“Happy New Year, Catherine!” Eric exclaimed as his rush
across the Great Hall ended in a collision with her and a rib-cracking hug.
“I’m glad you got here. You’re just in time. We haven’t opened the jar yet.”
“The jar?” she asked. “What jar is that, Eric?”
Eric looked briefly at Vincent and back to Catherine. “You
don’t know about New Year’s Eve and the Old Long Sign Jar?”
She shook her head and looked to Vincent, who seemed to be
working very hard to keep a straight face. “It’s my first New Year’s Eve here,
too, Eric. What’s the Old Long—?”
“The Auld Lang Syne Jar,” Vincent said with the subtlest
emphasis on pronunciation as he gave in to the urge to grin, “is our New Year’s
Eve tradition. At any point in the year, when something especially good has happened
to one of us here Below, we sometimes write it down on a slip of paper and put
it in a jar Father keeps on one of the shelves in his study. Things we’re
grateful for, surprises, accomplishments, those little things in our lives that
have made us happy, times that we’ll want to remember. As the end of the year
approaches, most people put in some small reflection about the year as a whole.
Then on December 31, Father brings the jar here to our celebration and reads
them to everyone.”
“Oh, what a lovely tradition, Vincent.” He nodded. “It’s a way to look back on the year that’s just ended and remember
all the things that made it good. It always ends the year on a very positive
note.” Catherine rested her hand over her heart and sighed. “I’ve never heard of this
before, but I think it’s wonderful. So much better than making the same old
resolutions year after year, and forgetting them all before February.”
“Father’s got the jar!” Eric hopped up and down like he had
bugs in his boxers. Grabbing Catherine’s hand, he pulled her toward some empty
chairs. “Come on! Come sit with me.”
With an indulgent smile, she followed Eric, and Vincent
followed her. Mary joined Father at a table in the front of the hall and picked
up a tea cup with a broken handle. Catherine noticed a large corkboard propped
against the wall by the table. Father set down a translucent blue-green mason jar
and unscrewed its rusty old lid.
“As we do each year on this day, before we start the new
year, let’s think back on some of our best memories from the old year. We will
be looking forward to more good things, like these, to come over the course of
the next 365 days.” Father reached into the jar and removed a long strip of paper
that looked like it had been torn from the bottom of a newspaper. “This one is
from Annie. Mary taught me to tie my
Many in the chamber turned to smile at the raven-haired
kindergartener and there was a round of genuine applause. Mary beamed as she
took the scrap of paper from Father and pinned it to the corkboard with
thumbtacks from the broken cup.
“William’s pie. And
his biscuits. And his stew.” Father said as he read the next slip of paper.
There were murmurings of widespread agreement. William’s cheeks pinkened to a
shade that not even his bushy beard could hide. “No name on that one, but I
think it’s a sentiment with which we all concur.”
“Finding that fissure
that led down to the new level of chambers saved us at least 6 months’ worth of
digging and chiseling. That made my day. My month. My year! – Kanin
“The cozy new chair in
Father’s study. It’s the best place to read. – Samantha
“I got adopted and now
I have aMommy and Daddy. – Teri
“Vincent reading to us every night after dinner. There’s nothing better
Above or Below. – Ellie”
The community nodded and sighed and awwww-ed appropriately after each of these was read.
Father took out a folded index card from the jar and said, “Brand new pots and pans with that new stuff food
can’t stick to showed up in the pantry one morning last week. Don’t know where
they came from, but they sure make my life easier. – William”
Catherine caught Vincent sneaking a sideways glance at her.
She brushed the air between them with a shhhhh.
“Don’t give me away.”
“Never,” he replied.
There was something else he said, too softly to hear, but
she thought it sounded like it might have been, “I’ll keep you forever.” That couldn’t be right – could it? She
wondered if it was just her own wishful thinking. It had to be, right? It felt like a hand was squeezing her heart. She
was lost in thought for a while pondering all of that when she realized that
she’d missed the reading of quite a few slips of paper.
“Camping with the
children in the Great Hall, we achieved perfection in the art of roasting
marshmallows. – Vincent
“I started music
lessons and I really love the cello. I’m going to go to all the concerts in the
park and learn to play just like them. – Geoffrey
“Cheese. Macaroni and
cheese. Grilled cheese.Cheese soup.
Cheese. No signature.”
Smiles were on every face. Catherine had to stifle a giggle
when Vincent leaned over to her and said, “Is it wrong of me to hope that one’s
“We surprised Father
with breakfast in bed for his birthday. – Jamie. And a real treat it was for me, too. Thank you
“I found a wallet Up
Top and Catherine helped me find the lady it belonged to. – Zach”
Zach waved to get Catherine’s attention. “I wrote that even
before you gave me the ten dollars reward money she gave you.”
“So many people have helped
me making candles these last few months. I couldn’t have kept up without them.
“Children laughing in
the tunnels woke me up every morning this week. There’s no better alarm clock. –
“For the first time
ever,I beat Vincent at Scrabble!
Everyone in the Hall raised their hands into the air and waggled
them back and forth in the sign language gesture that meant applause.
“Almost none of these things are things,” Catherine marveled
as the realization struck her. “Not material things. Most of the people I know
would write about buying a new car or TV, taking a trip or getting a bigger
house. The things everyone here wants to remember are almost all centered around
people, not things that money can buy.”
The corners of Vincent’s mouth lifted slightly, his head
nodding once in acknowledgement.
“This is so much better than what I’m used to Above.” She
reached over and gave his hand a squeeze.
“Teaching the girls to
knit and seeing them wearing scarves they made all by themselves has made me so
happy. The little ones grow up so fast. – Mary
“Michael scrubbed the
next section of walls for me so that I didn’t have to. – Elizabeth
“We built a blanket
fort in Vincent’s chamber. I bet it was the world’s record biggest blanket fort
ever! We played games and spent the whole day there. It was great. – Kipper
“Today the kids asked
me to tell them stories of ‘the Olden Days’ and what it was like when I was
little. I told them about the Depression, how I grew up without electricity or
running water, and rode a mule to school. All my old stories were brand new to
them. They hung on every word and kept asking questions for hours. I can’t
remember when I felt so special and so loved. – Henry”
The atmosphere of the room had changed now. There were sniffs,
and heads were bowed while several people blotted their eyes.
“Henry passed away in March,” Vincent whispered to
Catherine. “He lived here most of my life. A kinder and gentler man, I’ve never
Father looked away from the group for a moment, then cleared
his throat and took another paper from the jar. “Most of the babies have learned to sleep through most of the night,
most of the time. – Marta
“Got best hiding
place. 6 hide and seek games. IN A ROW. Hard to find Mouse! Obviously, that
one’s from Mouse.
“Another one without a name: Trick or treating and crunchy leaves and roasted pumpkin seeds.
“Everything. No signature
on that one, either,” Father said, but he looked at Vincent as if he recognized
the handwriting.Catherine couldn’t help
but notice that Vincent looked determinedly straight ahead until Father began
reading the next slip of paper.
“I was always afraid
of water because I never learned to swim, but Vincent taught me and it’s so
easy, I can’t believe I was ever scared. – Brooke
“Catherine let us use
her address so we could all get library cards of our own. – Ellie
“Thanks to our Helpers
Above, we had enough medicine for flu season. That one is from me,” Father said.
“I heard some
Springsteen in the Whispering Gallery this morning. I sat there and sang along.
It lasted for a long time. I still have Born to Run stuck in my head.– Cullen
“Me and the guys—”
Father paused and gave a small shake of his head, “the guys and Ibeat
some topsiders playing basketball in the park yesterday. They made fun of our
old shoes, but their fancy new ones didn’t help them jump one little bit. –
“I got a job Above, a
good one, thanks to Catherine’s recommendation. We’ll stay here until I save up
enough for an apartment, and then we’ll be able to move back up and become
Helpers. I’m going to give back to this place. – Burt
Eric was fidgeting, squirming back and forth in his chair, a
small scowl behind his huge glasses.
“Do you need to use the restroom?” Vincent whispered. “We’ll
save your seat for you, you know.”
“No!” Eric shot Vincent a mortified scowl and jerked his
head slightly in Catherine’s direction. Catherine affected not to have noticed
“Mouse found a bunch
of bubble wrap in an alley. He put it on the tunnel floor and let the children jump
up and down on it. I’m so glad I was wrong about it being fireworks echoing
down the tunnel. – Olivia
“There were a couple
of times this year when I was really worried, when people I care about were in
trouble, and we didn’t know what was going to happen to them. But they came
back home, and it’s all OK again now. – Winslow”
The last slip was a partial sheet of yellow legal paper.
Eric sat up straight, looking back and forth between Father and Catherine.
“Catherine brought me
down here and introduced me to Vincent. Then she rescued Ellie so she can live
here, too. I sure am glad she did. I don’t even want to think about what would
have happened to us up there alone. She made this my best year ever.– Eric”
Eric’s smiling face blurred a little as tears welled in
Catherine’s eyes.She blinked them back
and scooped him into a hug. “That’s the sweetest thing anyone’s ever said to
“I meant it, Catherine. Thanks for saving us.”
She wrapped her arms tighter around him and pressed a kiss
into his cheek. She felt the warmth of Vincent’s hand placed on her back in
support. When she looked up again, she saw people embracing one another
everywhere. It seemed like everyone was talking and laughing over the
reminiscences, adding bits to the stories, thanking each other for things
throughout the year, and plans for the future were being made. There was a joyous
vibration in the air as the tunnel people mingled, talking about the memories
that were now all pinned to the board.
Eric let go of Catherine and looked bashfully down at the
floor. A flush of pleasure bloomed on his cheeks and rose up his face until
even the tips of his ears turned crimson. “Well, gonna find Ellie now. Bye,
Catherine!” And with that – and a loud snuffle – he rushed off toward the
“I wish I’d known about this tradition, Vincent. I’d have
loved to have put in a few slips of my own. I have so many priceless memories
of this last year.” She looked meaningfully at him, willing him to understand.
“What would you have written,” he asked her quietly, “that
made this last year good for you?”
“Well,” she began and paused. Her gaze locked on those blue
eyes of his and nothing else in the world existed for a moment. She found she
couldn’t speak now; she seemed to have forgotten how to breathe.
I could tell about the
ten days that changed my life. Or how happy I was the first night I found a
book on my balcony. How I value your hugs more than all the treasures of the
world. I could write about how the best date of my life was a whole night walking
though the city and watching the sun rise over the Brooklyn Bridge. I could tell
how my life finally has meaning, how satisfying it is to be helping people who really
need me. I’d describe a dream I’d never have dared to dream last New Year’s Eve.
With a shudder, her diaphragm remembered its job and her
lungs began to function again.
“No. I don’t think I’d have put anything in the jar, after
He tilted his head, in precisely that inquiring way she’d
known he’d tilt his head. Knowing him
well enough to know he’d do that; that’s another slip in the jar right there.
“If I started writing, I’d never be able to stop. And there just
isn’t enough paper in the world, or room in that jar, for all the things that
have made this last year the best of my life.”
And I resolve to make
the new year just as good; it can’t help but be, so long as I have you,
It must be nearly dawn by now, so it’s no longer
Saturday, but I think the date is irrelevant in any case. All that matters is
that this may be a day that changes everything.
Last night Father’s birthday celebration was a rousing
success. Everyone lingered long into the night. Kipper had such stage fright
about playing his piano piece in front of everyone that he delayed it over and
over again, hour after hour. Finally, near midnight he found the nerve to tell
Father that he’d learned a song and he was going to play it for him as a
I must never let Kipper know how little of it I
He was only a few notes into “Ode to Joy” when I began
to feel— something. I don’t know what
to call it. There was an uneasiness that soon turned to anxiety. A skittering
of something in my spine. My feet felt the need to fly, but I didn’t know why
or where. Whether I wanted to run away from something or towards it, I had no idea.
I congratulated Kipper as soon as the applause died
down, and then I rushed to make my excuses to everyone and escaped. I hope no
one noticed and thought me rude, but at the time the imperative to follow this
call was irresistible.
rushed Above to the park and stood at the culvert. I listened but heard only
the sounds of the city. Looked far into the darkness but saw only the first
leaves of spring swaying gently in the breeze. I even scented the air for anything
unusual. How I hate to admit that even here, where only I will ever know it.
It’s so shameful – so base and feral, sniffing around like an animal. But it
was none of my senses – keen as they are – that was alerting me.
I simply felt
that I must go north from the culvert, and I have no rational explanation for
Is there a name for such a feeling? Not in any of the
languages I know of. The only thing I can call it is called. I was called. Called in a way that I cannot explain with
logic or reason, not with metaphysics or ideology. I simply felt this call. And I was powerless to do anything
other than answer it.
I’m grateful it was late and the park was nearly
empty; I know I wasn’t exercising my usual caution when I go Above. I couldn’t.
The call compelled me, overriding all
I found her off the side of the road near the 96th
Street entrance to the park. She was lying in the damp grass, unconscious and
bleeding badly. I know this sounds mad, but I swear it’s true; I felt every
place where she was hurt as if I were in pain myself. I staunched the blood as
best I could and brought her Below.
What else could I do?
I knew Father would be livid – and he was – but he could never let any patient go untended. I was
right about that, but he is not best pleased with me just now.
She’s sleeping in my bed as I write. Her injuries are
serious, but she’s resilient. Even sitting here at my table, I can see her
heartbeat pulsing in a small, blue vein in her wrist, steady and strong. She
will survive – that’s not in question. Her ribs and contusions will heal. But
she was born with the face of an angel. She’ll be used to being beautiful. Now
some monster has done this to her— I cannot write about that for the rage that
consumes me to think of it. The poor woman. She will have a difficult journey
ahead, adjusting to this. How would anyone react to be being disfigured in this
way when she was meant to be so lovely?
At least I’ve always looked like I do.
She’ll be frightened, I’m sure, when she wakes. I have
no plans to sleep tonight. I’ll stand vigil by her side all night. I’ll be here
when she wakes up, and I’ll let her know she’s safe here.
She must know she’s safe now.
Monday, April 13, 1987
Her name is Catherine.
She’s woken only twice today, both times very briefly.
She was filled with fear the first time, not knowing where she was or how she
got here. I think I was able to comfort her, and she went back to sleep right
away. The second time we spoke a bit longer and I began to explain what had
happened to her, to let her know no one would hurt her again, before she
slipped back into the deep unconsciousness of healing rest.
Although we’ve only exchanged a few dozen words, each
one she’s spoken glows like a sun in my soul. What a beautiful voice she has.
Everything about her brings Longfellow to my mind ~
her tender eye
heaven of April, with its changing light,
on her lip the rich, red rose.Her hair
like the summer tresses of the trees,
twilight makes them brown, and on her cheek
the richness of an autumn sky,
ever-shifting beauty.Then her breath,
is so like the gentle air of Spring,
front the morning's dewy flowers, it comes
of their fragrance, that it is a joy
have it round us, and her silver voice
the rich music of a summer bird,
in the still night, with its passionate cadence.
She’s slept all the rest of the day, healing and
regaining her strength.
Father’s fury has ebbed – somewhat – though I expect
I’ll be lectured about this ad infinitum.
It is a price I’m willing to pay; I shall have no
regrets for meeting Catherine.
Tuesday, April 14, 1987
Catherine was stronger today. She’s still in pain, of
course, but she’s healing.
I know I should feel guilty about foisting all my
duties onto Cullen and the others, but I don’t. I stayed by her side all day,
save for when Mary came in to bathe and help her. Even then, I hated to leave
her. Caring for her is an indescribable joy.
Feeding her. Such a simple thing. I’ve fed so many
children through the years, so many elderly, too, but now… Before, I was only
taking care of someone else. Now, though, it’s as if I myself am growing
stronger by caring for her. It’s almost as if— If her appetite is any
indication, she’ll be well all too soon. She’s especially fond of William’s
chicken corn chowder; she ate three bowls of it.
I should also feel guilty for telling her about Below,
but I couldn’t help myself. I told her all our secrets: the Tunnels, the
community, the pipes, how we live. I even told her how I was found and named.
She asked and I told. She has promised to keep our secret though, and I know
she will. I can feel it. Catherine is worthy and honest. I know this.
Father would tell me that I’m being foolish and
reckless to trust her so readily, so completely. And with anyone other than
Catherine, I would agree with him. But in her case, he’d be wrong. She is
I frightened her today when she touched me. How could
I have been so careless? I ought to have put on my gloves before I picked up
that bowl of soup. What an idiot I am! I can still hear her gasp reverberating
in my ears. She was too polite to ask what was wrong with my hand, but I know
she was confused and concerned. What will I do when it’s time to take the
bandages off of her eyes? It’s a thought I cannot bear, though I know I’ll have
to face it.
I asked her this morning what had happened to her; if
she knew who’d hurt her. She told me how she was attacked as she was leaving a
party by men who thought she was someone else. I could see it disturbed her to
relay the account to me, so I hastily dropped the subject.
Thankfully, I was able to create a distraction by
offering to read aloud to her. How she smiled when I suggested it! She said she
hadn’t been read a story since she was a child. We read aloud so often down
here that I forget sometimes that it’s unusual Above. I suggested a number of
books and she chose Great Expectations. She enjoyed it; she said she
liked my voice and how I read. I felt like I might float off the bed with
happiness to know I’d been able to please her.
And then she smiled again.
smile must be what sunshine feels like.
Wednesday, April 15, 1987
I have a dilemma. This morning Lou sent down his
newspapers from the last few days. The story of Catherine’s disappearance has
been all through the headlines. She’d told me she was an attorney, but she
didn’t tell me she was a wealthy socialite as well. Or that she worked for her
father’s famous law firm. Of course she’s been worried that her father will be
distraught, not knowing what’s happened to her, but she understands why the
secret of Below means we can’t tell him she’s here and safe. She never told me
she was all but engaged to Tom Gunther either. Even down here, we all know
about him from all the buildings with his name on them. A witness saw her
abduction, and for all they know Above, she’s not only kidnapped, but dead.
How can I possibly tell her all these things that I’ve
learned from the papers? She’ll worry even more about her father if I do, yet
we still won’t be able to get word to him. But I cannot lie to her either. I
simply can’t. It wouldn’t be a lie to omit the truth, I suppose, but when I
think about deceiving Catherine in any way, I feel a nest of vipers in my
Yesterday I promised her we’d try to get some news
from Above for her soon. While she didn’t ask me about the papers today, she
will. And what should I do then?
To tell or not to tell: that is the question. I hope
this conundrum ends better for me than it did for Hamlet.
Thursday, April 16, 1987
As I feared, Catherine asked me about the newspapers
almost as soon as she woke this morning.
The way she reached for me when I told her the news.
The despair in her voice as she said, “Oh, poor Daddy.” The way she squeezed my
gloved hand while she wept on her father’s behalf. I was certain I’d made the
wrong choice by being honest with her. I felt I ought to have protected her
from the pain of this knowledge. I should have found the strength to lie to
her. Somehow – no matter what it cost me to do it – I wished I’d never told
her. My heart felt like it was under a rockslide.
I was grateful that she couldn’t see that I was crying
right along with her, as if her pain were truly mine as well.
And then she was apologizing. To me. I’m the one
keeping her from sending a message to her father, but she apologizes to me? I
can’t believe it. She was sorry that she was burdening me with her tears.
Catherine, are there no limits to the marvel that you
I promised her that we would get her back Above to her
family as soon as she was well enough. She’s had no hint of infection, thanks
to the antibiotics that Father had been hoarding, and each day she hurts less.
Father thinks her ribs weren’t broken after all; very badly bruised with
possibly a slight crack, but not broken. It won’t be long before she’s
recovered enough to make the walk Above.
Each night as she sleeps, I sit here writing and
listening to her softly breathing. And each night I dread the day when she will
be well enough to take that walk, because she will be walking out of my life
We’re halfway through Great Expectations now.
Friday, April 17, 1987
With her breakfast today, I brought Catherine some of
the new tea blend from Dr. Wong – the sweet one with the orange blossoms and
pineapple. I was the only one here Below who liked it – until now. She was as
delighted with it as I am. I gave her my own cup of it, too. Letting her enjoy
it brought me as much pleasure as drinking it myself could have.
And that is not hyperbole.
I can scarcely believe that I’m about to write this.
I’ve spent days now thinking about this, trying to
make some sense of it all. Yet I still cannot understand it. Perhaps writing it
all out will help me to fathom what’s happened to me.
I know I will sound insane even to myself.
I’ve been trying to deny it, trying to find some
explanation, something rational and reasonable… But it’s simply not possible to
do so any longer.
The other day I started to write – and then I crossed
out – that it was almost as if I could feel what she was feeling. But I can. I
can literally feel what she’s feeling.
I can’t believe I’m confessing this, not even here in
the privacy of my own journal. I’ve been avoiding doing so for days now.
I’ve sat here staring at this page for many minutes,
unwilling or unable to believe that I just wrote that. Yet it’s the truth.
I feel what she feels. It’s almost as if we are one.
I could feel where she hurt the moment I found her. I
knew her ribs were damaged long before Father examined her – I felt my bones
echo with her pain. When she was despondent yesterday, I felt that same
despair. When she was amused because I suggested reading aloud to her,
happiness bloomed in my heart at that same instant. I can tell when she is
becoming tired and I know it’s time to stop reading. Was the call that I felt the night I found her
connected in some way to this— What shall I call it? This link. This tie. This
bond between us.
Whatever it is and whatever I call it, it is. It cannot be denied. It exists.
It’s as real as the bedrock beneath my feet.
Saturday, April 18, 1987
It’s two in the morning and Catherine has only just
now fallen back asleep. I was sleeping on my pallet on the floor when I began
to dream. Someone was grabbing me from behind and I couldn’t get free. I was
paralyzed with terror. And then there was pain – so much pain. And that was
when her cries woke me.
I called to her and reached out to touch her, to shake
her awake. But then I saw my own claws about to touch her shoulder, and I had
to step away. I couldn’t touch her, not with these hideous hands of mine. All I
could do was call her name again until she woke.
I pulled on my gloves while she told me what she’d
been dreaming about. It was her kidnapping and assault, of course. I felt her
nightmare in my own dreams.
There is a Bond between us unlike anything dreamt of
in our philosophy.
It’s evening now. Mary’s bathing Catherine again, so
I’m in Father’s study, and I cannot say I’m sorry he’s in the kitchen helping
with William’s inventory. I couldn’t bear to be in the same chamber with him
This morning Father told Mouse and Kanin to locate the
sub-basement of Catherine’s apartment building. She lives right around the
block from where Lorenzo and Sofia used to have their restaurant, so it will be
easy to reopen the old subway tunnel off the abandoned Broadway stop. Those
passageways should lead right below her building.
They’ve already started the work. Father is so
I think I’ve already started to die a little.
Sunday, April 19, 1987
Catherine. Catherine. Catherine. Even the mere act of writing her name brings me bliss.
will have to apologize to Olivia for teasing her that time when I caught her
doodling Kanin’s name over and over. I know now what it is to fully give
oneself over to a dream.
Dreaming, I am. I know that. But I can sleep just a
little longer, can’t I?
Today Catherine felt so much stronger that I scarcely
read to her at all. This time, it was she who did most of the talking. She wove
me the story of her life and each thread is made of gossamer and gold.
When she was little, she was – as she put it – “one of
those horse-crazy girls.” Apparently the phase didn’t last long, though. She
went through a series of interests: ice skating, gymnastics, ballet lessons,
gardening, astronomy, playing the clarinet “breathtakingly badly” as she
described it. She was such a curious child, so anxious to explore the world, to
She told me about a time when her imaginary friend, a
pretend sister she named Rosalinda, climbed a tree in the park. “Naturally, I
had to follow her,” she said with a laugh. “After all, what kind of person
would go home and abandon her imaginary sister up in a tree? Rosalinda wouldn’t
have had any idea how to get back home alone. She was younger than me, you see,
and she needed my help a lot. The next thing I knew, I was stuck up in the tree
like a kitten with no idea how to get down. My parents actually called the fire
department to come to the rescue, but I refused to budge until they carried
Rosalinda down first. It’s no wonder my dad went gray early.”
She’s brought her girlhood to life for me with her
words. What a delightful child she must have been. I can see young Catherine so
clearly in my mind. I think I can even see Rosalinda. What adventures
Catherine, Devin and I could have had together.
Her mother passed away when she was just ten years
old. They were very close; Catherine said she was the best friend she’s ever
had. Ten is much too young to lose someone so vital to one’s life. Of course, I
don’t suppose there’s ever an age when someone would feel they were old enough
to lose a mother. I don’t truly know what it would be like to have a one, but I
can imagine. There’s still a great emptiness in Catherine that aches for her
mother – an emptiness perhaps greater than even Catherine herself realizes –
and I sense it’s a wound that may never be fully healed. She’s all the closer
to her father since it’s been just the two of them all these years.
She told me so many stories.
She learned to ride her bike going up and down the
sidewalk in front of their brownstone “twenty thousand times.”
She was forever skinning her knees as she climbed the
rock outcroppings in the park and she still has a small scar on one shin
because of it.
One year for Halloween, she was Dorothy from The
Wizard of Oz and she had shoes that looked just like the ruby
slippers.She loved them so much that
she refused to wear any other shoes until the following spring. Even then, when
all the glitter had long since worn off, she didn’t surrender them willingly.
“I only gave them up because they were two sizes too small. If my feet had
stopped growing, I might still be wearing them today.”
She painted her whole life for me: vacations all over
the world with her father and family friends, college, law school, her job at
her father’s law firm. She’s not satisfied with her work, and she knows she
wants something more fulfilling, but she doesn’t know what she’s searching for
yet. She’s got so much in her that she longs to give, and I told her she’ll
find a way to put her heart into action.
She said she believes me.
I admitted how much I’ve always longed to go to the
places that she’s been – the places I’ve only ever dreamed of seeing. She
promised to take me anywhere I want to go – London, Paris, Egypt, India –
anywhere in the world. It would be her way of thanking me for all I’ve done for
I’d forgotten while she transported me with her words
that she didn’t know who what I am. She has no way of knowing that these
tunnels and chambers are all the world that I can ever have.
I can feel what she feels. How grateful I was at that
moment that she couldn’t feel what I felt.
Monday, April 20, 1987
Catherine is definitely getting well more quickly now.
Today she was antsy and cranky, chafing at having to stay in bed and be cared
for. She wants to take the bandages off yesterday.
I can’t blame her, of course. I would be the same. I have been the same, every time I’ve been
sick or hurt. Father readily reminded me of that today when he said she was
nearly ready to go back Above.
She’s taken root in my heart deeper with each passing
day she’s been Below.
I find I am reading Great Expectations more and
more slowly with every page I turn.
We’re nearly to the end.
In more ways than one, it’s almost the end.
Tuesday, April 21, 1987
While I was sending Kipper to Chinatown to get more
tea, Catherine got up and removed her bandages. I felt a jolt of shock and
horror, and I raced back to my chamber—
I don’t need to write it down.
It isn’t as if I’ll ever forget it. Not one instant of
I wish I could.
I wish that headlamp would have killed me where I
stood, because I know I cannot stand living without her.
Forever without Catherine.
But, no. These are days I cannot wish away.Not even one moment of them. Not even if I
have to bear this agony for the rest of my life.
I will not trade away the sight of her small, pale
hands reaching to push back my cloak from my face. I wanted to run away. I
wanted to run into her arms. I could do neither.
And that moment at her threshold. Again she reached
out to me. Her hand on my chest. Her head on my shoulder. The heady scent of
her hair by my cheek. What it felt like to press my hand against the small of
My first embrace with the woman I love.
My last embrace with the woman I love.
I can say I love her here, on these pages. I must.
It’s the only way it can ever be said. It’s the secret I will carry with me
forever. I’ll hold it in a hidden chamber of a heart bound forever with hers.
It’s precious little solace to me as I sob alone in
this chamber, where her scent still lingers. I welcome it, breathing it in
deeply, painful though it is that soon her scent will have faded away to
As much as I want this pain to end, I now understand
that Tennyson was right ~
envy not in any moods
The captive void of noble rage,
The linnet born within the cage,
never knew the summer woods;
envy not the beast that takes
His license in the field of time,
Unfetter’d by the sense of crime,
whom a conscience never wakes;
hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘T is better to have loved and lost
never to have loved at all.
Lost her, I have. But my Bond with her is still alive.
As far Above as she is right now, I can still feel her.
And it will keep this dream alive in me.
These ten days will – for they must – sustain me to
the last of my days.