It's still dark. The Summers' house is silent as - well, as the grave. I know the Niblet is out there somewhere, sleeping beyond the faint outline of the closed door, and I suspect that the Watcher is, too, exhausted, in an uncomfortable chair, glasses tumbling over his nose. But that's all. For the hundredth time I moan softly at the emptiness of the air, the dry, stale, incomprehensible flatness of it, without her.
When I close my eyes, I can still see her, that last moment, a slim shadow poised on the edge of eternity, leaning forward ever so slightly. I can't make out the expression on her face, but she falls with such slow grace that I'm sure it's one of resolute calm. It's actually better this way, reliving it, because at the time it actually happened I was a bloody wreck, struggling to stop her, to brace myself on my broken legs, to howl a warning that sank into a dirge. I can't measure time in heartbeats these days, but it seemed to take an eternity for her to rejoin us on the ground, and by then, I couldn't see her anymore for the weeping.
I'm not even sure how I got back here. The Niblet had dragged herself down and over to me, wrapped her arms around my neck, trying to shield me from the consequences of dawn. The blood had dried in dirty streaks down her bare legs; the smell made my empty stomach turn over. I turned my head aside and shuddered in dry heaves that seared my crushed ribs. Every muscle in my body blazed; even Glory's best efforts were outshone. I blacked out, must have.
When I could open my eyes again, I was here, in her bed. I'm not sure whose incredible kindness or cruelty that was.
Nothing else touches me since. All of my senses seem blurred, blunted, as if my body were realizing for the first time that it has long been dead. I suppose many would think it a mercy. If I weren't so numb, I couldn't be conscious at all.
I can't so much as roll over on my own. The Niblet feeds me through a straw. She has to tilt my head back because I can't even clench my muscles to swallow. I know she's heated the blood for me, but I can't taste it, can't feel it; even the radiance of her hands is dimmed. Shall I compare thee to a summer's day, love? Her childish voice rises and falls; I fade in and out, riding the tide to troubled sleep.
Indian widows used to follow this this ancient custom - when their husbands died, they threw themselves on the funereal pyres and burned right along with 'em.
The sun'll be up soon. Even in this tightly drawn room, with eyes squeezed shut and face to the wall, I can feel it creeping towards the horizon. Once again, rosy fingers will beckon at the windowpane.
I can only hope that one of these days, I'll've healed enough to follow.
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun
My hunger for her explains everything I've done