Thursday, November 19, 2015


The roseleaves flutter, pouring his hands, face, clothes, the roseleaves cover all around him. Rosy, white, crimson,  they
He feels like catching them, feeling their queer tenderness on his skin, fluttering and whirling along with them, throwing them up -- as though it all will be always. As though it all was always. As though the whole world was made for him, and he for the world. And the world goes round whirlling along with him.
‘Porphyro! Do you like the flowers?’ Running out of the spectral rain of the fragrant roseleaves, he felt like taking a hand of a stranger in his to feel a glow and realize impossibility to understand. ‘They are beautiful, aren’t they?’
‘Yes, Lysander, the flowers of your mother are beautiful.’
‘But they are not hers! They are the world’s. They are yours. And mine.’ A touch to the face -- he runs with fingers over the cheek, plays the hair, takes the hand in his. ‘Come along, Porphyro, I’ll show you they are ours.’
At rare moments like this, Porphyro’s brown eyes become a teeny bit warmer, a teeny bit closer, and Lysander believes that another moment Porphyro comes to believe that the flowers are theirs. And the sky is theirs. And the world is theirs. And they are the world’s, and not the Empress Flavia’s, despite she is the Empire itself.
‘Porphyro, do you think I can endear anybody?’
‘I think yes, Lysander.’
‘If I’ll be able to escape from the Empress? If I’ll be able to save myself to remain for ever one?’
‘You will, if you wish.’ 
‘Will I be happy with the one who I endear? With the one who will endear me?’
‘Yes, Lysander, it will be so.’ 
Another touch to the cheek. ‘Thank you, Porphyro. Thank you for your belief…
A heap of leaves flatly flies about
between those who feel certain
that they know a truth about me.
Through the foliage…’
Lysander disregarded the words, which Favorinus addressed to him lately. The man’s chief claim to fame was his awesome oracles. The men like Favorinus did not live long. Lysander disregarded his cousins’ laughter, and he noticed neither the surprised-contemptuous eyes of the courtiers nor the puzzled talks of the tutors. He merely saw the light. On the night. In his own eyes. In the eyes of others, if the light was there. But the light was not there largely. There was only emptiness, odd, compelling, which was not within him. Was that not enough? 
Everyone around him talked of something. Cornelius Fronto with his ornate style (Lysander had nearly forgotten those names: Ulpii, Aelii) and everyone was perturbed about the same delicate circumstance; everyone would like to find that little boy sooner than the Emperor would do it. But nothing had changed to Lysander, unless his birthday crept up to, every month, every day, every minute. Lysander was looking at himself in a mirror and he understood more and more clearly: soon he would be no more. And nobody would have time to endear him. And he would not have time to endear anybody. Everything at the damned ceremony would be smashed to smithereens -- and he would be no more. But the story of the Aelii gave him a chance to escape, survive, remain for ever one -- to be alive. Lysander should seize the chance. As soon as the hunt for the young Aurelius had begun, Lysander and Porphyro escaped from the Palace. But only Lysander knew that they escaped. For the Empress, they just departed to Baiae. The chance should be seized -- and this instant he might remember of it no longer, putting it out of his head, going on living to see the light…
Today he again, as it used to be long ago, feels free. He has done something, and the damnation has quieted down. Again he does not know what he has ahead of him, he does not know his tomorrow. That’s great. True, the uncertainty is an extraordinary feeling. It’s like some cold somewhere deep in one’s heart, the cold of a beginning panic. But he felt able to manage with it. He knows: a wind is with him again, which is so good. Let the stone jungles of the Great City be around him, but his old friend is with him again. The dark-haired, statuesque boy, he has come, he has responded to Lysander’s call. Both of them know the sense of freedom, the sense of absolute danger, when they must draw up, ready to do anything, when red flags and loud cries of hunters could be beyond the next hill. Let it be. He’s ready today. As for in the future – all’s on the scales of the Fates. May his scale outweigh.

the end of the excerpt
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