I listened vaguely to the song playing inside my head as I drove. “They say every thing can be replaced…Yet every distance is not near….”
I was driving up to a house that had been put up for sale. It was a house that had been shut for many years but had now been put up for sale. I was curious about the house and not very sure what I would find up there.
I drove past some open fields and my mind went back to an image of a little girl sitting on the grass, wild flowers around her, the sunlight bouncing off her hair. “I see my light come shining.. From the west unto the east….. Any day now … any day now … I shall be released ….”
It started to rain, softly at first, and the with increasing intensity and soon the rain was pouring down. I peered through the windscreen at the road ahead and tried to focus as I drove up the lonely road. I had no idea what I would find there, but I was curious so I drove on.
Streaks of lightening ripped the sky apart and the thunder added to the grand display up in the sky. I pulled up at the gates of the sinister looking house and looked around for someone who might open the gates for me. I saw no one so I stepped out and made my way towards the massive gates.
The iron pillars towered into the night sky and the ominous looking gates stayed tightly shut. I felt the mud squelching under my boots. My face was being lashed by the rain and I could see a huge bell with a long rope hanging down and I vaguely wondered at the weird calling bell. I reached out and clutching at the rope, yanked it. The bell rang out soundlessly, like a useless shout in a loud storm that refuses to break.
Somewhere deep within the castle, the soundless ringing of the bell must have been heard, as the gates creaked open and I could almost hear a voice over the noise of the rain asking me to come in and find shelter from the storm.
The howling wind tore at my upturned collar and threatened to tear the coat off my back. My car keys jangled in my pocket. I took them out, and put them back in again and walked up the path. I came up to the house and stood at the door. Again I could hear that almost silent voice asking me to come in and find shelter from the storm.
My tired eyes watched, as the door creaked open. I thought I saw a slim wrist with a delicate bracelet, and for a brief moment, slim fingers curled around a silver dagger. My tired mind was playing tricks with me.
I walked in through the door and my thoughts collapsed around me and my mind froze. The storm was raging outside yet a deathlike quiet filled the inside of the house. There were dank dusty cobwebs dangling everywhere. A strong musty smell filled the house. The wind howling outside suddenly jolted my mind out of its frozen state. Suddenly I knew where I was. I had walked back in time.
The realization chilled me to the bone and suddenly I was part of a horror comic book and the sounds from the storm outside mingled in with the slow humming that had started inside my head. I looked around. Everything seemed to be the way it had always been.
The keys jangled in my pocket. My thoughts skidded around in my head.
The first thing that I saw was the shelves filled with books, the bottom shelves – planks of wood standing on empty beer bottles. Dust lay thick on the books. The furniture, improvised and otherwise, was unchanged. The stone tiles on the walls, the hanging pots, the seating on the floor – I knew where I was. The lamp chased away any doubts that may have been creeping into my mind. It was there, a lump of tar with the hollow scooped out in its centre. A faith that had calmed your mind. I was now absolutely certain.
The years hung as a dusty curtain making it difficult to look into the house. My hand shook a little as I moved to rip away the curtain that hung in front of me. The rip was not clean, and the hollowness swooped in, terrifying in its vagueness, a vagueness that suddenly was very real and was just like the one that had shrouded our rattling thoughts so many centuries ago. The disconnect and the distraction mixed in with the confusion and moved around freely in the room.
I stepped out. The little fish pond that you had dug out of the ground lay bare, the lumpy cement coated bottom with the marbles stuck in them, caked and dry. The stairs that led down were cracked and dirty.
I stepped back in again. The keys jangled in my pocked, and the wind now ruffled your hair. A wisp of hair tumbled over your eye which you quickly blew away with a curl of your lip. A curl which never knew which end of your mouth to sit on, so more times that not the wisp stayed where it was as you kept blowing the other way.
The wind rustled the curtains that swiped lightly at the ferns that suddenly seemed to be tumbling from everywhere. That didn’t make any sense. What were all those plants doing in here? The huge oversized sling-bag that was your world lay slung over a chair, much as it had for so many years on your shoulder. The leather sandals with the disobedient thongs lay strewn around and in the cold light I saw the brushes that you had used on the canvases lying around and the pencils that you had used to slash out signs on the walls. In a corner stood the squat ugly clay bust of some unrecognisable being staring vacantly off into space.
A mirror on the wall watched silently. I looked into the mirror. The hollow haunted look that framed the lines of your face stared back at me.
The canvases leaning on the walls, mounted on the easels, rolled up on the floor, were reacting violently to my presence, protesting loudly at the violation of a space, reacting without words, every brush stroke on every canvas an accusing finger raking fingernails across my mind. I noticed that they were not the only ones who were restless.
Suddenly the room was full of the tree-spirits that kept you company and the walls were covered with notes scrawled out in the secret code only you knew. I couldn’t read what the notes said but I was sure it was the same thing that the tree-spirits and the canvases and the brushes and the pencils were saying. The same things that the plants and the trees outside were saying, the same thing the cat curled up on top of the fridge, the dog madly bounding around the room, the tortoise chomping on cabbage and the mongoose in his high-pitched shriek was saying. There were all saying the same thing.
I was in a wild forest, an expanse where concepts such as gentle wildness and wild gentleness had been born, and my mind was on trial. My mind, that had crushed a wild un-abandoned spirit and locked it away till it lay broken and jaded. Your spirit. That I had meticulously and clinically chiselled away at, till it was incapable of passion, a passion that once had set entire skies ablaze.
And then my mind exploded.
From the wild chaos that suddenly filled the forest, I saw you emerge from the shadows, your hair wild like the first time I saw it. You reached out like you had done the first time you had wanted to shake my mind. I saw the delicate bracelet on your wrist, and your slim fingers curled around a silver dagger. Which plunged deep into my being with a fury that closed out the world for me in a blinding flash.
And the last thing I saw as my mind slowly faded to black, was an image of you as a little girl, sitting on the grass, with wild flowers around you and the sunlight bouncing off your hair.