VICTOR CELMAR: Chapter Two, The Setup

tom

 

The opinions expressed in this story do not necessarily reflect those of the author.

“I’m tempted to make something up,” Victor began, “but I don’t have the energy. Besides, this is probably my “Swan Song”. You won’t hold it against me if I tell the story I want to tell, and tell it the way I want to, instead of something concocted to please you?”

The child shook her head.

“All right, then I’ll tell you the story of my life, right up until I die. You’ll forgive me if I don’t remember everything, but I’ll try to tell it as accurately as I can. Oh! Before I begin, why don’t you sit down?”

The child walked over to a chair that was next to the bed. It was velvet, light blue, and very large with flowers embroidered in navy thread. The child wore a dark green satin dress that went well with the chair. Victor noticed this, and smiled a little. She sat with her hands folded in her lap, her ankles crossed. Victor smiled widely now, as he had taught her to sit like that.

“As you’re probably aware, I grew up here, on the estate, and can’t say I’ve ever left it. My mother died giving birth to me, despite being guided through the birthing process by four of the best doctors and three of the best midwives in the country. I’ve heard she was sickly throughout her life, though, which may have been a contributing factor in her death. I inherited my sickliness from her. My father was distant and cold to me up until his death, which occurred when I was eleven (we’ll get to that later).

“I grew up in great luxury, as you can tell. This room may not look like a nursery to you, but childish things like toys were never of any interest to me, and no one provided me with them anyway. There was the annual toy I received on birthdays from my father, but those have stayed locked up in some cabinet in the house because I never used them. By my sixth birthday, my father realized that I didn’t use the toys and gave me a sketchbook and pencils instead. I was very pleased with those.

“It’s worth mentioning that I never really liked doing my lessons. Latin was a bore, and a dead language anyway; how interesting can linguistic roadkill be? (Of course, I used to love to draw the dead animals I found in the drive leading up to the house. I have a few in various stages of decay in my sketchbooks). Mathematics is devoid of meaning, just a series of puzzles with no inner truth to them whatsoever, and, furthermore, of absolutely no use to me. History is a chronological series of facts analyzed in a way that casts the current leaders of the world (whose ancestors were the winners of ancient wars) in a more flattering light. Grammar is nothing but useless rules meant to limit the expressive capacity of language. Literature is a bunch of dry stories that provide me with none of the spiritual experiences or realizations my tutor always told me I should have. Music should be left to those with steady hands; I shake too much, and it isn’t my place to turn a beautiful composition into the final shrieks of a dying cat.

“The only two appealing subjects that I had any proficiency in were drawing and painting. My hand took on a confidence when putting a pencil to paper, or a paintbrush to canvas, and besides, what could be more noble than a visual reconstruction of nature? Anyone who can’t detect the subtle changes and relationships between values and colors in the world is having a truncated life experience. Of course, there is always frustration and anger when working on a drawing or painting, but it’s worth the ultimate greater capacity one has for visually interpreting realit-” Here Victor stopped and started hacking uncontrollably. The child rushed to get him water. He drank sloppily and gave the glass back to her, took a deep breath, and continued.