong for you, can you?
I left a message with Jane for you, and I am sure she will deliver it, soon. I think we made a good impression on each other. When you get my message you will know what to do, and, incidentally, I am sorry my page was inaccessible the other night when you tried: it has been repaired now! As you can guess, I do struggle a bit with that technology, we – beings of my sort – take time to understand, we were not born with it! But now, now, we’ve understood its power…
So far away
It is impossible for me to talk to you directly. Even I cannot overcome the laws of nature, and even if I could, there is her. She looks after you, her watch never stops, she’s your shield, the knight in shiny armour who guards your soul. Yes, I know, she’s beautiful, beautiful in a way I could never be, even when I was close to you, and, yes, alive. And then she’s young, as you still are. From where I am, through those eons of time, through the mist of unreality, I can only observe, and try, so timidly, to reach you via the objects you like, the worlds you wish to visit: my only way in, is your imagination, that beautiful talent of yours that used to amuse me so much when we were… close. Then, I was laughing at your funny stories, the way you looked at people, at the adults who dominated, dictated our lives… It’s a narrow corridor that can be so easily obstructed! I know you so well, Julian, a stranger’s face, a woman’s smile, a faint silhouette in the rain, are enough to derail my plans, and you are running away already, far away, in another direction, disappearing from my sight. You are now more fickle than you used to be, at least in my memory… It has been so long, you cannot imagine, Julian, and I fear you will never know.