Looking back through the years a thread of time dangled from a needle of doubt as I began to remember...
The first time I saw him, or felt his presence to be more precise, was on one of those evenings when it was too hot to sleep. Nightmares sought to wrap themselves around my sleeping form like a suffocating blanket of grey mist from which there is no escape.
Lifting my head I could just make out through my window, a pale, ghostly moon above the trees that surrounded the lake. It was not yet full, but the lake, bathed in the moonlight, was more visible for the shining of its silvery beams.
Shaking off the clammy sheets, I made my way to the bathroom where I relieved myself of discomfort and washed my hands in the cool water, which flowed from antique taps. I gazed into the mirror just as a shadowy shape slipped by behind me. I saw the glint of the top of a silver walking cane as the shadow went out of my view. My skin began to shiver. Was it fear or an awakening of some sort? I could not be sure.
I turned round, but there was no-one there. No sound to indicate the presence of another being and yet... Morgana, my little calico cat, was waiting for me on the bed as I returned to the four-poster. The large bed was left to me by a favourite aunt when she died. I had always admired it and she was kind enough to tell me that one day it would be mine. The little cat showed no sign of fear or disturbance, but as I stroked her soft fur I noticed a second form on the eiderdown, this one much larger than a cats. It looked as if a larger being had taken rest on top of the feathered eiderdown. Also there was a slight aroma which filled the air. A scent of the forest would describe it adequately.
Feeling uneasy, I walked the three steps to the window and looked down towards the lake. Fireflies were darting in the bushes. Were fairies lighting the way?
Many years have passed since that mysterious night. There have been nights when the fireflies were as bright as electric sparks and nights so dark that my blood ran cold and my skin grew icy and almost translucent.
There is a certain stillness in the night sometimes that compels me to follow the path down to the lake, to open my senses to the smell of the forest and to train my eyes to watch for a silver glint and a shadowy, tall shape. My ears are keen for the rustle of a leaf or the snap of a twig and my heart quickens pace when I hear it.
These are the nights when the nightmares come. The terror of being awake and yet asleep. These are the threads of doubt which dangle from the needle of time as it stabs my heart and I remember... Is it the ancient four-poster bed that keeps me from slumber or the knowledge that I will never see the reflection of my own face as I gaze long and hard into my mirror and attempt to clean those long, sharp teeth?
The silver handled cane stands in the corner of my bedroom these days. It stands as a testament to my one true love and sometimes, when the moon is almost full, I think I see it sway. Never again will I follow it down to the lake, watching the fireflies while the cicadas sing their accusing song. The dark stain on the carpet will see to that!
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