Going back to the work that he had abandoned, he picked up a pair of tweezers and went over to a tiny plastic propeller that was under his desk lamp. He checked to make sure that the coat of gray primer was dry and that it hadn’t dripped onto its ends. Satisfied with the results, he picked up a #2 paintbrush from a large glass jar and dipped it into the can of dull black paint that was in front of him. Delicately, he placed it on the end of one of the four propeller blades and slowly brushed it towards the center.
At first, he had cultivated his interest in model-making partially from frustration. It had all started because he suffered from insomnia and the rare nights when he could finally fall asleep, he had horrible nightmares. So he resigned himself to finding an activity that would fill in his sleepless hours. The model airplanes had seemed like a natural choice for him. They not only required a fair amount of concentration, but moreover, he was fascinated by aeronautics. He would have very much liked to fly, become a pilot and soar in the free sky…but his fears kept him on the ground.
He went on to the next blade, being careful not to accidentally paint on the center part. The model he was working on was a North American P-51D Mustang, equipped with six 12.7 millimeter machine guns: a legendary American fighter plane from World War Two. It reminded him of the air base in Fort Peterson, Colorado, which was near where he had grown up. These airplanes must have been in so many breath-taking battles!
There was a ringing in his ears. It wasn’t the doorbell announcing the arrival of the children on the porch, waiting for treats. No, the bell was resolutely electronic and was coming from the room across the hall. The noise was so aggravating that he wasn’t yet used to it. Every time he heard it break the silence, he felt like an ice pick was going through his chest. Even their distant neighbors, wrapped up in their heavy clothing somewhere in the Highlands, had to have been able to hear it!
Eloik put down his work on a piece of newspaper and slipped his paintbrush in the solvent, then left his bedroom at a run. He crossed the wide hallway that went all the way around the second floor until he reached a door that was partially open. He put his hand on the brass doorknob and took a deep breath before entering.
It was a large room, painted in sandy tones and practically without furniture. At one time, it had served as a private parlor. It had a brick fireplace on one end and on the other there were large windows overlooking a meandering river. However, despite these large glass surfaces, the room didn’t keep any of this beauty or clearness, which was flowing out the windows profusely. Something unhealthy was sucking the life out of this place. As soon as he entered, coldness overtook him and a feeling of horrible emptiness took hold of him.
Eloik walked to the fireplace end of the room, where there was a finely carved cherry wood canopy bed. Similar to a recumbent figure, his mother, Sophia, was lying there in almost perfect immobility—almost, because her eyes, under her eyelids, were moving non-stop.
He approached her and turned off her alarm system. Normally, Paige, the nurse that his aunt had hired to take care of his mother, would have taken care of it, but she wasn’t on duty that night. Tenderly, he sponged his mother’s face covered in sweat with a towel that had been soaking in a steel bowl. The life signs sensor attached to her right index finger was beeping regularly, while the line on the monitor that allowed them to view her cerebral activity was flirting dangerously with the critical zone. His mother was experiencing another attack, but he was condemned to watch her suffer without being able to do anything more than to offer his presence.
Eloik and his mom in the room, at the bed.(这句话没下文了)?
Eloik knew that she was struggling in an internal hell since she had slipped into this mysterious coma at the beginning of summer. In just a few months, her physical appearance had passed from that of a young woman in her mid-thirties, to that of a fifty year old woman. Her life force was languishing as if it were being sucked through a bottomless hole.
Doctor Dodridge, who came to see her from time to time, couldn’t explain the reasoning behind her illness. The brain scans showed abnormally elevated activity in the frontal lobe, but also some characteristic patterns associated with the REM sleep cycle. For him, the only plausible hypothesis was that his mother’s brain had momentarily lost the ability to wake up. It was, he said, as if she had accidentally walked into any nightmare’s swamp and had gotten stuck there from trying to escape. Well, he didn’t exactly put it that way, but it was what Eloik had understood from the perceptible insinuations in the doctor’s words. The old man wanted to be reassuring, but you could see it in his eyes that he was worried.
He took his mother’s pale hand into his own. Her skin had weakened to such a point that it had taken on the appearance of tissue paper; it was practically translucent. Deep down inside, waves of anger crashed against imaginary reefs from seeing the terrible state that she was sinking into. Her little cold hand, as light as a feather, was enough to tell him painfully that at this rate she would no longer be in this world…and that he would become an orphan.
His heart swelled under the effect of this sadness and concern grew inside him. Tears welled up in his eyes without him being able to do anything to repress them.
“Mom…Mom…” he was whispering, his head very close to hers. “Wake up, Mom.”
A creaking from the other end of the room attracted his attention. Sylvia Linton, Sophia’s older sister, had just walked through the door. Her preoccupied look on her face and her shortness of breath showed how quickly she had climbed the stairs to this floor. She had obviously come in from outside, because a gust of autumn blew into the bedroom when she burst in. She must have been spending the evening reading on the porch, while the children of the village were making their annual trip of collecting goodies. Thanks to her, thank God, he had been able to get out of putting up with the small children’s disturbing costumes'
Sylvia was a beautiful woman in her early forties. Her tanned face, framed by thick shoulder length brown hair, was lit up by a set of magnificently green eyes, which displayed her lively spirit
She approached the bed and stood behind her nephew. She placed her hand on his shoulder in a reassuring way.
“It’s the second episode in three days,” Eloik said softly, without turning around to look at his aunt. “Another one, and I’m afraid that she’ll be hospitalized again.”
She stepped a bit closer to her sister. Her little dreaming sister. She couldn’t help herself from thinking that her sister had died from being a victim of her own dreams. From wanting too much to live in her dreams, she had seen her wish granted in the most ironic way there was.
“She’s not feverish, there’s at least hope there,” Sylvia said, “Will you be a dear and go change her water?” She held out the steel bowl for him. Eloik quickly dried his tears and left the room towards the bathroom.
Sylvia sadly looked at her youngest sister, caressing her long grayed her. (hair?) She wanted to be able to go out with her, such as go for a walk in the morning or at twilight on the land that their parents had bequeathed to them. Maybe even just talk to her; cheer her up with silly behavior like how she did when they were children, just to make her happy and see her smile. But it was impossible. Sophia was chained to this bed, prisoner in her own head, halfway down the road to her own death.
Sometimes, Sylvia regretted not having maintained closer contact with her sister after leaving Scotland to start her life in America. Of course, the two had exchanged Christmas and birthday cards, and also stayed in contact through the Internet, but, all the same, they had seen each other only twice since Sophia had gotten married in 1987.
Sylvia had crossed the Atlantic for the first time in 1988, when Eloik was born. It was at this time that she had met Craig, Sophia’s husband, a U.S. Air Force pilot, a tall energetic blond, very charming, who had picked her up from the airport. Eloik, who at the time was only three weeks old, was his spitting image. This resemblance only got more pronounced as time went on. Unfortunately, Craig drowned five years later, in rather odd circumstances.
Once again, she flew over to Colorado Springs to attend her brother-in-law’s funeral an.d support Sophia during this terrible ordeal. She had found a substitute teacher for herself at the primary school where she taught, then took two weeks off to give her moral support.
Despite the pain that Sophia was enduring, she had enough strength to overcome it; this wasn’t the case for Eloik, her nephew. She had quickly noticed that he was taking this tragedy a lot worse than his mother, even if he didn’t show his pain in as much a flagrant way. She wasn’t an expert on the subject, but it seemed evident to her that his behavior was beyond a normal state of shock. The boy tried desperately to cling to his father’s memory to keep it alive over time, and by doing so his whole developing personality was engulfed in darkness. She could see him now, a little blond boy barely five years old, running to the living room window crying out, “Daddy! Daddy!” while the roar of an airplane about to land could be heard above the city.
Eloik returned to the room with the bowl. He set it on the bedside table, then once again wiped his mother’s forehead and cheeks. Sylvia silently watched him do this, busying herself by pulling back the thin cotton sheets on the canopy bed so that he could carry on without difficulty. There was always a concern in his hand movements, however customary they had become. The love that he had for her showed in the care he used to relieve her of her suffering.
“I think the fit is over. We should leave her now,” said Sylvie.
Eloik kissed his mother on her forehead with the secret hope of seeing her open her eyes, but she remained as still as marble.
“You’re right,” he said. He pulled the padded quilt up to Sophia’s frail shoulders to protect her from the cold, even though there was a fire burning in the fireplace.
Sylvia touched his hand. “Come,” she said, “let’s go outside. We must discuss something. I’ll blow out the candle in the pumpkin. We’ll be able to talk uninterrupted.'”
This unseemly remark immediately captured Eloik’s curiosity. Sylvia had something important to tell him, evidently. After a fraction of a second of hesitation, he followed close on her heels, taking care to close the door behind him.
Once downstairs, they went into an opulent room, which was full of family heirlooms. It was the living room. Hanging from the wall on the opposite end there was a painting by J.W. Waterhouse, depicting a young man, near a pond, surrounded by five Naiades. The work was faintly lit by a lamp donning a lampshade with a beaded fringe of which the orangey light, combined with the tenderness that the painting was naturally giving off, contributed to give the rest of the room a welcoming atmosphere.
While Sylvia slipped away in the direction of the kitchen, Eloik glanced at the painting that inevitably reminded him of the posters made by Alfons Mucha, that the antiques dealer on the corner had put up in front of his store. Once a week, when he left for the train station to get to the Institute, he passed this store. Mucha had the sublime gift of painting women with an erotic magnetism that transcended in some sort the rigid elegance of the artistic cannons(canons) of the time. He gave off a charm, it was almost hypnotic, that was difficult to explain, that he found in the intense looks from the Naiades who were converging on the young man bending over the water.