Dreams of Thee

Chapter 9

 

Vincent woke to the smell of coffee . . . and rain falling on his face.  He ran his hand across his face then he felt the drops again.  He cautiously opened one eye, seeing a grinning Catherine dripping water from her shower-dampened hair upon him.  Almost by reflex, he reached for the sheet, drawing it over his chest.

She heard the sound of the sheet and just as quickly pulled it down again, burying her face against his chest.  “I can tell I shall have to repeat the lesson of last night. I love touching you; you are beautiful to me Vincent, so beautiful.”  Her hands moved lightly over his chest and her lips kissed whatever areas she found as she moved her head over his muscular chest.

“You’ll have time to shower before breakfast.”

He mused over the fact that he was naked, showering in Catherine’s bathroom, and he kept trying to determine if he was dreaming or not.  He pulled open the shower door just as Catherine’s hand placed a large mug of tea on the vanity and then disappeared.   He drank the tea as he dried himself, brushed his teeth, and dressed.

“Let me help,” he said as he slipped quietly into the kitchen.  He gathered the coffee and plates onto a tray and carried them to the table.  Over their breakfast of instant oatmeal made with water, they talked, albeit shyly at first, each reaching out to touch hands, reassuring themselves and each other of the reality of being here together.

Vincent insisted Catherine lie down on the sofa while he did the dishes.  Moments later he returned and he settled onto the floor beside her. The phone rang, startling them.  The answering machine clicked on, and then they heard Peter’s voice calmly asking one of them to please pick up.

Vincent went quickly to the phone, picked it up, and listened for several moments before replacing it.  She heard his low laugh, and then he was suddenly beside her.

“Peter said Father shared our note with him this morning when he came down to examine you.  They decided we had come here.  Peter is down the street at a grocery store buying food for the next several days.  He said after all this time, he knew there was nothing edible left in your refrigerator.  He will be along in about ten minutes.”

Several minutes later, there was a light knock at the door and they heard Peter calling through the door.  Vincent slid back the chain and opened the door, standing behind the door. Peter handed two overflowing sacks to Vincent, returned to the hall and dragged two more inside before closing the door.

“Peter, if you wish to examine me, you could do it now, if Vincent doesn’t object to stashing the food in the fridge.”

“I can’t recall having seen Vincent this light-hearted in years, Cathy.” Peter smiled as they walked toward the bedroom.

“Yes, he does seem happy, and so am I, Peter.”

“It’s very evident from the look on your face. You seem more relaxed, less stressed than when I saw you in my office before all of this happened.”

Seated on the bed, Catherine looked in the direction of her life-long friend. “Peter, this morning when I woke up, I thought I saw light.  It didn’t last long, and I really can’t be sure.  I don’t know if it is my mind playing tricks on me or if I really did see something.  Right now, I know, more than anything, I want to be able to see, to look at Vincent.”

“Does Vincent know about this, Cathy?”

“No, I didn’t want to tell him. I wasn’t sure, and I was afraid he might want to go back Below so you and Father could look after me.  I couldn’t bear it, Peter, to have anything spoil this time alone with him.”  Her voice began to falter.  “We have waited so long, he needs me so much, and I need him even more.”

“I gather then that nothing has happened between you yet.”

“No, not really, I . . . ah . . . we . . . that is . . . well, Mouse interrupted us.”

“Dear Mouse and his need to always share with Vincent.” Peter shook his head and smiled.  “Be patient a little while longer, Cathy.  Vincent loves you, and he brings far more fears to this relationship than either of us can imagine.  The very fact that he is here now with you is a very positive sign.  Now lie back and let me examine you.”

Vincent had long ago finished storing away the groceries, and he paced the short kitchen, trying to control his urge to enter the bedroom to find out what was taking so long.  He could feel Catherine’s fears; he knew she was distressed.

He was in the living room as soon as he heard the door open. “Just try to relax, Cathy,” Peter said as he firmly closed the door.

“Come, Vincent. Jacob tells me you make an excellent cup of tea.”  The two large men sat in Catherine’s small kitchen over cups of tea.

“Is Catherine worse?”

“No, not really.  In fact, I think she has improved. She thought she saw streaks of light when she awakened this morning.”

“Why did she not tell me this?”

“She was afraid you would insist upon returning Below again to see Jacob and me.”

“But we must; if there is any chance, any chance at all, of Catherine regaining her eyesight, we must leave immediately.”

“Sit down, Vincent, we need to talk.”  Peter placed a restraining arm on Vincent, who was already standing, ready to leave the room.

“Vincent, blindness such as Cathy’s is tricky, even with the most modern medical facilities.  I have known Cathy all her life; the past few years have taken a great toll on her.”

“You mean the burden of our secret, our life together.”

“Yes, that and much more.  What I am about to say to you goes against all I believe but the end results will, I must believe, justify my breaking a confidence.

“I could find no continuing pressure on the optic nerve when I examined Cathy this time, nor when I examined her two days ago.  And before all of this happened, she came to me exhausted, in a highly excited state of mind; and in my professional opinion, she was at the breaking point.”

Vincent leaned forward, listening as Peter continued telling him of Catherine’s visit to his office, his face a mask of concern.

“I discussed this situation with Jacob; and while we cannot be positive at this point, we think Cathy is suffering from what is known as hysterical blindness.  Her highly agitated, hopeless state of mind prior to this senseless beating she suffered, the traumatic shocks to her whole system by the savageness of her attack, all were factors in her attempt to take her own life and are factors in her continued blindness.”

“Then I must leave.  Our world, my life cannot, will not, be the source of pain and sorrow for Catherine.”

“No, Vincent, that is not what you must do.  If you were to disappear from Cathy’s life, she would probably never regain her eyesight.  Do you love her, Vincent?”

“More than life.  The joy, the happiness which has been mine since I found Catherine is beyond anything I dreamed possible for me. What she has brought to my life is greater than all the words of all the poets and scholars of the ages!  She is everything to me, everything.”

“Your relationship with Cathy is unique, but the love you share is older than time. It rarely happens; few ever have the privilege of witnessing such a love, and the power this love brings is truly awesome.  It’s a gift, a gift you must guard, protect and use wisely.

“All men, when they find themselves faced with a love as great, as profound as what you share with Cathy, question why these extraordinary women love them.  Jacob always pondered why someone like Margaret loved him.  To share this kind of love requires far more from us as men than we are often able or are willing to give—a commitment for all time, through all things.  To experience such a love is a gift beyond the meaning of life, and the man who is offered such a gift and refuses it is a fool.  And, my dear friend, I have never considered you a fool!”

Peter paused to sip his tea as he smiled at Vincent. “If given a choice, I would prefer to spend my life with a woman like Cathy rather than spend it alone.  The world, if we are very lucky, Vincent, offers us a few good friends.  To find a friend who is also your ultimate love is an even rarer joy.  But to find that rare joy combined with one who loves you with the completeness you and Catherine share, well, I envy few men, but I do envy you.

“I wouldn’t presume to tell you how to resolve your relationship with Cathy.  I will simply tell you what you already know.  The desire to be truly one with another soul is powerful.  It can erase years of pain and can heal what medical science cannot.”

Peter rose from his chair, carrying his cup to the sink. “A lifetime alone is a lifetime misspent when you could share it with a woman such as Cathy Chandler.  I must go—I don’t wish to over-stay my welcome.”

The late afternoon shadows were just reaching the balcony as Vincent walked Peter to the door.  “Peter, how can I thank you for all you have done, for me and for Catherine?”

“You know I don’t need, nor do I want, any thanks. Cathy should sleep only a little while longer. I gave her a very mild sedative which usually lasts for about four hours.  Her body is getting stronger, but there is still much healing to be done.”

Vincent softly closed and locked the door against the world after he and Peter said good-bye.  His thoughts swirled with all Peter had told him.  He must think, but his need to be physically close to Catherine was stronger.  He crossed to the bedroom, slipped inside and gathered her into his arms.

 

Chapter 10

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