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September 2, 2013

I Hraet You (88)

Beat 88: The Greatest Euphemism

“The madam…?” Deirdre asked.  “You mean --?”

Sheila nodded slowly.  “My mom.  He’s…he’s talking about my mom.  Though I don’t really know what he’s getting at here.”

“Worry not.  Everything will become clear soon enough,” said Lloyd.  “Rest assured, she is as much the key to your transformation as the concept of dreams.  But in order to expound on either of them, there’s a topic that we have to discuss at some length.  One that’s been on my mind for quite some time, even before her entry and departure from this audition room.”

“Wh-what’s that?”

“Isn’t it obvious?  Child-rearing.”

For a second it looked as if both the girls might fall right off the stage -- and if Deirdre hadn’t been fused to said stage, she very well might have. 

“My.  That’s quite a reaction from a pair of ladies that had aims to do something so scandalous,” Lloyd said as he stroked his chin.  “Could it be that in spite of all your bluster, neither of you are quite ready to take that fateful plunge?”

“Don’t get smart with me, boy!” Deirdre snapped.

“But I’m afraid I have no choice.  Playing the fool is something I can only do for so long, you see.”  He gave them both a nod.  “It was my understanding that Miss O’Leary’s goal was -- as per her father’s words -- to sire an heir so that her ‘curse’ could be removed.  That, I suspect, is only half the case.  Whether or not Miss O’Leary wanted to be removed of her bodacious body remains to be seen -- though given the mere existence of the imagined Miss O’Leary, that’s a bit dubious -- but the intent is still there beyond the surface-level goal.”  He shot an eye at Deirdre and Sheila in turn.  “And make no mistake: it IS a goal, not a dream.  Merely an objective to be had, without the passion required to make it the essence of your being OR your future.”

He paused for a moment to allow for outbursts, but received none -- just a look of acceptance from Sheila, and a look of apprehension from Deirdre.  “Unfortunately, there are a number of vital points the two of you are glossing over for the sake of your goal.  The first: I have a strong suspicion that neither of you have put much thought into the ramifications of giving birth to children of your own.  Do either of you have a plan for what happens after the birth of your first hypothetical child?  Do either of you have a plan for what happens before the birth?”  His brow tightened.  “To build and nurture a family is an arduous task indeed, but a rewarding one all the same.  Yet, if you were to consider having a child merely for the sake of your own satisfaction…I’m afraid that the two of you would be some of the worst people imaginable.”

Sheila yelped softly, and turned her head away.  Deirdre folded her arms and looked in the opposite direction, still tense, but with a slightly softer gaze.

“…Well, it’s fortunate that we’re only dealing with theory, not practice,” Lloyd said with a quick laugh.  “But the second point I have still stands.  From what I can gather, your intention is to have a child so that you can stand on -- and eventually surpass -- the same plateau as Madam O’Leary.  In your eyes, to become a mother is the ultimate state of being.  And while I wouldn’t discount such a noble profession so recklessly, there’s a fatal flaw in that mindset.”  He held up a finger.  “The assumption is that by doing precisely what your mother has already done, you’ll be able to equal and supersede her.  A hasty -- and ultimately wrong -- conclusion.  The act is simple enough; the quality is what will decide it…and I suspect that as you are, neither of you can do as fine a job as the madam has done for you.  It’s a testament to the bond that you share with her, and the respect inlaid within; at the same time, it’s a mindset that’s crippled and limited you.  It’s left you -- both of you -- unable to see the possibilities that exist all around you.”

“Possibilities?” Sheila asked.  “So what do you want us to do?  What can we do?”

“Unite with your other half, and begin your life -- the adventure of merely facing each day -- in earnest.”

“Th-that’s…I’m sorry, but I just don’t think it’s an option.”

“She’s got that right,” said Deirdre.  “It’s impossible.  There’s no way for us to do it.”

And once more, they try to have this argument spin in circles, Lloyd thought with a sigh.  “Then let me ask the two of you something: why?”

“Why?”

“Yes, why?  What makes you think that it’s so impossible for the two of you to reconcile?  For the longest, the two of you have been demanding that I offer up proof, if not telling me outright that I’m wrong.  So where, exactly is YOUR proof?  Can either of you conclusively explain just why exactly you haven’t been able to work together?  Can either of you give decisive evidence that shows your cooperation in the world at large -- your pursuit of a new life -- is nothing more than a dying man’s dream?”

“W-well, I…I, uh…”  Deirdre tightened her arms’ grip around her body.  “Th-there’s gotta be something!  I just can’t think of it yet!”

“I can,” said Sheila.  “It’s because everything up to this point hasn’t worked out too well for me.  It’s like no matter what I do or how hard I try, I always end up being the loser.  The butt of everyone’s joke.”

Rather than deny her outright, Lloyd merely gave her a nod.  “And what exactly have you done, Miss O’Leary?  How hard have you tried?”

“I -- I, um…th-there was this one time when I…uh…”  She shook her head rapidly, sending her braids bouncing across her face.  “N-n-never mind.”

“So up to this point, it’s as if you’ve never tried at all,” said Lloyd.  “I see.  Regrettable, but viable nonetheless.  With that said, it’s only natural that a change is enacted.  It’s a change that the two of you, working in tandem, can bring about…and more importantly, a change that I intend to help you with.”

“How are you gonna do that?”

“With a pledge.  To help you here, and to help you elsewhere.  I believe that collectively, the two of you have the ability to do what I could never hope to do, if only you break out of this cycle that binds you so.”  He offered Sheila a hand.  “I’ve seen your raw talent, and know your inlaid gentility -- that kindhearted temperance that belies the resolve and strength you’ve hidden.”  And he offered Deirdre a hand.  “And I’ve seen your overwhelming force of will -- that strength personified, with a level of creativity and cleverness -- and of course, courage -- that can make any dream a reality.”

He pressed his palms together.  “It may be true that neither of you have a dream, and it may be true that both of you have been wronged.  And it’s certainly true that the world can be a harsh and oppressive place.  But you both have the power needed to overcome it.  You have the potential to surpass any trial that comes your way, and any rival that would dare to shame you.  You can become the greatest of all.  You can overcome the past -- and the mother -- that made you the women that you are now.  Working as one, the two of you can sow the seeds that will one day beautify the land; yet even at this very moment, you are the flowers that bloom and entice by way of your mere presence.  As such…”

He took a few steps backward, and bowed deeply.  “I consider it a great honor to be in your presence.  And I would ask -- if not beg -- that I can continue to be a presence in your lives.  Not just as a would-be father.  Not just as a counselor, or some sort of life coach.  Not even as a mere friend.”  Lloyd raised his head and smiled.  “I wish to be a part of you.”

“O-of who?” Sheila asked.

“Of both of you.  You are one and the same, but if this venture has been any indication, you’re both in need of aid.”  He laughed to himself.  “I suppose the same could be said of all men and women -- including myself.  So I want to take a genuine, undisputable step toward lending my aid.  If you have a problem, I’ll help you.  If you fall to fear, I’ll help you.  If you desire for the sake of your dream, I’ll help you.  If for some reason there is ever -- ever a reason for you to despair, then I will be there.”  He shook his head.  “No.  I won’t just be there if you call on me.  I will always be there for you, by your side, in body or in spirit.”

“You really mean that?” Deirdre asked.

“Of course.  Wherever a hole may appear, it’s my duty to fill it with all that I have -- with the passion that drives me so.”

Deirdre sighed, and pressed a hand to her forehead.  “That sounded surprisingly sexual.”

“Eh?  It did?”

Deirdre just kept shaking her head -- but as she did, a smile stretched across her face.  “Heh heh…it seems like no matter what I do, I can’t get you to shut up.  That mouth of yours is all you’ve got…but I guess right now, that’s the only weapon you need.”  She broke into a fit of quiet laughter, and after a half-minute of easy chuckles she sighed and looked down at Lloyd.  “I just can’t win against you, can I?  If I even try it, we’ll just end up going around in circles all over again.  And honestly?  The same old, same old just doesn’t have the allure that it used to.”

“Miss O’Leary --”

Deirdre nodded and threw up her hands.  “I admit defeat.  I guess I’d better, before this thing goes on for another half-century.”  She peeked at Sheila from the corner of her eye.  “So, what does my other half think?”

“I…I…”  Sheila clasped her hands tightly and pursed her lips.  “I -- I just don’t understand you.”

“What is there to understand?”  Lloyd asked.

“It doesn’t make any sense.  Why would anyone…why would you try so hard to help me?  I’m nobody…I’ve caused so much trouble…I’ve made so many mistakes…”  She sniffled -- and in spite of her best efforts, she couldn’t hide her tears from Lloyd.  “I-I’m sorry.  It’s just…I-I’ve never had anything like this happen to me before.”

“I’d recommend you get used to it then.  I’ll be showing you plenty of new experiences in the future.”

“But why?  I just -- I just can’t figure it out.  Why would you go so far for me?”  She shook her head slowly.  “I’m nothing special to you.  I barely even know you.  I…I don’t even love you.”

Lloyd’s eyes widened at the sentiment -- but before he could say anything rash, he just hung his head and laughed curtly.  “Of course you don’t.  It would be outright silly for you to fall in love with me, wouldn’t it?”  He pressed a palm to his face -- and after brushing aside a few bangs, he looked back to her with a weary smile.  “I don’t do what I do just to earn favor. You have a heart, Miss O’Leary -- and it’s my duty to mend it however I can, whenever I can.  That’s what I live for…and I ask for just one thing in return.”

“What?”

“Become all that you can be.  Let the world hear the roar of your beating heart -- and with that heart, change the world.”

The audition room went silent.  Lloyd could see Sheila trying -- and failing -- to come up with any words; for what purpose, he couldn’t begin to guess.  Deirdre stood in place, arms folded and a casual smirk across her face.  Sheila fidgeted, with her shoulders raised and quivering, and her brow tightened almost to its breaking point.  And of course, Lloyd hadn’t forgotten about their stars.  One half-filled star for the both of them, even after all he’d done.  Had he done enough?  Had he done anything?

He didn’t have to wait long for an answer.

Sheila dropped her hands and sighed, and stared blankly at the ceiling.  “Deirdre.  Let’s combine.”

TO BE HEARTINUED…

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