I appreciate feedback – please comment. Wrapped up in doing another edit of Course of Mirrors before I head for Spain , I came upon this scene in chapter 21 – below – where Cara, Ana’s soul-sister from the twentieth century, interacts with her in a dream. In the previous scene Ana finally learns from her mother who her natural father is and has her suspicion confirmed. To mend hearts is not easy.
This first novel was character driven, and I get never tired of editing (reading) it. This must be a good sign.
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Having wandered unseeing through a copse, I nearly tripped over a branch. Beyond a downhill clearing, amongst a cluster of beeches, were the tell-signs of a tree house.
Animated, I ran as fast as my legs allowed. A rope ladder dangled from the beech, which I climbed. Under tattered canvas awnings the generous platform had a low table and seating. In a casket, I found items wrapped in waxed cloth – oil-lamps, and blankets. My beloved sanctuary all over again, Luke must have been here or even built the den. Expecting a clue I found one. Carved in the main trunk were the weathered remains of the familiar heart with wings and underneath it faint letters – S&Z – clear evidence to torture my mind – S for Sirus. And Z for Zara, whom I had not met. They were pupils of Ruskin. They would not have known they were siblings. I had heard of their tender friendship. Sudden jealousy crushed me. Luke cared for her – I had no special place in his heart. I wrapped a blanket round me like a tent. Was he still caged in that dark room? Fingering the ruby heart, memory brought a scent – musk trailing in Luke’s step. Curling up on the hard planks, a fantasy unfolded – us together in Magna Spring. We could both explore new ways of seeing … the song of a blackbird lulled me to sleep …
I walk through endless corridors. A shimmering being by my side radiates golden light and opens a door for me to step through – and another – door upon door. I am guided through a labyrinth. I wake to voices. My eyes open to the surroundings of a sick ward. I don’t want to be here and shut my eyes again.
‘Is she all right? Has she lost her voice?’ Mother worries.
The ward sister reassures. ‘She will come round.’
I want to prolong the peace and drift into another dream. Cara appears and says, ‘This was my dream. The golden being resembles your Sat, a protective presence that is part of me.’ Cara observes my surprise. ‘Unseen beings live within us. Reality – in any world – is what we accept as real in our imagination. Come, Ana, I will show you something.’
She takes my hand. We enter a small room crammed with students around complex machinery. Colourful lights flicker on dark panels with rows of buttons. They are marked by numbers and letters. The atmosphere is one of a starlit night. Behind the panels sits the tutor, a burly man with a red beard, resembling Tatum. He talks excitedly about the expansion of a single bird sound and demonstrates how this is done.
At the press of a button the melodious trill of a blackbird fills the room. The tutor runs his fingers over the lights and slides knobs on a panel. The blackbird’s tune repeats itself. Its sound is stretched and then overlaid, softened, strengthened, speeded up, slowed down, turned round in time and overlaid again, forwards and backwards. The tutor extracts a rhythm, sets a base note and adds different keys at different speeds, until the bird’s song has been absorbed into a strange and beautiful symphony. A hush fills the room. The tutor sits back and beams. We share his happiness. ‘This, my friends, can evolve from the trill of a blackbird, using a digital system.’
I want this explained. Cara pulls my hand and we drift into another space, a garden, where we settle on a stone seat. She looks at me with eyes that always seem like my own. ‘In your world, sensual date is recorded on surfaces. Scores, texts, images and numerical figures are imprinted on tablets and fibres. Copies are made, and copies of copies that eventually decay. In my lifetime we record sound and condense any kind of information into binary codes, which can be multiplied and rearranged indefinitely.
‘What’s a binary code?’ I ask
‘A system based on light pulses that switch on and off. Used in endless combinations and sequences these pulses transmit unimaginable amounts of information – weightless – in abeyance – send as bit-strings to a particular location. On arrival they are temporarily assigned to a context, decoded, expanded and reassembled. A play of random associations can offer fresh insights, as happens in dreams. Snippets, like the bird sound that became a symphony.’
What she describes is beyond my grasp, but the idea of reassembly sparks my excitement. ‘I cut my paintings of seascapes into squares and patch them together into a new image, joining different perspectives to express my sense of the vast body of water.’
Cara laughs, ‘Exactly you’ve been using the same idea!’
‘Some fellow students think I am making a farce of reality. My tutor thinks I show what is beyond the eye. It is not a lie. I express what I perceive, a kind of energy.’
Cara says, ‘our heart-mirrors reflect deeper realities. Value your imagination, but choose what you give energy to, be clear what you want to reflect. When a thought is ripe it manifests. What we hold in our heart acts like a magnet, attracting more of the same.’
I woke with the phrase – we attract more of what we hold in our heart – and cringed. What I held in my heart today was resentment. I did not want more of the same. Climbing back up the hill to the mansion I saw my mother standing with Rheine. They looked out over the harbour from where faint music and revelling could be heard. My conscience pleaded and would not be ignored. Rheine met me halfway. We embraced easily, deeply, like back in Kars, when we were refugees in the night. Rheine was going to be my witness. I reached for mother’s hand. She stepped close, eyes wide in astonishment. ‘Mother,’ I said, ‘I love you.’ She folded into my arms, like a child. For that moment I was the mother she had longed to have.