Vincent hesitated a moment before he opened the pages of the photo album. Slowly he
flipped through, and took a moment to gaze on the Photos of Anna’s parents. Then of
Anna the young girl, and before he turned to the next page, he hesitated, knowing what
was to follow, pictures of himself as an infant.

Vincent looked to Catherine. With tears in her eyes, she urged him to look, by directing
her gaze back down to the pages, waiting to see the baby pictures of the man she so dearly
loved.

As Vincent turned the page, he could hear Catherine gasp, as she brought her hand to her
mouth, overcome at how beautiful he was!

Vincent too had tears in his eyes, as he saw a picture of himself being cradled, and held so
tenderly. Very much like the Mermaid mother, who cradled her child, in the portrait that
hung in Catherine’s Sitting room. The portrait that portrayed such a sweet motherly
embrace that had mesmerized Vincent so.

Now to see he too was nurtured, and loved so sweetly, meant more to him then he could
put into words.

Catherine leaned in, and asked, “May I?”

Vincent nodded, and handed Catherine the album. As she looked closely at the pictures,
she began to cry, and said, “Vincent you were beautiful…so beautiful. Look at you!”

Vincent admitted, “I couldn’t have imagined what I looked like as a baby.”

As he addressed the photo of Anna holding him, he said, “To see this picture of Anna
holding me…it is so lovely. I will treasure this always.”

Agreeing Catherine said, “Yes Vincent…”

Catherine flipped the cover back to the opening page, and queried, “What Anna wrote here
about her days growing fuzzy, I wonder what she meant?”

Vincent tipped his head to the side, and answered, “Father told me a little bit about her
failing health, before she died. It was unclear to both Father, and Peter what was wrong
with Anna. She miscarried her own child, and they both surmised that perhaps it was
related to that.”

In a disbelieving tone, Catherine asked, “So they never really knew? That seems
strange…”

Vincent agreed, and said, “Yes, and Father was very saddened when he relayed this
revelation to me. He harbors great guilt he could not help her.”

He then added, “It was mainly because, Paracelsus kept the others from Anna, he grew
quite secretive, and resentful by then of the others in the community. She feared for my
safety, and enlisted Father to come and take me from her chamber, as she could no longer
care for me.”

Catherine’s tears flowed freely as she envisioned the bravery of this sick woman, and wept
as she said, “Paracelsus was so evil.”

Informatively, Vincent said, “Paracelsus…appropriately named himself after the real
Paracelsus who had lived from 1493-1541. He was known more properly as Theophrastus
Phillippus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim. He was born in Einsiedeln, Switzerland in
1493. Paracelsus was a major Renaissance figure, specializing in medicine, chemistry, and
pharmacy. The final years of his life he moved from town to town leaving transcripts
behind. He was an angry man who antagonized many of those he met, even those who
tried to help him.”

Thoughtfully, Vincent compared, “Very much like the Paracelsus that we know, he
alienated every friend he had ever made.”

Quizzically, Catherine asked, “I wonder what Anna ever saw in him?”

Knowing a little about this subject too, Vincent relayed, “Father told me there was a
time…John had a good heart, however, something caused it to turn. It was suspected  he
performed many chemical, and drug tests on himself. Perhaps that was the cause.”

Catherine turned back to look at the baby pictures of Vincent, and smiled as she said,
"Look how sweet you were!”

Being caught up in the moment, Catherine impulsively said, “If we are blessed, and have a
child one day…think how beautiful he or she will be!”

Vincent stood, and sadly said, “Catherine, that is one dream that can never be realized.
You must know I could never give you a child! To wish this fate on an innocent baby…I
simply could not allow it! Not ever!”

Catherine softly replied, “I don’t know if I can explain this desire I have, not to be a
mother, for mother’s sake, but to give you a child, a part of yourself.”

Vincent sadly shook his head, and said, “I cannot deny that I have fancied such a Blessing.
Although we have never spoke about a child together, I suppose I thought you always
knew…knew that was one dream we can, and must never share.”

Hearing Vincent's reply surprised Catherine, because though it was true, they never spoke
openly about having a child, she always held this dream in her heart, and thought it was in
Vincent's too.

Realizing she brought up a tender subject in the middle of all this other discovery, was
thoughtless of her. And now...it seems she ruined this wonderful moment for Vincent.

Wanting to apologize, Catherine tried to find the right words to express her regret, on
bringing up this subject, and thoughtfully said, "Finding this page from Anna's journal, and
these pictures has been such a gift. I want you to just savor this moment. I am sorry I
brought up..."

But before she could finish, Vincent inserted, “I need time, time alone. Its not because of
anything you said Catherine, its just all we have discovered today. Please understand.”

With a stunned nod, indicating she did understand, Vincent turned and left the chamber.

Tragically, Catherine stood for what seemed like an eternity! Should she follow him and
apologize again, or trust it wasn't her, and allow him this time alone?

Deciding to leave him alone, thinking she too needed time alone, to try and understand
where he was coming from.

After all, no one knows better than he, what being so different is like. And the fact he
would so unselfishly forgo any dream of having a child, for the child's sake, is a gallant
sacrifice. And for Vincent's sake, it may have to be one she is willing to make too.

As she put the photo album back in the drawer a piece of paper fell out from the back of
the album.

As Catherine picked it up, she saw it was a poem Anna had written. And it was addressed
to Vincent.

Catherine imagined maybe Anna planned on giving it to him one day.

To be continued
Chapter Ten
The Shore of Dreams!
By
Sharon Holtz
Chapter Nine
As Vincent started to open the drawer, he stopped, and looked up into Catherine’s eyes,
causing her to softly asked, “What’s wrong?”

Vincent shook his head, and in a raspy whisper he confessed, “I feel intrusive.”

She knelt down beside him, and said, “After Mom died, I had to help Dad sort her
things…although it was difficult, it was something that had to be done.”

Catherine stared off remembering that difficult time, and added, “It is such a sad thing to
have to do, and it was a strange feeling, going through her personal and private keepsakes.
Things that touched her heart, and items  she felt were worth saving. Yet it made me feel
so close to her. Knowing I was holding an item, she had placed there."

Finally, Catherine reconciled, “Vincent these are after all, just things…things gathered to
use during our physical lives.”

She took Vincent’s hand, and said, “Somehow, I have a feeling that everything that has
happened since the cave-in, has led you to this moment. I think you were meant to find
this desk, and discover its contents.”

As Vincent nodded, he then opened unlocked the drawer, and gazed inside, to the contents
within. He sifted through some unused stationary, before he found a small photo album,
and inscribed on the opening page, was a passage that had been written in Anna’s own
hand. It said;
These pictures are precious reminders of the people
who have graced my life.
They are perhaps the only pictures that remain in tact.
The others John found and destroyed.
It seems as if he is jealous of the love and closeness I share with others.
Within these pages is a picture of My parents,
myself as a young girl, myself holding Vincent…
holding Vincent my little angel…my little love…
and then the picture of Vincent a little bit older,
smiling and looking so happy. How his smile mirrors my own.
How grateful I am to Peter for secretly taking the pictures
of Vincent for me.
Now as Vincent is growing by leaps and bounds each day,
evolving into an even more beautiful baby,
I can look back on this picture.
It helps me to remember the infant that had changed
all of my sorrows to joy.  
As my days grow fuzzy and my awareness seems to be fading…
I can look at them and  remember once more.