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Saturday, December 13, 2014

The True Story of the Vortex. The Transcendence Files. Prologue - New Draft Version.

‘Twenty by one point five.’
‘Focus on the green light, Agata.’
‘Twenty-one by one point six. You’re doing great, Agata.’
‘Thank you,’ I uttered feebly.
‘Twenty-two by two point zero. Focus on the red light now, Agata.’
My eyelids were unpleasantly itching, stretched and fixed so that the laser could easily cut through my eyeball. The picture was blurry; only two bright lights were shimmering in front of my vision line. Red and green. Like two Vortex suns, I thought. Naruanar, the Red One, and Laicanar, the Green Two.
And the rays of Helwanar, the bright blue sun, were presently warming him. He probably has already gotten married to a noble Ariser maiden… a young maiden who did not have my baggage, my complications, my awful temper and my responsibility for several billion souls, including his own… and his life is probably full of joy. Please, God, let him have joy. Forget me, forget what we had, Nolementar mine - no, not mine anymore - just be happy... 
… for creators and their creations should never ever fall in love with each other. It ends badly. For me, it ended very badly. Rob Nolementar came from the Vortex, saved my life, we shared love that moves not one sun but seven, then I made him go back and never return because life on my world was killing him.
Simple. Very simple. So painful.
I swallowed hard. I should not cry, because a) it has been eighteen months, and b) I was getting LASIK. Tears and lasers do not mingle very well, I imagined. And c) I would be dead by the end of next year the latest, maybe earlier, so I had to endure through a very small portion of forever anyway.
Why I was getting LASIK, you will ask, dear reader? Why bother if I was so certain of my demise?
I just wanted to admire my own world in all its glory before I am gone, to absorb as much beauty with as much clarity and precision as possible. I wanted to see.
So I found a clinic, scheduled the surgery, and was now laying on the operation table, trying to think only about the nurses’ instructions and nothing else, first and foremost – about my Ring of Togetherness that was presently off my finger and in my bag. And my bag was in Austin's car.
Yes. I went back to my old boyfriend. If you ask me why, it is probably the first question in my life to which the answer would be “I don’t know”. Usually, I have answers. Stupid, incorrect, totally off the mark, but answers. How I could give my body to a Human after I have been loved by a Luminite? I don’t know. Don’t ask again. Call me a whore, an idiot, a sex addict, call me whatever you like – just don’t ask me about my reasons. I don’t know.
Maybe I did it instinctively, just in order to survive. I knew I would die in 2012, so I savored every moment of my remaining life. Even as the laser cut through my eyeballs, I was enjoying it, but the joy was so bitter. Bile and ashes on my lips. They were kissed by the wrong man – what other kind of joy could one expect?
Yet I still danced, still breathed, was still kissed.
Still alive.
‘All done. You will be able to get up in a moment, Agata.’
I felt the nurse remove the fixators off my eyes. Wow, that was fast. I got off the operation table, adjusted my blue pajamas, put on some blacked-out shades, then looked at the doctor through the fog.
‘Your vision will be restored to one hundred per cent after you get some sleep,’ said Doctor Vlad. I smiled at him.
‘Did I do well?’
‘You did excellent, Agata.’
‘Thank you, doctor. Thank you, ladies.’
One of the nurses accompanied me to my room. I sat on the bed and tried to focus my vision on her. She was getting less and less blurry by the second. Amazing.
‘One case out of one hundred has pains. Call me if you feel any pain in your eyes. I will be here in a second with some painkiller drops. OK, Agata?’
‘You may as well go get them now. You’ll see – this one case is going to be me.’
‘What makes you think so?’
‘I have notoriously bad luck.’
The nurse giggled. I stared at her through Rob’s old Ray-Bans.
‘Do you find pain or bad luck funny?’
She was still smiling as she said, exiting, ‘Just let me know, Agata.’
‘My name is Gate,’ I growled through gritted teeth at the closed door.
And certainly enough, my eyes started aching in several minutes. One case out of a hundred. Yeah, no shit. I’m one in a million, I’m once in a bloody lifetime.
Well, I was no stranger to pain. The scars on my calves I got in Greece after my self-imposed autodafé were still there. Ugly, just like my first months of that summer. Beautiful, just like my reconciliation with Rob. Reminders.
Austin was busting my head about removing them surgically, but I was only rolling my eyes and telling him to find himself a new scar-free girlfriend if it was so important to him. He merely responded that the scars irritated his skin when my legs were around his neck.
This usually shut me up – I could not tolerate any mention of our intimate rapport outside the bedroom. When I was with Austin, my eyes were always closed. Outside my bedroom, I treated him like furniture. He responded with rudeness and insults, disappeared for weeks, then somehow, after yet another “reconciliation” dinner we ended up in bed together, then, the morning after, it was my cue. I could not feel the Ring of Togetherness on my finger, although it was firmly planted on, I threw tantrums, Austin realized I was thinking about Rob again, called me a slut, then disappeared again.
I cannot call this a relationship, dear reader. Especially after having lived a dream.
Yet it was no dream. I had one person in my life to remind me it was all reality.

Exceller Lenatireya Norui.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mundo Lingo - Mundo Lindo [A World of Languages - A Beautiful World]. Novelette. Chapter 3.

He holds the door for me and smiles. I smile back and look down.

'Hantale', I say timidly.

'Pardon me?'

'Er... I mean, thank you.'

Wrong again. One of my own would reply "Gi nathlam hi". You are welcome here.

Well, what were the odds?

I feel I am welcome nevertheless, as I enter. I start this snowy but warm Tuesday at Clébard with lemonade and some nondescript rock music. The barmaid is busy squeezing fruit juice for cocktails, so citrus scents dominate the place. The lights are subdued - semidarkness and shadows, and multicolored Christmas lanterns to underline them. Lovely.

A couple is having dinner and chatting at a nearby table, and I am observing them. Young, beautiful, busy. Carefree, but this impression is carefully cultivated, not inherent. They speak French, and I envy them. They speak the same language.

Jay brings me my poison - coffee - and I am enjoying the sugar-spiked fragrant liquid, the emptiness and the coolness of the place. I love the cold... as for emptiness, sometimes it penetrates so deep into my heart I am not sure it is a heart any longer. Yet for the next several hours, I will be home. Ma'weya, ts'muken*, I say to myself. 

*"Peace, sister" in Na'vi.



***

Incidentally, according to the Mayan calendar, December 9th is the day when the sword of truth cuts through the webs of lies and illusions. Yet what the Maya hinted at, the Babylonians demonstrated by practical example. The truth can not only be exposed, but also hidden by words.

Well, I am sure the Maya knew that. They tried to warn us about the world ending, after all, but what they did not tell is that the world ends and is being reborn every single minute. Just like us. Today we are not what we were yesterday. Only words are eternal.

Whoa, I am getting way too serious and philosophical again. As I was writing this, the linguists, the translators and the couch-surfers already filled the bar, and while I am musing on eternity here, the fun is starting. The future is now, and now Arien wants friends, and coffee, and ribald jokes... begone from my head, Elvish languages!  ¡Buenas noches!

But what is this divine smell? Ah. Jay unpacks a cardboard box full of mint sprigs, and I am instantly transported back to the times when I was a carefree gray-eyed child who befriended hedgehogs and lizards, and was one with the trees and grass and water and skies. Tonight, there is nothing but stone and concrete around, and my eyes turned green with age, and my words are all I have. Valar ydrassis*.

*"All men must speak" in High Valyrian.

***
18:45. The flags are being handed out, and the language ball may begin. And does it indeed! The place is brimming with beautiful people... and with beautiful words. "Hello." "Bonsoir." "Wie geht's?" "Estoy bien, gracias." "So nice to see you!"

Sword cutting through illusions.

Sorry, dear reader. I got a little distracted with the multitude of words and with this wonderful Human sport - hockey - displayed on a wide screen. Snow is still falling, but the place is full - you can cut the talk and laughter with a knife. Well, the snow and the cold are a small price to pay for the opportunity to find a home away from home.

As for me, I never spotted any Elves, but I care less and less with every moment spent here. Gotfre zhan, Arien.

*"Forget it" in Drowish.


***

'I don't want to be someone who tells people what to do', says Seamus.

'So you want to be a translator', I specify.

'Yes, this is my dream.'

'Then you should follow your dream, my friend.'

Seamus speaks Gaelic, and we discuss the difference between Irish Gaelic and Welsh. 

'I only know one sentence in Welsh,' I say. "Rwy'n dy garu di." It means "I love you."'

'Totally foreign,' replies Seamus. 

Later, Seamus excuses himself... to go and socialize with someone less opinionated, I guess. Oh, sometimes I just hate myself. Yet an old dog cannot learn new tricks, Humans like to say.

I remain alone to meditate on another Welsh word I know. Hiraeth. It means homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the grief, the yearning for the lost places of your past... No. I am here to find a home, not to dream of the impossible.

Soon, other friends and acquaintances surround me, and I am merry, so merry. Then I look at my watch. A thought fleetingly brushes my mind. Time must be a man. A woman would be more merciful.

'I have to go,' I say to him.

'I see,' he replies, and kisses me on both cheeks.

No, I'm afraid you don't...

Monday, December 8, 2014

Isabella d'Este. Fragment from Roxelana by Pavlo Zagrebelnyi. Translation.

Isabella d'Este portrayed as St. Justina of Padua, the favorite saint of Ferrara

"Isabella d'Este caught everyone's eye, although she was no queen, no holder of great power, but merely the spouse of a little Italian prince, a worthless man by the name of Francesco Gonzaga.

This brilliant woman rose above crime, barbarism, savagery, depravity, cynicism, above avalanches of villainy and rivers of blood. She was no beauty, but so feminine her charms exuded rays of inspiration, in which basked many a poet, artist, musician...

She was aware of everything that was going on in the world; she never missed a chance to help someone in need; she wrote letters to the influential persons of her epoch, using her words to promote artists. She always found the right words of praise for artists, treating them like geniuses; she asked them to present her with their drawings and paintings; she was their best critic; she even gave them minor instructions.

The divine Leonardo painted her portrait, and the image of this astounding woman is here for the successors to admire. Plump cheeks, long thick-tipped nose, strong chin with a hint of a jowl, slightly bulging eyes, small mouth with a promise etched in its pout, a sparkle in the eyes - a sign of an extraordinary mind. Cool, decisive, aware of her own goals and intentions - what woman would not want to be like her?"

Translated by me.


Isabella d'Este. Drawing and portrait by Leonardo da Vinci.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Mundo Lingo - Mundo Lindo [A World Of Languages - A Beautiful World]. Novelette. Chapter 2.

Today, on this stormy snowy Wednesday, this humble Elf girl feels more lost than ever as sweet November turned into bitter December. Sleet and snow are coloring the twilight white, then fall to my leather-clad feet.

I am walking the streets of The Plateau.

We don't know of weather like this in my homeland of Valinor. Anyway, I leave home early, unable to stay put within four walls, computer on, commenting on pictures of those weird beings - how do you call them? Ah. Cats.

So I am walking the streets of The Plateau.

I am still hoping to find someone with whom I could speak my native languages. But even if they will never show up, I am still having fun with German and Portuguese speakers. These are my weakest points when it comes to Human languages - even my High Valyrian is better, must say. Nyke Arien hen Nolementar Lentrot*...

* I am Arien of House Nolementar in High Valyrian.



***


I enter Le Petit Medley at 5 PM sharp, and my jasmine and peony perfume suddenly plays differently in the warmth, with musk and apple-wood notes. There is some beautiful music on the stereo, reminding me of hot Mediterranean nights; the light is subdued, and the Christmas decorations bring to mind the Yule Ball at Hogwarts...

... Yes, I've been there. I managed to sneak in as one of the Weird Sisters band members - you know, the band who played for Harry Potter and his fellow students in Goblet of Fire? It wasn't difficult - I am very weird myself, as you have probably noticed already :-)

I sit at the bar and look outside. Everybody is going home in their cars, probably dreaming of warm beds and hot chocolate. Me, I never cared for warmth and comfort much, and my home is way out of reach, so I am more than content to sit here and sip lemonade - so co-co-cold lemonade! - and watch the snow dance in the headlights.

The place will be swarming with multilinguals in two hours. Hopefully, they will share some jokes with me as this chapter is turning out to be way too gloomy. Maybe that's because it is no longer sweet November...

Snow, snow, snow. Falling and melting, never managing to cover the sorrows of the land. Only dogs are happy - they can get their paws a little dirty and take their masters out for a little fresh air. Me, I have just decided to take a walk to this very interesting establishment - MacDonald's - and have a cup of this tasty addictive mess I got a liking for on Earth. Coffee.

Somehow, coffee gave me a mood for jokes again. Cue hedgehog with a rifle walking his way in the desert. Not funny? Please. It's an army joke. All right. Next time, I will tell you about bears riding bicycles, so you could scoff and tell me that Cirque du Soleil does not employ animals.

Or maybe it is the gift of Human warmth and attention that put a smile on my lips? I had that coffee in the company of an elderly lady who complimented my hair and told me the story of her life. How did she know I loved stories?

All stories are true...


***


Well, it's 10:30 PM, the place has filled and emptied, and I still did not get to speak any Hen Llinge today, but at least, I gave a lot of welcomes in Human languages. As for the Elder Tongue - I am still much better at dancing. It's just... I'm afraid I will never get to speak it again.

Yet everyone is so gracious to me today. The snow stopped falling. And it is hard to feel lonely at Mundo Lingo. It's a Beautiful World, isn't it? So... why so serious, Arien?

Interlude with dialogue

While I was not too busy looking for familiar traits in every stranger's face and welcoming the guests to the language ball, I was talking to Mishou, a tall blonde Ukrainian, in Romanian. The language of my favorite Human poet.

'Yes, I meet a lot of Romanian speakers in Montreal', he says.

'Seriously?'

'Aha. But while they greet you and smile at you and hug you, they pick your pockets,' he replies lightly.

'Gypsies?' asks Raphaella, a tiny brunette with a dazzling smile.

'Aye, romaly', I intone in a passable imitation of a Bohemian singer. Mishu laughs. To us, familiar with the streets of Bucharest, it is a private musical joke.

Then we start discussing the components of the Romi language, and Mishu says it has Urdu and Pushtu and Hindi.

And Ancient Egyptian, I add.

'How come?' asks Raphaella.

'Gyp-sy - E-gyp-tian', I utter. 'It's the same root'.

The group starts discussing this theory animatedly, but I excuse myself and leave. I return to the bar, take a sip of water and look at my watch. It's time to go to the place which I, for want of a better word, call home.

Then I see him.


To be continued...

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The True Story of the Vortex. The Conception Files. Deleted Scene from "Three Women In A Flat".

Ginger was the golden girl, the I-always-get-what-I-want princess. Well, her life at school initially was far from golden. It was in fact as non-golden as it could get, to put it mildly. Her name was actually Gala Belén Maya, but in our first days at Cheltenham Ladies I declared I refused to call her by the name of the scarlet woman who actually made Dali’s life hell, although poor Salvador pretended to put up with her excrements. Yes, that was exactly what I said, word by word.
She was flabbergasted. When she suggested hesitantly we could call her Maya – ‘Maya sounds good, right?’ – I retorted that maya in the tradition of Hinduism meant delusion, and she wrinkled her pretty nose. Was it because she didn’t like the term or she didn’t know what delusion meant – we will never know. Until the present day, Ginger insists she doesn’t remember a single word of that first contact. Nobody believes her, and it’ll become clear why from the next few paragraphs.
She was a stubborn one. She said it’d be Belén then. I smashed back with belena, the Russian for “black henbane”, a poisonous though beautiful plant also referred to as “belladonna”. She beamed and said shyly that Belladonna was nice, and it could be Bell for short.
I was ruthless. ‘Dear’, I said, ‘it is belladonna, but also hog’s bean or stinking nightshadow. I’m sure you prefer the former, but I’m also dead sure the girls would know better.’
Yes, I was a nightmare (to that extent, I still am). At eleven, I could probably give Hermione Granger a run for her money. By twenty-nine I mutated into a bespectacled bluestocking, a dire warning to all the know-it-alls and Mary Sues out there.
Ginger’s Messenger of the Apocalypse, however, was Rose. She eavesdropped on my little lecture and rolled on the floor with laughter. Safe with her totally common name, pretty but neither showy nor mile-long, Rosemary exulted in regaling Ginger and the rest of the school with myriad insulting variations of her quite beautiful given name. The range was unbelievable, from Hog’s Shadow to Stinkerbell to Florence Nightinhog to Stinkadonna to God knows what else.
When Rose wasn’t in the mood, it was simply Hog or Stinky, but when she felt like taunting poor Gin… well, she could become quite nastily inventive. Imagine boarding school… breakfast… girls toying with their porridge… Cue Rosemary, a malicious pixie grin on her face, starting in the creepy mysterious tones of a practiced Shaman storyteller, stressing every key word with such dark artistisme one rarely encounters in an eleven-years-old girl:
‘Once upon a time, the Stinking Maya Queen was hogging in the nightshadows… when Prince Charming showed up… But the gales of stink were so strong that the Prince’s beans shriveled and fell off…’
Then she would continue, to bouts of stifled giggling, ‘But he braced himself and kissed her… and she turned into what she really was – a Frog.’
There are probably no words to describe the hell she put Ginger through. All in all, it wasn’t Gin’s happiest school semester.
As for me, dubbed Gator, or Gate, or – in our senior years – Gates, and Rose aka the Wicked Witch of the Westside, we became the villain and the faithful sidekick, the inseparable double horror of Glenlee House. If some benefic highest power would come and purge the school of us forever, the board would gladly fill the vacant places with Pest and Famine for a light joyous change. The teachers would probably throw a weeklong drunken party with war dances and a pin-sticking ceremony featuring voodoo doll impersonations of Rose and myself.
But it wasn’t all that easy. Sure enough, it wasn’t hard to guess who Attila the Hun and the evil gray cardinal were respectively. I was more than happy with the role of consiglieri, while Rose enjoyed her limelight to the max. What we both did to the teachers is another story.
And Gin… well, she was fated to endure it till Christmas time when, after a terrifying and embarrassing collision, she became our sworn best friend. But that’s yet another story.
At that time, she forsook her given name for Ginger, a new name fashioned courtesy of Rose’s knack for nicknaming and the ex-martyr’s own auburn hair. Gala Belén Maya was for evermore ousted to the stinking nightshadows of oblivion where she belonged. And Ginger, who became known (and hated) as Firespitter, turned her righteous wrath to the girls who used to tag along in Rose’s taunts and my snide encyclopedic remarks. Must say, she proved herself an apprentice worthy of her forked-tongued mentors.
Mlle de Boussignac was fated to become Ginger; the name suited her perfectly. For one thing, it gave birth to our university-years Friday night motto, ‘Gin wants some gin’ or ‘gin for our Gin, make it neat for our honey’ sung all over the local pub’n’club scene to the Sweets for my Sweet classic, drunkenly slurred and quite out of scansion.

What were her mother’s thoughts, we never found out. When we, Gin’s two freshmen friends - or freshwomen according to Rose - met that stately, still strikingly beautiful and quiet woman on a weekend at their Riviera estate, we were too mortified to bring the subject up. We addressed Gin as “dear” or “luv” for the rest of our stay. The only daughter of Señora Lucia, named after a genius’s muse and a famous Flamenco bailarina, to be named Ginger, or Gingerbread, or worse, Firespitter, in that exquisitely tasteful small villa, to her mother’s face? Unfathomable.

To be continued...


Monday, December 1, 2014

The True Story of the Vortex. The Conception Files. Deleted Scene from Chapter 4.

I was heading home, cheeks flushed with active physical exercise and the chilly October air, a bunch of short-stemmed white chrysanthemums on my left arm, a fresh Vogue under the same arm, and a bag of groceries in my right hand.
The city was beautiful, awash with russet maple leaves, displaying an elegant tiredness of a working Monday afternoon in the violet-tinged autumn air. I could feel leaves rustling under my sneakers as I walked home.
I was singing under my breath as I unlocked the door, threw the magazine onto the rug by the book shelf, then proceeded to arranging the flowers in yet another inherited antique vase, a large spherical Bohemia glass bowl.
As my hands were occupied with the flowers, my thoughts were occupied with Rob. With good reason, too. Finally, a list of questions was formed in my mind, and the seriousness of the situation was starting to bear down on me.
Why was he in the park yesterday? If it was a coincidence that he found me and requested to sit on that bench with me of all people, then I’m Sponge Bob.
Furthermore, who or what was there in the bush that alarmed him? And why did he react so strangely when I told him I come home alone after my night shift?
The crucial one: how come he, who could have any girl in the world, including the one who was looking at me haughtily from the October Vogue cover, was – or seemed to be, or pretended to be – interested in me?
And if he was pretending, why would he need that in the first place?
What was I to him?
I didn’t know whether I’d be able to gather the courage to ask him all of that, but I knew I'd ask one thing for sure. At some point, I’d muster my courage up and ask him whether he would or would not be sorry to break my heart.
My bouquet now looked pretty good in its vase, and I put it on the coffee table. Rose would probably scoff again, asking why I insisted on spending my hard-earned cash on something so inutile and short-lived, but it was one of my numerous idiosyncrasies. To me, home wasn’t home without flowers, and as Rosemary kept telling me that I should get men to buy me flowers if I had to have them, I usually replied that we cannot expect favors from nature and our job was to take them from it.
I paused to think about the last time when I received flowers from a man. It was quite a while ago. Giving flowers to a lady wasn’t in vogue anymore, I guessed. Or was it just me who was excluded from the circuit of flowers in social life?
Big deal. I would continue buying them from that shop by the Square-Victoria underground station, and no harm done, really.
As I was standing in the middle of the living room and admiring my arrangement, somebody rang the doorbell.
‘Who is it?’ I asked into the intercom.
‘Delivery for Ms. Carson’, said an unfamiliar male voice.
A couple of moments later I could be observed standing in the middle of our living room, a huge bunch of blue chrysanthemums in my arms, and an expression of utter amazement on my face.
The flowers were exquisite – long slim stems crowned with purplish-blue stars, emanating their lovely bittersweet scent. I opened the card.
‘What an elegant hand’, I heard myself say aloud.

The card read, “I wish I was there. Rob.