Saturday, January 17

On Purple Prose

Oh, yes, we love it so. The French doors open to a breeze that flutters the brocaded tassels of the curtains, the long table gorgeously set for a dinner for two, as yet untouched, although a carelessly brushed over goblet has spilled its cabernet sauvignon out over the expansive whiteness of the linen tablecloth. All three servants, off for the night, probably in town, laughing and carousing in some public house. We love the long view of the path along the top of the seaside cliff, the white-capped sea beyond—below. We love the wild foot chase, one of them hurrying after the other. One shoe left behind in the dust of the path. Their tear along the clifftop, the struggle that, from a distance, could be taken for one long last embrace. Hard to say which comes first—the shout or the scream, diminuendoing its way down to the wave-lapped rocks at the base of the basalt cliff, echoing the cries of seabirds rising up to greet its downward plunge. We love the mad rush back to the Gothic enormity of the house, the bags already packed, the car in the drive, driven this time, not by the grumbly chauffeur, but by another. The drive to the airport—not too fast, not too slow. The ticket and passport in someone else’s name. And then the long flight, three martinis in a row, the trembling hand, the uneasy sleep. The arrival at last at an airport in some distant Spanish-speaking land, a tattered city, with mountains nearby to hide in. The anxious searching for a newspaper in some language one can read, something that tells the tale. We love the dusty bus ride to the hills and the mountains beyond. And then the little house, the quiet nights, the long wait.

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