Tesauro: Part One

There was a thoughtful hesitation. The pen jerked across the page and black lines curled to form the word ‘insanity.’ He stared thoughtfully at them, as if stunned by what they made. The question of ‘Insanity?’ echoed in his mind, until he could bear to look no more; instead dark eyes like coals stared through the flashing and shifting blazes. Such black, unseeing eyes, with barely any light reflected in them, fixed on nothing in the darkness. He reached and touched a face with the smoothness of a mask, impervious to the heat of the flames.
‘A part of me the heat cannot find,’ he thought. ‘It cannot touch my heart. I cannot feel, after what I have done…’ Shamefully his eyes glistened.
He became absorbed in a motionless trance—and stayed that way for several minutes. Smoke in a chilly autumn gust blew into his face, but neither did he cough nor stir. Beneath the crackling flickers and soft roar of the fire, there was the distant whispering of the waves rushing up and down the shore. Worriedly he looked back at the word. ‘Perhaps if it were ‘Illusions of Insanity,’’ he thought uncertainly, ‘it would sound right,’ and scribbled presently. Immediately after he groaned in agony and his voice broke at the end. He thought with scorn, ‘Why can’t I think of a proper name?’ but stared expressionlessly at the fire. His eyes darted to the paper, and abruptly slid back to the flames.
A bright light flashed across the grass and drifted outward in a circle. Flames quivered in the wind, and the spaces between them made dark shadows dance in the ring of light. The shadows reached out to him, trembling across the grass, and falling back again. Abruptly out of the corner of his eye there were frisking paws around the ring, the head and pointed ears of Precious, and the familiar curling tail. She was reclaimed by the firelight and fell away as his arms reached to her. He recoiled, bent over clasping his head desperately with his hands, as if holding his head on would provide mental fortification. Still no crease of the sign of emotion was in his face. But the tears which fell were real.
And the fire, now blurred, now stronger, rose to claim everything with its intense red and forceful light.
He looked back at his paper.
‘This is the story,’ he began to write, his hand flying with a wild grace, ‘of a journey in which I, Erhart Tellegere, find my way back from the obscurity of insanity. The reality of my life must be discovered; my bizarre memories must be understood and proven to be deceptive and false. First I must recount how I came to be in this state, before I am able to return.’
Erhart’s gaze was absorbed by the dark waves of the sea which broke on the shore beyond the brightly flickering flames.


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