A Place of Comfort and Rest

“You are so sweet,” she’d said. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Yes. I can go home with you. But… No love. I’ve never been like this.” Then her hands scrubbed her face vigourously. “No..lovemaking, I mean. I’m sorry. I can’t be this weak. I’ve too much to do.”

It is disquieting in the extreme to see her friend Scarlet so overset. She’d not been eating much and drinking rather too much laudanum. The strain was clearly beginning to rattle her apart from the inside.

“Oh Scarlet… Love doesn’t make you weak. It’s what makes you strong.” That Merri could say such a thing after Henrik should have been adequate on its own, really. “Just come home with me. We don’t have to do anything you don’t wish to do — but blast it, you need to rest! Let me take care of you as a sister would, then. Let’s go…. ”

And go they had, Merri so concerned for her friend’s state that she hailed a cab to take them both back to her townhouse. Esther hadn’t expected her mistress back so soon, but rolled with the changes as any professional in her position would, accepting the requests for food and drink, and to not be disturbed otherwise. Merri whisked Scarlet up the stairs, one arm about her waist tenderly, then seated her on the divan with care before moving about the room to start the victrola, gather pillows, and otherwise make her dearest friend as comfortable as she could.

If Scarlet ever had any doubts that Merri’s “mothering instincts” had been fully activated, they’ll likely be put to rest immediately! “We’ve just gotten some fresh surface food, Cook should be preparing us a good luncheon. I guess it’s fall in England, the apples are ripening. Here,” she says, pressing a cup of hot tea into her friend’s hands.



  1. Scarlet O said,

    September 15, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Scarlet would like to think she is calming down, looking more together – she imagines her shoulders squared instead of hunched, her hands gracefully accepting the tea instead of cradling the cup as if it were the most precious liquid in Fallen London. Perhaps it was.

    “I’m not hungry, but thank you.” Scarlet smiles weakly over her cup of tea, the dark pools of her eyes dull in her pale moon of a face. Despite her unsteadiness, Merri’s motherly tone twists inside of her, inciting a new wave of uncertainty and revulsion in her stomach. Her eyes slip to her teacup and the thought occurs to her that perhaps she could swim in it, like the great dark sea in her nightmares…

  2. cl0ckw0rks said,

    September 15, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    “Hungry or not, you’re going to eat something before you leave here, even if I have to sit on you,” Merri says with a grin, trying her best to tease one out of Scarlet, even a small one. Then it fades, and she sits down beside her, striving for calm reassurance and not doing to badly at it.

    “If you truly wish to be strong, my dearest, then you must take care of yourself. You must give your body what it needs to function, it is your foundation upon which the rest of you is built. When your body functions well, your mind works more clearly. When your mind is clear, you can make better decisions about your heart. Right now, you shouldn’t trust yourself to make any decisions at all — your foundation needs tending. Badly.”

  3. Scarlet O said,

    September 15, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    She scoffs, tea sloshing dangerously in the cup. “Having a heart is the problem, Merri. The source of this dreadful malaise. Stupid! Foolish! I was doing well before I…See here, I don’t need any of this! So why do I need it so much?” Her voice becomes ragged by the end of the confused sentence, choking on the last words. Coughing, she lifts the steaming cup to her lips, and the tension in her jaw seems to slacken, fresh clarity brightening her eyes.

    “I will eat. I…cannot just now. I feel sickened by myself, by the emotions roiling in my chest like two alleycats fighting, shredding everything I know.” Her eyes plead at Merri even as they accuse, “You are the mistake I made. The door, the opening, the window. I don’t do this. I don’t need emotional attachments. It’s never happened before, and I cannot go back. First you. Then…him. Now others.”

    She shakes her head fiercely, a few locks of her hair slipping out. “Love doesn’t make me strong, Merri. It makes me weak…so very weak. It shatters my ribs like glass, searing into me like a spear. It breaks down my walls, and leaves me naked.”

  4. cl0ckw0rks said,

    September 15, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    It’s a testament to her character that Merri does not take any of that personally. She’s like a person burning with fever, raving out of her right mind…!

    “Then it seems to me it’s not love that’s made you weak, but denial of your true nature,” she says quietly, claiming a cup of tea for herself. “Even sitting here beside you amidst the remains of a very real broken heart, I affirm it. Love didn’t make me weak — imperfect understanding, and some very poor choices however, did.”

  5. Scarlet O said,

    September 15, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Then her hand reaches for Merri’s in an odd contrast to her words, and without two hands, the teacup trembles in her shaky grip. But her voice is steadier. “You and I are very different people, Merri. You are soft, beloved, beautiful, and sweet – and you may well afford to be so. I …I am none of these things. I have never had these feelings before. Passions, yes. Lust? Certainly. Desire…Of course.” Her tone hardens after an errant warble of emotion enters her voice. “These are all controllable, and may be directed as I require for my profession and my intentions. But once affection and…love…begin to enter, it twists one’s control, one’s sense of balance. It ties me to someone, such that I might sacrifice what I need for them.”

    Despite her language growing more controlled, her eyes dart about suspiciously as she takes a longer draw from her teacup. “Call it mercenary, but I wanted no commitments, no attachments. I’ve never had them, never needed them. I think you laugh when I say I do not know love, but it is true. Not even the love of a parent or sibling. Do not,” her tone firms into a warning, “feel saddened for me – I am happy it was as such. There is nothing tying me to them now.”

  6. cl0ckw0rks said,

    September 15, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    What Merri truly thinks about Scarlet’s declarations can’t be known, for she has her poker face on and it’s fairly unbreachable. What she says, however, is this:

    “I only feel sad that you seem so determined to lie to yourself about this matter, my dear. I thought I had a bad case of self-delusion — and I did — but I do think yours is worse. You said it yourself, that I love you; therefore you do know love. I’m sure I’m not the only one who loves you, nor for whom you also harbour some love. So you have deluded yourself in saying you do not know love. You do. You must.

    “Furthermore, to say you are not `soft, beloved, beautiful, and sweet’,” she goes on relentlessly, watching Scarlet closely, “is to lie through your teeth. Are you not soft?” She strokes that alabaster cheek with the backs of her fingers tenderly. “Beloved? You surely are, now. Beautiful? If you do not trust the mirrors in this place, then let me be your looking glass, dear lady, for beautiful you are. Now, sweet?”

    She laughs a little. “Sweet and tart, and more than that, you are. Therefore you delude yourself by saying you are not these things. You are these, and more. Scarlet my love… we all must learn to accept what is. When we fight against it we lose — but only every time.”

  7. Scarlet O said,

    September 15, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    “Then it is you who has done this to me, through loving.” It had been her last lame defense, to hurtle the last bricks of her stony walls at Merri, and even then, she hadn’t been able to hit her friend with them, but only toss them at her feet, as if in warning that these were not safe waters.

    When they are ignored, Scarlet’s haunted eyes fill with tears, washing over the nightmares and the fears, the weakness of her body from laudanum and lack of food. She crumples where she sits as the tears slide over her cheeks, her teacup falling from her hands and into her lap – luckily with only a dribble of liquid left in it.

    “No! I do not want it! I do not…want feel this! I want to be free, but…I’m… not…anymore.” Sobs begin to break through her words, and her hands reach for Merri, causing a self-loathing so fierce inside her that she may vomit. “Strong…er….a…lone. Love you…love…him…so much…Here…hurts. Cold…Why?”

  8. cl0ckw0rks said,

    September 15, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Merri swiftly snatches her cup and places both of them on the low table, then takes Scarlet into her arms, holding her even should she try to resist.

    “You’re cold because you’re exhausted, my silly girl,” she murmurs. “When you’ve eaten, and rested, and feel better, you’re going to understand that you’ve been playing a game of sausages [–like hide and seek, a bit. –Ed.] with yourself. Now you’ve discovered where you’ve been hiding yourself, that’s all. But now all is in the open, and it’s going to be fine, Scarlet. Better than it has ever been, I promise.”

  9. Scarlet O said,

    September 15, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    For some time, Scarlet cannot speak – her sobs catch in her chest and her whole body shudders with them. Yet, in Merri’s arms, she begins to relax, and finally, a deep inhale, and a shaking exhale seems to curb the sobs. She lifts her head, dizzy, and the paths of the tears seem to highlight the dark circles under her eyes and thinning face. She stares at Merri, swallows and tries to give a weak smile.

    “I am sorry,” she says, hoarsely. “I don’t want to burden you, and I said I’d be strong and determined for you.” She sways a minute, her eyes closing wearily and then reopening. But the haunted gaze has been replaced with sheer exhaustion. “I’m not hiding…I’m not. This is…so new. So painful. I have never…allowed closeness, real intimacy.” This time her smile is fuller, raising her hand to Merri’s cheek. “You let me be me, and then…” she trails off, and her expression contains a tenderness. “I began to feel vulnerable, wanting something I’d never needed before.”

    “It was Henrik that made me realize that something was wrong.”

  10. cl0ckw0rks said,

    September 15, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    It still hurts to hear his name, but Merri refuses to show it. Instead she begins finding the pins in Scarlet’s lovely dark hair, removing them one by one.

    “Tell me how,” she says softly.

  11. Scarlet O said,

    September 15, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    “It’s ridiculous. All of it. But to me, it is deadly serious.” For a moment, there’s a sense of rebellion welling inside of her. She does not want to pour herself out, to reveal the wounds still so raw. But she is too weak to fight Merri, to rebuild her walls.

    “Henrik and I had a lesson.” She sits up a bit, rubbing at her already red, tired eyes. “Violin, and some discussion as well. But, he was not his usual disproving self, and I…I felt…so many things towards him! Now…you know what I think about Henrik.” Perhaps the most normal Scarlet expression appears here, raising one brow at Merri. “Yet when he played the violin, I…” her expression becomes confused and astonished, “…I felt as if my heart were being sliced up. So very alone, melancholy…”

    “I discounted it as the music, and continued with my day. But then, you took to the Flit after your stolen papers – sending word that Henrik and Theodor should take me into hiding with them. We were on the boat owned by the Gracious Widow, and I fell asleep shivering. I woke up, curled next to Henrik, in his arms!”

    For such an innocent event, Scarlet looks aghast as if she had stolen his soul. What little active blood in her body must be in her cheeks now, because they are burning furiously with embarrassment. “It…it was cold, so very cold on that boat. I know I sound like a child…” It’s as if she cannot even look at Merri, whether from embarrassment or shame, or something…

    “…but I have begun to crave sharing a warm bed.” She has pressed her lips together to a serious line. “Crave the embrace of a lover. That I should strive to fulfill that…need… even in my sleep with…Henrik…” her tone when she says his name is incredulous, but also tenderly nostalgic.

    “Henrik isn’t the first sign. He is the warning bell of a hole I’ve been digging. The Docks, our discussion about you returning to the surface, my nightmares getting the best of me, laudanum my only escape from both my sleeping and waking nightmares…”

  12. cl0ckw0rks said,

    September 16, 2010 at 10:34 am

    And Henrik moves best in those places where one is weakest, Merri sighs, though quite privately.

    “It sounds as if something in you — your heart, I think — has been working very, very hard to get your attention.” She doesn’t wall herself off from her friend, for that would be a terrible rejection after all she’s shared, but she also does her best to put her personal hurts aside, so that she can help Scarlet through what must be a terribly frightening transition. It’s possible I truly did start this. I must help her as best I can…

    “Let me put it plainly, darling. If you truly want to live without the ability to feel, you should find the nearest devil and sell your soul at once.” Her grey eyes remain steady on her friend, but not without some compassion. “If you want to keep your soul, you’re going to have to keep your feelings, no matter how inconvenient you find them, and learn to live with them — just like the rest of us do.”

  13. Scarlet O said,

    September 16, 2010 at 11:43 am

    “If I thought I could solve it so easily…”. It’s obvious in her half-lucid hours, Scarlet has seriously contemplated this option… and possibly others.

    Feelings are not the problem – I have feelings. But to love someone, to yearn for closeness and…attachment. I have always been separate. Untouched. Safe and focused. To feel yearning in this way…it reminds me of the laudanum.” She leans her head against Merri’s shoulder.

    “Poets and singers write of the soaring emotion of love, pulling them, leading them. Just as you are pulled towards reuniting with your son, Merri. You cannot imagine not feeling this way, and your life is incomplete without it.

    “I have never felt that way. Before now. The appearance of this feeling inside of me feels foreign, confusing -tearing up the map of my person. Perhaps you are right and being drawn to you and to him are a sign that I want this,” she says distastefully. “Does it always ache so?”

    Unspoken, more thoughts race through her mind as she closes her tired eyes: Does it haunt you? Do thoughts of him appear in the middle of your sentences, your studies? Do they adle your brain, divert your energy to unplanned pursuits? Do you feel hunger for just his nearness? Or his smile? Or worry that they may leave, or that you might hurt them? Do you just want to somehow touch their lives, become dear to them, bring them happiness? Or let fear that this new emotion could end? But if it ended, you could be free again… unfettered… alone.

    Scarlet dozes where she is, against Merri. And…just as she described with Henrik, her body adjusts such that she is curled closer to Merri’s warmth. When this comfort is achieved, Scarlet sinks into a deep, black, dreamless sleep where laudanum and love cannot touch her.

  14. cl0ckw0rks said,

    September 17, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    It is only much, much later, after Scarlet finds herself awake in Merri’s bed, after a long hot bath, tea, and a good breakfast (during which Merri keeps all topics neutral and pleasant, but Scarlet can tell she’s being carefully monitored), that her friend finally broaches yesterday’s topic matter once again.

    “All right dearest,” she begins, smiling a little. “You do seem better this morning. Now tell me what it is, really, that’s troubling you so. Won’t you?”

  15. Scarlet O said,

    September 17, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    There’s a large sigh, a great heaving of a burden. “I am much better, but it does not change the reality of the problem.” She folds her hands in her lap, inwardly noticing with pleasure that they no longer shake.

    “I came to the Neath by accident, it is true. But, I took to it well because my…moral perspective…is not quite like most people’s.” She smiles, patting Merri’s hand. “The actions that you abhor or shun do not bother me quite the same way. Oh,” she chuckles at herself, “there are things that horrify me. Stealing spirits, for one. At first I thought it was just commerce, but I learned the error in that!” She lifts the teacup to her lips, the color in her face having returned from Merri’s adroit care.

    “I do not form relationships with others. I never have.” She shrugs. “It has never bothered me, and in fact I relish being able to remain separate from convoluted emotional messes.” The tiniest second of pause as she inhales, and Merri might surmise Scarlet is thinking of a specific emotional mess. “It is a useful trait to have, in my profession most fortunate. I have never missed those attachments, perhaps because of something inside me, perhaps because there was no one worthy of such an attachment.” Her fingers begin to fidget with the edge of the sheet.

    “Now, the Neath is a different place, and I almost immediately noted a new, unfamiliar pull towards a few specific people. It wasn’t desire, not exactly, not…entirely.” A small, dirty smile is tossed at Merri. Then she shrugs, “I tend to follow where my inclinations lead, trusting my instincts. From what I could see…” she presses her lips together, as if choosing words, “…having friends might be integral to survival in Fallen London.”

    “It’s gone a bit further now, and seems out of my hands. I find myself caring much more than I might wish, seeking to be a part of their lives in some way. Almost as if I would try to…be a ray of sunlight for them.” She laughs at herself, “It’s poetic and foolish, but it is the phrase that comes to mind.”

    She twists a long lock of ebony hair, weaving it around her fingers in a hypnotic pattern, back and forth, wrapping and unwrapping. “I feel as if it has made me weaker, more prone to their flaws and madnesses, their needs. And I have begun to respond to them, begun to find new needs of my own that might conflict with my work. In some cases, it is affecting my ability to concentrate, I care…care so much.”

  16. cl0ckw0rks said,

    September 17, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    There is a quiet moment while Merri considers this. “So… am I correct in surmising that what you’re striving to achieve now is a better balance between your new capacity for care, and your ambitions and inclinations?”

  17. Scarlet O said,

    September 17, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Scarlet sighs, “I do not know what I am going to do. It is frightening to consider, and part of me would prefer to leave it all behind.” She watches Merri closely with this admission, aware that it does not paint a healthy image.

    She seems to want to try and describe it. “Imagine, Merri, the first time you felt love for someone. But also pretend that you have no concept of how to express or show that feeling? Or how to relate to someone in the context of that feeling. Because you’ve never experienced a successful caring relationship, never known how to connect, really, honestly.

    “Then you get a taste. From someone who does not ask too much of you, who seems to look past your sharp angles.” She smiles at Merri. “You spend your first night in a bed with someone- all night, sharing warmth and closeness. Friendship, even.”

    “And then it happens again, but even deeper. Your heart, slowly waking, is now thrust into your throat, choking you with this foreign need like a poison invading your veins. And so- afraid to allow it to take control over you, you start to siphon the poison out to others, a little here and there. You try to distance yourself, focus on dangerous nightmares, and dull it with laudanum.

    “But, you them realize that this poison you’ve shared has only created more within you- but with those people instead. People you had no intention of becoming close to.”

    “One might consider cutting all cords, and choking on your own poison instead of infecting everyone around you and never being able to live up to their needs.”

    Scarlet sighs, as if recounting the feeling were stirring up fears inherent head again, her voice hollowed out.

    “But I think it may be too late for even that. So, yes. I shall have to find some balance, or some solution. I think perhaps…if I attempt to build and explore a few outlets for relationships, I might learn more? This is worse than a blindfold waltz, Merri. At least I’ve been taught the waltz!”

    A fog of discomfort sets on her, an ungraceful and distasteful tone in her voice, choking with apprehension. “I truly value my…relationship with you, Merri. I do love you as a sister and more. You have opened your heart to me as no one else. I…should like to continue to share this experience with you, if you can abide my boorish clumsiness with the simplest things you already understand.”

  18. cl0ckw0rks said,

    September 19, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Because she loves Scarlet, Merri listens to this entire explanation with exquisite attention, not interrupting at all. To Scarlet it might feel like being under a magnifying glass except that her lover’s concern is very real and evident, too. When Scarlet’s voice finally stops, Merri nods once.

    “A moment, dearest,” she murmurs, holding up a hand in the universal gesture which seems to request such things. She closes her eyes, turns her formidable imagination inward for some time, doing her best, her very best, to try to imagine Scarlet’s plight. It is… difficult at best, for just as Scarlet has had no referent for emotional interaction, Merri has none for its lack. She tries to remember what it was to learn a new skill…. or a new… language.

    Yes, thats it. Like trying to communicate in German for the first time when I barely knew the language and did not have the cultural background, all the shared nuances that keep language alive for its speakers… I remember how awkward I felt, I remember the mistakes I made…

    When she opens her eyes at last, she nods again — finally having won through to what, she hopes, is a small understanding, at least. “I… think… I might begin to understand some small part of your dilemma, my dear. I would not be so arrogant as to claim I have plumbed it entirely, for it is very foreign to me and I shall have to remind myself of the small understanding I do have, almost constantly… be patient with me, I pray you. I’ll try to remember it as we speak. But… I can begin to glimpse, I suppose, the horror you must have felt.

    “Just tell me any way I might help you, unless it is to shut you out of my life entirely.” A small smile as she pours them more tea. “I… could not bear it, not so soon after Henrik.”

  19. Scarlet O said,

    September 19, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    “This, Merri. I need someone to whom I can go to who will at least listen, if not understand. Because I will most likely seem mad.” She gladly takes the cup Merri offers her, and sips again.

    “So, in the face of what I describe to you is my fear and flaws…” she swallows hard, “I believe I am falling in love…No. I think perhaps it is even too late to say falling…I think.”

  20. cl0ckw0rks said,

    September 19, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    “Have fallen, then.” Her head tilts a little as she gazes at her friend, knowing what she’s seen lately, wondering what she hasn’t. “I will do my best for you always, you know this. If you wish to confide in me, I am at your disposal.”

  21. Scarlet O said,

    September 19, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    “Or perhaps I am infatuated by something new.” She offers it up as a possibility, more to whip herself than posit a suggestion. “I…I who said that I should not like to have anything to bind me.” Scarlet shakes her head, in disgust. “I now find myself slogging through Watchmaker’s Hill, searching for the alleyways to the docks. So that I may be there when he returns- he asked me to meet him there when he returns.”

    “I have wanted to do nothing else. To avoid the heaviness in my chest, the questions in my mind, I refocused myself into the nightmare studies, the writing on the wall, the Marvellous. I’ve even taken up violin lessons with Henrik. They did distract me, but the laudanum necessary to keep that up was…significant.”

  22. cl0ckw0rks said,

    September 20, 2010 at 10:50 am

    “Ah.” This, as scatter-shot as it is, actually clarifies the matter of who has captured Scarlet’s affections in such an unexpected way. “And so to the novelty of love and attachment you must add grief at separation, loneliness because he is not at your side… it is no wonder you must feel as if you are going mad, dearest. And here in London, we have no Royal Bethlehem for the madness of the heart.”

  23. Scarlet O said,

    September 20, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    She scoffs. “It is because we do not admit that it is madness. I have never felt more similar than when I am on edge with nightmares as I feel now.”

  24. cl0ckw0rks said,

    September 20, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Merri nods fervently. “Oh, truly. We can only medicate the symptoms of it, but have no mechanisms like the RBH to remove it from our hearts completely. But then, you are not speaking of love gone awry, and I am. They are different things, I fear. I would not remove from my heart the madness of love when it is also fervent, fulfilling joy — I hope to understand, however, that you don’t share the distinction I’m making.”

  25. Scarlet O said,

    September 20, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    “It is fear. I think you delude yourself that it is otherwise. Except,” she pauses, and then shrugs, “except that you are talking of the joy of love returned. I am not so confirmed, and would not dare breathe a word of it.”

  26. cl0ckw0rks said,

    September 20, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    “Then neither shall I,” Merri says, “until you tell me I may. And I will do my best to understand, though again I must ask you to remember that it is… most difficult. So, when will you know?”

  27. Scarlet O said,

    September 20, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    “Will I know? If he loves me? Likely never, since I never intend to tell him.” She can hear her words, as if they are straight from a terrible novel that she might laugh at. It only makes her feel more insecure. “He has not yet returned.”

  28. cl0ckw0rks said,

    September 20, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Her grey eyes are clear and loving, though it’s obvious Scarlet’s answer to that worries her. “And if he should declare his love for you?”

  29. Scarlet O said,

    September 20, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    “I should think he wouldn’t. I spoke somewhat against such ideas in the beginning, although I cannot say why I was drawn to him so at the time. I thought it best not to share our closeness, for fear that it could be used against us. We are each so embroiled in The Game, afterall.” She sighs.

  30. cl0ckw0rks said,

    September 21, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Merri chuckles a little, grimly. “You can hardly be more embroiled in it than I, dearest. Or than I was, I won’t do murder for the Cheesemonger, I’ve had enough of that. One simply tries to choose partners who can take care of themselves, and–” she almost says the name, drawing it back at the last moment. “He is amply able to take care of himself, Scarlet. One of the most dangerous men in Fallen London, I suspect.”

  31. Scarlet O said,

    September 21, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Scarlet shrugs. “I did not fear that you would be against us, Merri, but that anyone who knew might be in danger. I just knew that he and I both have such…treacherous paths.” She shakes her head. “It was not long after I came down to the Neath, so I was taking precautions in matters I was not familiar. I had no sense of what I might need to undertake.”

    “We agreed not to talk of it, and I have, now. And for me, at least, it has become more than mere affection and interest.” Scarlet presses her lips together with some finality. “I leapt into this net willingly, at some urging inside myself. If he ever returns from the Zee, we shall see if I remain entangled, or if I cut myself out.”

  32. cl0ckw0rks said,

    September 21, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    Refilling both their cups, Merri takes the opportunity to think on this, knowing she’s navigating slowly and cautiously because she does not understand the terrain.

    “Well. You’re very clever, my dearest, I would just counsel you to proceed carefully, in these matters, especially since you have no real context for them. Choose recipients for your affection with utmost care, lest by becoming enmired in something hurtful, you lose what taste for love you have already acquired.”

    A small smile. “It is a thing much easer spoken than accomplished, even for those of us who’ve lived immersed in that context all our lives.”

  33. Scarlet O said,

    September 23, 2010 at 7:14 am

    “Then I am doomed, Merri.” Scarlet actually smiles, here, albeit ruefully. “For I am already enmired in something hurtful. I doubt I could tell the difference between a wise hurt and an unwise one. Indeed, they all seem unwise. Wisdom would be to not become enmired at all.

    “And if those who relish love cannot discern the best course — well, I need not finish that thought, need I? I remember Donne’s words: I am two fools, I know, for loving and for saying so.

    “I already love. I cannot help but feel it. However, I shall not speak of it. It is a confidence best imprisoned, I think. Save for with you,” she narrows her eyes in playful mock anger, “who can smell it on me like the sweet sweat of a quiet afternoon tryst.”

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