Isabella reveals a secret

Isabella waited, concerned.

This is the story she wanted to tell to Thomas.

‘We tell ourselves believable stories in our heads to make our world seem satisfactory at the expense of the missed opportunity to change.’

It wouldn’t do, however, to tell it in this way, all wordy and unnecessary. Like every story it needed a beginning, a middle and a useful end.

So, she waited. Yes, she waited for Thomas but she felt there was a thought somewhere inspiring her if only she could see it more clearly. She decided to tell herself a story; eyes closed.

As she closed her eyes she brushed away the loose strands of auburn hair that glanced her powdered cheek. Twice, because the hair seemed to fall back to its favourite place. It was natural practice that brought Isabella to a state of rest. She would close her eyes and image a curtained veil being drawn over her fallen eyelids as if it dropped heavy from her brows to settle on her labii of her lifted cheek. Like a stage curtain the performance would begin. Isabella walked centre-staged not unlike the performers of the theatre that strode out to worship at the feet of the Bard’s words. A copy of a folio of his plays sat upon her table in front of her to enjoy when Thomas arrived later in the morning. Isabella would recite no comedy or tragedy for she would recall a poem her departed Father would recite to her. She became practiced at reciting it back to him as they exchanged a bond that brought them both to the point of much devoted daughter and doting father.

She began, eyes still closed:

There’s a tune plays in my head

Dream that danced whilst in my bed

Catch it here, Walk it there

In repose I bring it here

And like a magic spell Isabella would be whisked away to the edges of her imagination. Some sort of prelapsarian experience. Fulsome, vivid and present in her mind. For it was here that she would uncover treasures. She waited. “There’s a tune that plays…” It came to her like a fetch. Not warring or uncouth. Forged in the depths of her mind it spoke, “To change, one must give up on a believable story. A belief is not the same as the truth. Search again for the truth.” The voice was hers but the fetch was not. In this space she spoke to herself but listened to another frame. This allowed her the chance to consider what she has heard and she had listened well. This was a familiar backdrop to Isabella, a fecund landscape nurtured by her own grace-filled desires. She repeated ‘To change, one must give up on a believable story. A belief is not the same as a truth. Search again for the truth.’ That made sense she thought. Truth first then the belief can be given up. But, where do you find the truth? By the time she had considered this the fetch was gone, slender trails of wispy gossamer marking its departure. Isabella always knew where to find the truth and she would go there now. She would go where the beliefs were not and place the truth there to address the audience of the world’s lies.

This would be the journey that she and Thomas would embark on today upon his arrival. She would lead him to secret experience of lost time. In losing time there was every chance he would find a truth and in the appreciation of the moment, love. And, soon, he was there with her. Now seated; relaxed and present bearing a present. A flower. Which she took and placed in the very midst of her lap with the stalk already watered by her heart.

Thomas looked down at Isabella’s hand and planted a a snatching kiss in the middle of her already lifted hand. Isabella smiled not in some self-gratified admiration for herself but in the touching gentlemanly approaches he made to entreat her. Isabella spoke first, “Thomas, close your eyes” she requested, “for I have a gift for you.” Thomas sat up a little more to attention than he had been, “How can I see it if my eyes are closed” he proffered. “Not every gift needs to be seen, Thomas, some of the best gifts in our life together will be felt and not exchanged.” she went on as she reached out for Thomas’s hand. Left-handed, he was, so she has to reach over him and he could already feel her arm through the silver armlet which pressed into his right lower arm as she reached across him. Isabella spread his left hand palm outwards out across the tabletop in front of him. Thomas offered no resistance. “You are resisting me, Thomas,” Isabella spoke out. “I'm surely not Isabella” Thomas laughed as he smiled and lifted his eyelids. “See” said Isabella, “I didn't ask you to open your eyes!” and Thomas closed them again and smiled more. “Thomas, keep your eyes closed unless I ask you to open them and I won’t ask you for some time” “Surely, Isabella” said Thomas with a new found concentration. Isabella spread out each finger of Thomas’s hand and noticed much less resistance than before. When she was sure, when she was absolutely positive that Thomas’s hand was in a rested position she spoke directly to him in a voice that seemed to come from the middle of her mouth and directed to his right ear. “Thomas, in a moment, not now, I am going to press one finger into the palm of your hand and I will do this five times at different places of your palm. Sometimes I will press firmly and other times I will only brush the surface. And each time I touch your hand, either firmly or in my gentle manner I want you to remember each spot that I touched. Imagine it as if you were watching me with your eyes open even though they remain closed the whole time." Thomas waited, eyes closed, for Isabella to begin, Then the first touch and he realised he missed where it had happened. So, he waited for Isabella to touch his waiting palm again. Second touch. He felt it and was clear as he could be that her finger had touched the very centre of his open hand. Third touch. All he could now remember was the prick of her shaped nail as she pressed and he thought on how firm she had been. He had already forgotten where she had touched. All he could think of was the nail, her hand, her arm, the brush of her sleeve resting on the brevis of his thumb. And he had already missed the fourth touch, lost in his thoughts. She would ask about the fourth touch he was sure and he was already like the lost lamb meandering his grazed mind. He concentrated as he waited and it arrived. The fifth and most gentlest of touches and he heard her speak as she drew her finger away. Touching, not touched. Resting, but never there. Did she touch him or was it a passing whim but then he thought of the word she spoke. “Mencolek”. He would ask her what it meant, he thought. And all the touches were gone. Thomas sat. Fully rested now as if her drawn touches had relaxed him more. Each touch sending him deeper. So relaxed and drifting. ‘Mencolek he thought, mencolek, mencolek” and deeper he drifted as if she had cast a spell. Magic, but not magic. Aware, but not aware. Then he heard her voice. Calling him back. Not a gentle bray but a sharp “Thomas, Wide Awake! Eyes open.” And briskly he came to life. Isabella was smiling, radiant, glowing and silent. Thomas shook his head like a dog waving off spilled water deep in its coat. “How long was that Thomas in time of minutes?” Thomas replied immediately, “I'm aware I drifted for a few minutes, Isabella. It might have been as long as ten minutes.” And then he looked startled when Isabella explained that how much time had passed. It was a full 30 minutes. “Thomas, you sat silent so I left you there until I saw you were ready to come back to me. Well done!” “Thank you, Isabella” Thomas said, “No, thank you, Thomas” and as she closed his palm she kissed his knuckled hand saying ‘Mencolek’.

Note from Patrick Brady

Isabella plays in a clever fashion. She knows what works and she seems sensitive to all and everyone that is around her. She is never in a rush and possesses a virtuous patience which matches the experience she gives to Thomas, as far as I can tell. Perhaps she might have asked Thomas where on his palm she had connected with, Quizzing him on each touch, but, I suspect that she already knew that he would not remember where exactly she had touched his palm. Proprioception is where the sense of the relative position of one's body is hidden from us. We are typically only generally aware of our senses. Our senses are mostly unreliable in helping us with any decisions we have to make. Our minds require great certainty than our senses are capable of revealing. Isabella could have demonstrated this to Thomas but I respect that the only secret she needed to reveal today was that time is a figment of our imagination. The candles in the room continued to burn down and Thomas was convinced as he could be that only a little time had passed. And he was wrong. We can be sure of ourselves yet wholly wrong even in recognising our limitations, of which there are many, That’s what makes us special.

Note to reader - mencolek is the art of touching someone with their permission but with the briefest glimpse of an opportunity for the senses to be awakened. Both toucher and touched are left not being sure if the touch happened at all. But, it did. We sense yet we don't sense and in this we give ourselves the gift of mencolek.

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