A MATTER OF KNOWING
Author's Note: This is a companion piece to "A Matter of Wanting" although each can be read independently.
Vincent took the headphones off. Absentmindedly, he held the set in his hands focusing on the brand name, "Koss," emblazoned there. He did not know of the company but assumed that it was quality maker of headsets. He based that judgement on the quality of the music emerging from the headset and his knowledge of Catherine.
Recently, she had begun to expand his musical horizons. Although the classical music remained a favorite of both, Catherine had introduced him to other types of music three months ago. In the beginning, he was reluctant to embark on what she had termed "the magical, mystery tour." He was adamant that modern musicians could in no way compare themselves to the great composers of the past: Schubert, Gregg, Beethoven and the others. Over a period of time and much to his chagrin, he had been proven wrong.
Two weeks of listening convinced him that the newer artists were not competitors of the earlier musicians. Instead, they were attempting to create their own bit of lasting pleasure. In this, Vincent surmised, some had succeeded while others had failed or were still trying. He did not like John Denver although the man sang frequently of love, freedom, and wide-open spaces; themes with which Vincent could identify. Despite that, something in the man's music left him cold. Catherine's adventure thus far had been pleasurable.
Lately, sensing that it was all coming too quickly, she had slacked off. For the last three weeks, Catherine had brought him only ballads and folk songs. Patiently, eagerly, he had listened to them all: Dylan, Manilow, Ste. Marie, Seager, Mathias, Streisand, Warwick, and Redding. He was not certain of his feeling about Dylan. He loved the lyrics of the composer/singer but found Dylan's voice grating. As was his habit, Vincent never let first impressions guide him. Instead, he listened repeatedly to an artist before making a judgement.
Currently, he was listening to the works of Neil Diamond. Over the past five days, he had listened to two Diamond albums and was working his way through the third, "I'm Glad You're Hear With Me Tonight." The full orchestral arrangements done by Diamond appealed to him. He liked the resonance of sound in the songs almost as much as the words. However, a song on this last album clutched at Vincent's being. It moved him in ways he could define. The lyrics haunted and spoke to him as though they had been written for him. They were simple lyrics yet in their simplicity, they conveyed all that he was and all he felt about Catherine. He was still pondering the song when a voice spoke behind him, startling him.
"Vincent." Jaimee's voice softly floated towards him.
He shook himself aware that her presence in his chamber had surprised him. Managing not to wince at the intrusion, he turned toward the entrance. There, he noticed the slight youngster who stood posed in the opening. Her eyes were deep pools of a shade of brown that always reminded him of October leaves. The vibrant intense brown bespoke the intelligence and romanticism of the young woman. Her hair as usual was hidden beneath the miner's helmet.
Jaimee stood at less than 5'6" tall. Yet something about her always commanded and drew a deference far beyond her years. Vincent suspected that part of her presence had to do with her bravery. She would face any foe that threatened her world. Father she deferred to as did everyone in the Community Below. Vincent, despite his age and height, she treated as a beloved older brother who was sometimes stubborn and, oftentimes, careless particularly where Catherine was concerned. As such, he had to be occasionally reminded of his own foolhardiness and then firmly pointed to the right path.
"Jaimee! What is it?" he asked.
"Mouse is working three levels below and needs your help in removing some boulders. Can you come?" she asked shyly for that was her way.
"Or course, I will come," he responded, rising. Carefully, he placed the earphones next the cassette player that Catherine had called a "boom box."
Picking up his cloak, he followed her out. As they walked through the tunnels, he vowed he would think about the song and its meaning later.
THREE DAYS LATER:
Vincent was at the Mirror Pool, one of his favorite spots since childhood. In its watery surface, he could see the reflection of the sky of the world Above. Looking into the pool, all he saw was blackness from the above. An impeding storm had blotted out the stars. Mouse's project had taken longer than expected to complete. After joining the community for the evening meal, he rushed to the Mirror Pool collecting the cassette player and earphones along the way.
Now he sat relaxing against a wall, listening to the tape. Once the song ended, he removed the headset and sighed. His head was bowed; the red gold mane shielding his expression from scrutiny though he doubted anyone would come to the pool at this hour.
Again, the song had captured him. Its lyrics had sent him soaring while plunging him to despair. How, he thought, could a song send him into two different directions. He shook his head at the idea. Yin and yang is what the song evoked. However, he knew what he felt for Catherine was neither yin nor yang. Rather, it was a steady, glowing beacon calling to him to follow. Calling to him as she had in the wee hours two weeks ago.
Through their bond, her need, her wanting had wrapped itself around him like an octopus. The tentacles of need had been strong and the wanting so fierce that he had barely managed to remain Below. That he had not gone Above had been Catherine's doing. She had tempered the siren call of the bond. As it was, he spent the remainder of that night walking the tunnels trying to regain some control while aching for her touch.
Oh Catherine, he pondered as he sat staring into the pool, how much longer can I fight you and myself? That I love you, you know. To venture beyond the words to express my love in the next realm frightens me. I am terrified of losing you. To lose you would be to lose myself; to lose life.
Wearily, his head dropped onto his bent knees as he wrapped his arms around them. Shifting slightly, he drew them closer to his chest. As he recalled the words of the song, his eyes filled with unshed tears.
"I may not always love you
But as long as there are stars above you
You'll never need to doubt it
I'll make you so sure about it
Because God only know what I'd be without you.
And if you should ever leave me
Life would still go on believe me
So what good would living do me?
God only knows what I'd be without you
God only knows what I'd be without you."*
And I know. Without you, Catherine, I am nothing.
*"Good Only Knows" words by B. Wilson and T. Asher. Recorded by Neil Diamond for CBS Records (a Sony company).