Rewrite: O Come, Thou Knight for 2nd edition of “Through the Glass Darkly.”

19 Jan

 

This short story first appeared in Through the Glass Darkly. It will be retold in Through the Glass Darkly II, which I hope to publish this spring. It is somewhat rewritten and edited. I will continue to edit and fine tune over the next days and weeks.

Tell me what you think?

 

 

Illustration by Ray Ferrer

Illustration by Ray Ferrer

O Come, Thou Knight

By L. Stewart Marsden

 

She had called him to come to her every night for months. Willed him to on some nights. When he finally appeared, what he did was monstrous, but at the same time, exhilarating. She was not a victim; she was a willing participant. She welcomed the act – reveled in its dichotomy of hell and heaven.

Night came none too soon. The drag of day was tedious and tiresome, and she was exhausted by the time the sizzling sun finally dipped beyond the deep wood. The burnt day – with its moist, cottony, heavy air – cooled as it darkened. It became fresh again, with the stirring of nocturnal breezes and the easy, calming night symphony of its unseen orchestra: crickets and katydids; tree frogs and night owls. Blended melodies lifted against the whispering background sound of swaying oaks and elms. Mixed and stirred into concoction so potent that the long-dead sat up, fully awakened from sleep.

More than ease from her pain and distance from her troubles, he brought her new life; movement towards meaningfulness she had never before experienced. He was, in a word, her resurrector. He appeared at that precise moment she teetered precariously between despair and oblivion, over the yawing crevices that disappeared into nothingness beneath her.

* * *

A gust of night wind, the sateen curtain billowed in the breeze, and he was there, silhouetted against the harvest moon cresting above the deep wood. Effortlessly, gracefully, he glided to her bed where she lay prone and awaited him, barely concealed in her night-clothes. He knelt and stared down upon her, his eyes hardly visible in their deep sockets. He hummed quietly with the night orchestra, and soothed her all the more.

He touched her gently, his strong hands cupping either side of her face. It tickled, and she smiled approvingly. His fingers traced along and under the sensuous skin on her neck. Down to the leveling out of her collarbone, and out to the curves of her shoulders. Then down the upper arms to the soft, pulsating skin in the fold of her elbow. There he drew soft, small circles with his finger.

It was too tempting. Her long legs stirred and rubbed rhythmically, like the tide, and she felt her womanhood begin to flow along dried creek beds. Rivulets. Then strong and steady streams.

The night. The moon. The cool breeze. The orchestra of sounds. His touch on her arm. The throbbing in her veins, in her legs, in her mind. All was one.

She tipped her head back, revealing her neck in the bath of moonlight; feeling its prickly light illumine her throat; her veins elongating; her muscles stretching and tensing; the throbbing moving from her loins to her arm to her neck. His light touch circling, cooling, moistening her arm; his shadow enveloping her – the shroud of a mystical blanket – a final and simple gown.

The end was painless. More than painless – climactic. Not fearful nor dark nor monstrous nor unwelcome nor uninvited. Quick and without fear. Then warm and cool intermingled. Warm on her arm, and cool on her face.

Another spritely, turning breeze danced through the window and slipped about them both.

She closed her eyes, and then opened them one last time. She smiled at him, and silently mouthed,

“Thank you!”

He said nothing but stroked her brow gently, combing wisps of her hair with his fingers. Then he closed her eyelids. Gently. Lovingly. Respectfully.

Arising, he returned to the window, hesitated, and was gone.

Of a time she too arose. No pain. No troubles. No tedium. No exhaustion. She turned and faced the woman on the bed. Old. Tired. At rest. At peace.

She spun giddily toward the window, tears on her cheeks, the fresh breath of a breeze brushing her face. Silhouetted against the large harvest moon, she spread apart the sateen curtains, and was gone.

 

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 19 January, 2015
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