- V. -

 

-1-

 

Father’s Journal -- December II. 1989 -- 7:00 a.m.

 

I am worried about Vincent and Catherine. From what little I have seen, the past week has been extremely trying for both of them as they grapple with their love for each other and their individual needs and fears. I can say nothing; I cannot interfere in any way. For so many years I have sought to protect Vincent, to keep him safe from harm. But I cannot protect him from himself and his feelings. I cannot teach him to trust himself or to trust in Catherine’s absolute love for him. They will learn these things together, and that is as it should be.

 

Catherine asked me for a journal a week ago. I hope writing will be of some solace to her. Although she is surrounded by friends and loved ones, there is no one who can provide answers to her problems. As with all hard questions, she will find her answers within or not at all.

 

 

 

-2-

 

Diana waited for Catherine in the basement of her building. She shone a flashlight on her watch: four-thirty. Catherine should arrive soon. Diana hoped that she would not bring Jacob; it was a long trip to make while hauling a wiggling baby.

 

She heard footsteps approaching. Catherine appeared through a doorway, carrying a small flashlight.

 

“You made it,” Diana said.

 

“Am I late?”

 

“No, I’ve only been waiting a few minutes.” She took in Catherine’s flushed face and labored breathing. “Come on, let’s get you upstairs.”

 

Upstairs in the loft, Diana prepared hot chocolate. She studied Catherine, who had dressed for her journey in an old shirt and beat-up jeans. She looks pretty good. Better than the first time she was here. But something’s wrong. She’s unhappy. She carried the mugs of cocoa into the living room. Aren’t we all?

 

“This is wonderful,” Catherine said. She sank back into the padded white couch and sipped the cocoa.

 

Diana sat beside her. “What have you been doing with yourself?”

Catherine gave a wry smile. “My main occupation seems to be feeding my son.”

 

“Still every three hours?”

 

“Three or four. And I’ve been tutoring some of the children in reading and arithmetic.

Simple arithmetic. And I read...I read a lot.”

 

Diana gave Catherine a speculative look. “Do you miss it?” she asked.

 

“Miss what?”

 

“This.” Diana gestured around her with one hand. “The real world.”

 

Catherine cradled her warm mug in both hands and leaned forward, staring at nothing. “I find myself missing the strangest things. Little things.”

 

“For instance?”

 

“Rain. Listening to music on the radio. My apartment. The view I had of the park. I loved opening the French doors in the morning while I was getting ready for work. And in the evening I would sit on the terrace, sometimes for hours, and listen to the city.”

 

“And wait for Vincent.”

 

“Yes.” Catherine looked into Diana’s eyes. “I would wait for him.”

 

“It must have been very romantic.”

 

Catherine nodded, her fingernails making a soft clinking noise on the side of her mug.

 

“And what is it now?”

 

“Now.” Catherine pressed her lips into a line. “Now it’s…” Her face worked for a moment, then tightened. “It’s fine.”

 

“You know, Cathy, for a lawyer, you’re a terrible liar.”

 

“Is that a compliment or an insult?”

 

Diana set her mug on the table, folded her hands in her lap and stared at Catherine. “Your note said you needed help.”

 

“I need to ask you a question.”

 

“O.K.”

“I thought, because of your work, you might know.” Catherine hesitated.

 

Diana waited.

 

“If you knew someone who had bad memories, or couldn’t remember things he needed to know, what would you do to help him?”

 

“Find someone who knows how to handle that sort of thing.”

 

“Like who?”

 

“Probably a psychiatrist or a psychologist. Someone who specializes in trauma victims, analysis, hypnosis.”

 

“Oh, no! Vincent would never…” Catherine bit her lip.

 

“O.K., let’s cut the crap. If this is about Vincent, just tell me. You know I’d do any… I’ll be glad to do whatever I can.”

 

Catherine stared into the fireplace. Diana had built a fire, and it lit the room with a crackling warmth. “Vincent has painful memories of something that happened when he was a boy. And there are other things - things that have happened between the two of us - that he can’t, or won’t, remember.”

 

“Does he want to remember?”

 

“I think he’s afraid.”

 

“Afraid of what?”

 

“Himself. Me.”

 

Diana stared hard at Catherine before speaking. “Can I ask you something?”

 

“Sure.”

 

Diana kicked off her shoes and pulled herself into a cross-legged position. “The night Vincent came here - the night you went Below to stay - he said he had something important to tell me. Do you know what it was?”

 

“I think so.”

 

Diana returned Catherine’s stare. How much do you know, Cathy? Do you know what happened the next night?

 

“I think he felt bad about what happened. Or didn’t happen,” Catherine continued.

 

“Or what might have happened.” You don’t know!

 

Catherine gave Diana a contemplative look. “If I hadn’t come back, anything might have happened.”

 

Diana sank back into the deep couch cushions and stared at the ceiling. “I once told Vincent that I couldn’t imagine what it was like to love someone the way he loved you, or to be loved that way. Then I got to know him better.” She looked at Catherine. “And I knew. Or, at least I could imagine it. And then I wondered about the two of you...what it must have been like to love each other and live apart. I never could figure out why.”

 

“Why we lived apart?”

 

Diana nodded.

 

“I couldn’t live with him.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“I just...couldn’t. I had a life up here, a job, friends, family. I couldn’t just walk away from all that.”

 

“Couldn’t or wouldn’t?”

 

Catherine sat silent under Diana’s scrutinizing gaze. Finally she spoke: “Couldn’t.”

 

“Bullshit.”

 

“I beg your pardon?” Catherine blinked.

 

“Sorry. I’m sorry.” Diana stood and stared into the fireplace, reaching her hands toward the leaping flames. “What about after your father died?”

 

“I thought about it. I even tried it for a few days. But...it wasn’t the right time. I just couldn’t…”

 

“You use that word a lot.”

 

“I don’t have to justify my actions to you.”

 

Diana returned to the couch. “No, you don’t. But bear with me for a minute. After your father died, you had no family, no blood relatives. You had your job and your friends.”

 

“Right.”

“A routine job that was a lot more dangerous than it should have been because you knew Vincent would always be there to pull you out of any trouble you got into.”

 

It was Catherine’s turn to stare at the fire. “Almost always.”

 

“And how many friends, Cathy? How many friends Above that you couldn’t bear to leave in order to be with the man you love?”

 

Catherine drew a finger across her palm, as if calculating her answer. “Three. Joe, Jenny Aaronson and Nancy Tucker.”

 

“Three people who could’ve kept your secret?”

 

“Yes. Probably.” Catherine looked at Diana. “What is the point of all this?”

 

“The point is that I have a life up here, too. I have friends. And I have a job I love, a job I’m good at, where I can do a lot of good.” She gripped Catherine’s arm. “Don’t you see? I have a life up here, a life that means something. But if anyone ever loved me the way Vincent loves you, I would give up anything - everything - to be with him.”

 

“And there’s a big difference between giving up everything to gain something and just winning it by default?”

 

Yes.

 

Catherine stood and folded her arms across her chest. She gazed at the floor for a few seconds, then looked at Diana.

 

“You’re missing one thing here.”

 

“What?”

 

“Vincent. He tried to end our relationship more times than I care to remember, to protect me. He worried about me, about the things he thought I was missing because of our love.”

 

“You mean like marriage, children, a family. A normal life.” Catherine nodded. “A normal, happy life. All the things he thought he couldn’t give me.”

 

“Well, is that true? Don’t you have all of that now?”

 

Catherine sat cross-legged on the floor in front of the fireplace, facing Diana. “I have a child, a family, friends, a safe place to live.” She hesitated. “But I have no marriage. What I have is Vincent, whom I love more than life itself and who can’t even remember the night his son was conceived.”

“Oh.” Diana rested her chin on her fisted hands.

 

“So we’re right back where we started, aren’t we?”

 

“I guess we are.”

 

“Can you help us?”

 

“I know someone. Her name’s Sybil Lawton. She’s a good friend; we met when we worked together on a case a couple of years ago. She does a lot of work with people who have post traumatic stress disorder.”

 

“I’ll have to convince Father to let her come Below, and then I’ll have to talk Vincent into it. Do you think she’s a good risk?”

 

“Oh, yeah. I’ve seen her work, and I know what kind of person she is. I don’t see any problem.”

 

“O.K.” Catherine glanced at her bare wrist. ”I forgot my watch again. What time is it?”

 

“Almost five-thirty.”

 

“I better get back. I left Jake with Samantha; he’s probably screaming his head off and driving her crazy.” They walked to the elevator, and Diana pressed the button.

 

“You’ve started calling him Jake?” Diana asked.

 

“Yes. Jacob seems like such a big name for such a little boy.”

 

The elevator arrived, and Catherine stepped inside. She started to pull the gate, but Diana stopped her.

 

“Cathy.” She sighed, shook her head. “Listen, I’m sorry about the third degree. I just…”

 

“You still love him.”

 

Diana nodded.

 

“I can understand that,” Catherine said.

 

“You don’t have to like it…”

 

“Believe me, I don’t. But I do understand.”

 

“I wish I did.” Diana closed the gate. “I’ll call Sybil, just to sound her out. Then I’ll wait to hear from you before I do anything else.”

 

“Thanks, Diana.” Catherine pushed a button. “Wish me luck.”

 

“Good luck.” Diana closed the door. “You’ll need it,” she whispered as the elevator descended. She walked to the kitchen and looked out a window.

 

I don’t know why I’m surprised, she thought, staring down at the old brown Lincoln, which was parked right in front of the entrance to her building. By now, nothing should surprise me.  

 

 

 

-3-

 

Catherine’s journey from Diana’s building to the home tunnels was long and tiring. She felt a little awkward enlisting Diana’s aid, but her desperation had overcome her discomfort.

 

The last few days with Vincent had been awful. They barely spoke, and they hardly saw each other. The nights were the worst. Catherine had grown accustomed to falling asleep in Vincent’s arms each night, blanketed by his warmth and his love. Now he seemed afraid to touch her, even though, after that one night, she had returned to wearing a nightgown to bed. He had taken to staying away for longer periods of time, coming to bed long after she had fallen asleep.

 

Tonight I’ll wait up for him, no matter how late he is. I have to tell him what I’ve done. She stared along the flashlight’s beam. He’s not going to like it.

 

The thought occurred, as it had several times in the past couple of days, to simply seduce Vincent. How “simple” that actually would be was questionable. She remembered the dream Maggie had allowed her to watch, the wild passion she and Vincent had shared. And she remembered their sweet, careful lovemaking the night Jacob was conceived. She knew what Vincent was capable of, from one end of the spectrum to the other. If only she could convince him.

 

She walked faster despite her fatigue. Her breasts were heavy; she missed Jake. She tried to dismiss all worry from her mind as she approached her home.

 

 

 

- 4 -

 

Vincent…”

 

“No! Absolutely not.”

Catherine sat in the middle of the bed, watching Vincent pace in front of Jacob’s cradle. The baby, who Catherine was convinced was the most cooperative child ever born, was sleeping through a thunderous argument.

 

“Dammit, Vincent, if you would just hear me out…”

 

“Does Father know about this? What am I saying? Of course not; he would never allow such a thing.” He stopped and glared at her with his hands on his hips; he was shaking with anger.

 

Catherine returned his look, determined not to back down. “Can I talk now?”

 

Vincent closed his eyes for a moment, then looked at her. “Yes.”

 

“Father knows.” She nodded at the stunned look on his face. “Yes, Vincent. He’s agreed to the whole thing.” Inwardly she winced at the memory of the difficult hour she had spent persuading Father to allow Dr. Lawton to come Below.

 

“You talked to him first? And Diana? Before you talked to me?”

 

Catherine felt as if the top of her head would explode. She bounded to her feet and stood on the bed, shouting down at Vincent. “Yes, I talked to them first! I thought if I had their support, you would be more agreeable. But no! I can’t seem to get through to you. It doesn’t matter what I say or do, and God, Vincent…” she paused, beating the air with her fists “I have to tell you, I’m really getting frustrated. I’m so angry with you, and I don’t like feeling this way; I can’t stand it any longer!” She collapsed in a sobbing heap on the bed.

 

At that moment, Jacob woke up and began crying.

 

Vincent stood between Catherine and Jacob, feeling utterly helpless. A loud shriek from the cradle spurred him into action. Lifting the crying baby in his arms, he walked to the bed and sat beside Catherine. He held both of them and tried to soothe them.

 

The baby calmed down before Catherine. Vincent rose to put him back in his cradle, but Catherine stopped him.

 

”No,” she said. She sat up straight and wiped her eyes with the heel of her hand. “Let me have him.” She took the baby from Vincent. “Come on, little Jake. You can help me tell your father a story.”

 

“Catherine, I’m sorry. The thought of telling someone else about our problems...it doesn’t seem right.”

 

“I understand, Vincent.” Jacob started crying again; she opened the bodice of her dress and began nursing him. “But there are some things you need to understand - some things I haven’t told you. You may say you don’t want to listen, but I need you to hear me out.” She looked at him, and the desperation in her eyes tore through him. “Could you please just listen to me?”

 

He nodded. “I will listen.”

 

“Before I came out of the coma, Maggie told me a lot of things. She said that although you tried not to think or speak of me during the daytime, that at night, while you slept, you belonged to me. I didn’t know what she meant until the night before I woke up from the coma, when she let me see one of your dreams. I don’t know if it was a typical dream or an unusual one. It was very...intense.

 

“Go on,” Vincent said.

 

“In the dream - in my dream…” Catherine stopped, wrinkled her forehead “maybe it was our dream. I was suspended over your bed, watching you. I thought I was falling toward you, but when I opened my eyes I was sitting in a chair in your chamber. And I watched you...”

 

“Make love...with you,” Vincent finished.

 

”You remember that dream?”

 

He nodded.

 

“Were all your dreams like that?”

 

He nodded again. “And in the end, you were always taken from me. Always.”

 

“But until the end, they were wonderful dreams?”

 

“They were dreams, Catherine. Only dreams.”

 

“I see.” She glanced at the baby, who had fallen asleep at her breast. “You’re telling me they were just dreams. You felt nothing; they meant nothing.”

 

“I felt everything.

 

“Then tell me this: how could you dream about making love to me if you never had?”

 

They stared at each other. Catherine gently removed Jacob’s mouth from her breast. She placed him in his cradle and returned to the bed, spreading one hand across her partially exposed bosom. For a few moments they sat facing each other, silent.

 

Vincent broke the silence. “The night we made love...the night we conceived Jacob...”

“It was a special night, Vincent. I won’t tell you anymore than that. You deserve your own memories.”

 

He held her hand, caressing the palm with his strong fingers. “I fear those memories almost as much as I desire them.”

 

“Will you please talk to Dr. Lawton?”

 

He hesitated. “If you’ll be there with me.”

 

“Of course.” Catherine smiled and put her arms around his neck. “We’re in this together.”

 

Vincent held her close. He chose not to ignore the warmth of her body and the faint impression her half-naked breasts made against his chest. This is what I have feared and desired, almost from our beginning: confronting my existence, the essence of myself.  Discovering if I can love you completely. or if our love is destined to live within limits that we cannot alter. To love you. Catherine, with more than my heart and soul - with everything I have and everything I am - for that. I would risk anything.

 

Her breathing told him that she was asleep. Still holding her, he lay down and pulled the covers over both of them. He stayed awake for almost an hour, watching her sleep, listening to her breathe, before he drifted into a fitful slumber.

 

Chapter 6