Vignettes of Ruin and...

Orexis Finitus (the God of Feckless Infatuation)

In Lust on April 10, 2011 at 1:18 am

It was unusually hot for early Spring, and there was far too much work to do in this stuffy old Victorian building. But sweat creeping down the curve of my spine did not dissuade me from the tasks at hand; I was in no mood for distractions.

So when I was interrupted by a man trying to sell me his wares, I was not happy. He smiled and introduced himself, extending his hand. I scowled a little, studied him in such an intense way that I hoped it would induce unease and reluctantly shook his hand. It was on the tip of my tongue to say I did not accept unsolicited visits from representatives and appointments were imperative, but he took a breath and began to talk and for some reason, I let him. I was not interested in his product and had no intention of taking it on. But the Gods of Vice had other plans for me, since lately, I had been paying them no heed at all. We need to lure her back, said the Gods. Send something to tempt her gullible heart. And so Orexis Finitus stepped into the fray, to try his hand at subduing me into life-wasting worship. I didn’t fancy his chances: I had not had any real interest in men for years.

The man Orexis sent was good looking I suppose, but seemed quite unaware of it. His large hands belied the nature of his profession, he seemed like he did not belong in the suit. Or maybe it was his accent: I found it so pleasant. Where he came from- I normally had difficulty understanding these people. But every word from his mouth seemed warm and familiar, friendly and honest.

Whatever it was about him, I was caught off guard and moments later, we were engaged in the most wonderful and unexpected conversations. The workplace had disappeared and we found ourselves standing on an old flagstone path that led into an abundant, abandoned garden. Moss and tiny white alysium flowers had bubbled through the cracks. I was wearing a dress, my hair was loose and I was barefoot. He was different too. His dark hair was now a bit overgrown.  He was in jeans and a short sleeved shirt, his arms seemed strong and defined. I briefly imagined being held in them and the feeling of safety they might bestow. He turned to look at me and said “I wasn’t always a salesman, you know.”

“I know,” I said, and he lead me down the path. The air was laden with the fragrance of wildflowers and shimmered with the music of glorious Summer. Bees hummed around cascades of rhododendrums while tortoiseshell butterflies fluttered around heaps of black-eyed susans.  The path had been almost completely reclaimed by nature the further we walked, the grass soft and warm under my feet. Tangled plants were so tall and untamed that they were almost impenetrable. Orb spiders had constructed silken webs across most divides we might have otherwise crossed. We were surrounded by the serenade of insect song. A ladybird landed on my arm, it’s dotted shell scarlet against the milk white of my arm. I gently blew on it so it took flight again. I had to shielded my eyes against a sun that was white hot and almost unbearably bright.

“I love the chirp of cicadas,” he said, “it reminds me of twilight in Catalonia.”

“Yes, I remember them,” I agreed. “And the scent of lavender in the warm night air. Heavenly.”

We stepped into a clearing, our arrival announced by a low breeze causing dry dead heads of honeysuckle flowers to scatter and swirl out of the way.  We were in the courtyard of a dilapidated cottage. It might have been a beautiful home once. But now a veil of ivy was drawn about the disintegrating walls. Rafters were exposed where part of the roof tiles were missing. The courtyard was surrounded by old trees, silent sentinels watching over the inexorable decay. Autumn had stained their leaves a vibrant yellow and red and the cooling shade provided by their dark boughs was a great relief. I opened my eyes wide, adjusting to the new light. We walked to the edge of a pond that lay glistening in the centre. It looked old and classical, the edges decorated in what was once brightly coloured mosaic, now faded and broken. The water was green with waterweed and algae, some lillies rested on the water’s surface towards the middle. He gripped my arm. “Don’t fall in,” he said, as mysterious emerald depths worked their hypnotic spell on me. The moment was dispelled when I heard a splash and looked around just in time to see a frog swimming away. Another was poised at the edge of the pool, ready to jump in. Quickly I scooped it up and covered it with my other hand.

“Look! A frog!” I exclaimed and prised my hands apart slowly, careful to not scare the creature any more than I already had. “It’s a common frog,” I continued, “but I have always thought they had really handsome markings, and they are such a lovely golden colour. Not at all “common.”” I felt him come close, I could feel his breath on my neck as he gazed over my shoulder to look.

“Yeah, I like frogs. Did you know we get lizards here? No one ever mentions it, but I was working down South before and I couldn’t believe it, there was this little fella, sitting on a rock, looking at me. I went to grab him and I caught his tail, but it came clean off and he got away…let’s go down to the beach and see if we can spot any around the rocks.” He headed off beyond the wood.

Right then a strong draught of wind upset the trees and their whispers grew harsh and loud. It tore dwindling leaves from branches, and sent them coursing across the yard. Goldfinches flitted away, disturbed by the upheaval. I shivered- for the first time, I wondered how I had gotten here and why I was with him, why I was following him? Where had all this longing come from? All I knew is I wanted to stay. But I felt our time together was running out; I just couldn’t bring myself to step out of the reverie.

So I went after him. The sun was settling and the horizon was aflame. The closer we got to the water, the colder it was. Winter was already advancing.

“I love this place,” he said, then gave me a sidelong glance. “You know we are the only ones who have ever been here?”

“How can that be?” I said, sceptical. “Who planted the trees? Who built the pond? Who erected the house?”

He hesitated, then answered, “You did.”

“But I don’t remember that. Why is it all forgotten and broken?”

“You left.”

Suddenly we were back in the Victorian building where I worked. Only now, the wonder had dissipated and I was filled with immeasurable sadness. Orexis had won. Inexplicably, I had fallen in love inside of mere minutes, in spite of the year that had just passed between us. Now I was doomed to wonder and imagine how my world might be different if only I had met him another time, another place. Perhaps that garden would not be unkempt, perhaps that house would be whole, perhaps that courtyard would not be in a perpetual state of Fall. I held my breath and watched, helpless, while the carefully constructed order of my life in between flights of vice once again dissolved into atoms of chaos.

“You can always call me,” he said, getting ready to leave.

I realised then what the ache inside me was: I had been missing him terribly, even though we had never met.  He was like a stunning reminder of something so special but forgotten, now gratefully recovered. I assumed all along he was nothing more than a fragment of dream. I gripped the idea so tightly I bled, holding onto it.

I had been lost for such a long time but now, here he really really was, ready to take my hand and finally lead me home.

And I cannot even remember his name.

  1. So much for “heavenly creatures” !!! We talked about it the other day…and you made me remember it with this post. You will call him!!! That’s an order…lol..

  2. Oh, the dissipation of the dream was crushing. The way the two worlds – the real and the flowery dream – blended into one another had been so seamless, too, leaving me wondering which parts had been real and which had been invented merely as a vehicle of eventual, devastating realisation.

    Loving the blog overhaul and its newspaper-like columns. “I want to be a slave to Vice!” gave me a good chuckle too.

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