Blogophilia 46.10 – Jamie Vs 2 Part 1
It’s time again for Blogophilia, the fun blog group where Martien gives participants prompts to use in their weekly blog. This week’s prompts are:
On a side note I have my laptop and data all working now. Still some sorting to do, but I’m almost done and back to where I was before the meltdown. wOOt!
As you might know, I’ve been working, agonizingly slowly, on Jamie’s tale, but it hasn’t been flowing. Told back and forth between his “current” situation (aka 1668 when he leaves Scotland for the colonies) and his past, it was just boring, so I have started over and am doing the past story as the current event rather than in flashbacks.
Anyway, here we go. Let’s see if it’s better.
There was thirst. Hot, burning, like a flame in Jamie’s throat. He swallowed, but it only made it worse.
He adjusted to it, to the ache, and reached beyond, finding himself, his surroundings. He lay on his back, warm, not uncomfortable. No immediate pain, past his dry throat.
He opened his eyes slowly. The bright room flickered in and out of focus, and then sharpened into a scene too clear to be real. Was he dreaming?
The room looked real; and just as he remembered. The large bed, the fireplace, the pitcher near the bed, the familiar lamp, his wife’s cloak draped over a low stool. It was his bedroom at home, in the family castle, but…but how had he come to be there? And why was everything so bright?
He closed his eyes against it and the memories came back, edged in red, and distorted as if they were from long ago. Things had gone badly at Dunbar. They’d have been fine if they’d just waited, but the officers…no, they hadn’t been happy to sit. They’d ordered the attack. After two days, thousands lay dead, and many times that number were captured by Cromwell’s army.
Jamie’s hand moved unconsciously to his side, where he’d been wounded. Phantom pain stabbed through him as he pictured the ragged, maggot edged wound. Was that last night? Earlier today? He remembered that he’d cowered in a ditch and tried to redress the mess with a torn tunic, stolen from a washing line. Too sick to go further, he spent the night there, shivering with fever. Every sound became an imagined pursuer, an enemy sent to sweep up the last of the rebels. No. The sun had risen. He remembered the warmth on his fingertips, the song of the birds as he forced himself to climb out, to follow the winding road towards his father’s lands. He was so close to home…so close to Margaret.
Her image moved to the forefront of his thoughts, looking as she’d been when he last saw her. Long red hair curled around her shoulders, green eyes looked up at him, filled half with love, and half with sadness.
She’d pressed a lock of hair into his hand, tied with a soft ribbon. “Ya will return, my love. Walk unafraid on yer journey and know my heart goes with ye.”
“Aye, I will, and ya will be waitin’ to greet me when I do.”
She’d smiled, even as a tear slipped down her cheek. “Aye, that I will. A greeting you won’t soon forget.”
Jamie opened his eyes on the over bright room again. Though he didn’t remember the arrival, he’d returned, just as she said he would, just as he’d promised her. What came next, he didn’t know. He’d planned to try again to start a family, to settle down victorious, but with the loss of the battle…he might need to go back again.
He just needed to see her, try to explain it. He sat up slowly, hand still at his side, body tensed for pain. None came. His quizzical eyes moved to his side as he pulled back the blanket. On his side he found no bandage or wrapping, only a crooked scar.
A scar? How long had he been abed? For it to have healed fully it must have been weeks. And from the look of the scar, the smoothness, perhaps months. Months abed? How could such a thing be?
No wonder I’m so thirsty.
He grabbed the beside pitcher, ready to drink whatever was inside, but it was empty. Aggravated, he set it back with too much force. Shards dropped around the night table, just as the door opened.
“I didn’t mean-” he broke off at the sight of Rechert, his father’s servant. The man’s wide eyes moved from the broken pieces of pitcher, to Jamie’s face, and then to the floor.
“You are awake, sir.”
“Aye, that I am. And thirsty.” Jamie rubbed his throat. “What must a man do to get a drink here?” Though it was meant as a joke, he saw Rechert tense. “What is it? Is something amiss?”
The man didn’t look up, only murmured, “Nay.”
His demeanor didn’t match his answer, and Jamie was instantly on guard. Was it because he’d obviously been abed so long? “What day is it?”
“’tis the twelfth of September, sir.”
“The twelfth?” How could that be? He’d been wounded only twelve days ago? Unless…”What is the year?”
Jamie ran a hand through his hair, fighting confusion. It was the same year, the same month, so how could he have healed so quickly? He looked again to Rechert, but sensed there’d be no answers there. “Fetch Margaret.” She’d be able to explain things, to soothe the strange, unsettled feeling slowly settling over him. “And a drink. My throat burns.”
The man didn’t move, and Jamie snapped with more anger than he meant, “I said to fetch my wife, and a drink, man! Are ye deaf?”
When Rechert flinched, Jamie felt instant regret. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean ter’ be so cross. I just-I don’t understand. And this blasted thirst…I just need to see Margaret and get a drink before I’m consumed.” He coughed, like gargling sand. “A drink,” he muttered, tossing the blanket aside, ready to stand and find his own liquid. Any liquid.
“She’s dead, sir.”
Jamie froze, one foot on the floor. “What do ya say? Who is dead?”
Rechert flinched again. “Your wife, sir. Margaret.”
The too-bright, over-sharp world contracted, pressing in on him with a suffocating pressure that stole his breath. Dead. Margaret. Dead. But…But…
“What do ya say?”
He heard his own voice, a half-wild shout, but felt no connection to it. Rechert backed toward the door. “I’ll fetch her ladyship.”
And then he was gone. Jamie stared at the blank space he’d been in, conscious only of the burning in his throat, and the tearing agony in his chest. Rechert must be mistaken. The man was old, addled.
He conjured her again in his memory, a thousand moments pressed together, like flipping through the pages of a prayer book. He saw her laughing in the sunlight, laying on the bed on their wedding night, her fiery hair spread around her flushed face. Saw her holding their daughter, hair damp from the sweat of childbirth, then again months later, eyes wet with the tears of a mother burying her child. He saw her riding her horse, bundled in her cloak, as snowflakes drifted beneath the darkened sky.
There, in the frozen moments, her could smell her, hear her voice playing through his memory. “Ya know I love, thee, Jamie, as the songbirds love the dawn.”
Aye, as I love you.
The door opened, and Jamie was pulled back to his over-bright room to see his sister. Her dark tresses were pulled back and her face was pallid, leaving her deep brown eyes like two deep pools – deep pools that shone with her pity.
Pity for him. Pity for his loss. Pity for the wife who was no more.
“Jamie,” she whispered as she drew near the bed. “She had a fever-”
The roar sounded foreign to his ears, even as Caitrin leapt back from his fury. Without thought he grabbed the night table and flung it against the wall. Followed by the lamp, the jewelry box, and then even the sideboard. He raged as he grabbed everything in reach, dashing it against the cold stone walls as he screamed. Then among the wreckage he saw the glint of gold.
With a moan he dropped to the floor, clutching the piece of jewelry. He squeezed his eyes closed, battling the tears, the black agony that threatened to swallow him, fighting that ever present, still screaming thirst.
“Jamie.” Caitrin’s voice was soft, and the touch on his shoulder gentle. “Peace, Jamie. She rests, safe in the bosom of the lord. She-”
He refused to look, refused to see that pity again. “How?” he croaked, his voice heavy with thirst and grief. “How did it come to pass?”
“A fever, Jamie. She seemed better, and then, in the night, she just slipped away. She called for you. She…”
Jamie tensed and squeezed his eyes tighter, as if he could blot reality away if he only he couldn’t see it.
“…She didn’t blame ya, Jamie, fer not bein’ here. When she was lucid, she…she said as much, said she knew how important the cause was to ya, to…to all of us, that she knew yer were fighting’ fer your future, fer your bairn’s future. She didn’t…She tried to hold on fer ya, but the fever…we thought she was better, thought she was safe…”
Jamie held up a hand to silence her. He couldn’t hear any more, not now. Not ever. Ever. To face a world, a life without her in it…
He buried his face in his hands and bit back a cry. As he’d crawled home, bleeding, sick, desperate, his only prayer had been to let him make it home, let him see Margaret again, to hold her, to bury his face in her hair and…
No, not drink, not…
The thought flitted away as a voice said, “My lady-”
Jamie looked up through teary eyes to see Rechert returned. His vision throbbed, and the scent of dinner rolled through the room; roast suckling, apples, pork pie, and a thousand other delights. His body moved on its own, knocking the servant to the wall, pinning him, despite his struggles, and then biting, sharp, quick. The feel of flesh between his teeth, the rush of blood, the relief as the thirst was quenched, as the fire dissipated.
But it does nothing for the pain.
And now for guesses:
- a rose for a rose 2. true love 3. Romeo and Juliet 4. on the balcony 5. reaching 6. Would not a rose by any other name still smell as sweet? 7. among the clouds 8 walking on sunshine 9. high on love 10. airship 11. up, up, and away 12. a token 13. his ship is pretty low, or else her house is very tall 14. hope a strong wind doesn’t come along. 15. I’ve really got no more ideas. 16. I’m not good at these. 17. it’s well done, though. 18. I wish I could paint 19. a fair wind blows 20. I got nothing.