Cassius, A Character Portrait

This assignment was a two parter. We had to create a character portrait, one about a person we knew and the other made up. This one is made up, I used two characters from a current project and reimagined their story. My professor didn’t want any genre fiction but they were from a fantasy story, so I had to reimagine their lives a bit.

For the assignment, we had to write about the character, giving as much detail as possible without listing, it had to be in a narrative form. Because of that, we were to take note at how stories started to form without us intending it to.

***

Cassius Alexander

 

He stood at six feet tall, deep chestnut hair, blue-grey eyes, and an aquiline nose. His face was handsome: jaw squared, cheeks lightly stubbled, complexion olive-toned and clear. Or, that’s what he was often told. He did not find himself to be particularly striking, a truth that Chione had a hard time believing. How could he not know his beauty?

“Chione.” Her name was a sigh on full lips as he walked around a home that had every evidence of being a shared space. From the divided closet in the master bedroom with dresses, skirts and blouses on one side, and suit jackets on the other; to the library with its darkly masculine oak writing desk in one corner and its daintier, cherry wood twin in the other.

He wandered from one room to another picking things up–the miniatures of the Eiffel Tower in the living room and zen temple in her music room–before gently wiping nonexistent dust with the hem of his white polo shirt and replacing them with careful precision to their former location. He could not bare to disrupt each of her carefully laid designs.

At thirty-five, he felt as though he had lived at least three times as long. The memories from lives remembered were quite vivid: being a legionnaire in Caesar’s army and an honored son of Mars, it was then that he had first met Chione. She bore the same name then, too, as an Egyptian priestess. Or dancing in a Parisienne ballroom, once more with his Chione, though her name was different then. Or as a British soldier during the American revolution. Remembering so much made the years he’d actually lived seem that much longer.

On his third circuit through the house, he stopped in their bedroom and stood staring at the pills strewn across the floor. Slowly, he began to clean it up; his long-fingered hands moving with care. The tears that traced down his face, spotting the collar of his shirt were a silent replica of Chione’s from earlier.

She viewed the emptied bottles, thrown by him in a fit of frustration as dangerous to her. To their child. She just wanted him to be better, she said. That’s all she ever seemed to say now. And he had tried. But he could not think when he took them. His stories lacked the award-winning depth that had paid for long ago vacations and the souvenir reminders. He was dull, not the witty life of even the smallest party. But they claimed his vivid recollection of past lives, his assertion to sometimes hearing the voices of old friends, or seeing their faces on friends in his current life was a type of psychosis.

At thirty-five, Cassius Alexander had published eight books, all but one best sellers. In each of his interviews, he had a woman by his side, or in the room but out of shot of the cameras. He would always look to her when discussing inspiration and smile. He saw a photo reminder now, on the vanity beside the garbage can. His height made to seem greater by his diminutive wife, her dark skin a beautiful contrast with his lighter complexion.

He pushed the frame toward the garbage, being careful to skirt artfully arranged lotion and perfume bottles. Then, with a shake of his head, he picked up the photo and returned it to its place.

He imagined what the room would look like once her things were gone. The closet would be so empty with only suits, sweats and whimsical T-shirts filling one side. His one brush in the en-suite bathroom would look lonely without her combs, clips, flat-iron and styling products. Once the fancy shampoos she bought him ran out, he would return to gel and all-in-one body wash, shampoo, conditioner bottles.

The only good thing about the pills was how they helped his attention span. He would have to hire a house keeper to make sure he ate and saw the sun every once in a while. But she would not do it in the quiet, unassuming way Chione had. She would not know when force was needed versus patience.

He sat on their bed, not the canopy he wanted to buy her, but a simple four poster. She said such a large house was frivolous enough, they should spend their money on his dreams, like travel. He sat on the bed, and pressed a pillow to his chest. It still smelled of her tropical shampoo. His hair fell into his eyes. She would not be there to make him cut it. He looked at the bedside table, where a bottle that had somehow missed his impassioned speech from earlier lay.

He could relearn to be himself even with his senses dulled. Perhaps he just had not tried hard enough the last times.

They said that changing his name to what he claimed he was called during his first life only pushed him closer to the edge. He could understand why they thought that. Why his ramblings seemed like that of a man insane. But when he tried to explain how he knew it was true, they refused to see his side. But perhaps it was time to start pretending. He could pretend, for Chione, that it all went away. Whatever it took to make her stay. To be apart of their child’s life.

He would channel his memories into his writing. Perhaps join her for morning runs, or rather, walks until the baby was born. He would force away the concerned looks of his mother. He would first call his mother. It had been how long? Three, four months?

He rose from the bed, and went to fetch a glass of water.

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