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Excerpt : A Posy of Violets

A Posy of Violets

Lara Biyuts

This excerpt is from a chapter of Forever Jocelyn,  contemporary novel. Set in Rome and fictional island Aeolica nowadays, it is a sequel of the novel La Lune Blanche . The story of the English boy of the name of Jocelyn Lindenridge-Blanche is continued.

In order to get free from the chaser, he turned to courtyards, dark side-streets and passages, saying hello to every passer-by. Those were narrow, meandering streets of the south town with the dust and stink, which a white-skinned man hardly could get used to. It was his third week in the town, but he still did not feel at home here, in this enormous maze of human fates and passions, and today, he had been walking for an hour, losing sense of time as well as right direction and forgetting of a reason why he left the hotel. He seemed to have been lost in this weird site of the swarm of senses and unhidden magic. It was break of May, but the walls looked hot through, and their heat was around him. The sultry air and warm fumes made him feel giddy; every new turn was heavier, robbing him of his will and common sense. Not daring to look back, he stroked his nape from time to time as though giving a mysterious sign, which the chaser ignored, only walking quicker and quicker and heaving sighs. The chased man kept on going along the narrow enchanted streets which seemed endless luring deeper and deeper in the entrails of the ancient town.

The buildings looked more and more bizarre and weird; they as though pressed to each other tighter, with the roofs nearly conjoining overhead, forming an alley of shady arches with no vista, which hid him from the ruthless scorching sun. With every new turn, his way got heavier and heavier; every now and then, he had to climb up some curved and destroyed staircases, walk on viaducts or through underpasses, however, the streets themselves looked like underpasses here and there. Sometimes, the way ended with a blind alley. The smells on the way got warmer, headier and fearfully common which seemed a challenge to his European sense of smell that got used to cleanness and order. The inconceivable, shocking mixtures of smells went to one’s head, menacing to cause insanity: unknown incenses and stink, Arabian perfumes and reek of a blue ominous smoke, all this surrounded him, making him dip in the abyss. The town enchanted and netted him, and like a somnambulant he moved to meet his fate. He realized he had lost the way, and his own carelessness horrified him. Now, pausing and looking around, he could see he was in a small ugly street. Alone. The doors of several buildings were closed and winds shuttered, which made his state yet more hopeless. He tried to knock on the doors, but only a loud hollowed echo was heard in reply. He found himself in a strange, absolute silence. Where there was the drone of voices? Where there was the booming of cars? Where there was the noise of the busy streets and bazaars? The stone walls seemed to have engulfed all, frightening with their cruel lifelessness.

He did not see any sense to go backwards and he went onwards. Walking for half an hour, with his panic increasing, he never met the hope of rescue. Close to surrendering, ready for shouting in fear, he noticed a door ajar.

He called the host, but the silence of the house engulfed his cry. After two minutes of stillness and hesitation, he decided to enter somebody else’s dwelling, at his own peril, in the hope of finding a way to his rescue.

He knew how complicated the local houses could be inside; the numerous passages, arcades, patios formed whimsical mazes. The house could have a view over several streets, and its owners might not hear his cry being at a far end of the house. The idea of entering and finding the owners or one more way out seemed good, and he permitted himself the intervention into the shelter of somebody else’s secrets.

Coming in, he felt his way for some time, with his hand touching object so unusual that he did not try to guess how they looked like by day light. Having wandering in the darkness for some time, he saw a strip of light under a door at the far end of the room, and seeking not to upset anything, he hastened towards the light. Feeling the door, he tried to open it as carefully as he could, but the creak of old hinges was loud. The door opened, and he was dazzled by the bright daylight for a moment. He narrowed his eyelids, and only a moment later he could see a wonderful garden, full of vernal verdure, unknown flowers and trees abloom.

The garden seemed enormous and it was evidently neglected. The rich overgrown verdure was so tall that he could not see a fence or a building wall. Only at a distance, he could see something like an arbour. There was not a pathway, so he went to the edifice through the shrubbery with fragrant crimson flowers. Coming closer, he could see the arbour better. It was a graceful summer-house. Approaching close, he felt somebody was in the summer-house. By virtue of his inborn sense of caution, he lurked in order to examine the summer-house with attention. Under the shelter of the rich foliage he could watch inhabitants of the house as long as he wanted. But there was no single person around and no sound was heard from the summer-house. Then he moved to look inside, and there… he could see… In the summer-house, on a broad bench, a young woman was lying with a dagger in her breast.

He recoiled and ran away, backward, backward--thorough bushes, thorough sweetbrier, over the park--through a gate out. And outside, he stumbled upon his chaser.

Overtaking, the stranger could say and do whatever, but he said the following, “You dropped your eyes,” he slipped his hands into his light trousers pockets, “I picked them up,” he cast down his eyes with trembling eyelids, showing he searched something in the pockets, “One moment…”

The chased man stepped back and said “hm”. It seemed to him that the stranger’s face was a sheer plagiarism of Gainsborough’s blue boy, which promised nothing good, of course. Moreover, the stranger could not reckon upon his trust, because he felt suddenly that the strange rogue dreamt of blue violets last night, and the violets were so blue that the lazy fellow wanted neither to wake nor to live. This could not be forgiven.

“Why do you keep silence?” the rogue asked, stopping his rummage in pockets without taking his hands out, “Don’t you want to get your eyes back?”

With the rogues like this man, one may not stand on ceremony, but under the current circumstances--the afternoon, the pop-song he heard in the department store and could not forget, his own age (38), his zodiac Leo and his given name Leo and the garden with the killed woman (how to forget of it?)--the chthonic abyss of the genetic memory opened seething and letting out the gouty claw of the archetypical Grendel, which caused spreading the militant Geats of the all-triumphant wit around; the enamel of civilization had faded and fallen and insanity loomed over, which forced Leo’s mouth to open and cry out, “No, no, it’s not true! It’s not true! I can see you, therefore I have my eyes, it means it’s all right, it means it’s not winter now, and the sunless winter will be never again! You liar!”

The stranger took his hands out of his pockets, got his fists closer to his face and pressed his hands against his own eyes. And then he gave a scream.

Leo felt acutely how blue the violets were in the last night dream of the liar. They were blue, and in addition they showed blue--so meaningfully. They showed blue during the dream, simply showed blue, so candidly, with impunity, and they went on showing blue after the dream ended. Leo said, “Why did you put my eyes into your eyeholes?” His voice sounded sad as though he envied the violet dream, which did not belong to him, but to the man, who now could see the blue colour yet better.

“But you refused to get them back,” said the stranger.

Leo could notice now that plagiarism was not only the stranger’s face but the voice was a potpourri of Wagner’s melodies, baritone of professor of literature and rustle of the reeds.

“You refused so categorically,” the stranger went on, “They shouldn’t be lost for ever… And now, it’s impossible to extract them, because in this case mine could be damaged. It cannot be helped now, alas…”

“Impossible at all?”

“At all.”

“But listen… Why do you want to have eyes? You saw the violets showing blue, and I didn’t. Wouldn’t it be fairer to give them to me?”

“That’s it. You didn’t see. You can keep on living without them, and I am captivated by them. I must see them every night, every night, because every night they show blue in other way.”

Leo heaved a sigh. As the stranger spoke about the blue violets, the voice turned low, and this told about the main. Violets showed blue about the main. Do you know how it is to watch violets which show blue about the main? “No…” he said, “I want to know. I want to know so much… After this encounter, I hardly can keep on living if I don’t know how they show blue.” He came up to the violet, four-eyed, avid man and whispered in his ear, “I beg you, don’t leave me alone. Don’t leave me here, in the street, without violets and dreams. I dropped my eyes, but I simply didn’t notice it, for they are so small. How could I notice it? And I couldn’t believe you at once. You have to understand that it’s not my fault… and not yours. I understand, you wanted more dreams, and you did not know that I was in need of my eyes, but now, when you know, don’t leave me! Use them. I’ll be watching your body while your eyes will be wandering around the endless blue colour. I’ll be guarding this, protecting from passers-by and policemen; and in the morning you’ll tell me about what you see in your sleep. I’ll be listening to the blue colour in the vibration of your stolen voice.”

“Stolen from who?” the stranger recoiled, and without waiting for a reply he looked at a wall of a two storey house, then he leaned on the wall and slid down.

“From Wagner, from the reed. I love you, but your look is stolen from something great and famous, and your features I used to see somewhere one day.”

“And the blue colour… Anybody saw it too… before my last night?”

“No, never,” Leo subsided on the ground beside his friend.

They were sitting thus, in stillness. Then Leo reposed his head on the stranger’s shoulder.

A clatter was heard from afar; on the left somebody cried out, “Sweet dreams!”, and Leo startled thinking that a wish like this could bring a violet field to somebody else’s dream, but another moment he calmed down, for really, the blue colour was not sweet; it was only the main and great like the night after which all alarm-clocks and Mondays should be banned, like the night when you could repose your tired head on the warm shoulder, listening to the quiet colour of the violets in the cadences of the man who you loved.

“You don’t fear that you have not eyes now, do you?” he heard, “For I am beside you now and always, always, I promise. Only swear that you don’t fear. I’ll tell you every dream, and in every dream the violets will show blue. I promise, all violets will show blue to us. All violets in the world.”

Leo swore an oath. Anything hardly was able to disturb him now, for variations of the blue were innumerable and endless like the night, and soon, very soon, after the empty pavement drew breath believing in absence of shoes and wheels, the out-violets world would stop existing.

Lara Biyuts is a writer from East Europe, author of 4 novels, 2 books of essays and notes, and 2 books of poetry. See her Goodreads page at

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