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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: December 13, 2011

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Submitted: December 13, 2011





“Do I love you because you're beautiful,
Or are you beautiful because I love you?”

~Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Cinderella.


Alexander Hamilton woke up to the golden sun beaming through a chink in the curtains of his rented panelled room in Kent. The chirpy twitter of birds flapping their wings while serenading him tinged the autumnal air with sparks of renewed hope. He had no clear recollection of the last time he had had such an optimistic prod to make it out of bed.

Three years before, the so-called Black Tuesday had triggered not only an international socioeconomic crisis, but also a domino effect of misfortunes in his personal life. First, he lost his job; then, his house; finally, his beloved girlfriend. In fact, he had never been able to maintain his relationships with women for too long, let alone in the face of adversity. He was always either too buried in his jobs or ended up immersed in the eddies of routine, in which the only life buoy would be breaking-off.

Ever since then, the romantic idea about life he had always relished vanished; it seemed as if his senses had been dulled; as if he led a vegetative life, whose pollen and nectar had been consumed by the bites of black flies. He was trapped in a loop; stuck in a rut, in which the only possible buzz he would get was to sit by the window to watch passers-by rush in all directions like repeated squashed figurines. Sometimes he even had to fix his gaze on the wall clock, which reminded him time went by – the tick-tock of its hands moved to the rhythm of the toc-toc of his heart, bereft of life, which reminded him he was still alive.

But that October 29th was different. That day, Nature’s comforting, colourful melody had wafted through his black, torn dreams. Bewildered by a burning desire to change the status quo, he stood up and scanned his room, festooned with half-finished doings – a proof that his imagination had long ago been a gateway to transcendent experience and spiritual truth. He then realised that, since his downfall, he had been plunged into a state of aching loneliness, from which he was now willing to escape. He needed something, someone to complete him; to fill that vast emptying space called life; to give him back the appetite for love.

So he tucked himself into one of his plain jumpsuits, grabbed his usual bag and clopped down the wooden stairs briskly, feeling he was being pried away from death and expelled into life.

As he strolled leisurely through the cobbled streets of Herne Bay, he was buffeted by a whirlwind of vibrant colours that fed his senses. But amongst the natural elements that contributed to the perfect harmony of the landscape, he was mostly enthralled by the palette of hopeful greens of three deciduous trees – a huge, leafy one in the centre and two stunted ones in its sides. They dominated the postcard; created an asymmetrical balance he had never witnessed before. Besotted with the lush heart-shaped leaves, his attention then shifted to the overhanging branches, outstretched to him and swinging in the wind as if inviting him to entwine with them. His spirits soared as he sensed Nature  might be finally conspiring in his favour.

He headed to the local park and sat on a bench next to the white Narcissus, which reminded him of the Greek legend. After about an hour, he suddenly felt he could hear the Earth turning. He was wired to every sense: the distant sound of the dimpling river, the sweet scent of flowers, and a huge blue sky where clouds had parted to clear the way for a godsend.

He was now in the presence of the most stunningly beautiful female creature he had ever seen. Her long, wavy, blonde hair resembled golden ribbons dancing in the blustery wind. It brightened the flawless, creamy complexion of her olive-shaped face, which was, to him, the personification of sheer beauty and absolute purity. Her velvety, navy-blue eyes were the windows to her soul, which, he imagined, was kind and romantic. Her stubby, Roman nose led to a gentle smile which played about her flaming red lips: two threads of thousands of minute scarlet roses. He was particularly captivated by her porcelain skin... She was hand-made... A dream come true. Her face irradiated such a powerful light that it even overshadowed the vivid gradated greens of trees in the background.

Her name was Clio – a Muse who had brought him back to life.

The sight of her undid things inside him at a subatomic level. Her piercing look was electrifying; volts flowed through his body.

As days went by, he felt that a strong, emotional bond united him to her. Seeing her everyday confirmed how lucky he had been that day in the park – he thought he had been touched by the miraculous hand of God.

She soon became his tower of strength, and helped him assert himself as an individual. Such was the case, that his social and private life started revolving around her – he would spend hours talking to her; telling her about his family tangles and his past spell of bad luck, but also expressing his good vibes of a brigther future, which, he admitted, would have a lot to do with the inspiration he drew from her... What an attentive listener she was!... He knew he could not ask for more – she had certainly been made for him. In her company, he was able to detach himself from everyday shallowness; to see himself in the light of a man of great worth; talented, gifted, whose window of opportunity for growth and success was drawing near.

Whenever he was not with her, however, fantasy and reality blended in his mind... Was she real?... As he retreated into himself, her disembodied voice in the back of his mind reassured him: She was real. But after days of observing and admiring her, there was something he was not sure about. She had a peculiar wild look – it inspired spontaneity, naturalness, simplicity. Though these adjectives sounded good to him, he was certainly not used to such natural beauty. So every day, he would do his bit to make her more sophisticated, more refined; making sure she would always reflect her true essence. This would be his most priceless reward; from which he would derive the deepest satisfaction.

That was the revealing moment when he realised what real love meant: the full giving of oneself with the expectation of nothing in return. Not even all the money in the world could ever buy that sense of fulfillment he was feeling. He would always do his utmost to keep her to himself, treasuring those happy moments when she would unwrap the sensitiveness and passions that he concealed inwardly.

One day, he received a phone call from his old colleague, Samuel Taylor, inviting him to the grand opening of the Herne Bay Museum and Gallery. Alexander had always been a fervent devotee of romantic art and, as it had been long since he had last attended an exhibition, he decided to go.

...Should I take Clio?... That was the only thought that rattled in his mind on the day of the opening. He had always been hunted by people’s gossip and opinions about his life; that was one of the reasons why he disliked socialising. He was aware she would be under the jaundiced eyes of the beholders. But, as his unselfish love was stronger than social prejudice, he finally decided to take her. Besides, he had promised his friend he would.

The event took place in a balmy, beautiful evening – it seemed as if the heavenly bodies had been aligned to bedeck a perfect night with brilliant stars.

The place was packed to capacity. No sooner had he passed through the entrance hall embracing Clio with his right arm than a wave of searching looks swept her. As he threaded his way through the crowd – always holding his woman tight -, he could hear the people mumbling. The pleasing whispering about her was a sweet melody to his ears... “How lovely!”... “The embodiment of classical elegance!”... He rejoiced in his good fortune, his heart swelling with pride.

Amongst the sea of faces, Samuel was nowhere to be seen. Alexander looked for him everywhere in the main floor until he finally found him admiring one of John Constable’s paintings in a secluded corner on the second floor. He hadn’t changed much – in fact, he hadn’t changed in the slightest. He had, indeed, managed to keep his handsome appearance and gave the hall a youthful airing.

‘Hello, old friend!’, he exclaimed enthusiastically. Samuel startled and darted a joyful look at him.

‘Hey, mate! It’s good to see you again! I was waiting for you and really looking forward to meeting your partner!’ His booming voice, filled with bubbling excitement, echoed through the room.

‘Great to see you too! It’s been long, hasn’t it? I should say my life has taken a new turn after I discovered Clio. Here she is’, Alexander retorted.

Samuel Taylor gaped at him with a puzzled frown. Much to his amazement, charming Clio was indeed a beauteous woman, confined within a gold frame.


© Copyright 2018 Clarissa Smith. All rights reserved.

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