I no longer go wrinkly
Join Date: May 2009
The view from my window
As always any comments welcome. I am particularly interested in peoples opinions on the feel and music of this p.o.v. It's not something I've used much before.
The man comes again. He knocks and awaits my answer before he enters – behaviour I would once have found unthinkable. He knows more words now, but still makes childish mistakes. He says he was never blessed with the gift of tongues. He tries to explain more. Some things begin to make sense, some become more confusing. He says that I am 'free'. He uses this new word from another language because we have nothing to compare with it in ours. He says he doesn't own me.
'Who does own me?' I ask.
'No one.' he explains, 'That is the meaning of “free”.'
'If I am not owned, then who is responsible for me? Who will care for me? I will have no value.'
He says my value is simply because I am, just because I think and feel. This is a new way of thinking. I suppose there will be many more marvels that I will have to accept as normal.
I find a new, previously unthinkable audacity. I ask, 'If I am “free” then why am I a prisoner?' I tense, there is no telling how, even this man would react to such a question.
Instead of chastising me he calmly explains that the house is keeping me in this room. 'For your own good, no doubt. The house has its own reasons for doing things. Although I have known the house for most of my life now, its actions are sometimes still a mystery to me.'
I assume that he has made another mistake with my language. He must be referring to the master of the house, not the house. That's it! He is a eunuch kept by the lord of this place. It is not unknown for a wealthy man to keep alive a much loved relative in that emasculated state. This would explain much. He is not like any man I have known – gentle, understanding, like a priestess but nowhere near as stern. Man and woman in one person – so strange. Old and young at the same time too. I could not begin to guess at his age. I ask him about the lord of this place.
'No.' he insists, 'The house is a living thing like you or me.' He sees that I am having difficulty comprehending this new marvel and continues to explain, 'You are important to the house; it has taken great care on your room.'
He is right. Truly it is the room of my dreams – full of well-crafted wonders. The timber-panelled walls make even the coarsest sound warm and mellow – hardly a prison cell; I should count my blessings. The furniture is a joy, the joints tight and ingenious, some have acquired that thin rich skin of centuries, some are neat and smooth fresh from an accomplished workshop. Some of the timber used in their manufacture is familiar but some I have never seen before – one strong with a fine grain and shimmering ripples that catch the light, another honey-coloured and sinuous, another dense grey-black like living slate. I would like to know their names, walk under the trees from which they were hewn.
The simple intimacy with the wood is the one thing that convinced me that this is no dream or hallucination. The sight, smell and feel of the carefully crafted wood is as real as real can be. Wood is truth. I have cleaved, cut and smoothed much wood in my time; it has tested and challenged me but it has never lied to me.
Dwelling on the wood makes me mourn the loss of my beautiful tools – my friends, my connection with the traditions of my kind, with my guildmother, her guildmother and hers before her.
I apologise to the man for my wandering mind. He has sat patiently on the simple, neat ladder-back chair against the wall. When he sees he has regained my attention, he smiles kindly and says, 'The house must think you are very special to allow you such a window.'
The window: another marvel. An extraordinary thing but easy to accept because I can touch it and examine it. I can only agree with him. 'Yes, it is a wonder.' I say as I walk over and touch the magical glass. I look down on a busy market place in a huge town.
The man says it is a 'city' – another new word from a strange language. 'Like many towns joined together.' he explains.
'But all those men?' I ask, 'Jostling each other, arguing, shouting. Why are they not fighting? And those women: brazen and bold, the way they look men straight in the eyes. The way they speak before any man addresses them.'
'They are “free”.' He emphasises that word again. 'I assume that the house is allowing you to see the city to help me with my fumbling explanations. You will have to come to terms with the many ways in which people live together. As for the fighting: in the place on which you gaze, duelling has been outlawed for several centuries, although I believe it still occurs among the aristocracy.'
I look down on the colourful clothes, the stalls full of produce. I hear the muffled sound of shouting and laughter, the crooning of a man with a stringed instrument. In my world that would be a crime. I imagine one day walking among these vivacious people.
The fabrication of the window is in itself a small wonder. Instead of opening on hinges, it consists of two sashes, one above the other, that slide up and down independently. Each are supported in grooves by a smooth braided waxed rope that rides up over pulleys into the hollow sides of the window opening. The weight of the sashes are balanced by metal weights that can be heard clanking around in the hollow frame. It is such an elegant mechanism. I wonder why we never made such things. I suppose it was the strength of the guilds and their traditions. The windows I made, with their forged hinges, were much the same as those that have weathered several centuries.
The man says that there are many such windows in his world but few as special as this. Even in his experience the view through the glass is rare and extraordinary. I can only agree. This morning the sun rose over blue mountains against a violet sky, vapour rose from the forest that spread unbroken from the foothills to the foundations of the tall building from which I gazed. What must be birds of some sort flew in the distance, slowly, sinuously, weightlessly like thin silk handkerchiefs. Last night a bloated, ruby-red sun set on the horizon of a vast, calm, slate-grey sea speckled with decaying icebergs. When I first entered the room, I was welcomed by familiar rolling hills and puffs of cloud in a blue sky. I realise now that this was one of the house's ways of making me feel welcome.
It was while I could see this familiar landscape that I first opened the window to explore the possibility of escape or perhaps to just breathe the sweet air. Mist! Beyond the window was mist, unformed, colourless, dense mist; nothing else, no hazy shapes, no vague sources of light, just swirling nothingness. Yet through the glass the clouds still scudded across the sky and the tops of the trees danced in the wind. I now tend to keep the window closed; the bland mist is one marvel I would rather not dwell on.