July 21st, 1848

Diary Dearest,

It has been a most undesirable month, I should have to say. My days have continually melded to a coherent and boring structure: I have had neither entertainment in anything nor enjoyed that unparalleled excitement of living that so frequently characterized my more youthful years. I fear I am becoming an old man, I am joining the ranks of those whose feeble bodies and cautious strides I once mocked, once laughed jeeringly at in my more vain years. I suppose it is always so with the young: they think themselves all-knowing and all-powerful; ah, the delusions of youth. Delusions, I dare say, that are swiftly and rightly beaten out of them in time, though sooner for some than others. I was not as fortunate as to have my imagined greatness deconstructed in my teenage years, and have carried them with me until I had grown to twenty-and-some years of age. But, as it seldom fails to do, time caught up to me, and upon its arrival my edifice of grandeur was demolished, leaving me with a clear vision of my own self and the world around me which I had so vainly inhabited. Truly, I cannot say I am an avid admirer of the month that has passed, but as they say, there is redemption yet.

Today, on a day I would have otherwise deemed inauspicious and unbecoming, and comprising in its width a considerable ration of boredom, I was approached with a proposition; one thoroughly fitting and most delightful, I promptly contended, after agreeing to what was asked of me in a manner I can only describe as being of extreme interest, acceptance and excitement. It was a man who approached me with the idea, and through his mustached lips poured forth words of colossal integrity. I was bidden by him, a literary connoisseur of some considerable stature and expertise, to undertake one of his tasks in his stead, for he thought it most appropriate (and I could not but agree). He asked of me that I provide a synopsis of my latest and yet unpublished literary work, as well as provide some information concerning my early and more obscure years, to help him in writing my biography. It is true, accounts of my younger years –those before I rose to prominence and into the view of the public eye– are scarce and all but entirely absent. So, after serving the man a cup of tea (lightly sweetened for he thoroughly disliked the over-sweet), and considering his proposition for some time, I agreed and he was on his way before finally stating that he would visit once more in a week’s time, to collect the written aid.

I shall make haste in writing this, for at the mere thought of penning this chronicle my metaphorical writing-mouth waters wetly and heavily. Tomorrow I shall write it, and in this journal entry I shall write a brief overview that I may not forget any of the details my mind bears presently. I shall write the man a detailed account –as the connoisseur himself asked– and the synopsis of my work, The Man with the Rose Garden, shall follow. I have come to harbor a morbid fear of forgetfulness in my old age, and this is but a measure to calm my screaming worry that I might forget the details of my own life. Truly, it is not easy being old, still less easy being paranoid about it.

Of my childhood I remember very little. Indeed, of the years until I turned ten, I have but a few indistinct memories; these have ever since become increasingly pale and hazy, indistinct as only memories of childhood can be. I was born to a fisherman husband and a homemaker wife, and for all purposes my lineage was not any source of pride, and among the children of the fishers’ village I was mocked aplenty, for my father had not been the best of the village’s fishermen – indeed, he had likely been the worst, and his produce of ensnared fish had been humble, too humble to feed my mother and me regularly, much less be sold sustain a household; but where my father lacked, my mother exceled. My mother was beautiful, truly the image of both womanly and motherly splendor and greatness. She had been married to him, my father, on account of her father being a nasty drunk who sought to free himself of having to clothe and feed his only daughter that he may have more coin to –forgive my crass wording– piss away on drink. I have always thought that my mother, were the circumstance different, would have married a prince, or someone of similar stature and height.

My younger years were insignificant, and perhaps only what is worth noting of them is that during them my literary inclinations had not shown the slightest presence, and I thought myself as much a writer as king or mighty trader – it needs no saying, of course, that I was neither royal nor particularly rich.

My teenage years were more of the same, with the exception of my heart heating and pounding a hole in my chest over the image of many a fair maiden. I found myself enamored with many a young girl, and in that respect I think I was much a typical boy. By then, like most of my friends, I spent my days raising the hackles of my elders, favouring boyish instincts over maturity, and generally engaging in all manner of mischief. In that, too, I had embraced conformity. It begs mentioning that during those years my mother passed, by then I had scarcely turned sixteen, and after that there was no more mischief, and none of the village girls received the least of my attention, and I felt wronged in a way most unforgivable – wronged by life, chiefly, but also by my father: in his exceptional foolishness (such are ingrate wretches), he had not deigned to treat my mother as should be in her living years, as I treated her. My anger at him, and at the circumstances in which I found myself, grew so insurmountable that I finally decided, after much inner debate and deliberation, to leave my home.

I ran and ran, longer than I thought I could and farther than I ever thought I would lay eyes on in my lifetime, much less at the tender age of seventeen. I survived primarily on the kindness of strangers who fed me along the way (doubtless moved to do so by my pitiable nature), but instrumental, too, to my journey’s success was a few albeit key instances of theft. I thieved rarely, though, and took to care to steal only what the house concerned seemed to have in abundance, so that a minor reduction of their supply of beans, bread, cheese, water, vegetables and –once– meat, was not affected a great deal. I thought that very altruistic and commendable on my part.

Eventually and after exceeding hardship, I arrived at the City gates. To a fisher’s boy like me, it had been a sight unmatched, and for my first few hours inside it I walked its streets with what surely must have been a look of  marveling. It was so big and the markets and streets so busy, and not only was I fortunate to witness them, I was further fortunate to find work within a small window of my arrival: a blacksmith whose son had recently died of disease was in need of a young man with whom to work, who would help with matters of the job, and I was offered the blacksmith’s son’s place. He had called out to me as I blithely walked under his awning and offered me the job, saying that I looked like his passed son: tall, straight-backed, sinewed in arm, leg and shoulder, and not without a handsome face. “You’re not like the city boys,” he told me. “They couldn’t lift a slab of steel if you promised them a mansion and the fairest maiden in the lands. They couldn’t life one to save their lives!” He grabbed my arm in hands grown strong and deft. “No, you’re different, you’re like my Ahmos. He was like you. You have an arm on you, yes you do.” My being a brawny village boy had finally brought some good. I gratefully accepted the job, and for the years to come I had coin in my pocket, food in my belly, and a blacksmith father who cared for me. I made no attempt to contact my fisherman father, and to this day his whereabouts and condition remain a mystery to me – though it is likely he has passed like my mother, for it has been a great while since I parted from him.

My blacksmith father saw to it that I be taught to write and read, even do the sums (though with that I had much difficulty), but such a prodigious learner was I that soon I started writing my own literary work, much to the awe, pleasure, and admiration of my instructors. My first novel-length work, completed at the age of twenty, was The Day Horus Went Blind, a moving tale imbued with a fair measure of mythology – Horus, the Ancient Egyptian God frequently portrayed in the image an eye, and his going blind, was a metaphor I employed to pertinent effect, comparing the ungrateful nature of those lucky and fortunate to the blind. It was, by my present standards, a modest success, but one that delighted my young self like nothing other.

The Spring of My Life was my second offering, and was mainly a byproduct of falling irredeemably in love with a woman who I have since taken to wife, and who upon seeing reminded me strikingly of my long-dead mother (although whether the similarity was real or imagined I do not know). Never the less, I had come to love Sara, and wanted nothing other than to continue to love her for as long as I breathed upon this earth. To this day, I can name no greater joy than that of the day she professed that she loved me as much as I did her. A novel whose author could not have been more love-struck, The Spring performed remarkably well, perhaps because by then I had honed my skill well, but as I like to think of it, its success with the readership was a testament to my great love being true.

I would have this journal entry be longer, I would, but I grow weary and the day has been a long one. I shall retire to my chambers and continue in the morning. I note that I fall to sleep much earlier now, and that is nothing short of another reminder that I have grown weak of body and mind. Until tomorrow, then …

 _

To be continued. Maybe.

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2 comments

  1. Why Gregory McGuire, I don’t know if I should be flattered that I left such a grave impression or sue for plagiarism of the outlines of my recent plot when I’m still very much alive. lol.

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