We look at the maps, we search for the ideal nest – a place where to love and write… So we are in planning mood, drawing budgets, counting miles, making lists. Much to do in-between, we don’t want time to fly too quickly.
We want to walk along those streets, retracing our steps, pausing at the corner where memories linger. For in that city our souls roam, unwilling to depart: the summer of our discovery. We shall go back, for a few short months, retrieving our youth, opposing the onslaught of winter.
The next evening, he watched her performance, came to her dressing room, and saw many of the same faces. He made sure to pay proper attention to Mme Guérard: having been in foreign courts before, he knew to recognise the power behind the throne. Soon – much sooner than the fiercest optimism could have imagined – she came across, took Barnaby’s arm, and bade her coterie goodnight. As the three of them left, the scrimmage of Parisian dandies took care of not to appear put out. Well, perhaps they weren’t.
From Julian Barnes, “Levels of Life, On the Level” (© Julian Barnes 2013)
Deep in the cove lie the lazy rocks, and, perhaps some deeper secrets, even a sea monster and her mermaid lover?
We laugh: waves lick the sand, wooing the careless couple, telling again the tale of her, whose face launched a thousand ships…
Are you Helen, the peerless beauty whose fate was to have Troy destroyed?
Or are you the mermaid, for ever courted by the many tentacles?
She’s a workaholic, always on the move, alert, unstoppable. To meet her is an experience, her smile contagious, and this feeling of a hard mind behind her long eyelashes. She travels, she comes to you, she’s punctual, the tools of her trade in her long bag, full of marvellous attires. One guesses her luggage contains more…
A committed professional she is, of the sort that cares only for business, really, while all the time making the customer feel he – mainly “he” – is important, and it works. For it is impossible not to like her, even admire her, her energy, her skills, at what amounts to seduction, of a very temporary type.
Here, there, everywhere, how does she maintain the balance, keep healthy, even glowing? She’s a sexy woman of character, her strength well hidden behind irresistible charm. Men are forgotten as quickly as won: she’s a model, much travelled, and fully booked.
It was his birthday: every earth-year Anna would prepare a surprise for him specially for that day, last year it was the hyperspace astrolabe, a marvel of exquisite art and navigation engineering skill: Anna, ever attentive and watchful, his dedicated and beautiful companion, so human in the small imperfections he’d learnt to admire.
The door opened, silently, and there she stood looking at him, her warm smile on the sensual lips: “Good morning my love, are you ready for a cup of coffee? Happy birthday!”
He paused and took Anna in his arms: then he saw the small boy, standing proudly at the door, holding a steaming pot of coffee: on the boy’s face he saw himself, through eons of time.
“You see, I did not forget what you said last year about not having a son with you on this long voyage… He’s so much like his dad!” said Anna, smiling the eternal woman’s and mother’s tenderness, Anna, the near-perfect human, the elite replicant, his lover in the immense solitude of space.
There is a medieval ring to this word: retribution: it evokes dark feuds in the Italy of the late Middle Age, just before the Renaissance woke up to the rediscovery of antiquity. We may think of those great families bent on revenge for some sinister hidden murder, and ponder on the condottieri (another interesting word) leading band of assassins for the cause of their lord…
“Retribution may refer to:
- Retributive justice, a theory of justice that considers proportionate punishment an acceptable response to crime
- Divine retribution: retributive justice in a religious context
- Revenge, a harmful action against a person or group in response to a grievance” (Wikipedia)
retribution (plural retributions)
- See also Wikisaurus:revenge
- 1999, Barbara Hanawalt, Medieval crime and social control, p.73:
- 1. Revenge is for an injury; retribution is for a wrong.
- 2. Retribution sets an internal limit to the amount of the punishment according to the seriousness of the wrong; revenge need not.
- 3. Revenge is personal; the agent of retribution need have no special or personal tie to the victim of the wrong for which he exacts retribution.
- 4. Revenge involves a particular emotional tone, pleasure in the suffering of another, while retribution need involve no emotional tone.
Image: Blues vs. Greens (Byzantine Empire) at http://www.swide.com/art-culture/history/romeo-and-juliet-montagues-v-capulets-and-other-famous-gang-rivalries/2013/04/30