Just One Look
By Valma
Part 1: Fluff and Fold
My Journey Through Life - Niles Crane
As I sit now here at my desk writing these words I am reeling from an explosion of various conflicting feelings. Funny how the simple act of going over to my brother Frasier's apartment can bring with it such consternation and delight simultaneously.

My intention was merely to visit him to get him to sign his moniker on a photograph for Mary, our housekeeper, who for some unfathomable reason, thinks his radio show is the fount of all wisdom. But soon after I arrived I had the distinct pleasure of being introduced to one of the loveliest creatures on the face of the earth. You may think I am exaggerating - my memory distorted by impinging factors or stress, but I am not.

Her name is Daphne and without too much of a stretch of the imagination, one can easily picture this statuesque, long-legged beauty with her abundant, auburn tresses inspiring the same fervent passions in the general populous of men the way her nymph namesake did among the gods and mortals alike in classical Greece. It was just one look, one almost imperceptible, passing glance, but it shook me to the very core of my emotional foundation with all the impact of a lightning bolt. Her eyes were dark as chocolates, like the kind of truffles that you pay an exorbitant amount for in one of those shops on the Champs Élysées in Paris. Full of life and warmth. Her hand was incredibly soft as she extended it to greet me - gentle and yet full of character and self-confidence. The way she skillfully manipulated the laundry she was folding, with an air of certainty brought on with experience, but still enough attention to the task to show that caring was strongly indelible part of her personality. Not only was she strikingly beautiful, but she had the most delightful accent --- Manchester to be exact. Her voice lilted on the air like a pan flute. I can still hear her now, if I close my eyes. Sweet, soothing music for any set of tired ears. And did I mention the wonderful fragrance the wafted towards me as I stood beside her? Was it her perfume? Was it the shampoo that she used? Soap? I found myself almost struck dumbfounded by the effect her physical proximity had on me.

I only met her briefly, of course, nothing more than a fleeting hello and a handshake really, but I could tell in an instant her nature was sweet, open and compassionate - someone who would be perfect in the role of a caregiver. She was hired by Frasier recently to be a live-in physical therapist for Dad, someone who will help out around the house and provide our father with the much-needed exercises to strengthen his deteriorated condition since he was so cruelly immobilized by that --- that incident in the variety store years ago.

From what I have said so far, you can no doubt see where the "delight" exists in meeting such a woman, but you may be beginning to wonder, at this point of my entry, where the "consternation" that I mentioned earlier comes into play. Let me confess --- it is alive and well in the deep recesses of my soul. I always imagined that I could never be persuaded to stray from my loyalty and affection of my Maris. But let me unburden myself only to these pages of my inner most musings. When I met Daphne this afternoon, something stirred inside of me --- a wellspring of desire, which almost defied definition. It was something carnal, to be sure --- she is undeniably desirable, but it was more. She sparked a longing in me just to be near her --- to talk to her and to get her just to think of me, even if for just a transitory moment, like a footprint on an tide washed beach.

I know it is foolish. I know I am committed to Maris and to the responsibility of our marriage. But, as I write these words, I also know that meeting Daphne has affected me in a way that I don't think I will soon forget. I only hope that I am able to suppress these yearnings --- bury them in an impervious vessel so that they won't seep out and disrupt my life - my calm, comfortable and orderly life - the life that I have known it for all these years with Maris. Perhaps expounding upon my feelings for Daphne in these pages will help expunge them from my being. I would regret it greatly if Maris found these rapturous records. In order to protect her, and to be totally honest - myself as well, I will confine my ardent prose on the topic of Daphne to the locked drawer in my desk at my office, far away from my home and hearth.

Speaking of which, I must be on my way. Frasier thought that going out to dinner with Dad would help us bond better with him, help him through this malaise that seems to have surrounded him since his injury robbed him of his independence, and Maris is expected to be part of our entourage. This could be a delicate situation however. She has often expressed, in no uncertain terms; the distress she feels when called upon to spend time with members of my family. I do wish she accepted them more readily. Dad can appear gruff and unpolished at times, but he means well. But Maris' rejections have happened so often, now Dad doesn't even ask for an explanation when she abruptly decides that her inclusion would shatter her balance of serenity.

This time I'll wager, if she doesn't accompany me, it will be Frasier who will take offense. He'll probably roll his eyes and then start prattling on about how Maris is snubbing our side and how she should be more gracious and at least join in on Crane family events. He doesn't realize how many times I have tried to talk to Maris about this --- it just isn't a simple thing to deal with. Maris can be very contumacious when it comes to matters like this. Luckily, over the years we have been together, I have learned how to adjust to her idiosyncrasies and accept Maris for whom she is. Maris simply isn't someone who was built for yielding. With me, it's easier - I have always had a penchant for negotiation and acquiescence. It's how I survived those frightful years in middle school. And that's what marriage is all about, isn't it? One of you has to be willing to bend to the wishes of your partner for the sake of connubial harmony. It's the price I pay to thwart off the loneliness of bachelorhood. Of course there have been benefits for all this compromising on my part. Maris has allowed me to enter a world that I only dreamed about in the past - a world of power and influence, access to culture and refinement, a taste of luxury and privilege. We get along well enough, we like the same pursuits --- in other words, we love each other. It's just that sometimes her eccentricities are quite a challenge to explain to Frasier. He views my détente approach to my marriage as capitulation. As if he knows anything about keeping a marriage together! Really! Sometimes his unsolicited advice is completely overbearing. I have half a mind to say something to him some day - but not tonight. Tonight we will work in tandem, like a well-oiled machine, to make a closer connection to our father - and we get to go out to Au Pied du Cochon as well!

I think I will take the time to drop by the European Delicatessen on the way over to Frasier's apartment and pick up a little gift for Dad. A considerate gesture to smooth the transition from living on his own to having to be dependent on Frasier. I think --- some Devonshire Clotted Cream should pick up his spirits.

Better make a note of that so I don't forget. I must take my leave now if I am going to have time to see Maris before she goes into her sensory depravation tank and hopefully she will be in a agreeable mood and accede to going to dinner with us.


* * * * * * * * * *
Daphne's Diary
Dear Diary:

Getting used to my new residence. Both my employer and client seem like decent people. Met Dr. Crane's brother today. Nice chap, a bit of an uptight sort, but he has a gentle face and a refined manner. He is a psychiatrist, too. His name was Miles or Niles, I can't remember exactly. Perhaps I will just stick with Dr. Crane to be on the safe side, although it could get confusing if both the brothers are in the same room. But I don't expect I will be seeing too much of him. He apparently lives on the other side of town in some large mansion.

Planning to go out later with some of the other girls from the agency to play poker. It should be fun.

Tah-tah for now!
Stay tuned for Part 2 (to be continued)