A long, long time ago someone asked me to write a love story. I said I had none to tell from real life that ended too well, but I could tell the story of my heart. That story later became the basis for the Magique brand.
You can find the original story here, as well as another chapter in what is now turning into a novel.
Want more of this story? Convince me to add more chapters to this site…
It was a town that you could get lost in. Alley after alley swirled in a mesmerizing pattern on the hill. The river passing through was a landmark, but even that twirled. Twirled around the little town and twirled in and of itself as the water was playing… It was a town that could play, that was for sure. Carnivales would light the streets, bring out the townsfolk and bring in strangers. Carnivales are designed for that – for openness. For something extraordinary to happen. You can almost taste it in the air – change has arrived.
People liked this town. It was quaint. Old fashioned, yet open. At least during the Carnivale. It was one of those weird Carnivales that no one knew of through advertisement. It was only the people that came across other people that had been there that knew. And those people often felt propelled to go. Because something, something captured them when listening to the stories of those that had been. It was almost like magic. You could taste the smell of gunpowder, spice and soft vanilla in the air. It was a strangely alluring smell. It smelled of adventure, of danger, yet of comfort and warmth. It was a two sided coin and you were drawn in to see both sides.
The town was, of course, made up of cobble stone streets and medieval sand colored houses. Flower pots decorated entrances and balconies. The sound of life echoed through the streets during the day and lovers’ whispers sneaked around the corners at night – if you listened carefully enough you could hear them. The wind carried them around.
The wind liked caressing this town. Rarely was there ever a storm, yet everyone knew that when the Carnivale arrived there was a different wind. Not the one that caressed the houses, but rather a wind created by something inexplicable. A wind one could feel within, not without. Although you could almost taste it in the air. So strong was the sensation.
In Carnivale time there was also a sweet taste to the air, because every other woman was preparing treats. Chocolates made with secret ingredients, teas made from exotic spices, cakes that looked more inviting than a hot tub in spring, desserts so overpoweringly indulgent that people had been known to become mesmerized by them and candy so supremely sweet, yet so mild that it melted your tongue and your senses.
If you can imagine this town – so sweet, so quaint, yet for one week a year covered in forces so strange, so delicious and so powerful and tantalizing it was almost as if they ruled you rather than you ruled them. Still, you knew, on some level or other, that if you were there it was only because those forces were part of you. Just like the joker is part of the deck. For some, of course, these forces were stronger and they were used to living with them. For others it was only once a year, or once in a lifetime, that they truly let them rule them and that was during the Carnivale.
At dawn, of course, most people and forces were asleep. Instead freshness was in the air. The smell of flowers, water and country air overtook everything else. It was only ever so often that the wind would bring you a taste of the undertones, those that would get stronger as the day moved along.
During one such Carnivale, at one such dawn, sat a man atop a bridge, overlooking the town. The sun was painting the sky a dusky peach, mixed with blues, greens and yellows. It was the colors that made this man arise so early. The colors and the need to see things for what they were. Come night he would become part of the dance of the living and if he did not watch out, he would forget. Forget who he truly was. Forget to see life.
He liked living though, he just didn’t want to entirely fall into the dance because he knew that then it would never stop. He would never step aside to watch. He would just play his part like all the others. Be swept off his feet rather than walking his way. He would always know what people thought, but he would not think it. He would be too mesmerized by their colors, their faces, the sensation of their hands against his…he would dance, but he would no longer be the one choosing which dance, which tune to follow, he would instead be led by the music, the people, the steps…
No, the jester preferred this life, this life where he walked on his own road. The road of course belonged to everyone, but few others walked it. When he did meet someone on the same road they would instantly become friends even though they did not come from the same place. They became friends because they were going in the same direction. They were few though and he had gotten used to being on his own. He had a life. He knew where he was going, even though that was a matter of a constantly changing heart. He knew he just had to follow it and that made him secure. He was comfortable within his own skin.
He was an entertainer, that was his profession. He would tell people what they thought – read them like an open book. Of course he only saw that which was obvious, but they thought it was hidden and that he had cracked them open. Like any good entertainer he would also talk of the news of the day, only he would tell them for what they truly were, not what they were portrayed to be. There was a lot of humor in the truth. He would tell the audience that everything was a lie, but then that was the truth. He could juggle and do tricks with cards, he could play the flute and stand on the one hand. He was, to everyone else, a mystery, but to him he was quite open. He spoke the truth so everyone thought he was lying. He showed everyone a trick, but they could not see it, so they got tricked.
The woman was standing in her shop grinding spices in her mortar. She could have bought them ground, but they were more potent when fresh. The woman knew spices very well – she had studied the use of each one, but when she made potions she did not think. She let her subconscious decide – it had gotten all the information it needed through her studies and it was more trustworthy than her logical brain.
She was up early as her mind tended to be clearer and her instincts purer. That way her potions became even stronger. Besides, she liked seeing people in the morning – the few that managed to crawl out of bed. It was as if their minds, too, were clearer and it made it easier for her to determine what they had come there for. To treat themselves, of course, but what for? You’d think they’d come for celebration, but most came because they needed comfort. No sorrow felt as bad when indulging in something pleasurable and light, or sensual and musty, or simply tantalizing and warm. As the customers entered the shop she would serve them accordingly with wit and charms, but also with the right spices, cakes and drinks. As she saw it that was her job. That and the joy she got from playing with the ingredients, always creating something new. She also created potions for her own sake. Joyous little things that matched her mood. Sunshine food for the soul or tantra for the night time. Kiss me quick cupcakes. Turn me on chocolates. Take me out fudge. Make me laugh cookies. Soothe my soul tea. Bring it on truffles. Sleep well mints. Dream of love candy.
The wind suddenly swept by, swirling in underneath the crack in the door. A second later, whilst the wind was still playing outside, the woman heard a bell gently playing somewhere far away. She smiled. So he was coming. Whoever he was. The wind and the bells always let her know. It had started on a square in Avignon during their Festival. Since then it always happened.
The woman was used to reading signs, just as she was used to reading thoughts. To her it was simple, so long as her mind was clear. As soon as she wanted something the messages got mumbled up – the signs were still there, but she misread them.
The spices she had chosen today were warm – cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, chili… It suited the spirit of the Carnivale. It was made of such animal instincts. Of pleasure. Of the need for transformation. Liberty. Love. Laughter. Beauty. Truth. It was a bohemian revolution according to some, but mainly human if you knew nature. It was what every man dreamt of, but few dared to pursue. The total freedom of being without the need to be. It brought out your hidden desires. Those that were meant to be played with, not suppressed. People had left the Carnivale changed. People had left not knowing what had just happened. People had left pretending to be what they used to pretend to be. It depended on how strong the forces within them were to be free. Some felt more comfortable returning to their old shell.
The scent of the spices twirled up into her face as the door was opened. She didn’t have to look up to know that it was a man, but she was surprised at the lightness of his step. It was not an intrusive one she thought. He was humble, yet with force. He was strong but he cared to be light. Light on those whose path he crossed. She was sure he made an impression, but he didn’t change them by crushing their defenses. He changed them by softly showing them what was there.
“Bonjour monsieur, que c’est que vous voulez?” she asked and looked up as yet another waft of the spices entered her nostrils. So these were his spices she thought. Deep, yet with a playfulness and warmth. Warm, yet with a zest.
“I don’t know,” he replied, his eyes following her body. “I would like breakfast, but why don’t you tell me what’s the best in this café to eat?” She nodded. “Please, have a seat.”
He sat down and opened his bag – a worn out, yet sturdy backpack made of leather. It looked handmade. He picked out a wooden flute. “Would you mind if I play?” he asked. “I will keep it quiet so that the neighbors won’t complain.” “Not at all,” she said. “In fact I’d be curious to hear that which only you can play.” He looked up at her in some surprise. So she knew that each song was different to each man. He had already studied her. He knew that she could read people, yet she seemed somewhat confused by his presence. He too felt that there was something about her that he couldn’t explain, yet knew that he somewhere knew. It was something…
He played and she became mesmerized. In the song she could hear his journeys. She could see the grass fields and the towns. She could taste the food and drink the water. He played with feeling so everything was there in sight.
She placed a plate in front of him and a large cup of hot chocolate, gently spiced with cardamom. “You think I need to be soothed, do you?” he asked, somewhat surprised. “You think you are strong, and you are, but you have walked far. You have given your energy to the hearts of strangers, helping them. You have recovered in the fields and in the valleys, but not many send their energy to you. There was a woman in a town once, but she is but a memory to you now. It brings a smile to your face, but it no longer brings you warmth. It is rare that you find someone you like. Sometimes you encounter fellow travelers, and you share a laugh. You get giddy and happy through talking to someone who knows, but it is not love, it is only sharing. You understand each other. You do not love one another. Yes, the chocolate will soothe you and the food heal you.”
She walked back into the kitchen, knowing that she had said much more to him than she had to any customer in her whole life. To others she had to talk in fairytales. She had to tell stories to make them understand. If she spoke her mind they would be frightened, but he was like her. He read them too.
The jester bit into the muffin, which indeed made him feel an instant warmth, a comfort, throughout his body. Now he knew what he had seen in her before that he had not been able to understand. They did the same job. She through patisseries, he through cards. They played tricks on people. They entertained people, through their taste buds or their minds. Both, of course, leading to the heart. They saw people for who they were and then showed it to them in ways they understood. They opened them, healed them and let them move towards where they needed to go. The people never knew. At least very few. Often they just felt entertained and lighthearted, excited and thrilled, turned on or high, comforted or blessed with joy. They didn’t realize that someone had just gone in and rearranged the pieces of their puzzle. It was a lonely job, yet a very sociable job. It was a heartwarming job, but it did drink some of your energy, like the woman said, because all your energy went to them. You then had to sit and recover in nature – gain energy from somewhere else. He did not question his path, he just sometimes wished that someone would understand it. Not just understand it, but travel along the same path as him, stretching out her warmth to him. Because of course, the warmth of a woman was different from the warmth of a man – both needed but in different ways.
As she came back out to continue grinding her spices for the cake she was baking he asked her: “So you are the magical witch of this town?” She laughed. “Some like to think that. There is nothing as exciting as spells, but there is nothing magical about my food. I make people believe in a message. And I add the spice to enforce it and the intention to go with it. People would understand if you explained, but they prefer life’s little mysteries to remain intact. They’d rather think they were saved by a spell than by nature itself. Such is life.” “They’d rather be fed health than told to get healthy, you mean?” “Something like that.”
The woman’s body swayed as she was grinding the spices. It was as if she was dancing when she moved. She played with nature. He played with minds.
“Can I hold my show here tonight?” he asked. She nodded.
That night the Carnivale atmosphere once again swept across the little town. The air got musky and hot. Desires were lived out, laughters shared. Performances brought joy, fire eaters brought light. Sweets brought freshness and dancers brought lust. The spices became intense, the people open up and played.
As dusk fell the jester performed his tricks. People were baffled. He would tell them little things. Things they didn’t quite understand. He would also gently whisper the desires of their heart. The woman fed them desserts and cakes that suited their mood – gave them what they needed to get; took them from where they were to where they needed to be. There were many laughters, a lot of confusion and finally dancing until dawn. People forgot to think beyond that night. They were swept away by the moment. By the passion. By pure joy.
As dawn came the jester and the woman sat on the bridge. “These are the colors of the jester,” she said, as she pointed to the sky. “I know.” “You play with the colors like you play with the people. You jest, but in your jest lies the truth.” He laughed. “And you bake, but in your baking lies the truth.” She smiled. “It’s an easy disguise.” He countered: “And so is the jest, the magic, the entertainment.”
From that moment, or even before that, they knew that their lives were intertwined, as was the spice with the batter and the cards with the deck.
Sometimes an Ocean meets a Wind. The Wind stirs the Ocean to move and the Ocean sprinkles its mist on the Wind. They fly together, but they will always be apart. Sometimes a Fire encounters a Wind. The Fire burns brighter and the Wind gets warm. They gather strength from each other, but they know they will forever be apart. Sometimes the Earth has a rendezvous with the Wind. The Wind brushes the Earth and makes it come alive and the Earth throws itself into the wind in a game. They twirl together, but they know they will part. Then, once in a while as destiny says, a Wind comes upon another Wind. They match each others’ strengths. They intertwine with one another to see if they can play. They swirl and twirl in patterns to see if there is a rhythm they both like. Maybe sometimes they fly rather quickly, maybe sometimes rather slow. If two such Winds meet and they find a rhythm and enjoy to play, if they are both flying in the same direction, even though only their hearts can tell where to next, then they have found their true partner in life. Because as we know, they know each other inside out. They were born the same, only life moved them apart. They know different notes, but they belong to the same symphony. And together they play.
Another Chapter in the Book
And so the mistral was blowing. They called it the “masterly” wind, but to her it always reminded her of a minstrel. A minstrel that had taken to the streets in a big way. Bringing with it the tastes, smells and memories of other towns; other people and places. It shook the heavens and cleaned the Earth. It stirred up people’s imagination and made them stay up at night; sitting curled up by the fireplace drinking cups of tea, chocolate, or hot wine.
Yes, the wind cleaned the Earth as it stirred up people’s imagination and made them empty their thoughts into the night. After they’d seen what they’d kept hidden for many months, they were cleaned. Left in the air however was the residue of thousands of voices that the wind had carried with them. Violette liked to listen to those voices. Hear little segments of what was going on in the world. Catch whiffs of the scents from places far away.
If the rain came, of course, all foreign voices were cleaned away. Instead the Earth rose into the heavens and you smelled the scent of home. Violette liked that too. She loved her home. Yet, she liked the temptation of far away lands. Of travelers’ tales. Once every month or so she’d take her carriage and drive to Avignon to stock up her cupboards with new ingredients. She could have gone less often, but she liked her produce fresh and she wanted an excuse to go there. To smell some different scents in the air. Hear foreign accents. Be intrigued by scholarly talk.
During such visits she’d often have random encounters that’d leave her smiling. Whilst some people could go to a city and not meet a soul, she found she’d often meet strangers as easily as others spent money for milk. In shops where she went often she knew the owners and they’d introduce her to fellow patrons. Sooner than she’d know it she’d be sipping tea or hot chocolate in a salon with some person she’d never met before. Though many were country folk and rather than sipping tea they’d exchange herbal recipes, tales of births and miracles; hard to cure diseases and the joy of the new harvest, or the first spring blossom.
Once on such a trip she’d met a man who had quite the air of a refined man. He was a gentleman. Yet it was clear he’d traveled the world and learned to live in ways no gentleman lived. The adventurer could never be held entirely responsible for always behaving with tact when dealing with pirates and demons in seas unknown. It made a man grounded, because rather than speak it made him live. Face the dangers and the beauty of life. It made some jaded, it made others wide awake to wonder.
This man, James, had many a story to tell. For hours he’d charmed her with tales of everything from the perfect orange blossom for perfume to the most intriguing tea ceremonies in Japan. He was intelligent, knowledgable and not one bit conceited or proud. He was a gorgeous man.
His refined manners and rough hands would charm most any woman in a skirt. And given all women wore skirts at the time, that amounted to a rather large number. She was charmed too. She wanted to stay. Listen to more tales. Yet, as someone who knew most anything from looking upon a man, she knew that he would be like a giant in her town. He’d go there. He’d rumble around. Then he’d leave, only to come back at times, always longing to go again. And she, she’d enjoy the road for a while. She’d be curious. But she had a town to care for. And there’d never be harmony between the two. He’d never fall in love with her town, even if he would with her. And she’d never fall in love with taking too many too long journeys, even if she’d adore him.
There was discord and she could feel it trembling in the Earth, like the murmur before an earthquake.
No, what she dreamed of was slightly different. A bit softer somehow. Trips that went further than she’d been, but not too far. As for a man she wanted someone who would long to return. Someone who’d love her town like it was his own, even if he traveled.
Temptation is what temptation is though. Like anyone else she was tempted. If so only for a night, but night brings morning and morning brings light. She did not want to raise a child on her own with a father unknown, although the romance of one night with a man did appeal to her. One night. One single night of life and wonder. Not long enough to see the things that in daylight would break the two of them apart liked a cracked eggshell. But one night can bring heartache if you look upon it in the eyes forever and wise as she were she did not fancy the idea. So she left, but her body was aching for more.
It had been different when she were a mere eight or nine summers old. She’s been with her grandmother to Avignon, shopping for herbs and spices, as well as special orange water. A boy had looked at her from behind a sack of potatoes in the store. His eyes were green as grass, his hair dark as a raven. His cheeks were red as if someone had pinched them, but it was only the sun. The sun and joy of life.
He’d seemed so confident, yet completely unaware of his own confidence. There was absolutely nothing frightening about him, just an intense sense of warmth and some resemblance of the beginnings of strength. He’d smiled at her. One big beautiful smile. And she’d felt butterflies fluttering in her belly.
They’d spoken and he’d taken her outside. Showed her tricks with his yo-yo, followed by all sorts of other tricks. He’d done handstands and backflips, taken a dice out from behind her ear and juggled some eggs. Not a single one broke. And just like that she’d known that she wouldn’t break around him. That he caught what he said he’d catch.
She’d never seen him again.
He was, as she understood, part of a traveling carnival. Her grandma had smiled when she spoke of him – she’d met him as she’d given them rock sugar when she exited the shop. And she’d let them play as she carried on with her errands – they’d followed her around town, but stayed outside shops when she went inside.
He’d shown her so many tricks which she’d later memorized. At least the ones she could remember. Sometimes she’d looked into his eyes instead of at the trick and forgotten what he was doing as soon as it was done. He’d made her laugh.
They’d spoken. She’d spoken about recipes and kitchen delights; he of marvelous travels along winding paths. He’d spoken about bringing people to their heart; she’d spoken about curing people with herbs and spice. He’d spoken about the joy of watching acrobats performing new tricks; she’d spoken about the joy of sitting cuddled up by the fire in the kitchen, as the scents of what was baking slowly filled the room.
To her he was beauty. Plain and simple. He’d understood her. Everyone else was a stranger with whom she shared moments. He was listening to her soul. As if he could see it and she could see his. As if they were actually touching each others souls with their hearts. It was magic. Not the pulling of coins and dice from weird places, but that feeling of being seen. Of belonging. She knew they had different lives. Different experiences. But it was as if they understood each other perfectly. They weren’t the same, but their world was the same even if they went on different journeys.
Her grandma understood her too. She belonged to the same world. Her grandma had taught her about life. About everything she knew. She’d taught her to look inside people to see what they felt and what they needed to feel better. And the boy did something similar, only in a very different way. He understood.
Some people fascinated her and struck a chord with her, like the gentleman adventurer. He was exciting, yet refined. He was intellectual and he understood her as intellectuals do, but he did not feel what she felt. The boy did. That boy from so very long ago.