The affair had been short, until he had broken it off with a violence that surprised even him; at the end of it she had sought for comfort in Stuart?s arms, his remonstrations over their transactions was so great. Thinking back, Charles was sure his anger and violence was related to the inequities of their relationship. He felt the attrition of their actions full, and seemed to bear the brunt of shame for double-timing Stuart, while she, secure in her frustrations over their pending engagement, must have reveled in each encounter, stocking their illicitness for the day when she would either face him, flee, or, as Charles thought more likely, submit meekly to the marriage that was, for all intents, arranged by their two families.
He was lying completely supine upon the white bed, and the room had definitely taken on a tint that matched both sheets and Lindsay?s night dress; he could see, from the corner of his eye, the blurred shadows that nevertheless accented each corner and ridge of the room, from the folds upon the bed, the chair, upon which his next day?s clothing was set, the bureau, its four sculpted posts that wound their way sinuously up to the mirror that hung between, the mirror itself, crusted with age and ornate flattery, its edges guilded once, but stained by time and air into a rich golden-brown?set against this weird light, only its dips and craters and valleys seemed dark, while the rest of its surface seemed to ring with energy.
Lindsay kneeled above him now, still on her knees, but bent over him as a nurse would her patient, and she offered herself to him, parting her dress from her neck. Charles felt sure his body would only move if he commanded it, that it would only respond to pure will. His eyes searched, not above him to the treasures of her body, but through the spaces her positioning created. With a dim recollection of some notice of import, he realized that his door was wide open, and that blackness rolled back from its dark and menacing entrance into a wide expanse of empty.
At the same instant, Lindsay shrieked suddenly, once, and leapt up in consternation and fear, drawing her dress back tight against her breast. Her whole body now braced as if prepared to receive a blow. She fell back to the far edge of the bed, her eyes riveted upon the window.
Charles saw all this as if in a dream. His connection with the door was just as quickly forgotten by her scream, and he quickly sat up and brought his hand to her mouth, nearly missing her nose in the sudden pall that had fallen upon the room. Somewhere he told himself the glow was gone.
She sat upon the bed, quietly fixated, though no longer anguished, and he, seeing her still, rose and shut the door with fearful aplomb, taking a moment to put his ear to the frame. He had not yet processed what had just occurred, and it seemed the worst place and time to investigate; nevertheless, his aroused curiosity and passions demanded satisfaction. He returned to the bed, sitting quietly, facing the black door.
?What?? he began, but his voice was too loud, and adjusting, started again.
?What just happened??
Lindsay was quiet, turned her head slowly to face him. ?The most remarkable vision.? Her eyes dropped. ?It was terrifying. I don?t know how I saw it. It was as if I could see around what we were doing.? She sighed, as if she had just confessed some lie. ?I was enamoured of you, but I could also see out of that window, just as I?m looking at it now,? she said. ?I swear to you if nothing else is true, I saw the woman from Cap! I saw that old gypsy who gave me this!? At this statement she drew up her left hand, and hanging loosely from her wrist was the bracelet he had noticed the moment she entered his room that evening.
Charles bent forward and pulled her hand gently toward him, taking the slack in the bracelet between two fingers. It was an oddly manufactured piece of jewelry, one almost certainly handmade, and seemed very old. In the dim light, he could make out a fleur-de-lis, one leaf broken.
?Are you quite sure it was her?? he asked, and released her hand.
?It was all so strange,? she said, a somewhat detached. ?How could she have found me here??
?Well, what I mean is, it?s rather odd to be stumbling outside of one?s house at this hour, even more so if it?s someone else?s house. Maybe it was a trick of the light,? he said, and at this, bounded from his seat and circled the bed to the window. It had, he remembered, silently opened itself by process of wind or spirit, and now he stuck his head through, peering out into the night and swishing his head this way and that.
He ascertained that if she had indeed seen someone, they were no longer on that side of the house; certainly it was quiet enough outside, and he would have heard footsteps or any local movement. He secretly felt that Lindsay had simply fallen to the playful imaginings of the winter air; evidently her encounter with that old woman had given her more than just a passing jolt. He was more concerned with their current crisis, the one that, until her strange vision, had been on the verge of consummation. This was a serious event, he felt, and realized that with its subsequent interruption, the two of them had reached a nexus, and that anything to follow would hinge upon this very strange evening.
?Do you want to talk about it?? he asked, and she nodded, ?No.? He was glad, for that would have meant increased risk of slow desaturation of feelings and emotions attached to their particular circumstances, something he was unprepared for at the moment. He walked to her side and placed his arm under hers, steadying it and nudging her. She complied, and they stood, her mind far away, and his too close for his comfort.