Today I’m going to open a little the mysterious curtain over my book “I Am Becoming a Woman” so that interested readers can get an idea of what kind of text they have the possibility to immerse themselves in.
So, in my book there is nothing invented – this is a real true story about my relationship with numerous men in my life, about how my body was trembling with the desire to surrender to every next man, and, due of my inexperience, still not quite understanding what kind of desires made me experience such a strong excitement, that I almost reach the feeling of nausea. … About my fear of loneliness and about my willingness to spend the evening with almost any man interested in me as in sexual object. About my lonely evenings, when I was sitting at home and waiting for the call of my next gentleman, going over in my mind all the words that I said to him during our previous meeting, in order to convince myself in a fit of euphoria that I did everything right and that therefore I would surely hear right at that moment a phone call from him, or, on the contrary, to remember something from my words or deeds that might have disappointed him, and by this to explain to myself why the phone was so silent all the time and that meant my current boyfriend decided to break his promise and not to call me and thereby to cut off our communication right at that moment, sowing the numerous complexes in my soul that something was wrong with me and that I was not attractive enough.
I will now quote a small fragment from the text of the book:
He admitted he would be very sorry if I “flew inside” – it was the first time I heard this strange slang expression. After having told me about his occupation – he worked … as a pimp, – a guy asked if I had a man. I answered in the negative. “Do you want me to do for you what every woman dreams of?” At that moment, I was all ears since, of course, I was eager to learn what a real woman should dream of. “I will introduce you to a foreigner, you will marry him, go abroad and see the world.” Then there was darkness, the film and his hands. He was affectionate, gentle and attentive. “Do you feel uncomfortable when you are kissed?” he guessed. “Suppose I feel good, but how should I express it?” I tried to joke in response. “You could simply look at me, and I would be pleased.” In order to cheer me up, he said, “You are just a little girl and you do not want to learn anything!”
He sat me on a chair in front of himself and began to caress my legs, acting greedily, but still giving me time to get used to his touches. Climbing higher and higher with his hands, he was spreading my legs with irresistible male perseverance, noticing with satisfaction my growing excitement , and then skillfully caressed my womb through my panties, that made me fidgeting in my chair with eyes rolled up from pleasure. He tried to get into my panties, but at this moment I jumped up and began to resist his hands, muttering, “Don’t do that, it’s not good,” but I have no doubt that a lascivious smile was playing across my lips at that moment…
It was a quote from ” Flirting over a Cup of Coffee” (The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh Book 3)
And when one day he took possession of my body, I even burst into tears. Naturally, he did not know how to respond to this.
I was even scared a little by my crying during making love… After thinking about this a little bit, I decided that, perhaps, at the moment when the man was taking possession of me, I still felt like a raped little girl. But in general, it was exactly a kind of male violence against me what attracted me in sex. Or, perhaps, my tears were associated with the exchange of energy between bodies that occurred during copulation.
During our intimacy, I felt the full significance of what was happening and outdid myself in expressing passion … Although in fact, my passion was not at all caused by the personality of my sexual partner. My strong emotions were simply the result of the thoughts about my unhappy life. It was a kind of despair over the fact that, despite all the efforts, it seemed again I didn’t succeed. For me, sex was always a sacrament, a complete harmony and a fusion, but if this did not happen in the way I had expected, then I was inevitably upset. Therefore, in bed, I involuntarily started playing a performance of excess of feelings, and, as it sometimes does, I myself believed in this performance too.
It was quote from “Serious Relations” (The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh Book 2).
“In the search for the man of my dreams, I used the special parties called “dating balls”. Such events for youth were organized by the company called “The Scarlet Sails”, which rented assembly halls of universities and houses of culture from time to time on Saturday evenings.
Usually, before going to such a disco, I used first to go somewhere to have a little drink to get in the mood. Once I managed to go into one of the “nest of vipers” as Vlad used to put it, just near the October Field metro station. There I came to the attention of some dudes who started expressing signs of approval to me. These guys turned to have come from Sochi city.
Feeling that I was being watched, to keep my face, I ordered a little more vodka than that was needed, and, of course, there were no snacks, and this led to sad consequences… In one of the periods between memory lapses, I suddenly found myself standing in the street in front of some kind of entrance of the house where they were trying to make me enter into. As I understood, these dudes were renting an apartment somewhere nearby, and at the sight of my sociable behavior – in fact, I just wanted to show that I was really cool in my ability to drink, and there was absolutely nothing personal in it – they had the idea to drag me in there…
As a result, I got off with a black eye, but the degree of intoxication was too great to go to some disco after this, and I went to the side of my home instead and as soon as I reached my bed, I fell right to sleep at once. “
It was quote from “Serious Relations” (The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh Book 2).
Gradually, I really came to consider myself as an old maid. Although previously the time factor did not pressure me, and I only wanted to have fun, now I really had to think about having a steady boyfriend. It occurred to me that if I was still alone, then something was wrong with me. Perhaps I was ugly, and over time I became additionally old and evil. In my behavior I started noticing such features of the classic old maid as irritability and suspicion. My body started to get old and my feelings, awaiting a man I could love, still remained unused. If I saw couples in love on the street, then I got into bad mood. I started avoiding people who might ask me if I had already married or not… From now on, a girl of my age needed to get married in order just to increase self-esteem.
It was quote from “Serious Relations” (The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh Book 2).
However, there was one friend Lenka whom I was hanging out with. I remember once she invited me to her place.
The September sun that did not warm… Precisely such kind of sun was shining as she brought me from her city apartment to the garden of her country house. The garden was rich with sun and covered in fallen apples – signs of the inevitable wilting of nature. We were picking apples. We satisfied our hunger with hastily cooked potatoes and canned fish. The country house was completely at our disposal, we felt there as sovereign owners. Her naive admiration for her “vast” possessions was transferred also me while she was galloping and frolicking, like a child, jumping on springy beds and climbing trees… Having agreed to share this simple leisure with her, I found myself to have a strange feeling that both boredom and a desire to get away quickly were inevitably taking hold of me. At that time, I had already tasted all the charm of merging and unity with a man, all the exciting and sweet abyss of this game, and therefore I could no longer seek sincerely to harmony in communication with my girl friends.
It was quote from “Serious Relations” (The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh Book 2).
Once, having come to my office room, he drew me close to him and started speaking we needed to meet, looking at me with a desire that really excited me. He was looking at me with passion, but not as a romantic young guy usually did, but as a man who knew clearly what could be obtained from a woman, and including a good idea of what he could get exactly from me. Every time he was looking at me, I felt excited as if he was climbing into the most intimate parts of my body – therefore, he seemed to have possessed me already by means of this look.
It was a quote from ” Flirting over a Cup of Coffee” (The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh Book 3) .
Recently, I have been analyzing a lot of what exactly gave me the impetus, what exactly motivated me to write my story “I am Becoming a Woman”. The novel “Christine” (1952) by English woman writer Pamela Hansford Johnson is one of those books that, since having been read by me many times in my youth, influenced some part of my life after that – for example, what I was like in my 17-18 years old. Thus, the reasoning and behavior of the Hansford Johnson’s heroine influenced indirectly the heroine of my own novel.
Now, when I decided to re-read this novel in order to find out how much echoes of this text can be found in my own story “I am Becoming a Woman”, I was surprised to see a fragment from the novel “Towards Swann” by Marcel Proust as an epigraph to “Christine”, including such words:
“all this was not only experienced, thought out, kept by me for a long time, but … it was my life and it was me myself.”
Yes, I was really surprised because it was Marcel Proust and his literary style who gave me the idea of writing my autobiographical novel, and thus both names – Marcel Proust and Pamela Hansford Johnson – turned out to be indirectly related and, so to speak, “the circle has beem closed” in a way.
As we recall, critics initially found the style of Proust’s first novel unusually confusing, especially when it comes to the chronology of the events he described. Life events, sometimes rather chaotical and unpredictable, emerged in the memory of the protagonist, serve in Proust’s book only as material on which endless analyzes of “elusive sensations” are built. In his text, Proust gives very little development of the plot in terms of the amount of “action”, but at the same time, a certain impressionable young man with a fine mental organization was chosen as the main character of the novel, who perceives these ordinary and unremarkable things that happens to him in a rather sharpened manner. Therefore, on the pages of the novel, we come across literally “kilograms” of the author’s reasoning on general themes and an analysis of the elusive feelings of this young man. And all this is held together solely based on the unique recognizable author’s style and on this very analysis of the smallest sensations, plus on not too banal – and sometimes, on the contrary, even on a little paradoxical – reasoning on general topics.
As for the literary cycle “The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh”, then as for events retelling, it is built much more linearly, although from time to time I am also quite a bit distracted from the main narration – well, I am doing this like in some play the actor sometimes utters next remark, addressing not to his partner, but turning conspiratorially to the theatrical auditorium.
In my immodest opinion :), the events of my youth were much more exciting than the measured life of the hero of Proust’s novel, and besides in my reasoning I stand on the position of a person familiar with the much later and more sophisticated fruits of intellectual achievements of human civilization than Marcel Proust used in his reasoning.
As for the novel “Christine”, this is a very interesting reading, first of all, for connoisseurs and lovers of the Clapham area and Clapham Common park in London – Pamela Hansford Johnson “dilutes” the diary of her main character Christine with numerous nature descriptions in these places at various times of the year… Besides this novel is interesting as a reflection of that distant era when pneumatic mail was used in London, and electric lighting was installed in houses for the firt time… The era of popularity of Hawaiian guitars, when young people first were eager to dance in clubs of London suburbs, and later were eager to drink cocktails in bars in Mayfair … But, of course, the novel is interesting not only for researchers of the habits of Londoners in the early thirties.
Now, after many years, it was really touching for me to discover unexpectedly in the novel text those passages that I once carefully reread and which have become part of my personality. Of course, I have remembered for the rest of my life the final phrase of the novel “A stranger here, I was free,” it marked how the heroine is pleased to realize that she had long since escaped from the oppression of endless thoughts about her past. The image of Christine in some way reminded me of the very image of a girl that looms in my own cycle “The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh.“ Most likely, I became just what I was because I repeatedly re-read the novel “Christine” in my adolescence.
So, Christine is looking for her love, not knowing yet what kind of the chosen one the fate will send her. Of course, in your youth the idea of the future is imbued with an alluring foreboding of love, since all songs and books say love is something special, and the body is excited by the anticipation of something sweet and forbidden. Love longing is precisely what allows sometimes complete strangers to enter your life and sometimes even become a part of your life.
Pamela Hansford Johnson writes about the sexual side of Christine’s emotions with caution, noting that at that time (late twenties and early thirties) young people were still very innocent, and even in English there was no corresponding expression “to make love”. The author exquisitely compares the excitement of the heroine at the thought of sexual intimacy with “the fluttering of a flower in the close shackles of a bud,” and Christine, inspired by reading some love stories, imagines her wedding night in a dark room on the seashore, full of aromas flowers.
Of course, in my novel, I pay much more attention to the physical component of love than in this novel of the early 50s.:) My first book describes the habits of Russian youth in Moscow in 1987-1989.
The heroine of my novel, like Christine, is always very attentive to what exactly her boyfriend is telling her about his other women.
Following the young Christine, my heroine is sometimes vain and is fascinated by men’s age and status – indeed, what girl does not dream, for example, of an overseas prince who will take her away to the castle in his country? She is waiting with patience when, finally, cavaliers with their own cars will appear in her life. The third part of the cycle, entitled “Flirting over a Cup of Coffee”, describes the love affairs of my heroine with mature, respectable men almost 30 years older than her.
Christine feels being in love and charmed by the male charisma of the boyfriend caring for her, despite her boredom already on the second date with him and realizing that the two of them will have nothing to talk about. Later, Christine tries to convince herself that, probably, there is nothing special in the love and attitude of women towards her husband, and probably everyone has known this for a long time except her.
I will quote here the clever words spoken to the heroine of my story by one of her men about the selection of her future husband:
“Regarding vital precepts оf a wise knowledgeable man, addressed to a girl“ considering her future living ”, he advised me in any case to marry a man with a”lofty”education (he used not”high “but namely”lofty”as a joke), otherwise we would have nothing to talk about in the evenings of our future family life. “
Christine tries not to take to heart the fact that her chosen one is indifferent to literature close to her in spirit, and his ear pathologically does not distinguish melodies, although for Christine herself the power of music and memories of the melodies she has ever heard is of very great influence. For comparison, I will give a quote about the meaning of music for my heroine:
“At that time – however, and now too – my ecstasy from music was so great that as the highest form of interaction with a guy I liked I was dreaming about joint listening to my favorite music. This obsessive desire of mine is somewhat similar to the idea of the Marcel Proust hero, who was eager to admire the Gothic castles together with a beautiful girl, so that her presence would enhance his aesthetic pleasure of the beauties of ancient architecture. “
Inside Christine’s thinking there is some internal struggle all the time, and sometimes she even gets angry with herself because of feelings that go out of her mind control. In building relationships, inexperienced Christine acts intuitively and sometimes makes mistakes, which brings her a lot of problems with her boyfriend. Here’s what I write on this topic in my novel:
“When I still had no experience in dealing with men, then, finding myself in some situation together with them, I acted as some kind of instinct told me. And It seemed that this was exactly what the men expected from me. Most likely, I behaved like this according to some woman in me who existed separately from me and who had lived much longer than me. Maybe she lived by some life of my dreams and wishes or continued her existence in the memory of previous generations – in a word, it was an “archetypal woman” in me. “
Even the very beginning of this text reminded me that elusively attractive atmosphere of Paris and Parisian cafes, which is imbued with the texts of Julio Cortazar – for example, his story “El otro cielo.” or the beginning of the novel “Rayuela”.
And the idea of writing down the names of all visitors to all Parisian cafes in a notebook (the idea of ”intersection points”) or the idea that all missing people have “settled” in furnished rooms where they are not asked for documents, is very similar to the idea of counting the number of people entering and leaving the metro in “Records in a notebook “and games with” the Mondrian tree of the Paris Metro” from the story”A manuscript found in a pocket” by Cortazar.
This short novel is about finding oneself in space (and not just in space, but exactly in the space of Paris) and in time – in one’s memoirs, many of which relate, again, to movement along the streets of Paris.
It is very important for the heroes which zone of Paris they live in, and one guy even creates a theory of “neutral zones“. Wandering around the city, on some streets they are surprised to find themselves, as if not in the capital, but in the provinces, and, fantasizing, they outline for themselves houses where they would like to live and which they, it would seem, have just left in a kind of their parallel life …
The girl carries with her a book with the eloquent title “The Lost Horizon” and seeks to get out of the narrow framework in which her life is enclosed. When life has a perspective – for example, when you want to travel “in the heart of summer – where time has stopped and the hands of the clock always show noon“, then “the horizon line stretches far ahead, there, in infinity.” In an effort to escape from anxiety and a feeling of emptiness, she always looks for a new life, new acquaintances, “refuge”, and at times she briefly manages to find a “heady feeling of lightness“, and she is most happy in the very moment when she flees from somewhere. It all began with a movie theater stimulating the unattainable dreams with the expressive name “Mexico City”, after the sessions in which “Colored neon signs were just like in the movies: emerald green, dark blue, sandy yellow … The colors were too bright, and it seemed that you were on the other side of the screen, or in a dream …”
The guy who is her friend is obessed by the thought of a kind of the Eternal Return – “There are days when you don’t immediately remember what year you live in … Everything repeats itself. Identical days, nights, places, meetings ”, but after years he bitterly realizes: “Now here you will not meet the ghosts of the past – even they died … In this world … I more and more seemed to myself to be an accidental survivor.”
A miraculous story that took place in Venice – the Italian city wearable for legends.
Winter was in decline. Her more fortunate rival – Spring- was approaching, and this was felt both in the gentle gusts of wind, strengthening the smell of the Grand Canal waters; and in the first heat of sunlight; and in the excited cooing of pigeons; and in the slightly lighter clothes and in a slightly more relaxed pace of the walking of the street passers-by.
Merchants occupying Piazza Rialto, rejoiced at clear weather, promising good demand, and discussed the latest things of their households and neighbors. They were looking forward to the imminent arrival of the next boat with foreigners eager for Venetian beauties and trinkets.
The flow of people was moving between the market stalls, throwing out from time to time the next buyer – a connoisseur or a collector, or an idle onlooker, stopping at one or another stand that had goods.
A young girl, dressed safe but tasteful, who could be mistaken for a student in later times, slowed down hesitantly to stop near the stand with carnival masks. The girl started looking at the leather products in confusion, so embarrassed of her interest, as if choosing accessories to emphasize the shape of her female body. The blush of embarrassment made the young Venetian even more beautiful, and the owner of the goods could not help but admire her slender figure, glancing over it with pleasure.
The perky merchant started praising his goods in his usual manner, picking up one mask or another and turning it in different ways before the eyes of the girl. He tapped the mask with his fingers, demonstrating the wonderful properties of the leather treated with a special composition, and telling some special story. Repeating the masks were made in the best workshop of Venice according to the secrets of the old masters, the owner of this excellent product invited the seignorite to try on a particular model.
The girl whose name was Lucia listened to him, smiling absent-mindedly at her thoughts.
Every year, starting from the exciting time of growing up, she waited with special trembling for the beginning of the carnival week. The same thing was repeated this spring, although this particular year had some peculiarities.
It happened that dramatic changes occurred in the life of Lucia over the last year: Lucia found her love. That is why, from now on, everything her glance falls on reminds her of Marco and is connected to him through invisible threads. Everything that Lucia sees before herself should serve for her love for Marco. When meeting with Marco, Lucia tells him all the most interesting things she learned or saw, and his smile and approval serves as a reward for her. Lucia belongs to the kind of women who want to feel on a par with men in everything. Marco is pretty well-educated, and therefore she has to make a lot of efforts to keep him interested. Most in the world Lucia is afraid of boring him. Truth be told, she would like to share every minute of her life with him. She would like him to be always with her, but this is not yet possible. However, that is precisely the kind of changes occurred to Marco recently that make Lucia particularly sad…
At the carnival, Lucia will charm Marco, she only needs to choose the right mask for this. Lucia looked from the graceful feminine masks of Columbine to grotesque masks with hooked noses. And she averted her eyes in a fright from the huge beak on the Plague Doctor mask.
Perhaps she should choose something extravagant since only these kinds of things Marco might like. Wearing such as a mask and costume, Lucia will be emboldened and will forget happily about all the conventions. Lucia thought longingly about those ancient times when the Venetians put on masks whenever they did not want to be recognized.
Suddenly Lucia remembered her friend Bianca’s words. She told she saw masks with special holes in order to ensure possibility for kissing. So maybe Lucia should make love with Marco right in the mask… These thoughts made Lucia blush with shame. She immediately felt the secret longing in her lower abdomen, and this was not surprising since Lucia was extremely sensual, that was unmistakably felt by some men, making her even more embarrassed.
“Hey, Senorita! Are you going to buy anything? ” Although it was nice for a merchant to stare at a pretty girl, but trade is trade. In addition, he understood that such a girl was too tough for him.
“Thank you, senior. I will definitely buy a mask from you, but I will do it another time”.
“You should hurry up, because soon I will have nothing left! ”
Lucia started walking along the promenade.
Recently, Marco has become distant, cut himself off from Lucia. In earlier times, he had always met her with joyful excitement, but now it seemed to her that her visits only annoyed him. He had acquired the habit of locking himself for a long time in his cabinet, where she was not allowed to enter. Lucia feels strange smells coming from the cabinet, and uneducated people would call theese strange smells devilish. Sometimes Lucia finds incomprehensible allegorical drawings in his house, that look most like medieval miniatures. These drawings depict female and male figures in magnificent ancient clothes, standing in unnatural poses with obscure objects in their hands.
Whenever Lucia tells Marco he has changed, he replies he has always been like this, but she just did not want to notice it. Sometimes it occurred to Lucia she had caused only a temporary flash of feelings in Marco, one moment of madness, and now his life is returning to normal, and there is no place for her – Lucia – in his life anymore.
“Do you have another woman?” One day Lucia could not stand it and asked a straight question.
Marco was off his face in response. He throwed an absent-minded sight on her and went into his head. Some conflicting feelings seemed to catch up with him. Lucia already regretted asking this question since she was too afraid to hear the truth. Her temples throbbed anxiously, and the time seemed to stop. The girl wanted to run away, just not to hear the insulting truth.
After all, if the word is spoken, it means that there is no return back to ignorance.
Having hardly found the strength to look up at Marco, Lucia was amazed: he was twisting into convulsions of laughter now.
“Oh, yes … I really have a woman. This is such a special woman … “
Lucia was supposed to be upset, but Marco laughed so contagiously that she barely kept from smiling. Therefore, the girl only frowned dramatically, getting the severe look on her face – in her opinion, that was the proper way to listen to such a confession. – “Lucia, don”t be jealous … I assure you she is terribly old…”
The smile disappeared from Marco’s face, and watching him, Lucia even went cold with fear – strong passions appeared on his face too sharply. It turns out that she does not know him – her lover – at all! Marco stood up abruptly from his chair and began pacing around the room, with his hands in the pockets of his silk robe.
“Do you know what they usually say about her? She has deceived and deprived the strength and life of all those who were fascinated by her. And she has left nothing in return, although she was given everything.”
Lucia got angry. Yet he can tell her about some promiscuous woman. Which, moreover, is much older than him. Of course, she – young and inexperienced Lucia – cannot compete with such a rival. Not for nothing that Bianca told her that men are used to chase after frivolous women being not squeamish about middle-aged harlots.
And then Lucia had a sudden shock of recognition. “Tell me one thing: is she rich?”
Her thoughts were mixed up. She almost asked: is she the one who givies you expensive old manuscripts?
Marco, who was drinking wine from a glass at that time, started coughing, as if having choked on something.
“You guessed it: she really can make me incredibly rich. And even more…she really can do my life gold”, and Marco laughed a strange laugh, again turning into a cough.
Overwhelmed by strong feelings, Marco looked at Lucia, and his passion changed direction: he wanted to take possession of the girl. But Lucia, too excited about everything that happened, did not find anything better than to run out of the apartment…
At first, Lucia could not understand why her eyes rested on an unremarkable market stall. The table was littered with various books in covers with big names. A good half of the books were devoted to Casanova”s adventures, and the second – to the description of incredible stories that happened to Marco Polo. When looking at the word “Marco” repeated on the covers of books, Lucia experienced a mixture of sweet pain and delight – this was another thread invisibly connecting her with her lover.
Of course, it was no wonder to meet such a name in the city, which is patronized by St. Mark. However, Lucia did not look at the book cover about the Venetian traveler. Instead, she looked at the colored miniature that she had previously seen at Marco’s house: two horsemen were fighting each other hiding behind shields. A knight with a sun instead of a head sat on a white lion, and his rival was a naked woman with a head in the form of a moon disk.
“Сan I get you anything?” the unpleasant croaking voice of the old merchant came on. and Lucia looked up at him.
Later she tried to remember what she felt at that moment. An incredible force coming from the merchant was so palpable that there was no way to resist it. Lucia recalled that gypsies have a similar strength of attraction. Mindful of the stories about this kind of people, she got scared. She was afraid she would be forced to buy something irrelevant or might have lost the contents of her wallet.
Meanwhile, leaning towards her, the merchant whispered in her ear, “I know what you need: you were interested in this funny picture, and you could not pass by”.
In response, Lucia could not bring herself to say anything.
In the meantime, the old man continued, “You come with me, and I will show you a lot of the stuff like this”.
Having appeared like that out of the ground, an enigmatic tall man in a leather vest came up near them.
“Thanks for replacing me, Giacomo. Now I’m already back”, he said addressing the old man, casually glancing at the girl and coming to the stand with books. “I see you are not wasting your time here”, he grinned good-naturedly and then added something else in foreign tongue that was unfamiliar to Lucia. The two men laughed.
If Lucia were not affected by a kind of Giacomo magnetism, then she would immediately blush, and perhaps she even would have tried to run away. But a certain magnetic force held her near Giacomo. She had no reason to fear him; and at the same time, the old man could shed some light on Marco’s strange passions, she reasoned.
“Let’s go soon to my place, otherwise the my liquid gold will wear off and you will change your mind,” Giacomo muttered with anxiety.
Lucia was amazed and decided to remember the unusual phrase.
After taking a few steps, the old man stopped near a column crowned with a bronze statue of a winged lion.
“You should look here, and then your beautiful legs will not get tired of the long journey”, he pointed to the statue of a strong animal, resting on an open book with his paw … Looking at the sculpture, Lucia felt that her legs gave way. And the next second, she was already looking at a completely different lion – this time it was a wooden lion covered in cracked paint. This lion adorned one of the huge gondolas that was standing by the pier.
The girl looked around and gasped: they turned out to be near the Arsenal on the very edge of the city. Giacomo led her straight to an abandoned house.
Upon hearing the noise, a sleepy owner of the house in a nightcap walked out to them.
“You are hanging around again, as you always do”, he grumbled and wandered back to one of the unlit rooms. One could hear him flopping onto the bed and sniffling right away.
“One day I tried my liquid gold on him in a hurry. Most likely, I made a mistake in the proportions. As a result the poor man doesn’t know the difference between night and day, but he no longer requires me to pay for housing”, Giacomo explained smugly as they climbed up the stairs eaten of worms.
They ended up in the cabinet. Lucia seemed to find herself in a time a few centuries ago. The cabinet was filled with utensils for chemical reactions, scales, globes, hourglass, littered with ancient books.
On the wall, Lucia saw portraits of pundits against still the same globes, compasses and books. Lucia imagined their faces looked a lot like Giacomo’s face.
In one of the paintings, three figures were depicted. Dressed in clothes of the last century, these gentlemen heated chemical vessels on fire, carefully observing the result. Lucia knew the artist’s brush – it was her beloved Pietro Longa.
“Why am I here?” Lucia thought in a flash from time to time. “I came here for Marco’s benefit”, she answered herself.
Giacomo sat the girl down in an easy chair and brought her a cup filled with some kind of liquid. Forged out of the precautions, hungry and extremely excited, Lucia immediately tasted the drink. She immediately felt calm.
Meanwhile, Giacomo took off his raincoat, put on a bathrobe and sat opposite the girl in such a way as to be able to sneak a look at her. He filled the tube with some kind of powder and took a puff. Lucia felt a pinching in her eyes due to acrid smoke.
“One more girl who was traded away for such a picture,” the old man breathed a sigh sadly, nodding at a miniature with a picture of a snake devouring its own tail.
“How is that possible? What do you mean?” Lucia almost got violent. Most of all she was offended by the words that she was not the only one girl who found herself in such a situation.
“Be patient, and I’ll explain everything to you,” said Giacomo, blowing smoke puffs. “By the way, here you are, if you want, they are almost as old as me, but over time they do not dry up, but only become tastier. And the local worm doesn”t eat them”, he picked up a plate of pine nuts from somewhere off the floor and put it on the table in front of Lucia.
“I have been living in the world for a long time – usually people don”t live for such a long time. Therefore, I am reasoning about high matters rational and cynically. In addition, liquid gold also helps me in this – it gives clarity to the mind and… hardness to my members, – with these last words Giacomo grinned and moved a little closer to Lucia.
“Tell me, finally, about all these pictures and about liquid gold”, Lucia asked almost plaintively. It was high time for her to think about whether it was too late already and how she would get home, but at first she certainly wanted to know about the mysterious life of her lover.
Soon her curiosity was rewarded. She learned, for example, that the figures she had seen in miniature in Marco”s apartment meant mercury and sulfur – masculine and feminine. These substances are entering into marriage, while creating a cherished alchemical elixir.
Giacomo brought Lucia towards the retort and explained that the healing of metals occurs there and as a result, the metals are cured of spoilage and turning into gold.
Lucia seemed to doze off, and when she woke up, she found herself lying in bed.
” I’ve covered you with a rug because you were trembling”, she heard Giacomo’s voice from the next room.
From that day on, Lucia’s life changed. Now, coming to Marco, she was knowledgeably interested in his successes in alchemy. Marco was surprised by the awareness of his passionate girlfriend in an enjoyable way. They had a pretty heated discussion about his last steps in mixing and evaporating substances. Usually after these alchemical conversations, Marco became so excited that the lovers ended up in bed. Lucia was overjoyed about this.
But at the same time, Lucia could not do without Giacomo: she needed to come up with some new topics for conversations with Marco. She has already realized her lover appreciates her precisely for her deep knowledge in alchemy.
Each time she wanted to visit old Giacomo, she stopped near one of the city”s many winged lions, narrowed her eyes and soon she found herself near the abandoned house.
Lucia was so full of love these days that she was ready to caress even the old Giacomo. And he invariably poured some sort of drink for her and told her his tales about red and green lions and the black dragon. After drinking, Lucia forgot herself, and then she found herself under a rug in a warm bed.
Having learned a little to disassemble the alchemical allegories in engravings and miniatures, Lucia experienced disappointment and emptiness. The alchemical structure of the world could not be understood with the help of conventional logic. These pictures with an abundance of characters, colored by the perverted imagination of artists, frightened the girl. For that matter, she was much more attracted to grimaces and elaborate mask poses in the carnival crowd.
On the first day of the carnival, Lucia went to a coffee shop to have a chat with Bianca.
“So did you managed to persuade Marco to go with you to the carnival?” Bianca asked her.
Lucia did not know what to answer. In truth, Marco flatly refused to leave the house, especially on such an insignificant occasion as the carnival.
“I hope he will come … He is so extravagant and loves to surprise me”, Lucia said with a slightly fake intonation. ” Perhaps he will come to make a surprise for me.”
In response, Bianca just shook her head thoughtfully.
At that very moment, the girls heard the sounds of a passing carnival procession and ran out into the street. Wearing masks of colombines, they merged with the crowd in the dance of spring and love. Soon Lucia was carried away by a gentleman dressed as a Harlequin.He was about the size of Marco, and Lucia perked up.
Having heard the cry of Bianca, Lucia turned around and immediately lost sight of her Harlequin. “Where is he now and with whom?” – she thought longingly. Her mood darkened so much that she barely got out of the crowd and wandered house.
The day came when Lucia realized a kind of new life was growing inside her.
This day began unusually since the carrier pigeon came in through the window of her room.
Lucia immediately remembered the paper dove Colombine,that has been launched from the bell tower every year at the beginning of the carnival. All the previous years, Lucia always was standing in the main square of the city. in a crowd of onlookers and was watching passionately the rain of confetti scattering. But this year she missed the show. After thinking about it, she got upset.
On the foot of the carrier pigeon, Lucia found a note from Giacomo. He asked her to come earlier today, as he would be very busy in the evening and would not be able to tell her about alchemy.
Having cleaned herself up and having breakfast, Lucia was magically transported to Giacomo in the usual manner.
She found him standing facing the window. Without even turning to her, he said, “Today you will know important news. Very important news … The divine spirit has generated the novel substance”.
He put on his hat and left the room without even glancing at Lucia.
In amazement, Lucia remained standing in the middle of the cabinet, frozen. When she came to her senses, she looked around and took mechanically several sheets of paper from Giacomo’s table, intending to show it to Marco.
However, it was still too early to go to Marco since he did not like her bothering him during the day time, therefore Lucia wandered the streets of the city, thinking about the matter common to every woman. She wondered if it was time for her period to come. The number of days while her underwear was spotless suddenly seemed incredibly large to her. She counted again, but there could be no mistake. The girl immediately recalled with concern all the cases of her recent feeling sick, and realized a new life was born inside her.
Lucia could not understand whether to laugh or cry. She was overwhelmed with сomplex feelings. Of course, it had to happen sooner or later since although Marco was an amazing lover in her inexperienced view, and he always took responsibility for preservation, but sometimes he could be misfiring.
At the same time, she could not imagine what would happen to her next and how her life would change. Her heart was sinking anxiously at the thought of this uncertainty.
This important conversation with Marco Lucia decided to start obliquely. To begin with, she handed him coquettishly the sheets of paper from Giacomo’s desk. Marco grabbed them greedily, but soon, to her surprise, he became furious: “What are you giving me? What is it? ”
“But do you not see? These are formulas and notes”, Lucia answered in confusion. –
“Thank God, I know German and I can always tell it’s great Paracelsus by the manner he writes. And here, on this lousy little piece of paper, the words of Paracelsus are copied. By the way, I have already read them once before. He writes about growing homunculus. You should read this: he suggests placing sperm in horse dung… Rest assured, I can find a better application for my semen”, he said between gritted teeth.
Lucia tried to approach him, but he seemed not to notice this, continuing his speeches.
“Why do I need a homunculus? If you must know, I do not share these crazy ideas. I only need to learn how to get gold. I have a very mundane nature, as you might understand”.
“But listen to me, it’s not my fault… I don”t even know what this homunculus is”, Lucia babbled helplessly.
“This is a being born in a test tube … Think about it: why would I need him? What can I do with him? Unless I can sell him to the carnival jesters … ”
“But a new life is something so amazing anyway! ”
“Remember: I only need gold. And… you know what … Don”t come to me anymore”, Marco said , trying not to look at her.
The cabinet door was shut.
Lucia wanted to share her pain only with Giacomo. Bianca was not fit to be a listener, since having being talking to Bianca, Lucia was always eager to show Marco is loving her madly. Therefore, now she did not want to look like a loser in the eyes of her friend.
Finding herself in front of Giacomo”s house, she first took notice on the door sign. It said “Giacomo Girolamo Casanova”. “That’s amazing”, – she had an idea, as she was sure this door sign was not there before.
Lucia knocked for a long time for someone to open the door. Finally the sleepy owner of the house appeared.
“The gentleman from upstairs has left and will never return,” he mumbled and bolted the door.
Being stunned, Lucia thought about the vicissitudes of fate.
Now a child lives inside her. Lucia did not know for sure whose child this was.
Giacomo loved her as she was. And Marco loved only alchemy. Therefore, his child could only be a homunculus – an artificial being from a test tube.
On reflection, Lucia decided that the baby might be from Giacomo.
“Only carnival voluptuousness is able to cure melancholy”, Lucia thought.
Having thrown off fatigue, she ran toward the carnival crowd. Lucia was sure
Harlequin would appear near her very soon. Harlequin, indeed, was not slow to come. This time, Lucia saw her companion was not like Marco at all.
He took Lucia’s hand ceremoniously and began to drag her somewhere through the crowd. Everyone stepped aside to let them pass. They ended up in a space with seats – Lucia did not even think earlier that such seats were provided for someone at the carnival. Lucia was seated in the most central box, and Harlequin sat next to her. All the eyes were fixed on them. Everyone Lucia saw now looked not like the diverse crowd of carnival, but like people in the court suite clothes.
Wonderful music sounded, and Lucia realized it is here and now that the most important event in the entire history of the world is taking place. A whole procession, moving slowly in a trance, brought a huge picture depicting a golden baby to the stage. All those present except Harlequin servilely prostrated themselves, muttering phrases in an incomprehensible language.
Taking his bows, a man in a page robe approached Lucia and handed the precious crown to her servilely, lying on the velvet pillow. Lucia acted on a hunch. Under the encouraging smile of Harlequin, she put on this unusual headdress. The pair crown was handed to Harlequin.
Harlequin again took Lucia’s hand with respectful trepidation, and they went to the center of the platform. The solemn music started, and Lucia was amazed to see a certain glow around her and Harlequin.
Several perky artists, having made their way to the stage with the help of elbows, hastily painted everything they saw to sell such drawings for big money after that. The images depicted in these drawings looked exactly like the Alchemical wedding. Lucia realized she had become the Queen and Harlequin had become the King.
… However, Lucia could not say for sure whether it all really happened or all these pictures just flashed before her mind when she stumbled during a carnival dance and lost consciousness for a while.