The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 72… Charles and Bayswater…

Rebecca’s spell has returned Esme to Moscow road… 

There could have been a number of reasons why Charles had lifted his tired body from an uncomfortable bed and slowly dragged himself down the two narrow stairways and into the shop. Could it have been the thoughts of Esme that had given him such a sleepless night, yes it must be that, he told himself. He fumbled for the flashlight that he knew must be somewhere on the counter, then, its beam picking out the light switch in the far corner. ‘Must get that moved’ he groaned. He flipped the switch and yellow light entered the dark corners of the room. Bleary eyes told him Toby needed to tidy before retiring.

Perhaps, just maybe, he thought he could hear a faint sound, as if shoes on pavement, slow and apprehensive, as if unsure of movement. He moved to the window blind, but could see nothing without disturbing it. The door blind was also down. The sounds were directly outside the shop, he felt they must be just the other side of the door now. He knew that anyone outside would see the cracks of light around the door blind. Could this be an intruder, a burglar perhaps. A thought to reach the light switch and turn it off began his body movement, when a steady knocking on the door became more and more insistent.

He froze for a few seconds reassuring himself that burglars did not announce their presence. “It could be someone in trouble” he told himself, “It could even be Esme, I’ve been so worried since her disappearance two days ago.”  

His trembling fingers hastily pushed back the sliding bolts and a turn of the key in the Mortise lock released the door from its frame, opening it wide to the cold night air that rushed to fill the room.

She stood there in the dim light of the doorway. The cold night air made her shiver. She looked pale. For a moment she said nothing and just looked into his face.

‘Esme, where have you been. I’ve been going out of my mind. I woke and you were gone. No message… No nothing! What has happened? Come in, you must be froze.’

Slowly she stepped into the shop, the door seemed to close behind her. She walked quietly to the chair by the counter, she sat and looked up at him.

‘I’ve been away,’ she said. ‘On a strange journey. Back to my school days. Rebecca was there in my head, I’m sure. She showed me images of my friends and people quite different from my true memories. Very lovely and very real. You were there, Celia and Bridget and Toby and Barney. We were all there. We were all very young. We were all very happy and carefree.’

‘Dreams can be different to reality Esme, of that, we both know. Come on,’ he took her arm. ‘Lets go into the Parlour. I’ll light a fire and make some tea with a drop of whisky in it. That should warm you up.’

‘Is Rebecca here?’ she asked suddenly.

‘No. What makes you ask.’ He looked directly at her. ‘I think she has returned to the darkness. Perhaps to visit Toby and Barney for a last time.’ He smiled. ‘She did say she wanted to thank all of us.’

‘What will happen to her… in the end, do you suppose.’

‘I guess she will return to her own time,’ he said thoughtfully.

‘And to her fate!’

‘Look Esme, I know what your thinking, but we only gave her a portal in time, a window of things that might have been. She knew it and that’s why she gave it to us. An alternate world. A world in which pain did not penetrate. Why do you think she wanted to thank us. We gave her some happiness for a time and in return she gave us that too.’ He looked lovingly at her. ‘Come-on lets have that tea and get you to bed.’


About Patrick

a photographer, writer and blogger, a studio and press photographer since the mid 1960's, first published writings in 1974
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