The face of love

Prologue
This is the story of two lovers, Aerwyna Kernow and Lowen Carey. Both have been wounded by events that took place in the past. Both are endeavouring to overcome and transcend the hardships they encounter and are moving steadily forward on the path to love and happiness. This is also the story of a stray black female cat by the name of Kerensa, yours truly. I too have had my share of pain, and like the other two characters in this story, I am coming to terms with the past and seeking to create a better life for myself and those around me. Let me begin by telling you about what took place one day at the beginning of winter. 

David Essex – A Winter’s Tale

It is not love but love’s absence that hurts.

It was around ten in the morning when Aerwyna absent-mindedly shut the front door behind her and made her way down the road towards a little bay just outside the little Cornish seaside town where she was staying. As she walked, she paid little attention to the haze that was slowly lifting to reveal the grey stone houses that were still glistening with dew. Normally, such details of natural beauty would have lifted her spirits, but this morning there was very little that could soothe her heavy heart. The only thing that could help her at the moment was solitude.

As she walked over the bridge that spanned the little river, she gazed inwards and recalled what had taken place yesterday afternoon on the clifftop that overlooked the same bay where she was now headed. A bittersweet feeling took hold of her as she visualized herself standing there in the pouring rain with Lowen and feeling the warmth of his loving embrace. It was in his arms that she felt safe and loved, and it was in his arms where she longed to be right now. 

Billy Griffin – Hold Me Tighter In The Rain

When she arrived at the bay, she decided to stand on the clifftop for a while, before following the little trail down to the beach. She looked down over the edge at the emerald green water swirling around the rocks and felt her heart beating faster. She told herself that she was afraid of heights. Somehow, the sheer drop triggered the anxiety that she had felt after she and Lowen had said their last goodbyes. Why had they decided to break up anyway, she asked herself as tears welled up in her eyes. She remembered saying something about wanting to continue her travels. A bleak smile appeared on her face. “You coward,” she said out loud to herself when a feeling deep down inside confronted her with the truth.

As long as she could remember, there had been very little love and affection in her life and much rejection and criticism in its place. She had not bonded sufficiently with her parents and because of this, she found it very difficult to fully commit herself to relationships of any kind. She was simply hesitant about being intimate and affectionate. Ironically, the intimacy she feared, fuelled her longing to be close to other people. That was why she was overjoyed when Lowen made her feel confident enough to open up completely to him. As the tears finally poured down her cheeks, she realized that it was not a fear of heights but a fear of depths that made her feel anxious.

Bob James & Earl Klugh – I’ll Never See You Smile Again

Earlier that day, at the break of dawn, Lowen went to the beach in the bay to do some surfing. He stood by his car in the car park and looked beyond the waves in a northeasterly direction to see the sun slowly rising above the horizon. Its weak wintery rays shed very little warmth and yet Lowen managed to draw some comfort from them, as they reminded him of Aerwyna’s smiling face. However, this time he was unable to respond in kind. No matter how much joy her smile exuded, he felt anything but joyous. Imagining her face in this way, reminded him of the fact that he would never see her smile again. Instantly, he felt the grief that he had bottled up since yesterday surge from his lungs and flow throughout his body. It did not take long before his chest began to heave like the swell of the ocean before him and he finally burst into tears.

“Ahhh, what a relief,” he sighed and sniffed a few times when he had finished venting his sadness. He blew his nose in a paper tissue and walked to the back of the car. There he opened the boot and got his wetsuit out of its bag. He quickly put it on, attached two fins and a leg rope to his surfboard and strapped the other end of the leg rope to his right ankle. Then he picked up his surfboard and made for the beach. There he stood and took a last look at the sunrise before wading into the surf. He still did not know how he was going to deal with their breakup. Right now, the only thing on his mind was connecting with the ocean and with Nature and forgetting about everything else in his life.

Earl Klugh – For The Love Of You

About an hour later, Lowen finished riding his last wave. He came out of the water, feeling deeply satisfied. While he walked back to the car, he hoped that the exercise would rid him of the constipation that was troubling him because of his overthinking these past few days. Moving about in the cold ocean water often did the trick. Besides bowel problems, his left eyelid was playing up causing an inflammation of his eyelid and the skin around his eye. Hopefully, the cleansing effect of the sea salt would rid him of that too. Lowen suspected that besides particles in the air, the inflammation was caused by something from the past that he had pushed away deep down inside. 

His suspicions were confirmed when he remembered weekday mornings when he was about ten years old. Dreading yet another day at school, he used to ask his mum why he could not stay home. Looking back, he was unable to recall her reply. A thin smile appeared on his face as he realized that it was not her answer in itself that had unsettled him at the time, but the intense feeling caused by a lack of warmth and affection. With Aerwyna he had experienced the exact opposite. That was another thing about her that he was going to miss. “Ah well,” he sighed deeply, consoling himself with the perspective of hanging about all day and just doing as he pleased. That was one of the many perks of being self-employed, he said to himself.

Down on the beach, Aerwyna stripped down to her bathing cozzie that she had on underneath and put her clothes in a big sports bag. She frowned when she went to grab her sleeveless wetsuit. The temperature had dropped considerably since the heavy rainfall the day before and she wondered if she would have been better off taking her other wetsuit along instead. Shall I go back and get it, she asked herself. “Nah, she said, resolutely, after giving it some thought. She was only going in for a short swim and the water was not that cold yet. At least, that is what she thought. “Oof,” she exclaimed upon entering the water, but she pushed on until she could no longer stand. “Here goes,” she said, bracing herself, and began to swim up and down the shoreline. 

Some 100 metres underway, she had gotten used to the temperature and started to enjoy herself. Swimming in open water like this, helped her to get her mind off things for a while. She focused solely on her stroke and was conscious of the physical sensation that she experienced from making her way through the swell. Once again, she was in touch with Nature and with herself, and she soon entered a meditative state. There she absorbed the painful feelings and transformed them into power that she used to propel herself effortlessly through the water with.

About an hour later, she swam towards the shore where she could stand again and took off her swimming cap and goggles. She looked at the sail boats that were anchored at the other end of the bay. Before long, she was overcome by a dreamy feeling. Where did they come from and where were they going to, she wondered. In her mind, the people sailing them must feel very free. It reminded her of her intentions when she herself had embarked on her travels. Now that there was nothing, or to be precise, no one keeping her here in the picturesque little town, she could set out on the road again. 

She sighed deeply, having mixed feelings about her decision. Somewhere deep inside she still kindled a longing for Lowen. Leaving the town would mean leaving behind forever the possibility of them getting back together. She shuddered at the thought of never seeing him again. Looking at the goose bumps on her arms, she knew it was not just her body cooling off that made her shiver. She quickly swam to the shore and put her thoughts and feelings aside for the time being.

When she had dried herself off and was dressed again, she set off back to the little cottage that she had called home for almost two months now. She made a mental note to drop by the landlady who lived further down the road and inform her that she would be leaving in a few days’ time. While she slowly made her way back, her mind’s eye was presented by images from the past of her swimming lessons in the bay near the house where she lived with her family. That bay looked similar to this one, with high cliffs and clear blue water, but also had a small island some 500 metres off the coast. 

Vividly, she remembered her swim instructor, for he was a very kind and warm-hearted man. He was also very patient and instilled feelings of security and confidence in her and the other children in the class. It was because of him that she had the courage to swim to the island when she was only seventeen. Immersed in a deep feeling of gratitude, she imagined Lowen’s smiling face. Lowen too had that warm-heartedness about him that made her feel safe and confident and encouraged her to bring out the best in herself. She smiled. “Thank you, sweetheart,” she whispered.

Edison Lighthouse – Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)

“Meow … Meow.”
Aerwyna looked down to see a pretty looking black cat with a white heart shaped tuft of hair on her chest.
“Oh, it’s you again,” she said and squatted to stroke the pretty looking cat. 
The cat lifted its small head to let Aerwyna stroke it thoroughly on its cheek and neck.
“You love that, don’t you, you little cutie.”
The cat had closed her eyes and started making little grunting noises in appreciation of Aerwyna’s affection. Aerwyna had seen her wandering around town very often and assumed that she was a stray. Judging by her shiny coat and the twinkle in her eyes though, she appeared to be well nourished and did not look anything like a stray. In fact, she reminded her of Lowen’s words to her: “You spread light and love wherever you go, Aerwyna.” Not only was someone in town feeding this little cat, they were also giving her lots of love and affection.

Suddenly, the cat opened its eyes and leaped out of Aerwyna’s arms on to the grassy verge and trotted daintily ahead of her. A few metres up the road, she stopped and turned her head towards Aerwyna as if she was beckoning her to follow her. Without further thought, Aerwyna decided to go with her gut feeling and follow the cat to wherever she was taking her. Aerwyna knew her way about town pretty well and where they were now headed was very familiar. A warm and pleasant feeling of being home came over her. Her heart felt happy. “Hmm, where are you leading me to, sweet little kitty?” she asked, smiling wistfully.

Bob James – Restless

Meanwhile, Lowen was standing at the counter in his kitchen. With his early morning exercise, he had worked up such an appetite that even the large bowl of oatmeal porridge that he had for breakfast was not enough to get him through the morning. He decided to make himself a large peanut butter and banana sandwich to satisfy his hunger. The smell of peanut butter instantly took him back to his childhood days when his mum nourished him with peanut butter sandwiches for his school lunch. The feeling of being well taken care of reminded him of his gran. Whenever he was feeling down, she always managed to warm his heart. In turn, she reminded him of his high school maths teacher, who, unlike many of the other teachers, had so much patience with him and his classmates. He owed it to her that he finally understood maths and even looked forward to her classes.

At the same time, a feeling of guilt crept up on him. It was a familiar feeling that had the habit of spoiling moments of happiness like this when he was around or thinking of kind-hearted people. He asked himself what right he had to be treated so kindly. He should not have imposed on their kind nature. His feelings of guilt spread to Aerwyna. It was no wonder that she wanted to break up with him. This little town was just one of the many stops on her journey and he did not want to curb her freedom. He had been too much for her, so letting her go was the right thing to do. Still, he could not help feeling abandoned by her, in the same way that he felt abandoned by those dearest to him. He closed his eyes and breathed in and out a few times. When he opened his eyes, he looked out the window and was amazed to see Aerwyna walking up the path to his front door.

“Aerwyna,” Lowen said with a look of surprise on his face while his heart beat wildly. 
“Hi Lowen,” Aerwyna replied, blushing. “I was walking home from a swim in the ocean when I came across this sweet little thing,” she said, looking at Kerensa who was now brushing her head against Lowen’s leg. “She led me to your door.”
Lowen squatted beside the black cat and started stroking her.
“Good on ya, Kerensa.” 
“Kerensa?”
“Yeah, that’s what I named her since she started visiting me regularly about half a year ago. Her name means ‘love’ in Cornish.”
Aerwyna squatted down beside Kerensa and joined Lowen in stroking her. From the little grunting noises it was clear Kerensa was thoroughly enjoying this abundance of affection.
“So, it was love that guided me to you,” Aerwyna remarked.
“Yeah, it was,” Lowen reacted with a big smile on his face.
“You definitely picked the right name for her. She’s so cute.”
“Oh yeah, she’s cute and she knows it.”
“She’s just like you,” Aerwyna replied, smiling as she stroked his cheek.
Lowen smiled broadly at her. His glowing cheeks told her that his heart was overflowing.
“Anyway, now you’re here, do you want to come inside?” Lowen asked.
“I’d love to. I could do with a hot shower.”
“You’re telling me,” Lowen said pinching his nose with his thumb and index finger, and burst out laughing.
“Hey, watch it, you,” Aerwyna responded with a mock-serious look. She pecked him softly on the lips, got up and made her way to the bathroom.
Lowen smiled at Kerensa and gave her a big kiss on her head.
“Thanks for bringing her home to me, Kerensa.”
She looked at him with a twinkle in her small amber eyes as if to say that he should count himself very lucky. Then she hopped through the doorway, leading him to the kitchen so that he could reward her for her kind deed. He laughed. She knew full well that he would have fed her anyway.

While Kerensa tucked into her meal of canned tuna, Lowen walked to the bathroom. He hesitated for a moment, wondering if opening the door on her would be a little too bold, until his heart whispered that it was a very good idea.
“You’re not peeking at me, are you?” Aerwyna asked, glancing over her shoulder.
“No, I’m staring at you without trying to hide it,” Lowen replied with a mischievous smile on his face.
Aerwyna laughed nervously. Now and then, she still felt a bit insecure about her body, even in Lowen’s presence.
“Actually, I’m enjoying the view,” Lowen added. “But don’t worry, I won’t get in there with you.”
Aerwyna turned around and smiled at him.
“That’s a pity. I was hoping you would.”
Lowen blushed. This was not what he had bargained for. While his heart went berserk, he undressed and slowly moved to the shower enclosure. Aerwyna opened the door.
“Get in here, you,” she said, gently pulling him in by the hand.
They looked into each other’s eyes and stopped smiling as their hearts opened up wide and connected. She gently cupped his face with her hands and he put his arms around her. They closed their eyes and just as their lips met, they were distracted by a scratching sound coming from behind the bathroom door, followed by yowling noises. 

“Aww, Kerensa, poor little thing,” Aerwyna cried.
“I forgot to leave the door open,” Lowen said and left the shower in a hurry to let Kerensa in.
Kerensa strutted into the bathroom, leaped on to the laundry hamper and began preening herself.
“Hahaha, she’s a real diva,” Aerwyna said.
“Yeah, she thinks she owns the place,” Lowen said, grinning, and gave Kerensa a big wet kiss on the head.
Kerensa immediately wiped her head clean, making both Lowen and Aerwyna burst out laughing.

Half an hour later, Aerwyna walked into the lounge room, feeling refreshed, to find Lowen sitting on the couch.
“You look absolutely gorgeous in those jeans,” Lowen remarked. “Or should I say, you make those jeans look gorgeous.”
“Flattery will get you nowhere, handsome.”
Aerwyna sat down on the couch and snuggled up against him.
“I missed you,” she said.
“I missed you too.”
Lowen had barely spoken, when Kerensa jumped off the top of the book case where she had been observing everything around her and leaped straight on to Lowen’s lap. She curled up and began sucking the paw pads on one of her hind legs. Lowen stroked her gently.
“What’s all that about?” Aerwyna asked, frowning.
“She does it a lot. I think it’s her way of soothing herself as if her mum’s suckling her. Pretty sad, really.”
Aerwyna started stroking her too.
“I’m glad she’s here with us,” she said, nuzzling Kerensa’s little head.

Earl Klugh – Dance With Me

They had been soothing Kerensa for a few minutes, when Kerensa jumped from Lowen’s lap without warning and ran off into the hallway.
“Woah, that’s pretty intense,” Aerwyna remarked.
“Yeah, she does that every time. Probably remembered she’s not a kitten anymore.”
Aerwyna was about to ask some more about Kerensa, when she heard a familiar song playing on the radio. It was a song that her parents had often played on their record player when she was very young. She jumped up from the couch and stuck out her hand to Lowen.
“C’mon, let’s dance.” 
“I’d be delighted,” Lowen said, smiling.
He got up and placed his hands on her hips. She put her arms around his neck and while they started shuffling over the floor, she sang: 

Dance with me, I want to be your partner
Can’t you see, the music is just starting
The night is calling and I am falling
Dance with me

They stopped dancing when the song was over and looked in each other’s eyes.
“Did I hear you say ‘us’ just then on the couch?” Lowen asked.
Aerwyna’s eyes twinkled.
“You don’t miss a trick, do you.”
“Haha, not when it concerns you.”
“Well, I did some thinking when I was in the shower, and I’ve decided to stay a bit longer.”
Lowen could not believe his luck. 
“I’ve been doing some thinking too. Now is the moment for me to be more bold. So, I’ve got a question for you.”
Aerwyna arched her eyebrows.
“How about you moving in with me and we travelling together?”
“Oh, Lowen, I’d love that so much,” Aerwyna replied and kissed him on the lips.
Then Kerensa scampered in.
“Meow … Meow.”
“Yeah, you can come too,” they said in unison and burst out laughing.
Lowen picked her up and held her in his arms.
“You practically live here anyway,” he said and gave her a big kiss.

EPILOGUE
My siblings and I were only a few weeks old, when my mother failed to return from a hunting trip one day. We were left to fend for ourselves. Luckily, the people in the town fed us. However, we had not been properly weaned yet and the others did not make it. For a long time, this left me feeling abandoned and unwanted until I met Lowen. He opened his heart to me and was the first one in my life who made me realize that the love and affection I craved for, were merely a reflection of the love inside of me.

Love is inside every being. All it takes, is the courage from a warm heart to feel this and know there is prosperity and abundant goodness for each and every one of us. Now I mention it, I am dearly grateful for the home that Lowen and Aerwyna have given me and I no longer need to suck my paw pads to feel loved. The three of us travel all around the world together and enjoy to the full all the good things that life has provided us with. And I must admit, they sure have their job as household staff cut out for them. Just kidding ;-)) They are the best foster parents anyone could wish for. They too have bidden the past farewell and focus on creating a wonderful life for themselves and each other. My heart melts every time that Lowen says to Aerwyna: If you want to know what love looks like, just take a look in the mirror.

M E O W (THE END)

It is with immense gratitude, that I dedicate this story to our black cat Fay and to all of those other faces of love in my life. Thank you for opening your hearts to me and making me feel loved in those moments that I had forgotten how to love myself. 

Orleans – Dance With Me

Symbolism and terminology:

Kerensa: Kerensa is a Cornish girl’s name that is derived from the Cornish word for ‘love’
Aerwyna: Aerwyna is a Cornish girl’s name, meaning ‘friend of the sea’
Kernow: Kernow is a variant of the Cornish surname ‘Curnow’, meaning ‘Cornwall’ or ‘from Cornwall’
Lowen: Lowen is a Cornish boy’s name, meaning ‘joyful’
Carey: Carey is a Cornish surname and boy’s name, meaning ‘the beloved one’

Images:

‘’Cat by Miller-Eszter on Pixabay
‘Adult’ by Pexels on Pixabay
‘Sea’ by Pexels on Pixabay
‘Beach’ by Pexels on Pixabay
‘Surfer’ by PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay
‘Swim’ by Birgl on Pixabay
‘Boats’ by Pexels on Pixabay
‘Beach’ by Norrisskyia on Pixabay
‘Kitten’ by Miller_Eszter on Pixabay
‘Cactus’ by TheVirtualDenise on Pixabay
‘Woman’ by Efes on Pixabay
‘Woman’ by StockSnap on Pixabay
‘Cat’ by Miller_Eszter on Pixabay

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3 Comments

  1. Don Rahtjen

    Thank you, Wim, for your luminous tale of love, transformation, and possibilities.

    Set within the deeply nurturing and wildly beautiful countryside of Kernow, you’ve conjured a timeless passion play that speaks clearly and without compromise to the critical role which personal choices and forgiveness can play in our lives…when we let them.

    My wife and I had the good fortune to live in Cornwall for some extended time at the turn of the last century and it was, and remains, one of our favorite spots on earth. Your beautifully rendered story provides us an opportunity to revisit and savor a part of its indwelling magic any time we wish.

    Read and cherished with great affection and many thanks from both of us, Wim, your portrait of many faces of love is a lasting treasure.

    Don and Monta Rahtjen

    Reply
    • Don Rahtjen

      Thank you, Wim, for your luminous tale of love, transformation, and possibilities.

      Set within the deeply nurturing and wildly beautiful countryside of Kernow, you’ve conjured a timeless passion play that speaks clearly and without compromise to the critical role which personal choices and forgiveness can play in our lives…when we let them.

      My wife and I had the good fortune to live in Cornwall for some extended time at the turn of the last century and it was, and remains, one of our favorite spots on earth. Your beautifully rendered story provides us an opportunity to revisit and savor a part of its indwelling magic any time we wish.

      Read and cherished with great affection and many thanks from both of us, Wim, your portrait of many faces of love is a lasting treasure.

      Don and Monta Rahtjen

      Reply
    • Wim Beunderman

      You’re welcome Don and Monta. Thank you very much for reading my story and for your lovely wording of your appreciation. I am truly grateful.

      What a coincidence you living in Kernow. I’ve never been there before, but was on holiday in nearby Devon in the early eighties. I imagine it is a beautiful part of the world and like you said, it has something magical about it.

      I love the message that you took from the story. The story is for the most part fictional and partly based on my youth and the fear of being abandoned that was formed then and restrained me for the best part of my life. A few years ago, I managed to absorb and transform this fear into energy/creative power, and that is how I deal with pain, both physical and emotional, nowadays. My muse was our black cat Fay who had a skin condition of which the emotional cause was abandonment, just like in the story.

      Thank you also for your subscription. I aim to provide many more stories that please my readers, like yourself. ;-))

      Hope you both have a lovely day.

      Reply

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