Lena’s Question

 By Chicago Tunnelkid


Vincent sat deep in thought after Lena left his chamber. Her question echoed in his head. “But she isn’t here. Why isn’t she with you?” A direct question, to the point; guileless even.  

She … She was Catherine.  She who was the drumbeat of his heart. Vincent closed his eyes and she appeared in his mind’s eye, so lovely, so loving, her eyes meeting his and pledging to love him always. And how had he answered Lena’s question? 

It was far easier to explain to Lena how much he loved Catherine. “With all that I am, with all that I can ever become.” Of that he was certain.  Yet, he had let Lena touch him, his skin, as she felt his heart. Catherine had yet to have that privilege. Lena’s ready acceptance was a balm to him, a soothing thought that perhaps he was not so outside of everyone else as he thought himself to be. She looked at him as if he were the gift she was hoping to receive under the Christmas tree, her eyes filled with hope, with love as she knew it, and with longing.  

He tried to tell her of the impossibility of her dream. He, who had only recently come to fervently believe in dreams, had to dash those of this young girl. His heart was already given.  And then that question! “Why isn’t she with you?” He’d been annoyed, having to answer to this young girl when he had no clear answer, not for himself, and certainly not for Catherine. He finally told Lena that Catherine had opened the world to him through her love only to hear Lena claim the same for her – that he had opened the world for her.  

She loved him. So he began again. ”I can’t expect Catherine to …” And stopped. He knew about expectations. He had expectations thrust upon him all too often. Did he have expectations of Catherine? No, not expectations. Little hopes, spinning around his heart and yearning to be spoken. Yet he was hesitant to rise above the fear that these hopes were too impudent to be coming from such a beast as he. He had no real answer to her question. Why wasn’t Catherine with him? 

Vincent leaned back in his chair. Catherine had almost left him once … to move to Providence. He gave feint memory to his incarceration by the scientists. Instead, he recalled his rescue by Catherine, and her being there in his chamber, looking at him with the realization that she felt far more for him than he dared hoped she could; looking at him with commitment to stay and see it through.  

His mind sped forward to that fateful night when he set her free, ending the relationship that was causing her so much pain. It nearly killed him, except he had to believe that it proved the depth of his love to set her free to find her happiness Above. Yet his heart sang at her return, and her avowal that what they had was worth everything caused his heart to swell and nearly burst with happiness, Still, the question mocked him. “Why isn’t she with you?” 

To be with her, always, was his deepest, unspoken desire. He feared he wished too much. To utter those words would be to invite the gods to break their Bond, to sever their relationship.  She was like a gem that was meant to sparkle in the sun. To pull her Below – how could he deny her the world Above when it so plainly suited her? Vincent hung his head. These thoughts always led him to the same conclusion. What had he to offer her that could even begin to compensate for her sacrifice? How could his love for her ever be enough? This thought compelled him to consider, just for a second, that Lena might be a possibility for him, just as she saw him as a possibility for her. But he knew it for the fleeting ramble that it was. His heart was bound to Catherine, and ever would be. 

“Why isn’t she here with you?”  

Oh, Catherine, Vincent raised his face to the skies Above. I do want you here with me. I pray that time will come, that we both will recognize the moment. But … not yet. I am as certain of this truth as I know of my love for you.   

His rebuff had hurt Lena. How odd it was, he thought. To think I once believed love was not meant for me. Now two women profess their love for me. One whose I heart I treasure, and one who I wish to keep as a dear friend. He hoped that a friendship would be possible. 

He stood up, resolving to go see Father. Perhaps he would have something wise to say that would make everything clear, or at least quiet his thoughts. If nothing else, he would feel Father’s love, and like the child he once was, Vincent knew he would feel better after talking things over with Father.