One can no more bury the past than control the future, though I suppose many of us try to do both, in various degrees. This is one of the central themes in Dawn at Last, a book about being wanted in three states . . . the past, the present and the future.
One of the main characters seems more consumed with the past than the others. Some see her as an ice queen, though she’s never struck me that way . . . perhaps more of a victim? Yet she doesn’t want to see herself that way – the victim – though she knows there is plenty of truth to that. To accept it as true is to admit defeat . . . the warrior within can’t do that, and so the child within continues to suffer:
“You two are really something else . . . such smart men! You know I’m mostly full of shit, more screwed up than I ever realized, until now . . . most of my life is one big lie. But then in my own defense, present company excepted, most of my life has been with people who, well, let’s just leave that out for now . . . Anyway, just so you know, Ben and all the others got exactly what they paid for. They got their ‘charming companionship’ every time – two hours at a time – the truth is they probably got more than their money’s worth . . . an ongoing, unattainable fantasy.”
She stops there. That lump comes back to her throat, brought on by her words, as they turn into thoughts. The epiphany is crushing . . . she is still living the life that she thought was left behind, the life of Dawn Belcourt, the expert in fantasy fulfillment. Her title had changed, but the role was much the same, though now there is no more fulfillment – not for anyone, and especially not for Donna Belauche.
Pierre and Charles are deeply disturbed. They are not bothered by anything she has said, but more by the current image of the woman they adore, in spite of all her acting. Now she is just sitting there, her glass shaking uncontrollably, as some of the wine dribbles down her top while she tries to drink it. She manages to put the wine glass down on the table without more spilling. Donna puts one hand over her mouth as she looks out, and then up, pensively, into the darkness of the night, into the rain.
She cannot speak and the two men know that. She bites her lower lip. The light coming from the pictures now reveals the water, but not the water from the dripping rain. Instead, the light watches the flow of tears that she tries to contain in the wells of her eyes. She appears to be on the verge of a complete breakdown, the weight of years of secret pain and sorrow, like a dam about to burst. However, in this moment, all that Pierre can see of her is a tender and hurting child.
He stands up and reaches out his hand to her. It’s an unspoken invitation for her to stand up, and when she does, he just holds her and hugs her. The tears flow uncontrollably now, and her body shakes in unison to the sobbing. He holds her a little tighter. There is nothing more he can do. She too is without choice, so Donna squeezes Pierre as tightly as she can . . . she just can’t stop the crying.
The mind is such a wonderful paradox, so fragile and yet so strong. It seems there are so many people ready to take advantage of both aspects. However, Dawn at Last is really about people who care about each other, each one differently, and despite each others’ peculiar secrets, longings, and deceptions.
I find it hard to choose excerpts from the book without spoiling it for any readers, though the one above is a pivotal one. I’ll just trust my extinct that it won’t be a spoiler for you, should you ever decide to read the book. In a way this excerpt is misleading – the sadness of it – the book as a whole really isn’t that way.
As usual, after posting something a little sad, I like to finish with something more upbeat, and Dawn at Last is overall full of reasons to smile . . . here’s to wishing you more ups than downs: