It seemed to me that I had been spending a lot of useless, viscous time in the balmy parlor, through the north window of which the false lake with the false fjords looked and where nothing held me and attracted me but the presence of the beautiful, suspicious lady whom I thought was a sinner . To see her face properly for once was my unfulfilled desire. Her face floated indistinctly between dark, loose hair and consisted only of sweet pallor, otherwise there was nothing. Perhaps the eyes were dark brown, I felt reasons in me to expect that, but then the eyes did not match the face that my gaze wanted to read out of the indefinite pallor and the design of which I knew to rest in deep, inaccessible layers of memory.
Something finally happened. The two young men entered. They greeted the lady with very good forms and were introduced to me. Monkeys, I thought, and was angry with myself because the one red-brown skirt with its pretty flirtatious fit and cut made me ashamed and envious. Terrible feeling of envy against the impeccable, unashamed, smiling! “Control yourself!” I called to myself softly. The two young people took up my offered hand indifferently – why had I offered it ?! – and made mocking faces.
Then I felt that something was wrong with me and felt an annoying cold rise on me. Looking down I saw with pale that I was standing without shoes in bare stockings. Again and again these dreary, pitiful, poor obstacles and resistances! It never happened to others that they stood naked or half-naked in salons in front of the people of the impeccable and inexorable! Sadly I tried to cover my left foot with at least my right, while my gaze fell through the window, and I saw the blue and wild shores of the lake threatening in false, dark tones, they wanted to be demonic. Sadly and in need of help, I looked at the strangers, full of hatred for these people and full of greater hatred for me – it was nothing with me, I was not successful. And why did I feel responsible for the stupid lake? Yes when i felt it then it was me too. I looked pleadingly at the red-brown man’s face, his cheeks were healthy and delicately cared for, and yet I knew so well that I was uselessly exposing myself, that he was not to be moved.
Just now he noticed my feet in the coarse dark green stockings – oh, I still had to be happy, that they were without holes – and smiled ugly. He nudged his comrade and pointed to my feet. The other grinned mockingly too.
“Look at the lake!” I called and pointed through the window.
The reddish-brown shrugged his shoulders, it never occurred to him to just turn to the window, and said something to the other that I only half understood, but which was aimed at me and was about guys in stockings who are in such a thing Salon should not tolerate at all. For me, “Salon” was again something like in the boyhood years, with a somewhat beautiful and somewhat false sound of refinement and world.
As I was crying, I bent down at my feet to see if anything could be improved, and now saw that I had slipped out of my wide slippers; at least one very large, soft, dark red slipper was lying on the floor behind me. I took it indecisively in my hand, gripping the heel, still very tearful. It slipped away from me, I caught it falling – it had grown even bigger in the meantime – and was now holding it at the front end.
At the same time I suddenly felt, deeply relieved, the low value of the slipper, which was a little springy in my hand, pulled down from the heavy heel. Wonderful, such a red floppy shoe, so soft and heavy! As an experiment I swung it a little through the air, it was delicious and flowed through my hair with delight. A club, a rubber tube was nothing against my big shoe. I called him Calziglione in Italian.
When I gave the red-brown one a playful blow to the head with the calziglione, the young impeccable sank staggering onto the divan, and the others and the room and the terrible lake lost all power over me. I was tall and strong, I was free, and with the second blow on the red-brown’s head there was already nothing more of a fight, nothing of shabby self-defense in my hitting, but loud cheers and liberated masterly mood. Also, I no longer hated the enemy I had killed, he was interesting to me, he was precious and dear to me, I was his master and his creator. Because every good blow with my French shoe club formed this immature and monkey head, forged it, built it, composed it, with every shaping blow it became more pleasant, became prettier, finer, became my creature and work, That satisfied me and that I loved. With one last, tender blow, I drove the pointed back of his head inward just enough. He was finished. He thanked me and stroked my hand. “It’s okay,” I waved. He crossed his hands in front of his chest and said shyly: “My name is Paul.”
Wonderful, joyful feelings stretched my chest and stretched the space away from me, the room – nothing more of “salon”! – moved away in shame and hid in vain; I stood by the lake. The lake was black-blue, steel clouds pressed on the dark mountains, in the fjords dark water boiled up frothy, blows of the blow dryer wandered compulsively and fearfully in circles. I looked up and held out my hand to signal that the storm was about to begin. A lightning bolt cracked bright and cold from the hard blue, a warm hurricane howled vertically down, in the sky a tumult of gray shapes shot apart in marble veins. Great round waves rose fearfully from the lashed lake, the storm tore whiskers and clapping rags of water from their backs and threw them in my face. The black, frozen mountains opened eyes in horror. Their crouching and silence sounded pleading.
A shy voice sounded next to me in the storm, which was splendidly hunting giant ghost horses. Oh, I hadn’t forgotten you, pale woman with long black hair. I leaned over to her, she spoke like a child – the lake was coming, you couldn’t be here. I was still looking moved at the gentle sinner, her face was nothing but quiet paleness in broad hair twilight, then a clapping wave was already beating on my knees and already on my chest, and the sinner swayed defenseless and quietly on rising waves. I laughed a little, put my arm around her knees and lifted her up to me. This too was beautiful and liberating, the woman was Strangely light and small, full of fresh warmth and the eyes warm, trusting and frightened, and I saw that she was not a sinner at all and not a distant, vague lady. No sins, no secret; she was just a kid.
I carried her out of the waves over rocks and through the rain-dark, regally mourning park, where the storm did not reach and where, from the lowered crowns of old trees, nothing but gentle human beauty spoke, nothing but poems and symphonies, a world of sweet forebodings and lovingly tamed pleasures, lovable painted ones Trees by Corot and rustic woodwind music by Schubert, which gently lured me to their beloved temples with a fleeting homesickness. But in vain, the world has many votes, and the soul has its hours and moments for everything.
God knows how the sinner, the pale woman, the child, said goodbye and was lost to me. It was a stone front staircase, it was a front door, servants were there, everything weak and milky as if behind cloudy glass, and other, even more unsubstantial, even more cloudy, figures were blown windy, a tone of reproach and reproach against me spoiled the flurry of shadows . Nothing remained of him but the figure Paul, my friend and son Paul, and in his features a face that could not be called by name, but nevertheless infinitely well-known, was revealed and hidden The face of a schoolmate, a prehistorically legendary nanny, nourished from the good, nourishing half-memories of the fabulous first years.
Good, intimate darkness, a warm cradle of soul and a lost home opens up, a time of unshaped existence, an indecisive first surge above the source, under which the ancestral past sleeps with the dreams of the jungle. Just feel, soul, just crazy, rummage blindly in the lavish bathroom of innocent twilight instincts! I know you, fearful soul, nothing is more necessary to you, nothing is so much food, so much drink and sleep for you as coming home to your beginnings. Wave rushes around you, and you are wave, forest, and you are forest, there is no outside and inside anymore, you fly bird in the air, fish swim in the sea, suck light and are light, taste dark and are dark. We wander, soul, we swim and fly and smile and tie the torn threads again with delicate ghost fingers, blissfully echo the destroyed vibrations. We are no longer looking for God. We are god. We are the World. We kill and die with, we create and rise with our dreams. Our most beautiful dream, that is the blue sky, our most beautiful dream, that is the sea, our most beautiful dream, that is the starry night, and is the fish, and is the bright, joyful sound, and is the bright, joyful light – everything is our dream, each is our most beautiful dream. We have just died and become earth. Just each is our most beautiful dream. We have just died and become earth. Just each is our most beautiful dream. We have just died and become earth. Just we invented laughter. We have just arranged a constellation.
Voices sound, and each is the mother’s voice. Trees rustle, and everyone has rustled over our cradle. Roads diverge in a star shape, and each road is the way home.
The one who called himself Paul, my creature and my friend, was back and had become as old as me. He looked like a friend from my youth, but I didn’t know which one, so I was a little unsure of him and showed some politeness. From that he drew power. The world no longer obeyed me, it obeyed him, that is why everything before had disappeared and perished in humble improbability, ashamed by him who now reigned.
We were in a square, the place was called Paris, and in front of me there was an iron beam, it was a ladder and had narrow iron rungs on both sides, which you could hold with your hands and with your feet on it to step. Since Paul wanted to, I climbed it and he climbed next to it on the same ladder. When we climbed as high as a house and like a very tall tree, I began to feel anxious. I looked over at Paul, who felt no anxiety, but he guessed mine and smiled.
For a breath while he smiled and I looked at him, I was very close to recognizing his face and knowing his name, a chasm from the past tore open and split down to school days, back to where I was twelve, most wonderful time of life, everything full of fragrance, everything ingenious, everything with an edible scent of fresh bread and Gilded with an intoxicating glimmer of adventure and heroism – Jesus was twelve years old when he shamed the scholars in the temple, at twelve we all shamed our scholars and teachers, were smarter than them, more ingenious than them, braver than them. Eclipses and images stormed in on me: forgotten exercise books, arrest at noon, a bird killed with a slingshot, a coat pocket sticky full of stolen plums, wild boys splash in the swimming pool, torn Sunday trousers and deeply guilty conscience, hot evening prayer for earthly worries, wonderful heroic splendor feelings in a verse by Schiller. – –
It was only a flash of a second, a greedily hasty sequence of images without a center, in the next instant Paul’s face looked at me again, painfully half-familiar. I was no longer sure of my age, it was possible that we were boys. Lower and lower beneath our thin rungs of the ladder lay the mass of the street called Paris. When we were higher than any tower, our iron bars ran out and each was crowned with a horizontal board, a tiny one Platform. It seemed impossible to climb it. But Paul did it calmly, and so did I.
At the top I lay flat on the board and looked down over the edge as if from a small high cloud. My gaze fell like a stone into the void and came to no destination, then my comrade made an indicating gesture, and I remained attached to a strange sight that floated in the middle of the air. Then I saw a strange company in the air, over a wide street at the height of the highest roofs, but still infinitely deep below us, they seemed to be tightrope walkers, and one of the figures was actually walking along on a rope or a pole. Then I discovered that there were very many, almost all of them young girls, and they seemed to me to be gypsies or wandering people. They walked, camped, sat, moved at roof level on an airy frame made of the thinnest slats and arbor-like poles, they lived there and were at home in this region. The road could be sensed below them, a fine floating mist reached from below to close to their feet.
Paul said something about it. “Yes,” I answered, “it’s touching, all the girls.”