The Fountain by Stephanie Mann

 

At the edge of town. He played in his yard unaware of the world outside his door. He would find himself looking up at the clouds dreaming about imaginary worlds that would appear and disappear in the clouds. Here, life was peaceful for Demetri and he grew tall and strong with a great will and an even greater imagination. When Demetri turned 18 he decided it was time for him to embark on the world beyond the town. He told his parents  he intended on leaving, and against their pleas he packed a small back and journey forward out of the town. As Demetri walked on the road he met a man named Silver. He was older with a husky voice. His face looked warned by life and he walked with a slow gait. Demetri offered the man some bread after they had been walking for the while because he felt ashamed to eat in front of him. The man was grateful to Demetri because he had fallen on hard times and knew if he made it home he would be fine, but while on his journey he was not quite sure how he was going to make it. Demetri was happy to help the man and insisted on assisting him all the way to his destination. The man had a large cabin that was on large acreage of land, that was teaming with various plants and flowers. The man invited Demetri to his house and introduced himself as Captain Horacio John Stephens Silver, a former stow away turned captain. He had a daughter Amelia whom he had taken care of since she was three. Her mother left when young Amelia was only three. She was 17 now and beautiful, the old man confided in Demetri that he was getting older and he did not know what would happen to his young daughter when he was not around. After talking well into the night, the captain invited Demetri to stay in the guest house around back for as long as he would like the captain was so grateful for Demetri’s assistance and companionship that he saw no reason that he should leave so soon, especially if he had no particular place at the time to go. Demetri could not argue with the captain and decided that it would be nice to stay if only for a night.  The captain then bought Demetri to the smaller cabin, in front of the cabin was a most beautiful water fountain that was made of exquisite marble, the sound that the water fountain made was relaxing, Demetri thanked the captain and very quickly found himself asleep on the couch.

When Demetri awoke, he heard a beautiful sound as if the sound of birds chirping over a brook, so enchanted by the sun in his eyes and the beauty of the cabin he walked out the door to catch a glimpse of the day. He noticed a young lady sitting on the side of the fountain singing to herself and looking dreamily out into the distance. She didn’t seem real more like a vision and he was inspired. She was so beautiful to him he had no idea how to approach her, so he stayed back in the distance and watched her, he did not want to seem intrusive, she seemed not to want to be disturbed, so Demetri had to make a decision he walked up to her and introduced himself joining her in melody to ease the tension.

Amelia didn’t look startled in fact she reached for a bag at the side of her and said “breakfast”?. Amelia had known about Demetri since the first time he stepped in the cottage with her father. Amelia knew all. She was a very gifted daughter of the captain who based on the look of her, there was more to the story than what the captain had told him, he was sure about that. Amelia wasn’t tall and she wasn’t short. She was sweet and frank and though she seemed childlike at a glimpse she had a remarkably old soul. Her eyes were a deep purple and her hair full of curls with skin the color of creamed coffee. She didn’t seem very fond of Demetri, but she was…

The morning was cool despite the gleam of the sun, Demetri struggled to see the beautiful lady as the sun was directly penetrating his eyes, Amelia walked toward him, as he squinted to see her, she smiled. Demetri looked at the contents in the bag and saw baked cinnamon bread with an apple and wrapped butter. It’s the breakfast of champions laughed Amelia, as she watched his reaction. Demetri knew that he would always look for her every morning, “I’m spoiled now, you must come like this every morning”. Amelia smiled and said, “Are you suggesting that I become your personal maid sir?” Demetri blushed, but Amelia let out a laugh that reassured him that she was joking? But was he? Amelia walked off in the direction of the sun without another word, just laughter that very slowly started to get drowned out by the sound of the gorgeous fountain.

Demetri was enchanted, she was gorgeous and so was his surroundings, he had no idea what to expect but he knew that he would soon have to go on his way. Just as soon as Amelia seemed to disappear the older man appeared. He was smiling and asked Demetri if he wanted to fish, Demetri knew he had a destination to arrive to at some point but he saw no harm in fishing with the man for he had shown great hospitality, Demetri had not felt as comfortable this had in a awhile. The two fished and the older man told Demitiri of times when he was younger traveling as a soldier and a few things that he found very striking about his journey. Demetri realized that the older man had only a daughter, and no wife, no son’s. He seemed happy as could be but was also very taken by Demetri just as he was. The older man was very youthful for his age,  attitude and in looks, he was also very stylish and very wise. Demetri loved to hear his wisdom and found himself soaking it all up like a sponge. The time fishing time flew by quickly. The light of day diminished on the horizon, the two men cooked, cleaned and washed the fish, then made a fire and cooked it up. They then wrapped the fish in banana leaves and brought it home to have with cooked plantains and rice. Amelia had cooked the rice and plantains by the time the men got there along with a spicy vegetable stew. She was just setting the table was the two men entered with the packs of wood fired fished cooked in a wood pit near there fishing whole. The men went to clean up for dinner, one by one, as Demetri waited, he decided to go to the cottage and change into something that was more appropriate for dinner. Amelia watched Demetri as he headed through the path of the garden past the water fountain then to the little cottage guest house that her dad built just for travelers whom had wandered a bit more in life than they would have liked to. Demetri quickly changed and headed back to the house where Amelia and her father waited.

Dinner was amazing and the older man played at least three instruments, sometimes two at a time, a flute, a guitar and a harpsichord that seemed to be an antique. The three of them entertained each other through the evening. As the day drifted into early morning Demetri left back to the house. Amelia turned to her father and asked how long he expected Demetri to ta stay, the older man just smiled and retired to his library as he had done faithfully every morning. Amelia put on a batch of coffee and retired to her room.

Early morning came and Demetri felt perhaps this was the day where he would venture off on his destination. He had the wisdom of the older man and all the places that he explored in the world and all the people that he had met, the older man made the world seem so amazing and Demetri sorely felt as if he was missing out. He packed his things, and got ready for the day. It was mid-morning and he felt he had plenty of light ahead of him. Just as Demetri dressed for the day he heard a knock at the door. It was Amelia, she seemed in a panic, it was the older man he was sick and she felt that he would not wake up. She told Demetri that her dad would not wake up. Demetri ran quickly to the house, into the library of the older man and found him on a cot unresponsive, Amelia had sent for help and felt that he should not be moved. Demetri tried to resuscitate the older man but found it hopeless. The older man had passed in the early hours of the morning at his desk, and was put on a cot to be in his library until help arrived. Amelia cried uncontrollably she leaned over her father crying in tears for him not to leave her but he was gone. She then got up, wiped her faced walked passed Demetri and retired to her room for a moment before she returned and hugged Demetri. The two embraced for the first time in that moment, before she walked away Demetri thought she would need a hug and was ready to give it to her, and when she returned he opened his arms and welcomed her in. Soon help did arrive, the older man’s friends arrived to bring him to his resting grounds, the wrapped him up and prayed over him, before taking him to an oak tree on the western side of the older man’s large barrage of land. Amelia was beautiful and attentive the whole time, her cousins came to get her to take her away for a week to be away from the land, but Amelia wouldn’t leave and decided to stay, Demetri assured her family that he would look after her until she felt she was ready to take the trip to come see them.

The first day passed Demetri thought as many ways as he could to entertain Amelia, he even reverted to telling her stories that her father had told him and that made her laugh the hardest, because more than likely Demetri was way off. The two of them so formed a bond that that became based on Demetri getting pleasure from making Amelia smile. He then forgot about his mega destination that stirred his spirit and instead found pleasure rushing to the house each morning to join her for breakfast, and to help her with managing the land during the day. A day came when Demetri had no idea where he would go if he did go, the only places he went was to Amelia, every day. Amelia became the destination.

Demetri found himself trapped with a dilemma, his dreams were not in the mystery of other places and people, there was no destination greater than love. Amelia was always making herself busy doing something or other, and Demetri found himself trying to be there even if he did not have to. He thought Amelia did notice, but she did. Demetri decided that he would tell Amelia that he had no intention on leaving that he felt deeply for her and that she was everything that he wanted.

Demetri headed to the big house rehearsing to himself what he would say if she was there just waiting for him. Demetri noticed someone standing on the porch talking to Amelia, it looked like a figure of a man from a distance. He hugged Amelia lovingly, Demetri’s heart dropped into his stomach, he turned around and then turned back around to keep looking because his curiosity wouldn’t escape him. He saw a man holding Amelia by the hand and the two of them walking on the path of the garden. This troubled Demetri and cause him to turn around quickly, he felt immediately that he had overstayed his welcome. He packed his things and went to meet Amelia as she was still standing with the man in front of the house. I must leave now Amelia he said warmly walking up to the two, Amelia smiled at Demetri and introduced her to Kenneth an old friend that came to make sure that she was holding up well on her father’s property. Amelia explained that she was doing well, and how Demetri had helped her on the land since her father had passed. Kenneth offered to take her to her cousins to get away to the city and be pampered. He said that her family insisted they were worried and would not have her alone for another night. Amelia tried to explain that she was fine, but no amount of words would convince anyone to leave her there. Amelia left that night, Demetri left Amelia the two hugged and Demetri went his way.

Amelia was in the city and she was ushered from spa to events by the ladies, who laughed and talked about the details of their love affairs, marriages, and children. Amelia felt so lost in all of their worlds at the same time. Angela and Tony, Lacy had 2 kids by Jack, Ina and Nicholas met in Paris and have had an off again on again long-distance love affair etc. Kenneth was smooth and charming, he planned dates and walked and talked to Amelia as if he was planning on marrying her, she could feel him as he talked about her beauty and asked her about the events at her dad’s house. Her mother lived in the city and ordered the ladies to all they could to make sure that her daughter did not suffer a day. She remarried a loving man with lots of wealth and was often found travelling around the world purchasing exotic wares for her massive store. Amelia was surrounded by luxury and Kenneth designed the most elegant dinner parties, but she found herself much happier with a good book in front of a fire unbothered by the continuous hustle of the crowd.

Soon with so many people about Amelia started to feel lonely, and surprisingly bored. She did not mind her father’s house, her wonderful garden, and huge acreage of land. The assortment of plants and herbs that were around, she had her dad’s library, her studio. She knew she could always return to the city, but she felt that she belonged amongst the things that reminded her of her. She also thought of Demetri, the things she never said, how she would watch him retire for the evening, the conversations and stories that he had shared with her and her father. She felt foolish for not trying harder to insist that he not leave. Soon Demetri was all Amelia could think of. She had no way to get a hold of him so she would find him, she would draw pictures of him, and her garden, all day. Soon she found herself escaping to her room and drawing and writing letters to Demetri, day after day, that she never mailed and only wrote faithfully.

Soon a day came were she left a party and no one had noticed that she had left, the only problem was she was finally out of her head enough to see it for herself. Amelia decided that day that it was time to leave and returned to her father’s house. The next day her family saw her off and Amelia left by mid-morning.

Amelia arrived to her father’s house by late evening, she had been gone a month and found that the house was not in as much disarray as she had expected. The garden still manicured, the flowers dimmed a bit as the season was changing, but the roses still looked beautiful, even at night. Amelia, quickly rushed into her house where she found her old house keeper Rose, whom her mother had sent to tend to the house as Amelia was away. It smelled of fresh roses in the house, the fire place was lit and Rose had a warm meal prepared for Amelia as she returned home from the city.

Amelia sat with Rose by the fire until she was tired, Rose retired to the House keepers lodge attached to the house, and Amelia retired to her room for the night.

The day arrived and Amelia stayed in bed, being home reminded her so much of her father,  that was made the house home, it also reminded her of Demetri. He had just come just as she was visiting her father for the summer, she had pretty much spent all summer with Demetri and her father, she just wondered what her dad was up to. She remembered the day before he passed she asked him how long he had planned for Demetri to stay, her dad never answered the question, and that gave her no peace. She sat staring up at the wall until she heard a knock on the door. It was Rose telling her that it was almost past three in afternoon, and she had not eaten anything. That she needed to come down right now. Amelia’s family respected Rose like she was an Auntie, Rose always worked with the family because she had gifts and she was well paid. Amelia listened to Rose, because Rose insisted. Amelia prepared herself for the day, then arrived to the table that was set on the outside back porch today. The sun was out shining, and Amelia noticed for the first time the gurgling sound of the marble fountain that was in front of the cottage house were Demetri had stayed that summer. She stared at the fountain, and found herself set adrift with memories of summer’s events, basking in the feelings of the bittersweet feeling of melancholy.

Amelia was outside of herself when she looked out in the distance, the fountain was beautiful to stare at and gave her such peace, she understood in an instance why her father had built it where he did. It was in perfect view from both the front and the back of the house, it was surrounded by flowers, and from a distance in the sun it was an exceptional sight.

Demetri has spent days thinking of Amelia, he had found that though he walked in a forward direction, he cared less and less about the place that he would find when he got there. He went back into his memory at all the fantastic things he had imagined before. Sky was the limit and there was nothing to hold him down he was free as a bird. On the road, he came across many beauties, at cafes in the city and juke joints in small towns, he made money by doing side yard work, and soon heard about a job to do landscaping on a huge acreage of land. A man who was a field hand said that no one will pay him better, and that he was going to go with at least seven of his friends to go see about getting the job to help work the land. Demetri was not familiar with the area so he felt perhaps that he should join them as they went to see about the opportunity for regular pay became the only thing that he could think about. Other than Amelia, he believed that surely, she would have married Kenneth, and lived in a huge house next to the market place. He smiled as he thought she would buy the store, after hearing stories from her father about her, through their many talks. It seemed that being in the city was the best thing for her and he wouldn’t let himself be selfish and miss her, though he found that he could not get her off of his mind. He thought about how beautiful she looked next to that marble fountain that sparkled in the sun. He arrived early to meet the men and women who went seek work, he walked and walked and the day changed. The men and women talked as they made their way, sometimes they sang as they ushered down the road. As they approached Demetri saw a familiar sight in the distance, it was the cottage that had belonged to Amelia, it was still as stunning as the same day that he had become introduced to it, and did not know what to do the folks that he was traveling with seemed nice enough, and his need for money pulled at him. Demetri felt himself become self-conscious as he thought how he had changed in the short time that he had been a way from Amelia, the time seemed to have stretched forever through space, and relented not as his heart pounded faster, the closer he got to the cottage. He pulled his hat down to hide his face as the head housekeeper sized him up and down. The elder man was generous, and spoke for the group when he negotiated the pay for the rest of the workers, presumably family members. Demetri found himself to be a part of the group and did not disagree, he walked in and saw that the workers had a residence that they shared. I 5 room side by side. One side for the men the other for the women. The main house where the ladies stayed had the comforts of twin beds, a couch, table, lamps, and a kitchenette, there was a shower outback where the men also showered. The men side the backhouse, had men comforts, like chairs, tables, cots, places to hang clothing, a very straight up sobering cabin. The men would sit on their side which was literally situated in the back of the house and socialized, while after the work day was over the ladies who often polished the estate and assisted the head housekeeper, would make a big pot of stew and rice and tell stories about themselves. Demetri worked alongside them day and night hiding his face whenever possible from any one recognizable from the summer that he had spent with Amelia and her father. Demetri would find himself starring the range of the land to where the fountain stood in the distance. Glimmering like a diamond in the sunlight he watched the as the water poured out, and would get trapped in his thoughts as the evenings changed into night. The weeks passed and Demetri, as assured was paid very handsomely for all his work, and he had caught the eye of the head housekeeper. Rose noticed the way he worked so diligently, as if in a trance, but his skill and work was exceptional. She did not know where the young man had come from, but she had assessed that his training was beyond what the other workers were doing. She watched him for just a little while longer, all the while keeping her distance, watching as he seemed to be in a daze starring into the bizarre abyss, and she knew where ever he was staring off to his soul was there. She pitied him, because his skill was obvious yet he seemed lost amongst another tribe that was not his own.

On day Rose decided that she would walk the garden, she not only walked the expanse of the garden, she also walked up to Demetri and talked to him outright as he worked on fixing up the greenhouse near the workers house. “I can see that you have quite skilled hands, may I ask where you have acquired the skill, “she asked. Demetri looked up at Rose and smiled, he said, “Oh these hands have had many years of training my lady, and I guess over time this has become, sort of like a trade”. Rose raised her eyebrow, the young man spoke as if he had been trained in the city amongst the private academies. She watched Demetri, captivated to learn how a young man like him came to work with the workers that currently resided on the land.

In the meanwhile, Amelia remained in her own world, she would go off to the city in random bouts, staying weekends, sometimes weeks. When she was at the cottage she would pass her time in the garden next to the fountain, lost in dreams and her thoughts written into damp paper that would become slowly soaked during times she would get lost staring at the water, listening to the gurgling sound of the fountain.

Amelia had become quite an impressive writer, she had published two novels in a season. She would return to the cabin for week stretches only to write and seek solace. It seems that times had changed so rapidly that when she looked at the fountain she felt more inspired then heartbroken at the thought that she shared memories with Demetri. There were more than enough male suiters at her door, but she felt something was missing in her story. She felt that though she was productive, and did grieve over her dad as much, that life would bounce right along. The lore of her stories could not begin to express how out of touch with the things that had inspired them were. She would write before and the characters would leap off the page and happen into the exquisite places that the mind could ever imagine, now dulled down by the greys and deep blues of what had become a lifestyle of travel, and appearances, readings, and random people, that talked about random things.

It had been 16 years since Amelia had seen Demetri, her life had changed, she still owned that cabin for sentimental value but did know go there much anymore, bigger places in countries had called to her more often than not and the writings that came out of her were no doubt influenced by her seemingly infinite travel. Demetri had found in that six months that there was no place for him to go. He had found again that he had resigned himself to staying with the rest of the workers through the winter season, as they had some of the harvested fruit and vegetable from the land, blankets and other seasonal gifts from the house for the workers were considered family as they were giving very generous accommodations free of charge. The only rule was that for the sake of the group and to sustain each other, each member had to wear many hats in assisting in the cleaning and cooking for the group. The job was always done by both the men and women of the camp, as needed.

Demetri found himself starring up at the sky one night as his shift for folding linens and cleaning out the stew pot, that had been polished off by the crew. He starred in the distance at the fountain. The weather had started to change, the chill in the air, all of it had him contemplating how could it be that he found himself here, always starring at the beauty of the fountain, he had forgot why the fountain had such significance save its beauty. It had been many moons since he had seen Amelia, he could barely imagine her, and just knew that she would not recognize him if he were standing right in front of her face. He had more than enough money to leave and start a brand-new life months ago, he could have travelled the world over with the amount of money he had saved living communally with the rest of the workers, and not having or pay for rent, or food. His life had become simple and his big adventure had been miniaturized into falling in love with someone he did not have the guts to keep. Amelia had become unattainable to him, always gone, besides the head housekeeper, and the workers no one really occupied the cottage, it looked bare and somehow sad from a distance but Demetri without fail would always become inspired by the beauty of the fountain. It gave him hope, and told him to hold on. Demetri was not sure what he was holding on for, but he decided that letting go would be harder than staying.

Amelia decided that she would come to the cottage and see Rose, she decided that there was not a better time to visit, she had just enough time to squeeze in a visit, and just the very thought of it made her happy. She often found that city life was really demanding, and then there was the trends, and then the popularity contests, then pageants. This season was the time where people looked for an occasion to mingle and this put a demand on Amelia’s time. She almost feel as she lost herself trying to maintain the social life needed for success in her field. The day Amelia arrived, she went straight into the cottage to see Rose, Rose was waiting in the kitchen with warm cinnamon rolls and a huge smile on her face. You look well, Rose said in her Caribbean Accent. Amelia beamed knowing that the time away had been good to her. Amelia talked with Rose into the evening without even getting fully settled. Rose explained to Amelia that her room was undergoing repairs, and that she would like Amelia to consider staying in the guest house which she had especially designed in her absence. Amelia could not disagree with Rose, she knew that whatever decision Rose had made about her accommodations would be beyond expectation. Amelia retired to the guest house after dinner, exhausted from her trip she found that sleep was waiting for her the minute she dropped her bags to the floor.

Rose went to work on a plan immediately after Amelia had arrived. Rose had been talking with Amelia’s mother every day since she started at the cottage, and knew that Amelia stayed on the road so much because she was running away from something.

While Amelia slept, Rose went to work plotting, she knew she could not control all the earthly elements but something as it were, was indeed in her control. Rose went to the workers cabin and asked Demetri if he could work on a special project for the Mistress of the house. That she would be returning soon and that the fountain was in need of some repairs. It seems to have developed more than a few cracks during its splendid years, and she wondered if Demetri would be inspired to give the fountain it’s proper maintenance. Demetri would have no one else ever summoned to do that job, he walked toward the fountain to examine it before Rose could even get the complete sentence out of her mouth. It was too dark to tell all that was askew with the fountain, but Demetri assured first thing in the morning that he would go and do all he could to help restore the fountain to its former splendor.

As Demetri approached the fountain in the morning, he noticed a familiar vision standing, squinting her eyes and looking back at him. He noticed that it was Amelia, the minute she noticed him she smiled widely, then ran to Demetri to hug him. Demetri was so overwhelmed by the vision of Amelia, it seemed as if he had only seen her yesterday, but the years were between them, and he had so many questions. Amelia wanted Demetri to stay, but she did not understand how long he had been around, drawn to the fountain, thinking about her. The two knew that the rest of their lives would be thinking about each other, the years that had passed between them seemed so pointless, but necessary. Demetri’s love for Amelia took form and surrounded her, Amelia’s love for Demetri gave him a since of direction. That’s all they needed at this point, that is all they needed for a lifetime.

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