IN THE EYES OF A STRANGER
by Arthur Meiselman
Novel and Screenplay
(... ) There is a sadness that floats on the sea in the afternoon. It has always seemed that way to me. No matter how bright and warm, as the sun tires and drifts
downward , a lingering stillness, quiet, a hesitation before the long fall into darkness. Even the horizon no longer shimmers; the dance of blue and yellow becomes a slow glide along the water's edge. Sounds blend. The salt-smells
hang without any apparent change. Every thing is poised. A sadness - perhaps it's me - a loneliness as I sit on the cliff-rim rocks almost breathless. I feel - transparent. I feel - invisible.
It's only at moments like this
that I can hear my own voice. It hasn't happened often during the past year since I came to this nameless, little town on the coast. No, not a town, a settlement. A few farmers, a few shops but without community and thankfully without
any conversation. What would I say, what would we talk about? Yet there is a comfort in this place with its layer of dust and string of storms that burst out of the sea. The small house I found sits clumsily on the side of a hill as if the
wind had left it there, a tree without roots. I have no sense of the history of this simple house in which I spend so much of my time. I have no picture of who built it, who lived here before me, the loves and births and deaths. It's
as if the house had been vacant for so long before I came that its memories have faded and its mementos reduced to scratches and nicks and blurred stains in the floor.
Once, when I pulled some bricks out of the fireplace in an
attempt to clear the chimney and stop its nagging smoke, I found the half-charred remains of a packet of letters wedged together with an old magazine. Here was a diary, a record of some other time, a bit of history to orient my role in the
dwelling and its geography. It mystified me like an archaeologist who digs out glyph-laden pieces of stone only to find the writing veiled and unintelligible. The words were gibberish to me, disconnected meanings that I couldn't or
wouldn't comprehend. So I used the papers to light a now friendly, smoke-free fire. And I felt satisfied, relieved.
A year without conversation, without hearing him speak to any one except in a clipped, informational sort of
way. And the others? They have nothing to say to me anymore because I can't hear them, and they believe that he no longer listens to anyone but himself. That's true. I remember Evie once said: "You never speak to me. You
only talk to yourself and let me listen." Sweet Evie, I wasn't talking to myself, I was talking through you, searching for a listener, hoping that even you might find a reflective surface in that soft, pliant body
of yours to catch my words, to hear me. She absorbed, drank everything in, reflected nothing. I loved her beauty, as I saw it, and her soft willingness to follow me, to dance to my rhythm, to stop when I stopped. But in her eyes, I
saw only her. When we made love and afterwards with our faces pressed together, I saw only her in her eyes. And at the end, she watched me disappear like fading light. Evie.
The days are made of light: bright and dark, black and
white, blue and yellow. Days roll into days, a luxury that allows me to wander at will, along the cliff, often among the cracks and tiny caves of the hillside. At night, the wind snakes over the cliff and twists itself around the house in
a reassuring embrace. The ocean wind is king; it owns the land and it is relentless. It smothers all talk. And when I no longer can hear his voice or feel his presence, I write. I don't know for whom; I don't know who will read any
of this. It's a strange feeling to write for no one. All of my life, my reluctant professional life, the market, the audience appeared first and waited for me to fit the words to their desires. Now I write to capture images, to bring
into focus events and memories that, once down on paper, exist without the need to be read. In this way I want to see them again: Hoving, Evie, Jouard, all of them. Jouard would say that I was succumbing to my need to confess. He had a way
of making you feel as if he had uncovered an embarrassing secret just inside your head. No. There is nothing to confess. There is a only a need - to write it down. ( ...)