Treacle and Ink

April 25, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — adrian @ 5:02 pm

Can it really have been more than a week? I am sorry, I can see from your emails that you’ve been worried about me. I haven’t quite been here. Dorcas has been looking after me. She’s been kind. I sleep and sleep and when I dream sometimes I think I go to the mirror world. There’s a Doctor there who I think is going to help me, except that he turns out to be not what I thought. And he doesn’t help.

Dorcas says I’ve been asking her for the mirror; I don’t remember that, though.

I can tell you this: I can’t go on much longer. If we can’t find a way to break the mirror’s hold on me soon, very soon, then either I’ll have to move to Australia to get away from it, or I’ll be lost entirely. And Dorcas says she thinks it’s very unlikely that even going to Australia would solve the problem.

“You’re tied to it by blood, you see,” she said in her matter-of-fact way. She’s read my blog entries, she knows I cut myself on the mirror when I first found it. “You’re stronger than Hattie was, that’s why you can stop using it. But its hold on you is greater than it was on her because it’s tasted you.”
I don’t like that idea, of the mirror tasting me, licking at me, devouring me bite by bite. But I know she’s right.

I want to know what’s going to happen. Yesterday, despite many protests from Dorcas, I persuaded her to take me to see Hattie in her hospital bed.

“I just need to know what I’ll become,” I said.
Dorcas looked away. I was surprised to see tears in her fierce eyes.
“I don’t like to see her like that,” Dorcas said, “she was so vibrant, so full of energy. She and Thomas were always laughing and joking – they were like teenagers sometimes, running up and down the stairs, showing each other their new finds. I can’t bear looking at her now.”
I stared at her. In the back of my mind I saw the mirror, the way I always see it now, as if I could look into it just by turning my thoughts to it.
“Then wait outside,” I said. “I’m sorry, but I need to see what the end result of all this is. I need to know.”

The tube ride to the hospital calmed me down, as it always does. The tube is so peaceful, with the quiet carriages and the cool breeze. A taste of old-world luxury. I closed my eyes and lulled by the gentle clack clack clack, tried to think of nothing at all. I sometimes think that whatever else I lose, if I can still ride on the tube everything will be OK.

Dorcas waited at the entrance to the ward. I looked at the names on the cubicles. There she was, Hattie Loon.

Her red hair had clearly once been magnificent. But after months on a hospital bed it was thin and lifeless. Her face, with its sharp nose and strong mouth, looked intelligent to me. Her hands were balled into fists. A drip was attached to the vein in her left arm, the vein itself showing knotted and blue beneath the surface of her skin. She looked like she was fading away, like someone was erasing the coloured illustration of her, rubbing her out into her hospital bed.

This is how I’m going to end up, then. And not too long from now. I stood looking at her for several minutes, thinking.

She sighed in her sleep. It sounded like she muttered something – fierce, angry, incoherent. She frowned. She didn’t look peaceful; she looked furious, pained, aggrieved. I put my face close to hers. She muttered a few more words but I couldn’t catch them.

Then I noticed it, grasped in her right hand. A piece of card, folded over twice so I could just see the edge of it. Her hands were balled tightly but as I touched the fingers of her right hand a look came over her face: of recognition? Relief? The fingers opened.

I have the card in front of me. It’s Temperance. And on the back is  written, in handwriting I haven’t seen before: “love is better than power, and synergy than kingship”.

We’ve got to save her, and Thomas. I think I can see what I have to do.

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