In London, there lived a woman of noble descent. She was abandoned by her family and had no friends. Her orange cat had disappeared. The woman’s name was Charmelain. She was beautiful and good natured.

The windows of her room revealed the sky. She paced the bare floorboards and nervously watched the ever-changing clouds which reflected her moods. In the early morning, lamps were lit. They shone like stars through the black branches of the trees. It was winter and the leaves had long since fallen.

Charmelain possessed remnants of her past. Her clothes told stories for they were various with colours inter-matching. She owned paintings, books, photographs, the odd ornament and a few pieces of furniture.

“Perhaps I’ll settle here one day,” she murmured as she stood contemplating her possessions in the bare room.

Outside, as though at her command, the birds in the sky and the cars in the street continued moving. When she turned towards the window, three pigeons flew overhead. Their flight menaced her space. The cars on the hill seemed to be choking for breath. They exhaled fumes in a noisy attempt to drag themselves upwards to places beyond her reach, but from where she sensed a threat to her survival.

Charmelain believed herself to be in limbo as the hours drifted by. Sometimes in a desultory fashion, she arranged her possessions in patterns which seemed pleasing. When night came, she was afraid, for the patterns spoke of things best forgotten.

Sleepless, moving on dancer’s feet to her own music, Charmelain’s thoughts raced from one concept to another. From science to poetry, from embroidery to sculpture, from history to the future. The ideas chased across her mind.

One day, seen by a stranger at the window, she ventured outside, moving only towards him. She felt that he was familiar yet unknown.

As time moved on he brought her gifts which were accurately chosen. Books of vital importance and in these days of uncertainty, the food he gave was unimpaired.
At night, they slept entwined on a large bed. She dreamed they had saved the world. On waking, she discovered that the world had survived and her dream had come true.

After breakfast, the stranger left for an unknown destination. She felt enriched and cared for. The room was gradually furnished. She nurtured plants whose leaves extended. The scent of hyacinths embraced her. Charmelain watched in delight the opening of each lilac coloured flower. Real lilac was imprisoned in her memory and hinted at sometimes in poetry. A vision obscuring things best forgotten. Then she was at peace, transported by the kind of beauty she has sought to inspire, encourage and even defend.

At dusk, waiting for her lover’s return, she heard the growl of motor cars and the drone of a red bus. She questioned the silence that followed. The stranger’s entrance to the room startled her. To her relief it was the same stranger whose name was Paul. Such an ancient name to bear in the city of concrete and impending danger.

“We are settled here now.” she told him.

As if in reply, the orange cat who lay gleaming in the lamplight stretched and purred.

A telephone rang.



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