Brentonn sees the world in colors. Single colors, whole palettes, harsh contrasts, and all bathed in the finishing touch of light. Warm sunlight, cool moonlight, and the thin glimmer of starlight: each light redefines a different domain of color. He sees the golden noon warming her cinnamon freckles and her rich auburn hair through the window he made for her. Her vision and his work are bound together in lead strips, and she is magnificent in its green and amber and sky blue rays. He knows that the light caresses her cheek in the blue of predawn and draws her eye in the midst of her labor and worry. “Here,” his window says, “is what I want for you. What I would give you if you would let me. Let me make your life beautiful.”
His beloved is like the kaleidoscope he had as a child when his own papa was showing him how to look beyond shape to colors and shading. She sees the things that make the world beautiful; she sees the starry sky and doesn’t say “That’s beautiful”, but “This is why this is beautiful.” It’s that ‘why’ that flows into the molten lines of glass, deceptively monochrome in searing white. But he knows what colors flow where, and he knows how to show the rest of the world why beauty is beautiful. The molten glass flows like her ember-red hair in his hands.
Song lives in her ears as a real and driving thing. Her bare feet hear the earth and her hands stretch up to hear the sky, and she can only dance with it in joy, and stumble mourning at its sorrow. In the song of a bird she hears meaning, even if the meaning is, “Go away!” or “Don’t mate with him; mate with me!” It should be an incessantly maddening cacophony, but she hears the song binding it all, and it is good. She falls into the soft spring grass with boneless abandon, laughing at her lover’s bemused face. He can only hear some of the notes, so she sings the rest for him.
His world is a greyscale maze of glorious smell. There is the scent of his beloved, his leader, his friend; she smells differently in the town and out of it. Here she wafts food and cloth and clean skin and him, that other man who has her when she’s here. He lingers in her hair and her body where he holds her, and there is no way to lick it all off. He couldn’t have marked her any better if he’d simply sprayed her leg.
Yes, she smells like him, but mostly like her. And there are delicious smells of stew and roast and all the good things she feeds him when they don’t move with the pack. The street is a novel for his nose to read, a gazette of who is mating with whom, and who has claimed what corner, and what the horses have been eating this week. Yes, he likes town well enough. He is patient. Soon, she will be all his, and his pack will feed him treats.
After all these years she should be bored of food. Food can only be cooked so many ways, after all. But instead, age has sharpened the pleasure food gives. Her body feels the food now as it never did when she was young and little had been consumed by her fea. Now it welcomes each nuance and she can feel her very tissues taking in nourishment and matter to become firmer, fleshier, and vulnerable. Food is a vulnerability. Food can kill as well as feed.
You can pretend you don’t need it. You can let yourself fade and say it doesn’t matter. You can say that you are old and alone and can’t be bothered anymore. But the act of tasting, eating proves you wrong again and again. You feel delight at a tart taste of pie. Your spirit livens too as it finds itself once again in a sturdy house. And you feel in the moment of salt and sweet and bitter and savory that you can feel pleasure, and fulfillment, and love. Food proves that you are still alive in a living world, and that you will go on and on without respite as the things around you flow through your grasping fingers. You taste, and swallow, and lose it forever. All that is left on your tongue is the tangy salt tears of the wide foaming sea.
Her chest throbs with the booming pressure of drums. It’s different from the buzzing tickle of her beloved’s voice. She doesn’t have to look now to tell that he’s talking if he’s near enough; she feels it tickling around the edges of the hearing she once had.
Low sounds come through fingers as they rest on tables and mess tins. Even soft sounds will do it if you’re paying attention to the part of noise that is felt rather than heard. Her hands feel heat and cold more than they did before. It seeps through the rags shielding pot handles and tugs at the seams of mittens. She cannot hear the crackle of bacon, but it shivers through her fingertips all the same.
Smooth linen has become her great vice. It slides over the skin softly and wicks moisture on hot days. Itching has become so distracting that she wears only fine merino, and never next to her skin. She dreams of childhood nights when she and her friends, children all and naked as jaybirds, would dive into the lake and paddle under the twinkle of fireflies and the glory of stars. The water felt like a fine dress or a cool caress. In her heated dreams, she imagines a lover’s hand would feel like that water’s knowing, fearless embrace.