The terrifying shrieking is becoming louder, moving closer. A Banshee like scream that fills me with fear and dread, torturing and twisting every nerve. And glancing up, I see it, a huge dark, winged creature swooping down on me from the blood red sky. I try to run but I cannot move, my legs are hobbled by my own fear.
And the shadow of the creature looms larger and larger, it’s wings spread wide, it’s talons outstretched and dagger like as they are pushed relentlessly towards me. It’s hideous beak like maw opens wide as it let’s out a blood curdling screech. And crouched on the ground I wait for the end, and wail in terror as I feel the rake of it’s claw on my back…………….
I awake with a start, my cries of fear echoing in the silence, the blood pounding in my ears, heart thumping in my chest.
And then I hear it, the wind rushing around the outside of the house, buffeting the walls, screaming its way through the gaps in the casement and roaring through the elms by the stable.
As reality asserts itself I sink back into the chair with relief, Oh Jesus, thank God, a dream, just a dream.
Confused and still unnerved by the nightmare, I rub at my eyes and try to focus on the muted glow of the dying fire, and wonder why I am sitting here. It is full dark, yet not one candle has been lit and I am so cold, my body stiff and aching from sitting in this chair for God knows how long.
Then I notice the flagon and goblet on the table next to me and I remember, and like a sudden blow to the gut, the pain and the needle sharp prickles of fear flood back in to fill the void.
Will, my sweet darling Will is not here.
Sighing, I get up and throw another log onto the fire, and the embers spring to life again, the flames licking around the log as I stare into them; and my body begins to respond to the warmth, the aches and pains easing a little, the nightmare retreating to it’s own sphere.
How in the name of God almighty have I at the age of two and twenty, come to this. To feeling this wretched sense of loneliness, this desperate longing, this yearning for another human being.
Since the death of my father I have lived alone, slept alone, woke up in the same state and gone about my daily activities……alone, without giving my single status a second thought, much less called it loneliness. And that was how I preferred things.
But that was before William. Before a shy awkward fifteen year old entered my life stirring feelings and emotions in me which had lain dormant for so long. Not since…….but I thrust that thought hastily aside. Of what use now to dwell on the past, it is long gone and so are the people who dwelt there, the man, the boy and his father.
I wasn’t in love with Will from the first. That, for me came later in our friendship, developing and growing slowly over time like a nurtured, beautiful flower. No, that joy and pain was to be his alone for he fell in love with me the moment he first saw me. What I saw was a somewhat skinny youth, awkward, shy and with a pale serious face. But an interesting face nonetheless, not beautiful nor handsome, but kind. That’s the word that best describes Will, both in his nature and in his facial attributes. Kind.
But in my eyes, it is the loveliest of faces.
For he has the kindest, softest brown eyes I’ve ever seen, set in a face as pale as moonlight, in stark contrast to his head of untidy brown hair. And his mouth, wide, generous and ripe for kissing; now more than ever quirked and ready to bestow a smile on me.
But his most endearing feature, at least for me, is the dusting of freckles across nose and cheekbones. Ah, how I love to track that golden shadow from cheekbone to cheekbone with light tender kisses which makes him laugh. We both know this for what it is, a prelude to our making love. And even now, to initiate intimacy and too shy to ask outright, he will say to me ‘Ned, do you think my freckles are a serious flaw?’ Then I tell him, no of course not, and to add weight to my words I trail my lips across their path and cover his smiling mouth with mine. Wanton boy!
He is my lover, my comfort and my sanity and without him by my side I feel bereft. He would know instinctively how to sooth me after riding the nightmare. He has done it so many times when I’ve worked to hard, pushed myself to my absolute limit, and as a consequence suffered for it with fragmented sleep and fearful dreams. Waking in a lather of sweat and tangled bed clothes, then I feel his gentle arms about me, holding me close and whispering tender soothing endearments until I quiet and sleep again. And I miss that so dreadfully when he is not here.
Yes, Will is my joy and my life and I know I could never love anyone as deeply as I do him. Together we make a whole, and when we make love, it is a joining and a meeting not just of our bodies, but also of spirit and soul. We are complete.
Now I must to bed and sleep because my darling Will is due back in a few hours and already it grows light. I pray God he has a safe journey. It should not take him too long to ride from Chelmsford. And even now the wind seems less fierce than it did an hour or two ago.
Before settling to sleep, I turn to face the window,
Journey safely my love. God keep you from all harm.