The Conversation: A short story to be read in a british accent

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“yes, you can be like this or else you will turn out like that.”
“but I am not that way, I can never be. Even when I try it, it does not work”
“but I am like this, and it is so wonderful to embrace as I do, because we are
here where there is much to embrace.”
“maybe if we leave, try another life, it will be easier, it will be peaceful and I can enjoy such embracing. Right now is silly chaos that will slip in and out of any embrace.”
“you know shouldn’t eat so fast, look it’s all gone. Did you even taste it? You cannot enjoy it if you don’t allow it to spread across your palate. You must feel so uncomfortable.”
“I always feel this way. Food is much more interesting as it is being created and prepared. I was hungry, I always am, and the pleasure was in the preparation, not the consumption. In the very thought before the thought of preparation, in fact, lies the true perfection of food.”
“but now your digestion will suffer you for it.”
“you make my digestion suffer with all your talk of this way and that way.”
“I am helping you, showing you how great you can be, in this life, in this only life that you have. How can you drag it through the mud like that? When are you ever not hungry? When do you simply savor?”
“to savor you must close your eyes. I do that all the time. I am closing my eyes right now.”
“then why do you stare at the sky? There are only clouds. The same clouds.”
“I am savoring what is around me, by remembering what is above me. And no clouds are ever the same.”
“you do not speak with any sense now. I think it is your indigestion.”
“each day is full of indigestion!”
“you really must lie down.”
“every day is full of lying down! Who cares to stand up anymore? We are sad roads, sitting still, watching the weeds grow up along our sides, cracking halfheartedly under the sun—and time speeds by over us.”
“oh my, you poor victim of the universe! You truly do fascinate me.”
“because I am one of a kind, I am one of the surviving—or unsurviving—few. And you are lucky to have me.”
“how am I lucky? To have to listen to this drivel, to this talk of superpowers that you seem to possess? Shall I worship you now? Or maybe while you are eating?”
“pour out your sarcasm upon me all you like, I have nothing but time, I do nothing but wait. because, you see, I am that dark lone log floating on the waves deep in the middle of the ocean. Usually, you think that these random driftwoods are visible to us as we meander along the beach, the shoreline of a small steamy lake. But they reach far, move out into that depth we’d never think anything would want to try or survive in, existing not simply to be seen as clinging to the hot-edged shore. So there are other logs out there, but we are far apart, and sometimes we cannot even recognize each other. Do you understand this? There is nothing left for us. We see right to the bottom, and there is no bottom! It is both horrifying and dull, but more dull.”
“I dare not ask but I must—then why not be rid of it all, do away with this world, take leave of it?”
“Yes, that is one answer, you have caught on! I am however bound to live in this way forever—”
“But why?! What is stopping you from change? That is what I ask of you, from the very beginning!”
“Curiosity.”
“no, I think it is fear that you mean. You are afraid to let go of life, you cannot even change the way you are involved with it now.”
“why should this spell be broken when it was created this way? If I am flying around the stars and then suddenly my vehicle gasps and I am then only seeing the bellies of the stars, and then suddenly rooftops are grating my skin, and then suddenly I am breathing deep purple water—well it is happening and I cannot do anything to pause this. I can only watch it happen, and observe the final glow of its beauty. That, I must say, is nothing like fear.”
“so you won’t mind letting go of life if life simply lets go of you?”
“exactly, now you see it!”
“no, because you mention beauty now. But I thought you said that there is nothing left, and it is horrifying and dull!”
“ah yes, and so I can no longer have my drinks or have my cigarettes. Simply for this very reason: beauty is the strongest distraction, the strongest drug, and once you have got it, you are damned forever.”
“and where did you find beauty? In the church, in the library, in the shop, in the back alley houses near the opium dens? Pray do tell. I’d run along this very moment if you’d only let me in on your awful secret!”
“this is not a laughing matter, and I’m sad that you are mocking me so.

“so will you be attending the opera tomorrow night? I have a lovely box right by the stage, and there are two even more lovely ladies in the neighboring box whom you must meet. I am sure they will fit into your haunting definition of beauty, and I’d certainly like to be around to see what types of side effects this drug has upon you,” he said with a grin sliding up half of his face.
“you know, I am to be deported actually. They didn’t accept my papers at the consulate this morning. And they pointed out to me a long list of things I didn’t understand that I had done very terribly wrong. Or something like that. I am a disgrace to them it seems, and they need me to leave their sacred land at once. So I must be off to pack my one bag, I suppose.”
“what are you going to do! How can they have you leave like this? It’s absurd! No, no, I will talk with them. I know a chap who has good ties with those buffoons at the consulate, and he will put this aright, not to worry.”
“it is alright my friend, do not fret. If I am told to leave, it means I must leave. How else can it be? It cannot be any other way. You know how I feel about these things. You are of course very welcome to join me.”
“but join you where?! I do not feel comfortable dragging my belongings and myself around the world until you find a spot that is ‘meant’ for you. And also where you don’t get yourself into some sort of trouble.”
“well I am not sure at the moment…but I know that something shall come my way. It is how this kind of thing usually sorts itself out. But please don’t bring any belongings with you. You are a belonging already. You don’t need much more than that, you see…I myself shall have only one bag as always.”
“I am not at all like you, funny that you haven’t noticed by now.”
“ah, yes, opposites attract and all that nonsense.”
“attract? I wouldn’t use such a strong word as that my friend. After all, I still don’t know if I shall accompany you on your wild goose chase. By the way, when does this chase commence?”
“officially, I shall commence chasing geese and any other fascinating creatures put in my line of sight, or out of it, tomorrow afternoon, after lunch I think sounds nice. What do you say?”
“I say you are forever scheduling your life around your hunger.”
“Ah but life is a hunger, is it not!”
“how about we walk this way? Away from the river breeze and whatever oddness is carried upon it, and go toward your flat, so you can hurry and pack your one bag.”
And so they walked in silence, completely opposite in stride and pace, so their shadows were a hollow jumble against the late afternoon grass.

*  *  *  *  * *  *

“Fine meal, fine meal indeed.”
“Yes my new cook, who I will no longer have once I go, is quite a find. She has been around the world actually. Was married a few times, always to gentlemen with means.”
“How is it then that she has ended down in the servants quarters from the box seats at the opera?”
“Ah well, it is quite a story. She told this all to me when she came in to interview. She looked so afraid, peering around her at everything in the room, working her way up the velvet curtains and the columns in the far end, to the minute décor of the ceiling, and ending up back down with her eyes on her boots, which were a bit worn, I recall.”
“So was she taking their money and running? Did she poison their tea? Their soup? Something delicious like that?!”
“No, no, it’s a rather sad story really.”
“That’s no good then.”
“Listen, you might learn something from her tragic tale. She was born and raised right outside of London, but her mother was working for an ambassador or some political high and mighty, who relocated to Paris and of course he brought her mother along, who brought her daughter along. So Fialka, this is my cook, she learned French and got to know the refined French ways, becoming a rather cultured young lady. She caught the eye of many young, and older, men of the high society of Paris, and suddenly found herself swamped with suitors. Her mother was planning to take leave of her master and return to London, as she simply hated the French way of life.”
“Funny that.”
“Well. Fialka was overwhelmed by the attention she was getting in Paris and told her mother to go on without her, that she would have no problem marrying and would be supported by her new French husband. Her mother dolefully left her daughter to the whims of the Parisian wolves, and soon enough, Fialka whittled her choices down to one particularly fascinating man. He was just a few years older than her, but from a very old and wealthy family and she could not get over the luxurious, lavish life she began to lead. The entire family approved of her, even with her low background, simply because she was so utterly charming in her behaviour and her looks. Her husband called her his princess, and he acted as she was one and he was but her humble servant, so smitten was he by her. But then, ah but then. Do you know what this oh so lucky lovely young woman did?”
“Oh no! What did she do, what did she do? I am giddy with excitement!” he looked forward to taking pleasure in the downfall of this story’s heroine and he did not think twice about this sensation.
“She found someone else. She began to meet with a man whom she had become acquainted with at several parties. He was an acquaintance of her husband’s, but soon they began to spend more and more time together, too much time, until that point where love becomes to frightfully near, when the long stretch of friendship reaches a fork in the road, and she, this lovely Fialka of mine, she was able to tell this man that she was tiring of her life of luxury, and he encouraged her to rethink it, to separate herself from it for a while to see if it was what she wanted. Did she really want to spend the rest of her life doing nothing, commanding others like her mother was commanded, and fulfill the burst of life that was the fate of a blooming flower, fading into winter as soon as she had given birth to their first son? She should explore the reality of her existence, not seek happiness and contentment and luxury, but instead reach out to the very tops of the trees and see how close she could get to those wild clouds in the moody sky. That was life, that was grittiness, happiness should not be one’s goal by any means.”
“Yes that is all fine, but what did she actually DO that was so bold?”
“Fialka broke her marriage vows. A cousin of her husband’s saw them in the park one evening, in a passionate embrace, and of course rushed to the estate to relate the news.”
“Women.”
“Her husband went mad. When she finally came home, appearing as if she had just gone walking with a female friend, she entered their bed chambers, and found her husband seated on the ledge of the large window, staring down at the dark lawn far below. He turned glinting eyes to her and she paused, ready to run toward him screaming, but he began to speak so quietly to her that she had to kneel down on the carpet and listen as calmly as she could.
He told her ‘what use am I now? What else is there? I see nothing but nothing below,’ and he stopped to again stare down at the deep night covered ground. Then, he actually swung one leg over the ledge so that half of himself was pressed down upon by the humid purple air.”
“Well? And then what? What happened? My god, he didn’t jump did he?!”
“Ah, but what do you think? Do you think a man would do such a thing? Do you think—”
“Of course he would! I mean, if he has become so smitten by her, he trusted her, had no doubts in his mind of her purity and love for him…” His face was a bit splotchy and he seemed to be breathing a bit faster.
“My my, don’t get so excited my dear friend, he did not jump. And why? Because she stood right before him. She was there in front of his eyes, where he always wanted her, his face basked in her beauty once more, tainted as it might have been to him now, she still looked as she did that first night he met her and felt that he had discovered an magnificent treasure unknown to the rest of the world. Now that his treasure had returned to him, why would he give it up? Why would he intentionally leave it when it was just within his grasp once more?”
“Exactly for that reason—it was just only in his grasp! She is not that same treasure anymore, because she is not truly his, she has betrayed him! So if he jumped, he was letting nothing go, he was letting go only of his love for her. Even if he still loved her, which is completely certain, because he cannot retract his burning love for her in a few hours’ time, he still would have to suffer the rest of his life knowing that she did not love him. Even if she stayed with him, that night would always stand between them, a scar, an ugly bruise forever staining the purity of their love.”
“Well done, my friend. I must say that this has proven to be more of your story than it has of Fialka’s,” he laughed lightly and placed his hand on his friend’s rounded shoulders.
“You think it’s funny, don’t you? The ending of such a sincere, tender love?”
“Once it has begun, it is already over. The moment the spark catches flame, it is the flame that will also be the fire’s last. The end is part of a beginning.”
“How horrible!”
“Ah, but isn’t it so?”
“Oh and you have ever been in love that you can claim such an atrocity?”
“Atrocity? That is rather strong a word, don’t you think, when it is simply the way of love, of life, of nature. And we puppets are caught up in all of it. I really do think he should have swung his other leg over the balcony that night. Fialka would have been a better person for it.”
“And her husband would have been no longer a person for it.”
“You are afraid of death. Of course.”
“Just because I don’t believe in giving up your life for someone else, does not mean I am afraid of death! How absurd your conclusions.”

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