This month's assignment was to write precisely 500 words based on either the following photograph or alternatively on a quotation from a Jorge Luis Borges' short story, "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius."
The quotation is "Some limited and waning memory of Herbert Ashe, an engineer for the Southern Railway Line, still lingers in the hotel at Androgué, among the effusive honeysuckle vines and in the illusory depths of the mirrors."
For this story I chose the photograph rather than the quotation.
With Gods On My Side
So what happened to the old Norse gods? Whither the Greek and Roman pantheon, the myriad local pagan deities of wood and water, starlight and love, upon the terrible rise of monotheism?
As belief waned, so did their power, and yet the gods being immortal have not died, but simply faded.
Many, embittered, are reduced to hiding car keys or making underwear ride up. The more malevolent deities have naturally gravitated toward bureaucracy and government.
Yet not all have fallen so low, for as I have discovered there live still the gods of joyous Misrule.
Hearken, dear reader.
The twin naiads, Capucine and Clothilde, have in recent years chosen to dwell in the window of a bookshop on the Quai de Valmy in Paris, overlooking the canal that joins the Bassin de Vilette to the Seine.
Their self-assigned rôle is to pluck a single thought from the mind of each passer-by, simultaneously replacing it with one from another person. Whether gift or curse depends upon their whim, one twin being good, the other evil.
I discovered their existence quite by chance when one evening I found myself in sudden and unaccountable possession of a passable facility with conversational Turkish. Retracing my steps toward the point of this revelation I observed the following: as people walked past a certain window their expressions changed, some to delight, others consternation, but most to momentary bafflement before they walked on.
The window merely displayed a selection of volumes on twentieth century art. From a certain angle, however, and fleetingly as if viewed through a blind spot, an image appeared of two girls in sylvan parkland, elegantly attired, masked and beautiful.
I was still reeling from this apparent trick of the light when a woman passed the window and to my horror, the twin apparitions appeared to reach inside her head.
It was only for an instant. The woman paused momentarily, her expression one of confusion as if losing her thread of thought, before regaining her composure and walking on as if nothing had happened.
From my vantage point on the canal path I stood transfixed, observing a dozen passers-by endure the same strange ritual. At last I could withstand the mystery no longer and crossed the street, determined to pass the window myself, to pause at that very spot and divine the truth.
I have since passed that window at every conceivable opportunity.
Their strength returning with my growing belief, the goddesses have favoured me, ridding my mind of clutter and junk, of painful or unwanted memories and redistributing them among a baffled population, replacing them in return with snippets and snatches of other people’s minds; their experiences, abilities, memories and emotions, their most intimate delights and desires.
I hereby bequeath my soul to the goddesses Capucine and Clothilde in the hope that upon my death all that is me; every last scintilla of my conscious and unconscious mind will be gifted, thought by thought, to the collective consciousness of Paris.