Another week has passed and I really feel as though I am losing my mind. I just don't know what to believe anymore. I need to speak to Leonard but I suspect that I have seriously offended him and I doubt that he will ever want to see me again. All that I have left of our friendship is our first framed portrait and a handful of postcards. I am still storing my sitting clothes separate from my everyday clothes in my wardrobe and I check the letterbox each morning for a postcard or letter from him. But nothing arrives and the phone never rings.
A friend of mine took some professional photographs of me earlier this week and although I adamantly insisted that the working environment was identical to that at Elmfield House and he complied with my uncompromising demands, his work had a skin-deep glamour sheen and my soul was entirely absent from the pictures. I knew instantly when looking at his photographs that I will never sit for anyone but Leonard again.
But it is not only Leonard that I am missing, I need to see Luke too because I have so many questions that I must ask him. Yes, I am worried that I will be frightened or even repelled by him, but I must speak with him at all costs and, most importantly, he must know that I understand the significance of his teachings and I am ready to believe. ‘Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum.’
It was my overwhelming desire to see Luke that drove me to visit Elmfield House yesterday afternoon on my way home from university. It was getting dark and I felt terribly rude visiting so late in the day, but Leonard had once mentioned that he holds regular evening sessions with Luke and so I hoped that I might find them both at the house. The neighbour’s dogs barked and wailed as usual when I passed through the alleyway so I knew that Leonard had been alerted to my presence and my hands were shaking as I pressed the bell then took hold of the knocker and knocked loudly three times. There was no answer but I persisted for some time in case Leonard was listening to music or he was outside in the garden with Hooter. I knew that he would hear me banging on the front door at some point. That’s unless he was dead, of course. The thought that he could be slumped lifelessly over his drawing board was justification enough to peer through the front window, but I couldn’t see any movement through the muslin curtains and there were no lights on in the workroom. The house was in complete darkness.
Perhaps it was the late hour, the eerie twilight of a dark winter evening or the sense of isolation upon finding myself completely alone so far from the main street, but there was an odd atmosphere in the vicinity of the house that I had not experienced before. I felt detached from the house somehow and...well…unwelcome. No matter how intimidating the noises and shadows in the workroom have been at times, Elmfield House has always accorded me a warm welcome and it has been a second home to me this year, but for once I felt like I was trespassing on unfamiliar ground. The sense of rejection was so overwhelming that I could not bear it for one second longer, so I left the house and resolved to visit again early next week.
I shed a few tears as I walked along the main street - out of frustration more than anything - and then, as I headed past the student houses towards the bus stop, I became aware of a powerful scent in the air. It was the most delicious smell and it stopped me dead in my tracks. At first I thought that it was smoke from a fire, but it was much stronger and meatier, like the smell of cooked sausage. The crispness of a November evening deadens down common street smells and filters out warm ones like smoke and cooking aromas that rest on top of the chilled air, so I paid little attention to it and assumed that the smell was coming from the kitchens of the terraced houses or - since it was 5th November - a Bonfire event was taking place at the university. I tried to put it to the back of my mind but as I continued to walk along the street I noticed that if I opened my mouth then the smell intensified tenfold and I could almost taste it on my tongue and it did not appear to emanate from one location but it came over me in waves as though every third or fourth house on the street was cooking exactly the same meal. There was something very familiar about this salty-smoky scent too and I recalled smelling it before, once or twice in late-summer which ruled out the recent bonfires. As I continued walking I realised that upon catching the scent I immediately and without fail encountered someone walking nearby - it was as though the smoky smell was emanating from their clothing and it was at its most intense when they came closest to me, so I held my nose high in the air and gasped in huge gulps of air as each stranger passed by, even taking a five minute detour so that I could play a guessing game and predict when someone would come into sight.
I realise that it sounds insane, but I honestly believe that I can smell the people around me. In fact I have been experimenting with this new-found ability today and I have discovered that the salty-smoky odour is a concentrated distillation of the extremely addictive, craving-pacifying smell that I recreate with the old pennies in my pocket. It is the most satisfying smell and I cannot liken it to anything that you might have smelled or tasted. It is perhaps comparable in oenological terms to consuming a glass of the finest and most complex bottle of Amarone, unless it is spiked by the cheap vodka of bad aftershave that is! If I could bottle this smell - or rather the rapturous effect that it has upon the senses - then the entire world would be addicted in a second and I would become a billionaire, but I realise that I must guard against indulging my desires and sharing them with others. Luke says that I will be increasingly drawn to you because my body will seek out the divine spark in whatever capacity it can find it and I know that my attraction to you is symptomatic of this inevitable progression, but no matter how painfully alluring the temptation may become and how desperately I may wish to indulge myself, I promise that I will keep this particular stimulum carnis under control. I will not allow myself to self-medicate because I am not a monster.