The following is an excerpt from my book, An Eclectic Reader. The book, available at Amazon and also Lulu.com, is a mixed bag of action-adventure short stories, romance, sci-fi and other observations on the human condition.
The Lady was entirely that – a Lady. All smooth and gold and silk, her moves those of a well-oiled machine. She slid through a high-tech world with catlike grace.
The Lady was in charge. A flip of her dainty finger could summon thousands to do her bidding.
Fortunes rose and fell – many lives pivoted around her yes or no. She was a Lady. A lovely Lady. A respected Lady. A lonely Lady.
Her mirror never reflected for her what others saw. Her only fault, if she could be said to have a fault, was her inability to know herself.
There had been a time when she sought to have knowledge of herself. At the time when her body first budded, blossomed and began to fulfill its promise, she had felt a presence within that desired to both give and to receive love. She grasped for an elusive something, an inner core of emotion, but found that it was always just out of reach.
The years went by. She grew. She found love of a sort, here and there. The fire always cooled. The embers retained no heat. Her search moved from the world of people, for they had the capacity to cause pain, into the world of accomplishment. There she would be judged by her ability to move, not people but things. In that world she meshed perfectly. Everything felt right and her touch was sure.
The Lady had found a refuge. She built walls of performance. The tenderness and longing for love that had, since her coming of age, cried out to be shared, found a small corner in her heart, curled up and went to sleep.
Enter the Wiseman. He shuffled from town to town and, in his ragged clothes, would play the fool for pennies until his audience, tiring of his antics, would send him on his way amid a hail of sticks and stones.
His hands were gnarled and his face beaten into a grotesque by the cruel north wind. Over one shoulder he carried a well worn bag of tricks.
In his time the Wiseman had peered into the wellspring of life. He had gazed at the center of the Earth. He once sailed a ghost ship through the Crab Nebula and plucked a jewel from Saturn’s Gate. In his memory dinosaurs roamed and great civilizations rose and fell.
Somewhere along the way the Wiseman had lost his ability to be loved.
At this precise moment in the universal continuum, laughing fate decided to make sport. The path of the Lady crossed that of the Wiseman.
He looked upon her with great tenderness; she upon him with fear. Her every instinct, sharpened by years of self-control, told her to beware. Told her that this man was dangerous. Told her that her life would be changed forever.
The Wiseman felt only raw emotion. Her presence took him back across the millennia to ancient Troy where a similar visage had caused a thousand ships to launch.
He opened his ragged bag and paraded his tricks before her. She watched the show – cautiously at first – then with faint amusement and finally, totally enrapt.
Once she had become mesmerized by his illusions, he placed his hand into her chest, touched her heart and awakened the dormant maiden within.
The slyphlike creature unfolded, stretched to her full loveliness and rose up until she was looking out through the eyes of the Lady. There she saw herself reflected in the eyes of the Wiseman.
For the very first time she saw herself as she truly was. She realized that she was indeed capable of giving and receiving love.
The Lady reached down and began to tuck the Wiseman’s tricks back into his bag. This done, she took him into her arms and together they shared a joy surpassing any ever experienced in this, or any other universe.
When they parted – for all growth must proceed from a departure – she went back to her high-tech world, again commanding commerce with the mere gesture of her hand. But the Lady had changed. She was fully aware that the woman within was alive, loving and in every way capable of sharing true devotion.
The Wiseman shouldered his bag and shuffled off to another town, or perhaps to a different reality. He too had changed. The Lady had restored his ability to be loved.