Question Not The Beautiful Rose
There was a clearing, which was fairly new, to carved out a new Boulevard in amissed a cluttered ashes. Once upon a time, this would be a shamble, with nothing more than rue amissed a tangle of smaller side streets. Now it was open and fresh, and, what is more important, a Boulevard which is at least two side streets, and it ran straight. It change the nature of what was once a tangle, to one that was a doorway into the future.
Behind them sat the Eiffel Tower, making a broad statement, the tallest structure in the world, by most measurements. It would not be surpassed until 1930, and then only for a year by the Chrysler building, which was placed for 31 years by the Empire State Building. It was the cusp of a dying age, when Europe held the capital of the tallest building in the world. From 1311 until 1930, only the Washington monument held the title for five years, all the rest were churches and monuments within Europe. This impressed Albert, because he had only seen the building that was have as high, though once it had been the proudest structure in Europe. And for the last 41 years was German, and a United Germany at that.
“I would not have the it would be so high, it is amazing, just truly amazing. I can see why you French wanted true tower that would make everyone else envy.”
She merely look at him, and held him tight. She won him to be her own, even if he was on the opposite side of the border, she had looked at him, and though it was apparent that they would get out alive, she still had hoped. Anything was possible, to her mind. What was death anyway? It could be nothing more than, well she didn't want to think about. Instead, she surrounded her thoughts with him, and nothing else but him. But he knew that the time was coming, and what was on the other side haunted him. It was an enraptured enigma, wound up in strangeness upon strangeness, and tie with a present which was so absurd as to be waiting in the darkness, to wait him, when he desired to know.
And he did desire to know, but not yet, there was something about the waiting that was precious, and demure. As if it was last thing on his Parisian to do list, a frill which could not be delayed, only saved for the last. Which was almost there, but not quite.
“Which way should we go?” He asked instead.
“I don't know, what about this way. It seems that there is life here, perhaps others such as we have been down this very street.”
While to her it was a petite and hidden place, to him it was a foreboding mystery, and he would rather stay on the Boulevard, and capture more of the sites, and sounds, of it.
“Are you sure, that you don't want to stay?”
She looked at his face, and it dawned on her that he was alarmed. Though it was probably nothing, she put on a concerned look on her face, and cood. She made all the right gestures, and still he was alarmed, actually frightened, though he would not have shown this to anyone else. It was there secret.
“What is wrong with this small street? Do you detect anything unusual, hidden, or secret?”
“I don't know what is down there, but it is something foreboding, and, to my mind, it has something ominous.” Though it must be said, that foreboding, and ominous, meant exactly the same thing. He was repeating.
If she was talking to a woman, there would be a gush of things that she would say. But in the past few days, she knew that he would be puzzled. He would shut down, and , brood and brood some more, just to be sure that she would recognize that that was not a good move on her part, because he would the absolute clean in his outlook. Though she would not agreed with him, it was not a face that she wanted to express. Male could be so vain at times, and not even know it. She looked at him, and knew that not a word of this was going through his head. It isn't that he was down, not least, but things just didn't register on the male half of the species. What were they doing with all of that brain power, because remember, they were supposed to be the smarter half of the species. But she doubted that, instead, they were geared up to pleasing a women, and telling brave tale to other men. And if she played her cards correctly, he would be twisting around her little finger. But, she did have to play the cards correctly.
Which is why she put her hand, and thought for a moment, clasping, with a bit of her lip. This would have to be a delicate compromise, too little and it would be unnoticed; too much, and it would be an insult. Which, of course, she did not want to do.
“Do you think it is imagination, or can you put it in to words that could be understood?”
She hesitated, and waited for his decision.
“There is something wrong with this picture, more wrong than with place, because there is something wrong everyplace. After all, we are ghosts, and sometimes it's more apparent than others.”
At this point, he looked her in eye, and held her tightly, not as if to convey emotion, but as it to read her reaction. It was a squirming feeling, and she did not like how the corner of his eye roll on top of her. Hee haa hee hoo what to do with an Englishman, he thought, and for an instant he was merry and gay, before that word meant homosexual. Around the clock, he saw himself as if he were someone else looking down at him. There was something about him that was stern and a bit ominous, looking at his jaw, determined would be the correct way to describe it, he wondered if that to was a trick of the light, or was that how he looked at things. After all, there is no reason that he has a ghost would look outside his body and see things differently. The rules might be very different for ghosts, and he was just learning them.
Then he asked: “Tell me, do you have moments where your point of sight is someplace else than from your eyes? For example you look down and you see your body doing whatever it does, rather unconsciously. Because I have that feeling just now, and it does not frighten me, but something close to it.”
Quite unconsciously, she rolled her eyes over the top of her head. Then as devil may care she replied: “ I haven't thought of it until just now. What do you mean exactly – do you mean that literally you see things from out of your body?”
“I believe I just said that, yes.” For all the world, though she was the only person in it - he thought – that was exactly what he said.
He wasn't annoyed, nor exasperated, he was just trying to explain. At first expected annoyance, or exasperation, would she expect him to show, but no trace of those motions showed on his face. This was odd, she would have expected this from any man that she knew, and while this was not really the way – she chalked it up to his being German. Which really wasn't the case at all, more along the lines that she knew men of a different sort, and this poked through as one of the differences. All the miscommunications that men and women have when they are just getting to know someone of the opposite sex. And remember, this was in the great war, and thus men and women had less contact then in our own day. Each sex was a mystery, each sex wanted to know what the other one was thinking. As if it were worlds apart from the way there own sex would think about things. Differences that were personal, were ascribed to sex, even if this was not the case. These were different times, because as they say, the past is a different country, and they do things differently there. It is an old expression, and you don't understand it, until you see it in action. So she looked at him very differently than one of us what, because, she was from that past which would see the opposite sex as quite different, different from the way we would see him.
Apparently, however, he saw himself as different, and wondered what was on her mind, as much as she wondered what was on his mind. In this then, they were joined by an inexorable bond of having no clue as to what the other was thinking. Then there eyes lit up on the other, and they were both giggling – because each one of them realized that the other was thinking the exact same thing – and that inexorably lead to a hyperbola. Each one of them was thinking what the other one was thinking, and that was visible on each face – that they were thinking the same thing as the other one was. This the produced and inexorable kind of joy, because it is very rare when you see that you are thinking the same thing as the other person. It produced a kind of itching in their gut, that not only had they thought the same thing, but they had realized it in the other person. Finally, he laughed at this.
“You know, I must not be as different from you as I thought. After all, when do you have the same thought as another person? It must be rare indeed, doubly so with someone who isn't the same race as one zone.”
“May be race isn't so different, after all, we say that you are 'Allemagne', which is not that different from us. And you say that we are the French kingdom, which has not been true for the last 40 years.”
His brow thought about this, and thought about this, and then mused on this. “Maybe you are right, all of the races of Western and Central Europe are not so different as we might expect.”
Then a welling of feeling burst inside his skull, and he made an admission:
“Among the land of the living, I would not expect to have met you. But now that in the land of the dead, I cannot escape you, and go back to where ever it is that I come from.”
“Is that a confession of love?” Her eyes made a coquettish look at him.
“I suppose it must be. Because I would never have thought it possible for me to say this to anyone else. Only you, and only in this way.”
This was an soul searching confession, because in the 19th century, and all of the books, love was something admitted only after trials and tribulations, after deeply long for the one is beloved. It was something which would be admitted only after everything else had been tried. But in the new century just dawned, it was different than this. Love was not something that was hidden - or oblique – but something which was on the lips from the start of a relationship, which burrowed down to the core of the being of what combined the two beings into one. In other words, it was not something which was hidden, but something which looked for a chance to be admitted, even casually so. And that made the early 20th century something that we are still working out the details. Because love is not sex, even though there is a correlation. And sex is not the same in every particular case, though we in our movies want it to be the same way. But the reality is different, more complex, and not the same way each time. Neither love nor sex is the basis of that inimical bond that describes a relationship. Else why would we stay together when the object of sex is not present? There are many bonds between people, such as between mother and child, between men, between women, and that is only between two people, let alone more than two. We may think that we have discovered the true nature of being, but we have not. The Greeks used several words to describe the love that too people could share. One day called philia or brotherly love, as in the name Philadelphia. Another they called eros or erotic love, which wanes as one gets older. Another kind they described as the love that a mother has for a child. All of these were different, describing different feelings that we only describe as 'love'. But there are more kinds of love then we even dream of.
Welcome to a world which we are in the middle of, but this man and this woman were at the beginnings. So even in the growing light that was the beginning of the day, there was also a gloaming of a new age. And in that new age, the were new kinds of people, who would not hide, or at least not for long, the ruminations of their heart, and the presupposition of their soul.
Because even though they were passed away, their hearts were in the new century, beating to a different drum, and the older men which pushed them to and fro did not understand the limits that they were testing. Their were to wars which lasted a long time in the 19th century, the Americans War, and the Crimean War. Both of them were over, and declared aberrations. The war that there grandparents or parents thought of was short decisive and quick. It would be over in six months, so all of the military minds thought. And they would think of this war as fitting that pattern, and then they thought that one more breakthrough would do the trick, until four long years had run. And then they thought, “How could the it be this way?” Not realizing that the reasons were obvious, if they had figured them out. But no one did.
Even though the machinery was carrying up for a long, bitter conflict - all of the generals, and admirals, and the appointed ministers, had in mind the very same thing: 1870-71. A war that was nothing like the sun. These two things, one in the heart of young people, and one in the mechanism of war, would be the undoing of all that was planned. From sweeping the channel with the right side of their arm, to the topsy-turvy world that young people lived in, which was nothing like what they're parents saw as duty. Duty was the last thing that young lovers thought of. They dreamed of love, which is not the same thing as what our age dreams of: sex.
It is not the same thing, and one can pinpoint the difference. In 1950s began it, but it was the 1960s where it flowered, and the pill was a large part of the change.
But back to the story – she looked at him with a soft lamber, a kind of look that touched his fingertips with arousal, and made him desire to protect, and nurture. Because, though he really did love her, there was differences in the way each described love. In his case, it meant a kind of protection, that once he felt it, he would never let her go.
“You know I never heard my papa, or my mama, sound like that to each other. Only glances at each other would betray their true affections. And these came when they were old, and had gray around the edges of their hair.”
“My father and my mother both loved each other, but could not say it out loud, I imagine that your parents were the same way.”
She noded. “Mais oui, bien sur.” But yes, of course. It was the obvious translation.
This time, he nodded, though more abruptly than she did. But as they learned each other's rhythms, it was slowly gathering the effect that each was finishing the others sentences.
“But that still leaves us with the question, what to we do now?”
“It seems to me that there are two loose ends, first we must find out who else is in this Paris, and second that we charge them with gathering food, and leave.”
“But I have not been here for long.”
“If you are right, and this is destined to be a short little war – which I doubt, by the way, but I will defer to your greater experience - then Paris will be overrun. And fairly soon it will not be French that is the language of the street, but German, and the German of Berlin.”
Again, he nodded sharply. But it was not as sharp as the first time, feeling a more delicate fashion at her urging. This, slow but steady movement towards each other taking small steps in the other direction was not noticeable to either themselves, or others, but in the cumulative effect was very great. It would be a long time before they had gotten all of the movements down, but they were learning. They took hand in hand, and moseyed there way up the Boulevard, looking at the buildings, especially the ones which were grand as only the streets of Paris could make them. And if you looked from a distance, it would seem that they were a couple already. Blissfully looking at the same things, and quietly pointing out some of the same things. They were truly in love, and that was a very great distance from what their parents would be.
But as yet, they found no inhabitants on this ghostly apparition of Paris. It didn't quite realize why: almost all of the inhabitants were gathering in the corners, waiting for the darkest foreboding with evenings twilight.
And then apparitions that were once human stalked the night, dealing death to whatever and evidence they reached, because French and German were not noticeable to them. They had other plans, working in death incarnate, and controlled by forces darker then one could imagine. Yes, the Germans were the greater evil force, but that is only a detail, men from both sides engaged in carnage beyond measure.
Twirling it around in her brain, it then realized that it was man who did all of these things, but she was unable to voice this, because of the fear that he would misunderstand her. And she was right for the moment, he would have misunderstood, because he would think that she was entirely misunderstanding him, thinking that she was making a comment about himself. This was not true, she would never have made such an atrocious comment to his face, and would never even think it. Enraptured she touched his face, but could not make the motions for a kiss, though she wanted to very much. But he understood completely what the motions that pulling her face together meant, and he issued a peck upon her left cheek, which she then blushed and crept her face down, both with a keen sense of embarrassment, and a giddy sense that at last there skins met in an embrace. It was with this giddy sense that she raised her brow and looked in to his face, more as equals then has anything else that could be issued. With a lock in his brown, he returned this giddy look, and they held it for a long time, embracing each other as the sun crept over the Maple trees.