I feel the distance from my characters, knowing their continued demand that I not forget them. Not let them slip away. On busy days they are a distraction; on quiet and lazy days they are a distant reminder only, like a dream only partially remembered. I remember chiding the real Kathryn in California that she was letting her fictional Elizabeth die. Withholding energy and concern for the precious created being.
My journal is filling up with daily miseries and distress. I need to slip away. It’s well before midnight here, in Virginia. In California the sun is perhaps just setting. I recall a midnight visitor to Billy’s work shed. I wish I might have the same knock on my own door, to shake the tired sails. An unexpected breeze in my dead calm. A tap on the door’s glass pane. Blessed need.
Billy switched off the desk lamp. He was surprised how fast the computer was. Instant web. He wondered how much Kathryn had invested in the shed. She always said a phone was too much interruption, and an old radio was enough for the news. The shed certainly was connected.
“The Gate,” he said, aloud. No echo. Solid walls, fresh drywall. Ceiling tile. He had not noticed at first, delivering the box and towels. Sidetracked by wonder and questions. An air-conditioner perched in the window overlooking the garden. No need tonight, but it implied he might stay into the summer’s heat. He tapped the wall. Insulation, and baseboard heaters for cold nights. A wash basin and pitcher on the small dresser.
The box and things. He chuckled. Wonder what’s in the box. Two chairs next to the desk, another in front of the monitor. Space for work and visitors. He weighed his dreams. Cal State had a campus in Sacramento. USF too. Classes started in a matter of weeks. Or he could wait. He would call his mom in the morning. And Hollister, too. About his plans.
But more than a plan, his dreams. One was a voice that called several times each day, it seemed. Reminders. The pieces of Elizabeth’s Story which were his. His alone. The pieces which traveled on a spur line, away from her fears. Toward his own beckoning call. Well beyond the bend in the tracks. Beyond out of sight. Bodil and Søren. The trinity flower. Soap and salt and sawdust, a budding notch where twigs joined. And Rita.
He relaxed onto the bed, soft blue moonlight brushing at the window and edge of the desk. Rita. He closed his eyes. Slowed his breathing. Rita had showed him how to release muscle tension. Settling back comfortably. Breathing to a slow count. In and two, three, four. And wait. A moment. Out and two, three, four. And wait. He smiled, knowing that he would lose count before many repetitions. Rita and he had laughed gently about who would drift off to sleep first. Fingertips and moonlight. His dreams. Dreams.
A light tap at the door. Barely audible. Tap, and tap. Billy awoke, but did not stir, the shed’s sounds not yet familiar. Another tap, Soft. An index finger’s knuckle. Urgent, yet private. Secret. On the door’s window. A rattling tap.
“Who’s there?” Billy asked.
“Hey. Billy. It’s me. Hollister!” A hissed voice. “Open up!” Billy rolled to the edge of the bed and scratched the back of his head.
“Hang on.” Billy switched on the desk lamp, went to the door and opened it. Hollister’s twisted smile, a dark figure behind him, a shadow. A man in an overcoat. Somehow familiar, Billy thought. “What’re you doing out this late, Hollister?”
“Working, not like some people I know. Driving cab.” He grinned. “This here is Arthur Newcomb. You know his name quite well, I think.” The man nodded. “He wants to tell you something. About a darkened room.”
I am suddenly wide awake. Dogs barking, hearing the same midnight greeting.