Adrian Torney. That’s what people called him when he stood silhouetted against the sanguine streaks and gashes of the setting sky. He never knew the sun, but he knew the sky. And against this incarnadine canvas he stood like a crucifix – leptodactylous hands spread out and a smile on his face. From such a world he had to be extracted with the words “Adrian Torney”.
He tried to catch the silk of noisy evening sea breeze between his thumb and ring finger. He smiled as it escaped once more. What was it like? He laughed as it pushed his long hair into his mouth. He blew it back into the face of the breeze and they played a game of reversed tug-o-war. The sky warmed his frivolous mouth and he drank in the warmth and felt it spread down his throat and out of it into his arms and mid-riff. It pushed against his skin as the breeze pushed it back in. And suddenly he wasn’t there… a vortex of parry and thrust between breeze and warmth and joy and excitement… He felt his hair stand on end and the breeze tickled itself against the soft down of his arms. And he laughed. And it laughed. And the warm laughter in him rang out. He tried to catch it again. This time it let him hold on for a little while longer before it slipped out.
What was it like?
The memory of a butterfly wing against his cheek?
Still waters gurgling against his finger tips?
Palpable song of the lark?
Or was it more like how Jasmine asked, “Will you wait for me?”
He laughed as the breeze hid behind his arms and peeped at the plump, stern lady rolling down the lawn to where he stood.
“Ms. Winslower. Do join me in my merriment! Shall I assure them that you are a friend?”
“You mock at me, Adrian. There isn’t anyone around.”
“Tell me, Ms. Winslower, what colour is it today?”
She rolled her eyes and replied, “Why do you play such games with me?”
“I am told white is peaceful and pure and ever absorbing… Is today white?” and before she could reply, he continued, “And I am told that pink is given to wanton abandon… much like Jasmine… so is today white with a generous helping of pink?”
“Jasmine? You still think of her? You do know Adrian…”
“That she is the help’s daughter, and it doesn’t befit the master’s son to mollycoddle the help’s daughter.”
“Urmmm… yes” though she had no idea what mollycoddle was.
“Ms. Winslower you are so much of this world.”
“Your mother would disapprove of such conduct!”
“My mother has a longer list of things she disapproves of than she would nod her head to. Why she doesn’t like you wearing your hair loose in the house.”
“And I do it up in a bun now.”
“Well, your hair is up for the highest bidder.”
Silence lay between them like night does between day and the nightingale’s early morning song.
“I am sorry. I didn’t…”
“It is fine for you to say that Master Torney” she said in a voice which revealed the tone of arrived humiliation.
“I miss the smell of your hair perfume, Ms. Winslower.”
“Everyone has to do something which we don’t like in a life we try to like.”
“Jasmine? No, Ms. Winslower, let’s spare her. Now, let us drop this matter and tell me the colour of today. Please Erica!”
“Adrian, the colour is mostly orange and red, and then there is a touch…”
“You are so much of this world, Ms. Winslower. It must be white and pink and some ruddy shouts and purple punches.”
“Hmmm. I think you are right. It does seem to be those colours. Now can we get back in before you catch a chill?”
“I think we can, once I kiss the world.”
Ms. Winslower laughed a little and said, “You really aren’t made for this world, Adrian.”
“And you are definitely of this world.”
He shut his eyes and let the wind and the dying warmth play with him, before he stepped down from the rock and trudged towards Erica.
“Urmmm… You forgot your cane, Adrian.”
Adrian stopped in his tracks and stared vacantly through her.
“Thank you, I would need it in this world, at least till I return to mine.”
And as they walked slowly towards the mansion the breeze skipped and danced to the taps of his cane ahead.
“Will you wait for me?”
“Did you hear that Erica?” Adrian shouted and spun around and around trying to find something he held deep in his heart.
“Hear what, Adrian? Just the breeze…”
Adrian smiled and ran his hand through the trustworthy red and guiding white of his cane.
“You surely are of this world.”
A reader might be interested in this earlier post which contains surplus typos!