at the beginning (400)

it begins with a window.

you’re brushing over the frame, rag in one hand, polish in the other. i’d ask what you’re doing, but i don’t quite care to know. besides, it’s obvious enough: restoration of a kind, some new creation you fancy taking place.

come away from that, i think, and you do.

light the candle (flourishing the match and nearly putting it out) and lean your head over the book you forbade me to read.

you’re writing again, i’m pleased to see.

the sunlight hasn’t yet faded; you don’t need the lit candle, but it’s pointless trying to convince you of this. you’re convinced you need it to write, i’m convinced that singed hair isn’t of great use to you.

through the hazy curtains i watch alternately the setting sun and the flickering  candle – i’ve taught myself to know how your writing is progressing by the candle flame, and the constant flicker right now is a perfect indication that your work is progressing.

so far, i’ve yet to teach myself how to read your words based on your moods.

this afternoon, you’re every inch the careful scholar, and i the idle one. as you work, i move around you, trying to glimpse a word or a phrase. it’s a game of synchronicity, one where you anticipate my moves before they have even happened, and we are both skilled players.

the room moves around us, fluid as time itself, and night falls before i’m aware.

normally, this would be time to practice dance: the waltz, especially, is a favourite – only tonight you extinguish the candle, allowing smoke to curl up into the air, and leave silently, certain as ever of taking the book with you. i stand in your wake, sweeping my skirt about me and relighting the candle, watching its reflection in the window behind me.

as i turn to leave – it must be near supper now – a reflection catches my eye. there’s something still outside, unusual for the isolation of the house.

there’s a certain sort of watchfulness, and as i stare, the figure seems to melt into shadow.

the only indication that i’m wrong is, moments later, a quick movement across the bruised-sky horizon, a flutter of dark shadow and then there’s nothing.

i pick up the candle holder and move from the window, unable to shake the image of eyes glowing in the dark.

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