Become a Fan
By Walid A Sowaidan
Tuesday, June 11, 2002
In 1901, John Crawford decided to pay his first visit to Russia. After 66 years in this World, he was hopeless to see the entire World before he died. Anyway, it seemed sufficient to visit just a few Countries. Russia was always on top of his list.
John Crawford believed that he had but little time more to live, most of which would definitely be filled with sickness and weakness. As most of the past years were filled with poverty, suffering and hard work, he had to seize the opportunity and do what he always longed for: “A Tour around the World”, or part of it at least.
John loved Moscow, but he had to go to other places before he ran out of money. He took the train to Petersburg. He sat in the cabin observing the people on the dock; salesmen, passengers, policemen, people who came to bid their relatives or loved ones farewell, etc. He felt lonely, a feeling that never was surprising to him; he had always been lonely after all.
Two young men came into the cabin, greeted him politely and sat down on the seat in front of his. “At least I will not be alone for sometime” he thought.
While John was busy watching the farms covered with snow on the way to Petersburg, one of the two young passengers was anxiously looking at him. John looked back at him and just when he was about to talk, the young man said: “Excuse me, sir! I don’t mean to intrude but aren’t you Mr. John Crawford?”
“Yes I am” John said.
“It is a great honor to meet you, sir!” said the young man, “My name is Vladimir Kromocev. I am a Journalist in the Russian Gazette”.
“How do you do?” said John, “I am ..”
“You definitely don’t need to introduce yourself, sir,” Vladimir interrupted, “who wouldn’t know you?”
“I wouldn’t” said the other young man.
“ How rude of you!” said Vladimir, “Sorry sir, my friend is explicit, rudely explicit indeed.”
“Never Mind, Mr. Kromocev,” John said, “It is good enough that he speaks English”.
“This is my cousin, Mikhail,” said Vladimir bluntly, “he is a Novelist.”
“How do you do?” John said to Mikhail, “I am John Crawford”.
“The famous writer, philosopher, scientist, mathematician and artist.” Vladimir addressed his cousin, “He is a universal genius. Everybody knows him, except for an ignorant minority” Vladimir winked maliciously.
“No need to be so hard on him, Vladimir.” John said, “May I call you Vladimir?”
“Of course,” Vladimir replied, “I can’t be but very grateful to your generosity to grant me such an honor, sir”.
John was delighted with what Vladimir said; he always enjoyed flattery.
“Is this your first visit to Russia, sir?” Vladimir asked.
- Did you like Moscow?
- Yes, a beautiful city.
- I’m sure you will like Petersburg as well.
- From what I heard about Petersburg I believe I will.
- I am accompanying my cousin in this journey.
- Is he preparing for a new novel?
- No he is trying to forget.
“Vladimir!” Mikhail yelled angrily at his cousin, “This is not a matter to discuss with strangers.”
“I totally agree with him, Vladimir!” John said, “If it is private, don’t talk about it. I am a stranger anyway.”
Vladimir addressed his cousin saying: “Listen to me Mikhail! If you are seeking help with your problem you have to share it with people of wisdom, and I assure you there is no wiser than this gentleman.”
“He can’t help me.” Mikhail said, “The man never fell in love, so what would he know about it?”
“It seems that you lied to me, Mikhail.” John said, “You appear to know me well.”
“Yes I know you” Mikhail said.
“Well, you don’t know me.” John emphasized, “You merely know what people say about me.”
“You never said anything different.” Mikhail said.
“I never said anything, my dear” John said.
“Have you fallen in love?” Vladimir asked in an astonished tone.
“Yes I have,” John answered, “but I never said anything about it. You can ask me if you like, Mikhail, I might be useful.”
Mikhail looked skeptically at his cousin, who reassured him with a nod and said: “My cousin Mikhail loves a girl, she’s beautiful, faithful to him and she loves him. The problem is that she is the descendant of a wealthy family and my cousin Mikhail is poor. He is still young and can make a fortune someday, I believe, but he insists that she doesn’t have to get involved in a relationship with a man condemned to live in eternal poverty.”
“If you are in England,” John asked, “walking in one of London’s streets, and you encounter a Russian, don’t you easily recognize he is Russian?”
“Yes,” Vladimir answered, “I have tried this myself.”
“How do you think this happens?” John questioned.
“When you share certain characteristics with someone, you can easily recognize him or her,” Mikhail replied, “even if you have never met before.”
“Exactly,” said John, “and this is how I recognize you Mikhail. You are so much like me. Much younger of course but we are alike.”
“Mikhail is not a genius,” Vladimir said ironically.
“He is.” John said, “May be you don’t know, may be he doesn’t know, but I know he is.”
“Well, he seems to understand what you are saying,” Vladimir said, “may be he is a genius.”
Mikhail looked angrily at his cousin and said: “I think we have had enough of your sense of humor for today, Vladimir.”
“Listen Mikhail,” John said, “I will reveal my secret to you.”
Mikhail and Vladimir listened attentively, while John Crawford was telling them his secret story.
“When I was twenty- five years old,” he said, “God that was very long ago! Anyway, I did not believe in love. I thought love was merely a polite synonym of sex, and sex meant lust to me then. Nevertheless, and although I despised it, I indulged in sexual relationships with almost every woman in London. My friends used to say there was no female creature in London I didn’t sleep with. Though exaggerated, it was somewhat true . I was young, healthy, handsome and smart; and those qualities were enough to cover my sole deficiency: Poverty. I used to say I was condemned to live in poverty forever, and at the time I believed that I was cursed, cursed of being a Genius. History says that almost all Genii were poor, but I did not have the choice and if I did I would have chosen wealth over genius. I used to spend hours every night on the Thames River praying to God to take back my genius and give me wealth instead; He never listened.
One day when I was sitting on the Thames bank, I saw a young woman swimming with her clothes on. That was strange but yet less strange than something that she was pulling while advancing towards the middle of the river, it looked heavy to me. I believed she was trying to drown herself. I took off my coat, jumped into the water and swam until I reached her. She resisted me so strongly that I had to slap her hard on her face so that she calmed down and she went unconscious.
I untied the heavy thing she was pulling, a big rock by the way, and started pulling her towards the riverbank. She was still unconscious. I leaned towards her nose to make sure she was still alive, and she was. I looked at her face and said: Oh my God! Why would someone with such a beautiful face kill herself?
She was beautiful; she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. I covered her with my coat and carried her to my house.
It was indeed an awkward situation. Every body was looking at that man carrying an unconscious woman covered in his coat, but I was crazy enough to do anything.
She spent a long time unconscious; I guess she slept.
In the morning, I woke up on her screaming and yelling at me. After I calmed her down and explained what happened she started crying. I assured her that everything was Ok and that she was safe. I started asking her about herself and after a long suspicious stare, she started telling me.
I found out she was the daughter of a Lord, that her father treated her very severely and that she ran away from home several times before but every time her father could bring her back. The day before she decided to kill herself because she found no other way to get rid of the marriage arranged by her father. She said the groom was a wealthy celebrity who was twenty-two years older than she was, but to her father that marriage was a very good deal.
She said her father was so powerful that he could come after me if he knew she spent the night in my bed. While I was looking at her hoping for any part of her apparently beautiful body to show when she got up, I saw her legs. Those were not human legs; they were the legs of Aphrodite the Roman goddess of beauty. I stood astonished by what I saw; she looked me into the eyes with distaste but her look felt like an electric shock and I felt like someone who took a cold bath on Christmas Eve.
I couldn’t help but ask her if I could draw her, she said she was in a hurry and promised to give me the chance to do it some other time. I also made her promise to stay alive until that other time, she laughed and said she was anxious to see me again.
She asked me to fix her a drink, but when I came back she was gone.
I had nothing to do but wait for her to show up. The information she gave me were vague, I knew what her father was but not who he was and I knew what where she lived looked like but not where it was. I kept waiting for three days, doing my best to waste my time so that I would stop thinking about her but in vain.
One night, I came back to find her in my house, sitting on my rocking chair and waiting for me. I was too happy, and too drunk, to pay attention to asking her how she got in. She looked at me with a smile and asked if I were still willing to draw her; I assured her that nothing in my whole life was more delightful than doing that.
She went to the bedroom and closed the door and when she came back she was nude. I believe there is no way I can describe what I saw; she was divinely beautiful. Her body was much more beautiful than I had imagined.
I spent the whole night drawing her; she never seemed tired and I was excited enough to stay awake for a decade. By dawn I had finished drawing her and I stood amazed at what I did. The drawing was the best and more realistic I had ever done before.
She wore her clothes, and sat down beside me on the sofa. She was more frank that time, she told me her name: Sylvia Woodworth and that she was the daughter of a famous Lord Woodworth of whom I had never heard. She said many other things like that I had the soul of her lover who died long time ago and that was why I fell in love with her the minute I had seen her. She also said I shouldn’t have left her the way I did, that we were soul mates who belonged together explaining how even death could not change destiny.
I did not care to understand what she was saying for I was busy planning for an approach. I tried to kiss her, she did not object and she kissed me with a thrill that I had never felt before. That night we had our first sexual contact. The pleasure was incomparable, I had never imagined nor heard that someone could feel such a pleasure. Having our desires superbly fulfilled, we hugged each other and fell asleep.
I woke up at seven o’clock in the evening to find myself alone on my bed. I thought I had been drunk, fallen asleep and that everything that had happened was nothing but a dream. I got up to fix myself a cup of coffee.
On my way, I saw the drawing. “It was not a dream, then,” I said to myself.
“So I did it!” I said, “I am in love and she loves me too, that’s what she said.”
For ten days I waited for her to show up again, she didn’t. I could not wait to see her; I had to go look for her.
I enquired about Lord Woodworth and his whereabouts and, to my amazement; I found out that Lord Woodworth had died fifty years ago and that his grandson was the one who lived in the Woodworth’s House.
I couldn’t believe what I had learned and I went to Woodworth’s House to make sure that the information I had gotten was true . I knocked the door, asked for Mr. Woodworth and the butler invited me in. Minutes later, I was talking to Mr. Woodworth, Lord Woodworth’s grandson and sole heir after the demise of Ms. Sylvia Woodworth, Lord Woodworth’s daughter; and Mr. Victor Woodworth, his son.
I told the young man what happened and invited him to my home to see the drawing so that he could believe I was telling the truth. “This is my aunt Sylvia!” he shouted with astonishment when he saw the drawing.
I told him what she said to me and, amazed, he said that all of it was true . “My Grandfather,” he said, “forbade everyone who knew from telling that story, that’s why nobody knows what happened. My aunt Sylvia died sixty years ago after a long journey with illness. She fell ill right after the one she loved had died, and passed away herself four months later.”
“And how did they met?” I asked.
“She was desperate;” he said, “my Grandfather tried to get her to marry a rich man who was twenty-two years older than she was. She tried to commit suicide by drowning herself in the Thames; the man she later loved saw her and rescued her.”
Thus, I started believing in love, destiny and incarnation. I couldn’t forget her and I couldn’t fall in love with anyone else. I decided to live waiting for the day we meet again.”
“And what does this story have to do with mine?” Mikhail asked.
“You are lucky.” John said, “You have met your soul mate, you are alive and she is alive. You can be together so grasp the opportunity. Don’t waste the chance or you will regret it for the rest of your life.”
The train stopped. Mikhail stood up hastily, pulled Vladimir towards the cabin’s door. “Where to?” Vladimir asked.
“Back to Moscow,” Mikhail replied, “To Natasha.”
They both greeted John and went out of the cabin and off the train.
John waved to them from the cabin’s window; then leaned back on his seat.
He hardly noticed the cabin’s door open. A young woman came in and sat down on the seat in front of him.
“Sylvia?” he asked with a thrill.
“Yes, my love” she answered.
- Is it time?
- Will we be together?
- Nothing will do us part?
- Nothing will do us part.
With a smile on his face, John Crawford was later found peacefully dead in the cabin.
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|Reviewed by cecilia
|I enjoyed it very much. It made me think. The only objection (that´s why I didn´t put a 10) is that John´s IQ rate isn´t really important for the sotry. His wisdom about love came from his own experience of life and his sensibility, not from is IQ level.|
|Reviewed by Iulia
|Well, I did enjoy it! It would make a decent television mini-screenplay, I think. Evidence of good creative thought in the story|
|Reviewed by Maria
|Nice story...It is a gift from Him when you can meet your soul mate in that life. To share love. To LIVE.|