All the chapters in The Daisy Lemmas Riff have been awe inspiring, projecting a magnitude of creativity born within such wondrous minds. To keep up with the mystique of each chapter, I hereby present my own. Please forgive me if I may have deviated from the central theme.
You are not accustomed to me, but I am. I have watched you, followed you and sometimes protected you. You are most dear to me and I require you to see me now, without losing anymore time. I bid you to come by the bridge over Black’s brook after midnight and we shall meet. Come alone.
Your well wisher
Thick steely ropes of rain slanted directly into Ruth’s face rendering her umbrella useless but she walked on pushing the outspread umbrella against the strong gale that threatened to knock her down any moment. Just then someone tugged at her from behind and although such calamitous weather almost blinded her, she saw a figure of a small boy holding out a white envelope. Desperate to get indoors, she clutched the letter without much ado and struggled ahead oblivious of a shadow watching her warily from the far end of the cobbled street.
The warmth that spread from the fireplace met Ruth as she pushed open the door into her parlour. Mrs Temple her housekeeper rushed in with some towels fussing over her. “Oh dear, dear, you shouldn’t be out in such a dreary weather,” she said wrapping one towel over Ruth’s head and the other around her shoulder.
Ruth took out the letter that had been handed to her by the mysterious young boy out in the street, and sat by the fireside carefully examining the writing on the envelope, while Mrs. Temple disappeared into the kitchen.
To Ruth Winters, 13 Keventer House, Wildfell Street. The name and the address was accurate but the ornate writing was unfamiliar. She read the letter over and over again as thunder clapped noisily outside the closed windows of her adequate Victorian lodging. Filled up to her very brim with curiosity she resolved to find out who this well wisher was who could not make himself or perhaps herself call upon her.
The wind bellowed with a dismal sound through the cracks as Ruth dressed carefully for a wild and stormy night. Armed in a huge grey bonnet, a layered long coat in tweed, a pair of black laced booties and a night lamp, she left the house a little over midnight. Lightening flickered through the pitch dark night as Ruth hurried towards the bridge to fathom the obscure nature of the letter, once and for all. The oil street lamp by the bridge quivered in the storm and although she saw a shadow standing in the middle of the bridge gazing down at the water, she had to move closer to recognize the owner of the shadow. The figure hardly moved as her feet touched the wooden board of the bridge. As she moved closer, Ruth was certain that the figure belonged to that of a man.
“Who are you?” She asked still inching closer. The figure then turned towards her and as it did, Ruth only got a quick glimpse of this perplexing gentleman before both the lamps extinguished suddenly. “Sir, I beg you to not frighten me. Do tell me the nature of our acquaintance so that I may recognize you.” Ruth edged backwards as fear overtook her resolve to get to know this obscure gentleman.
“How about my voice?” the deep baritone of his voice exploded inside Ruth’s head and she knew in an instant.
It was the voice that accompanied her every single night, although she knew not if it was a mere recurring dream or an illusion when a shadow would materialize at bedtime once the candles had been put out. The voice would talk to her of pleasures unknown, places unconquered and of love inexperienced by her in her years of twenty and one. Feather light hands would touch her face each night and plant a kiss on her lips that was as soft as a cotton ball. Intrigued and captivated by such visitations each night, she had walked about thinking that she was perhaps gently losing her mind but the pleasurable details of such an encounter although far too tempting to share with another person, were best kept hidden, lest he disappeared entirely.
Now, when that endearing acquaintance had made himself corporeal on a wild and tempestuous night, Ruth stood transfixed on that very bridge unable to comprehend the truth. A quietness descended unexpectedly and the raging wind ceased, only leaving behind the soft falling rain which subsided into a soft drizzle. “You came. That is all that matters. I had to come today, to warn you. Something is arriving shortly that will tear us apart forever,” He said as he came closer curtailing the distance in between.
“What do you mean in God’s name?” Ruth asked her heart pounding furiously.
“Have you forgotten about the return of your husband?” He whispered bending down placing his soft lips once again on her ear lobe.
His words thundered in her ears. Her husband! William! How could she have wiped him out of her memory? Ruth’s feet almost gave away at the mention of William. But then, he was dead. William had died in the war a few years ago. She herself had interred his remains. She remembered how she had surreptitiously rejoiced at his death, although superficially, she had mourned him in black. How could she not have been happy? William was a drunkard who tortured and beat her every single day of their married life. “What are you talking about?” Ruth bellowed. “It is true. They found him roaming the plains of India and identified him as William Winters. The body that was brought home back then, belonged to someone else.” There was a hint of graveness in his voice. In the dark, Ruth felt that he took both her hands and pressed them between his own gloved ones and spoke.
“I have come to you for real Ruth. You and I are connected in a way I cannot begin to tell you now. You have lived through many lives and I have lived but one. I cannot forget you but you don’t remember me. I come to you in each of your lives wishing that you will recognize me. Unfortunately, in your inability to recognize me, we are doomed to never meet again during that particular lifetime. I can allow my shadow to come to you but I myself cannot cross the threshold of your house without being invited in person, and for that I thought I was allowed enough time. I was lost to you the day you got married to William but the day the news of his death reached my ears, the doorway was opened for me again. I don’t have time Ruth, I can no longer come to you even as a shadow once William enters the threshold claiming his rightful place.”
Ruth listened to him with such surprise that she stood as motionless as a stone statue. A faint gleam of recognition sparked within as the warmth of his touch surged up through her hands. Yet all was lost in the folds of an overworked mind. ” I beseech you, say yes Ruth, tell me you know me and let me put an end to this affliction.” It was very peculiar indeed but Ruth believed every word the benign stranger uttered. In her mind’s eye she saw William standing by the door glaring at her with blood shot eyes and she herself cringing under an impending blow. She would die before she would lay her eyes on William again. The scars of her own battle with him was still throbbing and agonizing.
“Yes” She whispered carefully after a lapse of few minutes. “I would rather go with you. Even though I have the least bit of an idea of your existence, all you have given me is pleasure and warmth. I do not remember you yet, but I remember each night spent in your endearing company. I would gladly embrace your shadow than be imprisoned within the clutches of a fiend forever.”
Once the words were spoken, lightening flickered across the sky and Ruth saw the most familiar aquiline nose, a pair of her favourite grey-green eyes, that winning smile she had loved so dearly and before she uttered his name he laid his gloved hand over her mouth. “Not now my dear. There will be plenty of time for that. I need to take you away from here as of now,” He thus spread the cloak that wrapped him . It opened before her like a gigantic black shadow of a bat’s wings and engulfed her throwing her into a tapering abyss. “Arthur!” She screamed as she plunged into the bottomless pit. She remembered his name. She now saw details of a life beyond life unfolding before her very eyes, and yes, she had recognized him at last. A sigh of relief filled the vast span of inky black void as Ruth tumbled further down into it but the abyss comprised of the most familiar darkness to Ruth. It was as if thick folds of black velvet covered her and eased her fall with such great care. Of course she knew with great certainty, that he would be waiting for her at the end of this fall.
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Paul Cornoyer – Plaza After The Rain
Read previous Chapters of The Daisy Lemmas Riff contributed by other bloggers :-
Chapter 1 by Roy Durham
Chapter 2 by Patricia Lynne
Chapter 3 by Pandora Poikilos
Chapter 4 by Kriti Mukherjee
Chapter 5 by Sulekkha Rawat
Chapter 6 by Sweepy Jean
Chapter 7 by Debbie
Chapter 8 by Jim McIntosh
Chapter 9 by Roy Durham
Chapter 10 by R.M. Hepler
Chapter 11 by Rimly Bezbaruah
Chapter 12 by SJ
Chapter 13 by Ron Reed
Chapter 14 by Anna L. Walls
Chapter 15 by Kiran Kota