Sloughing~ Day Five

25 03 2007

We are awakened, way too early the morning after Marcel’s welcome party, by loud bangs, scraping noises, and someone repeatedly whispering “shush!” It is Celeste and Alfred, dragging trunks, boxes, stacks of books, rugs into our gorgeous room here at the Ritz…surely this cannot be Marcel’s luggage? “Celeste! Tell me this is not Marcel’s luggage?!” “Non, Madame, it is Marcel’s sloughing.” She is, of course, speaking French and I do not know this word. I tell her so. She replies, “Ah, Madame, he says he must shed these things, like a snake. Only he says sloughing. And that he cannot go on this Tour unless he casts off these things, and that neither can anyone else.” “And what, exactly, am I supposed to do with all this stuff?”, I inquire. “Monsieur says he has heard that there are people who live under bridges who have no homes and one can leave things for them there. Alfred is to do that once you have gone through all your things too, Monsieur says.” “My things!? Just where is Monsieur anyhow, Celeste? And what is this about how none of us can go unless we do this sloughing?”Celeste begins speaking in rapid French, punctuating the tale with hand-wringing, head-shaking and much arm-waving. With Alfred’s help (he speaks a little English, so much for his skills as dragoman), after an hour or so the story emerges. Marcel was too nervous after the party to sleep. He asked Celeste to put on his Magic Lantern and bring him his asthma powders. When she returned, Marcel appeared to be asleep, but when she tried to turn off the Lantern, Marcel sprang up in bed and cried out for her to stop. “Do you not see, Celeste, the Lantern has brought us a message!” Celeste replied that she saw no message, only the usual scenes from Marcel’s glass slides. “Ah, Celeste, we must not go on this journey carrying all our old baggage! We must go as if new born, we must cast off things that we no longer need, so that new ideas, patterns, beliefs, can be born!” Celeste asks Marcel, if we are to cast off old immaterial things like beliefs and habits, why do we also need to throw away our material items as well? Marcel replies that surely she knows, surely she has heard him tell of it, that our past is held captive in inanimate objects, such as a vase, a chair, even a little madeleine? She stops him before he can relate the story of eating the little madeleine again, because yes, she has surely heard it before, many times, in fact. Marcel slumps back in bed, he is exhausted, please give his regard and his excuses to Madame et Monsieur (that’s us) but “Celeste! Be sure they understand they must slough everything that is not absolutely necessary. It is critical to the success of our journey!”

So, that explains the boxes and trunks and etc. But why did they bring them up here to our room? Why didn’t Alfred just take them to the people who live under bridges who have no homes? Celeste says, “Ah, I was nearly forgetting that part, Madame. Monsieur says after you have performed your sloughing, you are to go through his things and yours and choose an item for each person in our group to leave in the mines. The rest will go to the people who live under…” “Stop, Celeste! What mines?? “The old limestone mines under the streets of Paris, where they keep all the old bones, I do not know the word in English…” “Catacombs? We’re to go into the catacombs?” “Non, Madame, not we, only you. With the items you choose. Monsieur says this is the message from the Magic Lantern.”




One response

10 04 2007
Heather Blakey

Just brilliant. Utterly brilliant! I just love what you have done with this Mari

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