Director of Operations – Bluenose II
“I wish to state before this assembled multitude;
“Before this packed house;
“Before this captive audience;
“That I have every right
“(As much as each of you)
“To be here and represent my interests,
“And my associations,
“Because I am a member in every day,
“Even as the nights which are too cold
“And the elevators, as they so often do – stop.
“You look askance.
“Indeed, you look at me in That manner
“The corners of your eyes are full of mistakes!
“Which proves to me beyond and above
“To heaven even,
“Even to the very Golden Gates
“Where the various saints
“Hang to the golden bars
“And swing to and fro in the Celestial breezes
“That cause clouds to scud across the sky,
“And there is barely time to think of a reply.”
In my novel, The Fifth Corner Of The Earth (which I class as a contemporary history) five people, decedents of five people through the centuries, must come together to decide whether it is time to end the Earth – the proverbial End Times. But this time, one of those chosen is a woman. And women’s power is described.
She went along the hallway, turned down a longer, narrower corridor, and came to her brother’s room.
She knocked on the door, but when there was no reply, she called again.
“Please, Atropos. Come in.”
She lifted the latch and walked into the darkened room. She went down a few steps, and crossed the stone floor, until she came to the thick wool rug which covered the area beneath the bed. Her brother stretched his hand along the bedclothes.
“It is almost time for you to leave?”
“In the half hour.”
“You’ve been troubled.” He sat higher in the bed. “How are you feeling now?”
“That’s supposed to be my question.” She laughed nervously.
“I feel as I am – closer to death.” Markos pulled at the bedclothes. “We must not pretend anything different.”
“There’s always the chance – ”
“You’re talking to your brother – your younger brother to whom you have taught so much. Of course I know of `chance’.”
Markos started to cough, and doubled over as the sound filled the room.
“You see.” He forced a laugh. “As if on cue.” He held up his hand as she came closer. “They would have to give me new lungs, to do any good now. There is no place for `chance’.”
“Do you want a drink?” She reached for the pitcher of water.
“I want to talk.” As he again sat up, he pointed past the water on the table. “Get it for me, please.”
She stretched and took the black envelope in her hand. As she gave it to Markos, the sun insignia on the back glowed in the dimness of the room.
“Thank you, Atropos.” He lay it on the covers in front of him. “And thank you for the honour of asking my council.”
“Markos, I – ”
“It means a lot to me.” He held up her hand to stop her words. “You still have confidence in the advice I can give.”
“Of course I have – ”
“Ah, my sister.” He spoke slowly. “The dead and near dead have one thing in common. They no longer need to be humoured.” He touched her hand. “I don’t want to be a weight on your mind when you’re away.”
“How can I stop thinking about you?”
“I don’t ask that.” He smiled. “I hope I’m always in your thoughts. That’s how I’ll keep alive.”
“You feel too much, sometimes, Atropos. Is that part of being a woman?”
“I don’t know.” She forced a smile.
“I think it is.” He pushed one of the pillows more firmly beneath him. “I think it’s because you can bring life into existence – you can actually feel a soul develop inside you. Women have a touch of God within them because of that.”
Markos hesitated, his breathing more laboured. He looked at his sister intently, his eyes hot from fever.
“Men will always envy you that power. We envy you the power to create life, and the feelings it must give.” He smiled abruptly. “Our duty done, we really become quite superfluous.”
“You surprise me.” Atropos spoke softly.
“What have I got to lose by letting you know of my primordial envy? My fears and inferiority mean nothing at death’s door.” He looked away. “I no longer dread you will turn them against me, and look upon me with contempt.”
“Markos. I would never have done that.”
“I am like all humans, Atropos. I have doubt of my own worth held within me like an insoluble capsule. Your words can’t dissolve it – even the knowledge of death leaves it untouched.” He stroked his chest. “Death just puts it in perspective.”
“I don’t feel that way.”
“No, you don’t.” His hand stopped moving. “And I suspect the others whom you are soon to meet are spared this most human failing.” He closed his eyes. “I want to make certain you understand. We humans are forced to carry this sense of worthlessness around like a curse. Remember that when you decide about us.”
“But where does it come from?”
“That question … ”
Markos turned his head. He opened his eyes, and looked out at the blue sky framed by the small window. Sunlight would soon be streaming through.
“I am not going to live long enough to answer that question.” He looked back at her. “Come closer.”
“What is it?” She leaned over the bed.”
“Don’t worry about me.” He clasped her hands in a strong grip. “I’m prepared for what it to happen to me – and accept it. Tell me you do the same.”
“I know you are going to die.” She searched for words. “I’m not sure I can accept it.”
“Then believe me, my honest sister, when I say I am content.” Markos stared at her face. “Tell me that my death will not cloud your mind on your journey.”
“I’ll keep you in my mind and heart.” She momentarily lost her breath. “Always. My sadness won’t distract me.”
Markos sighed, and his hands relaxed. He then picked up the envelope which had fallen beside him, and handed it to her.
She took it, then bent and kissed him.
“Good bye, Markos.”
“God guard you, Atropos.”
For some reason, this observation (from – perhaps – an unreliable observer from one of my short stories) has been the most popular post of the last couple of years. Yes – even beating out Kafka. So I’ll give it another turn
“Circles are the answer.
“Just look at any circle and you’ll see what I mean. Of course, no one else is to know about the circles. They must be very stupid if they can’t see something so obvious.
“Yet, you get hints, don’t you – all the time out there. And in your own life – the way things happen so you never get anywhere. Never change.
“The earth, of course, and the sun – well, that’s something you can see. Either way you look at it, the one goes around the other in a big circle that takes in the whole sky. And the earth and the sun and the moon are round – all circles in their own right. So you have circles which are going around in circles, if you get my meaning.
“And if you look further – reach out into the universe as far as you can go – they tell us that everything is going around everything else. Smaller circles and elongated circles which take in such large distances that numbers become forgotten.
“Now, this means that everything, eventually, comes back upon itself. The beginning is really the end. That’s what most people would think – and that’s where they make their mistake.
“You see, things don’t start by beginning – they start by ending. It’s the end which comes first in a circle, so, instead of going back to where it started, it comes back to its end.
“That explains it.”