Silent Thunder

Tears and sorrow as Vincent remembers the past in his old age

A poignant story.


Silent Thunder

He’d had to make the long journey, even though it had been many years since he had done so, simply the poignant yearning was now too great to resist, and he had to see it all for one last time. This past week he had felt the need to re-visit all the places he had shared with her, even though doing so left a gaping wound in his heart, and tears that had cascaded down his cheeks from the intense pain of his longing. The worst had been going to sit beneath the bandstand, no longer used for concerts, so only the wind whistling through the grid above provided the unforgotten music to his ears, while his mind recollected the blissful moments of lying there with Catherine.
Even of late he had willed himself to re-read all the journals he had written throughout his life none so touching as those he had lovingly written during the time when Catherine had come into his life.

Walking now beneath the tranquil moon his eyes gazed heavenwards towards the stars’ brilliance, his throat constricted as he spoke her name, “Catherine”, and felt the warmth of his ever present tears sliding down his cheeks. How he had missed her. His heart felt as though part of it had died with her and had never re-awoken in all the fifty years since she had been gone. Though his son had brought him great joy and happiness, always that little piece of his heart had remained sleeping, and he knew it would do so until he could be reunited with her again.
The park itself filled with the fresh air of a spring day that still lingered with the fragrance of flowers, had healing powers of its own, and Vincent leaned against the trunk of a great tree, allowing his body to slide downwards to sit upon the springy damp grass. Trailing his fingers through the soft green, feeling the blades tickle his fingers, he allowed his mind to dwell on the past even though it distressed him, he simply had to allow his mind to go back and remember everything of his life with her.

In this very park he had found her, hurt and bleeding, and even then he had felt ethereal fingers pluck at his heart, when first he had laid eyes upon her. Carrying her deep beneath the earth to his home, he and his father had repaired her injuries, and made her well again. And when she had left them, for eight long months of parting, still he had felt the intangible fingers deep within his own large chest connecting himself to her. He knew when she was happy or sad, when she had fears and agonising decisions to make, he felt her joys and sorrows, and alongside his own her heart beat steadily. He could make no sense of it, simply that between them had developed an Emphatic Bond that could not be broken even by death.
For still he could feel her, though she had been peacefully sleeping all this time, and the beat of her heart no longer thudded gently alongside his own, he knew without a doubt that she was there, waiting for him to finish his present earthly course and join her.
The loss of her heartbeat once felt alongside his own had been one of the most traumatic experiences of his life. He had grown so used to having it there, as a comfort and an extension to himself. Without it Vincent had felt an emptiness he had never before known, and he did not know how he would get through each painful day, until old Narcissa had made him realise that though his true love’s heart would never beat again in this world. The power of their love would not be denied and if he just tried hard enough he would resume the connection he had shared with her until his dying day.
Even their son had been able to share in this with him, not only did Vincent feel the same emphatic connection to his son and vice versa, but young Jacob could also feel the same bonding with his mother, whom he had never known. And Jacob knew without a doubt that the three of them would continue to share this emphatic connection throughout all eternity.
A semblance of comfort was maintained thus in this knowledge within Vincent’s great and mighty heart, for his one fear was in having to leave Jacob behind, until his days too were done.
Resting his head back against the tree, Vincent closed his eyes to the starry night, exhaling a long deep breath, his arms aching to hold his love, to feel her soft warm body pliant against his own, to breath deeply of her fragrance. A tiny voice of reason from within, whispered, ‘don’t do this to yourself Vincent’ to which he answered, ‘I must, I must.’
Recalling to mind the memories served only to enhance the depth of his pain, yet Vincent felt compelled to go over everything, every last detail of their short lived time together. One of his greatest regrets was denying her the chance to live with him in his world, had he not have done so, she may never have died. But at the time, he had believed that she had so much to give to her own world, and in so doing she could carry their dream, bring a light to his life he had never before known, and help others who needed her.
Time and again, Catherine had tried to make him see that he was all she ever wanted. With him she had everything and did not need anything from the world above. She wanted only to be with him. Yet he could not allow her to forsake all that she could have in the world Above, just for him.
Repeatedly he had told her, ‘if our paths had not crossed, you could have been someone great in your world. It is unthinkable that you should turn your back on that chance just to be with me.’ And though she had reasoned with and against him he had never let her persuade him otherwise.
He could never quite believe that she loved him, though their connection spoke no lies. And though he knew for a certainty that she did, still he tried to push her away, to make her see that another man would be worthier of her, would give her everything he simply could not. And above all else she would have someone who could walk with her in the sunshine.
Catherine had begged him to listen that those things were not important to her since she had known him, that he was beautiful in her eyes, and only that she wanted to be with him. The guilt of his refusal after she had died had at one time become too colossal to bear, and had it not been for their son he knew he would never have borne the pain, and would simply have allowed himself to die.

The damp grass, was causing his joints to moan, and reluctantly Vincent, drew himself to his feet with the aid of the great trunk behind him, and looked out over the moon shrouded park. There were other places he needed to see, and time was running out. Softly his footsteps re-traced a path he had taken a thousand times, knowing that age would prevent him from completing his quest. Nonetheless, just to be able to stand and gaze upwards to the eighteenth floor balcony, and see the lights shine outwards from within, was enough to make him dream.
That first night when he had gone to her, how nervous he had been, yet simply, he could no longer fight against the pull of their connection. He had to see her, believing it to be just one last time. For eight months he had succeeded against giving in to the pull, until the evening when he had been going through his books, and had picked up Great Expectations, and found the marker at the last chapter. It provided as good a reason as any to give into the demands of his heart and he had done so willingly.
Riding above the elevator car of her apartment building had been no problem, it was his first sight of her after so many months that had made him cower beneath the density of the pot plants that grew upon her balcony.
Leaving the book upon the balcony wall, his heart had come up and stuck within his throat, as he heard her unlock the door, and walk out into the night. She was so beautiful. And torn between the desire to go and the desire to stay, he knew only that he should never have come.
And then when she turned and saw him standing there hiding within the shadows her face had lit up with such joy, that he had been afraid. Only when she had crossed the space between them and flung her arms around him, did the fear subsided, and he had known the greatest joy of his entire life.
Never had he experienced anything like it before. He could remember his arm coming up slowly as he had held his breath, holding back the exquisite moment of feeling the first touch of her warm body beneath his hand. Yet as she continued to hug him, it seemed the most natural thing in the world to return her embrace, and his heart returned to his chest to hammer there, sending a pounding within his ears for the unadulterated joy of just having her close.
From that evening, he could no more stop himself from coming to her, than he could ask the sun to fall from the sky. He simply had to be a part of her life, even though reason told him it was wrong, a feeling backed up strongly by Father’s own feelings that this relationship ‘could never be’.
The arguments they’d had over her, he and his father whom he loved with his life. His father telling him what his own heart already knew but denied. Catherine was a woman of the world, and he only half a man, had nothing to offer her, other than that his dark side could destroy her.
And perhaps he would have listened, had it not been for the Bond that connected him to her, he simply could not deny its existence, nor lie to himself that he didn’t love her. He’d tried, oh how he’d tried. Yet to have her close and to feel her happiness, broke down almost all of his defences as he finally surrendered to the joy that was Catherine.

It was growing late, and the lights that had shone out from the balcony had dimmed to a mere glow, as the occupants settled down to sleep for the night. Still Vincent could not turn his gaze away, the soft glow served only to remind him of the evenings he had spent there. Especially that first anniversary of their meeting, when Catherine had filled the apartment with glowing candles, and they had exchanged gifts. He had given her a crystal pendant, one he had so lovingly chosen himself from the crystal cavern far beneath his world, and had Mouse shape and hang upon a chain for her to wear. And Catherine had given him a pouch that she had lovingly made that held within a tiny china white rose, telling him her mother had given it to her, but since he had come into her life she had no more feelings of aloneness, and wanted him to have it.
Now as his fingers found their way to the pouch he tenderly touched the rose through the leather, worn thin and re-stitched where he had caressed it a million times and a lump caught in his throat that threatened to choke him.
Turning away now, for the tears had once again begun to sting at his eyes, Vincent made the long and weary journey towards the grave yard.
It had been a long time since he had been there, yet helpers would tend the grave for him, never failing to place upon it a fresh red rose, a token of his love for her. As he made the once familiar journey, his mind recalled the tribute he had made to her the day of her funeral, remembering the gentle glow of the flickering candles as he penned the words in his chamber. And now as he walked along he whispered the words, embedded in his heart for ever, sending spirals of his warm breath upwards upon the damp and chilly air;

“There was a moment when the way was still new. And I was afraid to hope. You put your hand in mine. Nothing had ever felt like that to me. Like your touch. I wanted to weep. You turned and looked at me, your eyes filled with dancing light. And I was bathed in your warmth. And I believed in that moment that even for me all things were possible. In that moment, in your light, I felt what it is to be beautiful. How many lives were touched by you? How many lives were transformed by your light? How many became beautiful in your light? We promised always to share the truth, always. But Catherine, there was a truth beyond anything - beyond everything I’d ever known, ever dreamed. It was the truth of all you gave - of all you sacrificed - for me. The truth of your love humbled me, silenced me. And the truth that I could never share with you was the truth of how deeply I loved you. I will remember. I will remember every moment, every word, every look - every touch. Our love lives. It will live forever. Nothing destroys it. Love does not die. You’re safe. You’re safe now. Sleep, my love.”

Vincent’s heart was breaking as the words came to their conclusion, his hand brushing away the cascading tears that had fallen as he had voiced the tribute, written so many years ago. Nothing had altered, neither time nor space had diffused the feelings he had carried then, nothing ever could. The love he had felt then was just as deep now, in fact deeper. For the years of parting had intensified the need, and the remembrance of their one shared intimacy that day in the cavern when first she had kissed him, had flooded his heart with a longing too intense to bear.

Approaching the grave beneath the diffused light of the moon, Vincent hesitated as the clouds parted at that very moment and the moonlight beamed directly upon the gravestone, bearing her name. Vincent gasped, his eyes hardly daring to take in what he read there, for someone, unbeknown to him had lovingly engraved thereon, “Catherine Chandler, mother of Jacob, beloved ‘wife’ of Vincent.”
Vincent felt his knees giving way beneath him, felt them hit the cold grass around the graveside, and his heart went out to this mystery person who had taken it upon themself to do this wondrous thing.
Tears ran freely down his cheeks, unchecked, and until he felt the salty taste of them upon his lips, he had been unaware of their intensity.
Choking them back, his body shook, as his fingers traced the outline of the words, his mind too numb to think.
The word ‘wife’ in inverted comma’s penetrated his thoughts, and Vincent groaned. They had never married, yet they would have been had she of lived. The word brought a great wealth of intense feelings to his heart and mind. Dreams that never were, longings he had known but had been unable to voice, even the day she died she had done so not knowing how deeply he loved her, for he had never voiced the depth of his love, though she had known of it through their Bond.
Oh, he had told her on occasion that he loved her, but he could have done so much more to prove it, for still he had denied himself the right to love her, convinced that she would be better off with someone else. The self-doubts had rode along with him, until her dying day, and Vincent would always regret it.

Even the day that they had created the son of their love, the day that he had been unable to remember for such a long time he had been unable to tell her how much he had loved her.
And it wasn’t until after she had died that he had gone down to the cavern where the demons had possessed him that day, and seen her pendant sparkling in the rock dust, that the memories of that wondrous occasion came flooding back to haunt and torment him.
So many times since he had allowed his mind to dwell upon the moment when her courage had saved his life. When he had lain as dead at her feet, and she simply would not let him die, not without her. How he had wished a thousand times since, that they had died together that day, then none of the pain he’d had to endure since would have had to come to pass.
The touch of her lips on his, oh the sweetest sensation, so new, so different. The very strangeness had fluttered within his mind, like the touch of a butterfly’s wing against some impenetrable fog, through which he had fought to regain a semblance of sanity through the cloak of death that had threatened to impale him.
Fighting against the pull to go asunder, he had become aware of something bright, something wonderful that was drawing him, sweeping him back to life.
And then as he fought for control, he felt the touch of hands, warm, soft caressing hands, his skin tingled beneath their fiery touch, and his flesh within had ignited as a nebula of star-burst had exploded in his mind.
Suddenly his eyelids were no longer weighted down and he had been able to open them to focus upon a fog that spiralled up and away from him as his mind came to recognise and accept what was happening.
The softness of Catherine’s lips sparked a response as his own had flared and parted beneath them. The rapturous sensation of her tiny tongue easing its way inside his mouth to trace fine lines over his teeth and gums, and Vincent had never known such ecstasy, as his whole body had pulsated with life, trembling, yearning, filled with such joy to be fit to explode.
In all his life no-one had caressed his skin this way, had accepted him fully as another human being so totally as to crave a oneness with him as old as time.
And as his own hands had brushed feather light fingers across the silkiness of her skin, he heard a soft moan erupt from her mouth while still fastened against his. And the pleasure that brought him to know that the touch of his hands, those furry, clawed hands had brought such delight and pleasure to her, had made him want to weep.
The fear of their union no longer made sense, while somewhere deep within he could remember times past when he had fought against the tide that had threatened to engulf him, the desire which had shamed him, and now no longer seemed important. Catherine’s courage had taken them both over the barriers of his fear, and served only to remind him of her great love and acceptance of his naked body close against hers.

That day in the cavern, when he had found her necklace, and the memories came rushing to his mind, Vincent could still feel, even now, the awe of that moment. To know that she had loved him without reservations, and to remember the joy of his body pressed close against her own. How he had turned to lay her beneath him and her legs had slipped around his hips, invitingly. He would remember always the love within her eyes, as she silently begged him to take her. And his sudden, and total surrender, as with a mighty groan that released all his fears, he had thrust himself into her warmth, and experienced such bliss like nothing he had ever known.
Together as one, for long moments they lay, the sheer perfection of their joining, bringing a steady rush of tears, that threatened to overflow. He could still hear her moaning his name, over and over, softly, breaking his heart with the intensity of her love, her courage and total acceptance of his body deep inside hers.
He would have died, but for her courage. Many times since, he wished that it had been him instead of her. And now as he recalled that wondrous moment of their first and last time together, his heart broke afresh, and great tearing sobs erupted from deep within his broken heart.

In that day of their love, when she had given him back his life, he had given to her new life, created within her the son that had become her dying gift to him.
Yet had she of not been pregnant she would have been spared so much suffering at the hands of the kidnapper that wanted only their child. And if only they had not lost their connection. Those thoughts would always haunt him. Everything it seemed went back to Paraselcas and the lies he had spread. If only, that man had not spread his evil dust over their lives, Catherine may have lived, and the turn of events could have been so different. So many ‘if only’s’ had passed through his mind since that dreadful day that she had died within his arms, that his mind rejected them eventually knowing they were fruitless. ‘If only’s’ could not bring back the woman he loved, only brought him added pain and anguish, and hurt those that loved him and had to watch him come through his grief.
With bitter sweet feelings Vincent had accepted the child that they had created that day she had saved his life with her courage. If Jacob had not been there for him, he would gladly have thrown himself into the abyss, rather than face his life without her, and that selfishness would have brought great sorrow to those others that loved and depended upon him, Father, Mary, Pascal and the little ones.
Having Jacob gave him back his sanity and when he felt unable to bear the loss of Catherine any longer, something Jacob did would ease away his grief and agony, and make life worth living again.

Easing himself up off the ground Vincent extracted a single red rose in bud from within the folds of his cloak kissed the delicate fragrant petals and placed the symbol tenderly into the slim vase put there for the purpose. Softly he whispered, “Goodnight my love, I will not pass this way again, but know that I love you. That I will always love you, oh Catherine,” the tears blinded him as he staggered forward, back down to the graveside, his arms clasping the headstone as if he would never be prised away. “I’ve missed you so much my Catherine, I simply cannot live through another day without you.”
“Father?” the softly spoken words filled him with wonder, and he turned tear filled eyes towards the sound.
“Jacob.” Vincent’s heart constricted in his chest, agonising over his son seeing him like this.
“I knew you would come here Father. I felt your pain.”
“Have you seen what is engraved on the head stone?” Vincent brushed the tears aside, and made to stand so that his son could see the words.
“Yes, I have been before and seen them.”
“Do you know who did this wonderful thing for us?”
“No, but I have an idea.”
“Tell me?”
“I think Grandfather had it done. I don’t think it was something that happened in his lifetime, but I think it was written into his will, and it was carried out afterwards.”
Vincent nodded, “Yes.” he could just imagine Father having made the stipulation for it to be done, his passing gift to his son and grandson, his total acceptance of Catherine in their lives.
“Yet Father passed away nearly twenty years ago, can it be that long since I have been here?”
Jacob nodded, “It is many years since you left the underground world father. I have been up here a time or two, and it was put in place shortly after Grandfather died.”
“Leaving me with another wish Jacob, to be able to thank him for this most treasured gesture.”
“People come and people go Father, but we get to see and thank them eventually.”
Vincent nodded, and held out his hand for Jacob to help him rise fully to his feet, to stand leaning against his son’s strength.
“Are you ready to go home now father?”
“Home?” Vincent questioned his mind irrational. Home was where Catherine resided. “Back to the tunnels father. It is so cold up here, you will become ill.” Looking at his father keenly beneath the expanse of the starry heavens, Jacob saw a wistful look settle upon the dear leonine features, “What is it father?” as through their connection something seemed to pluck at their heartstrings.
“Can you not feel it Jacob?”
“Yes what is it?”
“Come walk with me, and let us talk.” Pulling the hood of his cloak tighter around his head, and without a backward glance, Vincent took his son’s arm, and they walked towards their underground world, and Vincent began to tell his son, “Many times since your mother died, I have felt drawn towards her. You know of this, I know. Yet when I have tried to reach out to her, it’s almost as if we are holding against each other the opposite end of two magnets, and as soon as I get close enough to reach out and touch her, I feel a great power pushing me back again. Back to our world, back to life.”
Jacob nodded, “Yes, I have felt those feelings in you.”
Exhaling a deep breath Vincent tried to find the words he needed to continue, when Jacob told him, “Yet of late, that pull, that magnetic pull has allowed you to come closer, and you have felt no such power forcing you away.”
Vincent stopped to scan his son’s face, that perfectly ordinary human face that reminded him so much of Catherine that it hurt. “Yes Jacob I think the time has come for me to leave this world, and join your mother.” He didn’t know what he had expected, surprise perhaps, grief, yet nothing had prepared him for Jacob’s words, “I think so too Father,” he told him sincerely, though the tears gathered in Jacob’s eyes and fell swiftly, and a lump caught in his throat, rendering him incapable of further speech.
Through the Bond Vincent was able to discern his son’s feelings, and he hugged him tightly, “Don’t be afraid Jacob, please don’t be afraid.” Those same words spoken to Catherine all those years ago, seemed to hang on the air, and Jacob found his voice choked with unshed tears “I shall miss you so.”
“As I will you, but this connection we have, it cannot be severed not even by death, and one day Jacob the three of us will walk in the sunshine together, I promise you. You, me and your mother.”
“I know this Father, and Grandfather will walk with us?”
“Yes and Mary, Narcissa, and Anna. And Elizabeth whose legacy of painted tunnels are left to you and all those who are to come. And Uncle Devin and all those who have since left this world, yet you still have a few of the people from my youth within the tunnels to take care of you.”
Jacob snorted, “Yes Mouse.”
Vincent laughed, “Dear Mouse, whatever would we have done without him all these years, surely his inventions have been a blessing and a hindrance, but I will miss him greatly.”
“And he will you.”
A silence lapsed between them as they walked together and saw the first glow of the tunnel entrance a few yards away, “How do you feel father?” Jacob wanted to know.
“Feel? I feel blessed. My life has been filled more than I ever dreamed, thanks to your mother. Yet this silent thunder that wages war within my heart can no longer be denied Jacob, for the pain of being without your mother is now too colossal to withstand, yet the pain of leaving you is equally as unbearable.”
“You have given me fifty years of your life father, yet mother only had three short years with you, so my share far outweighs that of her own, I shall miss and grieve you father, but I know how much you need one another.”
“I don’t think Jacob I have never cried more tears in one night since the passing of your mother the night she died, and your words would make her so proud, that I feel my eyes filling up and overflowing again. When the paradise arrives Jacob and the Lord wakes us from the sleep of death, may we all know the happy life your mother searched for. And then together here on this earth, we will all walk in the sunshine, and do all the things none of us got the chance to do together in the life as we know of now.”
“You weren’t always so sure father?”
“That the paradise would come?”
“The Bible speaks of it Jacob, and God cannot lie. He promises us that the earth was set to be a paradise but men ruined it, nonetheless God’s purpose never altered, and he will see that it is accomplished. He promises to resurrect all the dead so that they may have the chance of partaking of this paradise he plans to bring to the earth, and then all peoples of the earth will be re-united with those they love, for all eternity.”
Jacob sighed, “I wish I had such faith, but for me the proof of our connection is enough, that we will continue to be a part of one another, will help me to endure the loss of your parting.”
“Temporary parting Jacob, and hopefully not so long to wait as I have for your mother.”
They reached the entrance to the tunnel, and Vincent stood back a little to take a final look at the stars, “So many things took place just here Jacob, on this very spot. Your mother coming to tell me that what we shared was worth everything. Oh, the joy of that moment.” He sighed wistfully, then taking a deep breath went on. “ Your Grandfather standing here with me, stargazing, when I could tear him away from the chess board,” he laughed, “you and I coming here night after night to see the wonder of the infinite universe. I have so much to take with me Jacob, and so much to leave behind.”
Jacob’s heart was breaking, he didn’t know how much more he could take, before his tears gave way and refused to stop, but he had to remain strong, this one night at least, for his father’s sake.
“Come on dad, let’s go home.”
Struck with a fresh wave of tears by the long unused endearment, Vincent hugged his son tightly, “Yes, Jacob lets go home.

*** *** ***

Twenty years earlier, when Father had passed away in his sleep Vincent had found it unbearable to take over in his place, and did so under great misgivings, but the one thing he always refused was to move from his own chamber into Father’s. Simply there were too many cherished memories within his own four walls that he could not bear to leave behind. And so Jacob had taken over the living and sleeping quarters of his grandfather, for which Vincent was grateful, knowing that when the time came he would find taking over the role of Father to the community so much easier to carry.
Jacob was a good son, kind hearted and loved by everyone, and he had graduated from university to become a doctor, an asset in his dear grandfather’s absence. Vincent had no doubts that Jacob would do his very best to withhold everything they held dear Below, and the decision to remain unmarried and childless was entirely his own. Vincent could hear him now, “As soon as I am able I will have that operation, so that I can’t have any children. No disrespect to you father, but even you cannot deny the weight that must be borne being someone like yourself. To be held a prisoner within your own body. No one but you can understand that kind of pain.”
Vincent had agreed, “Had I of not known Catherine’s love no matter how brief, I think I would have died inside long ago. Catherine gave me so much to live for, yet I missed so much more for spending agonising months of self inflicted pain against what I am. I would not wish to pass this legacy on to any grandchild. That you look like your mother, is a blessing for the both of us, but mainly for you.”
Now as Vincent looked at his dear son, ministering to his needs and making them both a mug of hot chocolate, as they got ready for bed, he knew how deeply he loved him, and how much he hated to leave him alone. As Vincent groaned inwardly, Jacob felt his pain via the Bond, and was beside him in an instance. “Father, here take grandfather’s chair, can I get you something?”
Vincent sat gratefully to take the weight off of his tired old bones, into the high backed chair that had belonged to Father, and studied his son with his big beautiful blue eyes, that had never dimmed with age, though their brightness swam with unshed tears. “Would you fetch me my Bible please Jacob there is something I would like to read before I retire.”
Jacob fetched the book from the bedside table next to his father’s bed in his chamber, and opened it at his father’s most treasured place. Another rose lay there, withered and old, yet still baring a slight fragrance, “Amazing Father, this rose, the one you plucked from mother’s balcony the night she died, it is still scented.”
Vincent lifted the delicate flower to his nose, “Yes, and I should like for you to have it after I have gone. Not only that,” Jacob watched as his father carefully lifted the leather pouch from around his neck containing the white china rose that Catherine had given him, “I want you to have this. Whenever, you need to feel either me or your mother in your life you only have to touch this rose. It is only a symbol Jacob, but believe me, its very existence helped me to endure a great deal.” Placing the leather throng over his son’s head, Vincent brushed a kiss upon his son’s forehead, “Know that I love you Jacob, and know that I’m near, always.”
“Always.” Jacob repeated, as the threatened tears gained momentum, but still he fought them back. “Your Bible father, would you like me to read something to you this night?”
“Thank you Jacob, but no. There is a verse I wish to share with you, a much loved verse of both myself and your Grandfather, one that holds a promise to our future, and one you know well. Always remember these words Jacob. They hold the key to your future.”
“Then let me turn it up for you, Isaiah right?”
“Yes, Isaiah Chapter 35.”
Placing the Bible into his father’s hands, Jacob went to lay upon his bed, to listen to the familiar chords of the words, knowing his father’s melodious voice would stir his heart to take in the meaning behind them. He waited, closing his eyes, to listen quietly knowing his father would want to visualise the various people that would benefit in time by the passing of God’s promise, as Vincent’s beautiful voice started to read aloud;

“At that time the eyes of the blind ones will be opened, (Narcissa).
and the very ears of the deaf ones will be unstopped, (Laura).
At that time the lame one will climb up just as the stag does, (Father).
and the tongue of the speechless one will cry out in gladness, (Catherine).

For in the wilderness, waters will have burst out, and torrents in the desert plain,
and the heat parched ground will have become as a reedy pool,
and the thirsty ground as springs of water.
In the abiding place for jackals, (a hiding place for them),
there will be green grass with reeds, and papyrus plants...”

Vincent paused here, as he always did, imagining himself and Catherine partaking of such beauty beneath the sunshine, without fear, and then he continued softly, for the next part always filled him with such hope;

“And no lion will prove to be there, and the rapacious sort of beasts will not come up on it. None will be found there...”

Vincent’s voice trailed away, and Jacob waited, for his father always stopped at that part, imagining life in the new world where he would no longer bear the mark of the beast, only of the man, and Jacob reached through the Bond to send his father his love. Yet instead of the steady response he had been used to receiving, only a peacefulness remained, and Jacob quickly opened his eyes and looked up, to find Vincent’s head had bowed, and the Bible had slipped from his fingers, leaving the delicate rose lying upon his lap.

Jacob did not have to go across to Vincent to know what the Bond was already telling him. For Jacob knew without a doubt that his father was now in tranquil sleep alongside his mother. And a great lump constricted within his throat as he sent a prayer on the wings of his love, for the day when they would awaken and he would share in the joy of their re-union at last.
Closing his eyes, Jacob finished the verses he so loved his father to read, in a hushed and tender undertone,

“The wilderness and the waterless region will exult,
and the desert plain will be joyful and blossom as the saffron.....
To exultation and rejoicing they will attain,
and grief and sighing must flee away.”

And as Jacob’s voice cracked and broke at the end of the scripture he gathered the soft pillow against his face and wept.



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