Close Your Eyes: A Fairytale –Coffee Pot Book Club Blog Tour.
Set in early 1400s Europe, Close Your Eyes is a sincere, yet light-hearted and lustful, ode to love. As Samuel, the court jester, struggles to describe why his friends, Agnieszka the cook, and Tycho the story-teller, fled the King of Gora’s service, he learns that love was the beating heart behind everything that happened in the castle.
He learns as well that more ghosts than he knew of walked the midnight halls, and that the spirit of Jeanne d’Arc haunted his friend, and once slid into bed with Tycho, daring him to leave – to take to the cold roads of Europe, where he had once wandered orphaned and alone, and find his destiny there.
October 1430 / The Picnic
A feeling of change had been upon me since we arrived at the picnic site. As the others settled the camp, tethered horses, dug the firepit, I sat in the sand of the beach, staring at the lake, at the sunshine sparkling like diamonds upon the water – diamonds which rocked on the low waves, moving to me in quiet ebbs, before washing to rest as wave met land. It had been long since I’d seen anything so quietly beautiful, and I was struck for a moment to remember my life upon the roads of Christendom. I found, sitting by the lake, that memories of ease and beauty, of flowing rivers, rolling hills, came to me much more powerfully than those of hunger and fear. It is odd, for during that time my life was more often miserable than happy.
Chasing after Agnieszka along the beach, her dress billowing about her legs, her long brown hair dancing about her shoulders, I felt that time had frozen, or at least slowed, and I was delighted. I thought that if the afterlife is merely a moment, an image in pause, which echoes endlessly through the reaches of the universe, and if this moment upon the beach were the one chosen to represent me, then I would be content. The sun pouring down upon us, the sand under our feet, Agnieszka laughing ahead of me, the shining lake, myself in full flight – it would, I thought, be an image from my life that I’d be happy to float with into eternity.
Agnieszka turned from the lake, crossed the stretch of beach, her feet touched grass, and I followed her briefly across the field until she crashed into the high stalks of wheat. I lost her immediately. When I reached the wall of wheat and began stepping after her, I could hear her crashing ahead of me, I could see crushed stalks, discern the trail broken by her hurtling body, but soon the sounds and traces stopped. I paused and found myself lost in time again – alone in a jungle of high wheat stalks, the wind causing them to whisper together above my head, brush lightly against my body.
After an age I reached forward, parted the wheat, took one step, and then another.
She was not so far away. I perceived a pair of feet, ran my eyes along her legs to her upper body, her neck and face, and saw her eyes, shining in mischief. She lay upon the ground, on her side, her head propped upon her right hand. If it had been another woman I’d have fallen immediately beside her, wrapped my arms about her. But it was Agnieszka, and I stood uncertain for several long moments. Finally, I began to pace.
I walked circles upon widening circles about Agnieszka, breaking wheat down with my footsteps. When I had created a small clearing I sat down beside Agnes on a bed of wheat stalks. I lay down on my back and stared from our little hideaway up towards the blue sky. Under the rustling of the wind, and the distant voices of the picnic, if I listened closely, I could hear Agnieszka breathing. My eyes closed, I created a picture of her in my mind – the gentle rise and fall of her chest, the bend of her legs, the colour and texture of her dress and blouse, her head lying on her outstretched arm, the fall of her hair about her face, her hand sweeping a loose lock back behind her ear.
Then her voice.
“What are you thinking Tycho?”
Such a tender voice.
Sunshine warm like a scarf across my eyes.
We drifted, children on a boat, rocking on gentle waves of sunshine. I slept and woke, woke and slept, and finally opened my eyes to find Agnieszka sitting against me, her knees pulled to her chest, her chin on her crossed arms, the small of her back against my side. “We need return to the others.”
The sun had placed a healthy glow upon her skin, and I lay upon my bed of wheat knowing, with a certainty I’ve never before felt, that I couldn’t, I wouldn’t, sleep with Agnieszka. I care deeply for her, but the idea of something physical between us seems brutal, a betrayal.
I wonder if this is love.
With the late afternoon sunshine pouring down upon us, I stood and offered Agnieszka my hand. Her fingertips touched my palm and she was beside me. I found her eyes on mine, and for a few moments we stood gazing at each other, then, by some unspoken but mutual consent, we looked away.
Agnieszka stepped into and through the forest of wheat. I followed, my hand in hers, dazzled by the fall of her long brown hair against her shoulders.
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/4DJN6g
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09NRYXDM9
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09NRYXDM9
Chris Tomasini lives in Ontario, Canada. He has studied creative writing via Humber College’s “Correspondence Program in Creative Writing”, and through the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies.
In the 1990s Chris taught English as a Second Language and had stops in England, Poland, and Japan.
Since 2000, Chris has worked in bookstores, publishing, and in libraries.
Chris is married with two children, and can often be found (though not very easily) on a bicycle on country roads in central Ontario.
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Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/stores/author/B019NO9NO2