Reading to Francis

Chester walked into the dimly lit parlour of his home and saw his dear friend laying rather pathetically on a chez. Francis often succumbed to small trifling illnesses that quickly evaporated, usually correlating with his mood. Normally he could fend these off on his own but Chester realized that every now and again he required some encouragement.

Chester walked right up to the edge of the chez and gently tapped Francis’ quilt covered back with his knee. Chester’s mother, it would appear, draped the quilt, over Francis. It was one of his favourite ones. Francis let out a rumbling groan and moved a tad.

“I see… I was hoping you would come out for a walk with me dear boy. It’s a particularly fine day, we may encounter some adventure.”

Nothing in the form of a reply, not even a groan came from Francis. Chester gave out a sigh and gazed about the room.

“I suppose you want me to let you convalesce in peace then? Shall I be off?”

This time there was a slight shifting on the lounge, and a pleading groan that Chester understood to mean, stay.

Chester gazed about the room and was drawn to a bookshelf that contained several volumes his father had collected. He walked over and selected one. The title was simply, “Translations”

“Francis, this is interesting” he said, while opening the book, “I shall read from it then.”

From Francis a tiny mutter of approval. “Ma’ma says you haven’t been sleeping, perhaps this will do the trick. Make some room.”

Chester sat down next to his friend’s lower back and could now see Francis’ face. He used Francis’ hip as though it were the armrest of a chair and opened the volume which contained no table of contents or introduction for that matter, “Translations…hmmm.”

Chester flipped through the pages looking for something to catch his eye. He found a title that appealed to him, “The story of Ceastor! Hmmm, C-e-a-s-t-o-r, sounds like Chester in away doesn’t it?”

Francis, coughed and smiled, then groggily muttered, “It is probably pronounced, Kay-Astor.”

“Such cheek.” He said as he peered over at Francis with amusement and noticed that for the first time there was a semblance of a smile on his face.

“Very well, I shall read this one, lets see…”

Chester cleared his throat and once again read the title out, this time using Francis’ pronunciation of Ceastor.

 

The Story of Ceastor

 

To Nere and Adrastos was born a most gentle and beautiful boy. Nere, a seamstress and Adratos a Shipwright held prominent positions in the city. They named the boy Ceastor as tribute to Castor.

He was adorned in fine garments and Adrastos saw to his education by the greatest tutors.

As the boy grew into a youth, it was noticed by all that his beauty exceeded that of any in the city. His beauty became the subject of many poems and songs. Ceastor was unmoved by this and was often seen reading texts or observing nature. He did not seek the companionship of other youths beyond participation in exercises and games required for education and advancement.

Often, Adrastos encouraged his son to seek companionship, a friend or two, perhaps a lover but Ceastor seemed uninterested and would state, “Father, I have not an equal in this city, I am content to devote myself to study and to you and mother.”

As the years went on and Ceastor grew nearer to adulthood, many suitors tried to catch the brilliant young man. All were met without success. Soon he was known far and wide as an example of unattainable beauty and suitors came from distances to try to win his attention.

Ceastor casually rejected all offers, even some from royalty. One day when Ceastor dismissed an offer from the Greek Princess, Briseis, known for her beauty and strength and cunning, she proclaimed that Ceastor was to be cursed by Zeus himself, ‘For no peasant should think himself or herself so high as to reject an offer from royalty.’

Ceastor was unmoved and though his parents feared the worst, they knew their pleas would not be heard so they prayed for his safety secretly to the household gods.

After a time, nothing terrible seemed to occur and the frequency of proposals had tapered off. Ceastor resumed his simple life of study and observation and frequently walked through the untamed lands near his home.

On one of these walks he encountered a lioness that shimmered with a golden light. He was frozen by its beauty and by his fear that he would be eaten.

“Young man, your beauty is such that I cannot bring myself to devour you, it even outshines my golden radiance, come away with me and live as my consort.”

Surprised by this Ceastor stood up tall and pondered her proposal for a moment. “If you wish to eat me, it is your rite for I cannot accept your offer.”

The lioness roared loudly and paced around him swiftly. Occasionally snapping at him with her mighty teeth bared. Then simply went off into the woods.

– “Francis, can you believe this!”

Francis let out a moan of agreement and managed to utter, “Keep reading.”

Chester was tickled at his friend’s interest, “Very well…”

Ceastor made way back to his home but could not find the trail. Now he faced the danger of being lost in the woods. As he searched for the road out of the forest a beautiful song struck him. He followed it to the edge of a pond where a young woman sat by its edge. Her visage was unlike any he had seen and from her an astral glow illuminated the nearby surroundings.

“Beautiful maiden, I wish not to interrupt your gentle reverie however I am lost and in need of some direction. Would you be so kind as to help me?”

The ethereal beauty stood and seemed to fly toward him. Her radiance was almost overwhelming to Ceastor.

“Never have I seen one as beautiful as I, the forest has led you to me Ceastor and I shall lead you out of it to safety but only as your wife.”

Ceastor thought a moment about her offer, “You shimmer like the moon and stars combined and personified but it is clear I will have to find my own way out of the wood. I bid you farewell.”

The woman seemed to dim as she turned around and walked away, illuminated steps showing her path.

Now deeper into the wood and very lost, he knew that night would soon be here. Determined to find the path, Ceastor walked, seemingly unmoved by fear of the dangers within this forest. Suddenly before him there was a figure, a man whose skin appeared to be made of marble. Never had Ceastor seen a man of such grace and beauty as was standing before him now.

“Please sir, if you are kind, show me the way out of this forest.”

The man came closer and his beauty nearly took Ceastor’s breath away, he did not speak for some time and Ceastor nearly swooned.

“I will show you the path out of these woods, and then you shall become my lover.”

Ceastor composed himself and replied, “Your prowess and beauty are unrivaled but I cannot accept your offer, for my heart is complete and I seek no other to fulfill me. I am complete within myself.”

“You have now rejected me three times and I see that you cannot be moved. Though your words reflect your heart truly, this heart is unique among mortal men and women. Even we gods are not content without companionship. Many who’s hearts have been broken by your beauty have wished for your downfall dearest Ceastor.”

Realizing whom he faced, Ceastor knelt and covered his face and pleaded. “Great Zeus, please kill me swiftly!”

Zeus smiled and continued, “You will not die, but the prayers of so many force my hand and you shall suffer a lesson befitting your character. Since you are complete I will make you incomplete Ceastor. Henceforth you are two, half of the same heart and soul in each, and cursed to desire the other yet be unknown to one another. And even were you to find your heart and soul’s mate, he shall not recognize you.”

And so with a mighty bolt of lightning Ceastor became two and Zeus encased the other in a whirlwind and cast him off to a distant place. Ceastor was only able to see a glimpse of his other half but in that glimpse he fell utterly and completely in love.

Where Zeus once stood now was a clear the path to his home. Ceastor felt a great longing and sadness he had never felt and was now compelled to seek his other half. It is said that for the rest of his days, Ceastor searched for his companion, and prayed for forgiveness and to once more become whole, every night.

On the night of his death, he was compelled to wander out into the fields near his home and there found twin boys clad in shimmering robes waiting for him, smiling.

“May I help you?” he said.

The twins looked at one another and only one stepped forward toward him.

“I am Castor, once mortal son of Tyndareus now immortal for my Twin’s father Zeus.”

Ceastor knelt before them.

“Rise up, we come to you at the end of your life as answer to your prayers and those of your mother and father who still pray for you in the underworld.”

Ceastor stood on his feeble legs and gazed at the radiant twins. “Even in age your beauty, though tainted with sadness has not abated. We cannot undo what has been done by our father but we can amend to his curse.”

Now Pollux stepped forward and stood beside his brother and they spoke in unison, “Never shall you pass into the underworld, nor shall your twin of heart, though all mortals must, instead you shall be reborn time and time again. By this an older prophecy you are now a part of and shall carry out, though never shall you be whole of person as you were in youth, you shall find completeness in the other when after great toil and suffering, you shall be united once more.”

Castor smiled and touched Ceastor on the forehead, “Now sleep dear namesake and be reborn.”

And so ends our story.

Chester, wiped a solitary tear and closed the book. “Francis, are you awake?” he gazed over at his friend who was gently snoring, his face so light and restful, asleep.

He got up carefully and fixed the quilt to cover his shoulders and neck, and then caressed his forehead feeling for a temperature. Only slight. He smiled with a great feeling of peace and comfort.

“It would appear I have found you at last.”

2 thoughts on “Reading to Francis

  1. Oh wow oh wow! 🙂 I really enjoyed this story!
    It was read over a coffee on a relaxing saturday morning.

    Thank you for the good story!

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