Amid the cobbled stones,
And scholars I had my days,
steeped in manners and respect,
Generating a heady tincture of esteem,
that I thought was illegal.
Doors held open.
Hands used to greet and guide,
And words I’d forgotten could be so much more,
Than just filling out the spaces in-between.
Forming a banquet of discussion.
A guilded and charmed retreat,
Where I was someone.
Vitality seeped into the the void
that anxiety had left bare.
A beguiling contrast to what came before
And I was drunk on it.
Giddy on the newfound flush
Of invisible circuitry,
That only reveals itself in books
And Sunday morning gallops
I didn’t know that the switches
For fear and delight,
Were housed so,
I didn’t know that breathing
Could feel this easy,
Without someone’s approval.
I didn’t know I had the power
To authorise this shift.
It had been six days, seven hours twenty one minutes since she arrived. The incubation period should be over for that most victorian of diseases. It was almost a shame not to have an excuse to tighten her steel boned corset, take out her black lace parasol and lounge upon the balcony in extremis. The heat of a fractious summer evening billowed lazily through luxuriant velour drapes. There had been something gracious in the way that she had bitten her tongue, hadn’t there? Something virtuous in keeping things cordial, just a single drop of blood in her glass. If only she hadn’t mentioned the gala, perhaps her temper, and the wallpaper could have survived undisturbed. Everything still retained the heavy scent of aniseed, permeating through each fibre. What a waste of good wormwood. What a wasted night. Pushing the curtains aside, and eager to drink in the last vestiges of sunset air, she slipped outside. From here the streets looked like an intricate painting; oily veins of concrete, meandering their clogged ways to the ticking centre. She watched the technicolour smudges with legs that plied their great social evil on the streets. Too out of focus, as they were, to cause her a reaction. How many unspoken conflicts had passed these last few days, and how many, in passion, had been shattered then remade into something more delicate?
She leant against the cool metal railing and strained to hear the muffled album leaf that tumbled from inside. It wasn’t the first time that drinks were spilt in anger, but it somehow felt different. More finite. The balance had shifted. Maybe the fever was finally seeping in, two hours too late. She felt for the beaded choker around her neck and carefully unclasped it. Strands of her blond hair cruelly trapped within its mechanism. The vascular gods were demanding a sacrifice, and only obsidian would do. Inhaling slowly and rubbing the beads between her sweating fingers she faltered in her mesmerised state. Something twitched in the corner of her desolate fixation. She shivered to shake off her doubt and just as she resolved to destroy this memento, to make the offering, she felt a gentle breath on her nape and two slender, familiar arms slipped around her waist.