That night I talked and Winnie listened. I spoke about Ola and Sila and the past that had never happened to her. I explained how I was made into a dog and why and I told her things that nobody else knew about her. I tried to calm her. I spoke only the truth. But she was too scared. She slapped me and kicked at me and screamed that I was a liar. She cried and called her guards but as I was being hauled out she stopped them.
“Put him down.”
“You still don’t believe me though… ”
“I don’t. But I saw what I saw here tonight. I can’t believe it but I have to… Leave us.”
“Winnie, I… ”
“Mary Elizabeth, I know how this must sound. I wouldn’t believe it either. But it’s true. I know you. I knew you for fifteen years before we died.”
“Not to me you didn’t.”
“I understand. I also know that you’re still you though. You refused the reigns of your family business. You hid from your family and they killed you to protect themselves. But just because you entered the family business in this life doesn’t mean that you’re not still you. I can feel it. You are still you.”
“If you say so.”
“I was there. They killed me too. I know, you must trust me, Mary Elizabeth.”
“You do seem familiar.”
“Do you remember anyone called Sila? Or Ola?”
“Do you remember the convent?”
“No. Why would I?! If what you say is actually true then I wasn’t there, Winnie was!”
“You’re right. I’m sorry. I know this is upsetting but please… ”
“No! No please! No sorry! You did this! Not me! I chose my family and the fucking scum government gunned them down! I was made into the head of this family. You and the government and the cartels and the street gangs can all fuck off! I’m I’ll do whatever I’ll do and nobody, not even you, can stop me!! Now leave me alone!! I want to sleep. You can sleep on the sofa. I need to think.”
She walked off and left me sitting on the floor of her lounge. A chill swept over me and the blanket I’d wrapped myself in seemed like paper. Having lost my fur I felt the bitterness in the air all the more. I longed to have my Winnie back, even though I knew that she was gone and Mary Elizabeth would never be the same woman that I loved. I went to the kitchen and opened the presses one by one, searching for anything edible. Crackers and dry cereal were all I could stomach and after a while of eating I lay down on the sofa and closed my eyes.
“Alright. Get up.”
“Winn… Mary Elizabeth?”
Hearing her say my name was heart breaking, knowing that she wasn’t who she should have been. All the same I loved hearing her say it for my own comfort.
“ …I… I am inclined to believe you. But I am not ever going to be Winnie. I am me. I am not a gentle soul and I am the head of this business…. ”
“… ok…. ”
“… I feel something about you. I don’t know what it is but somehow I know something about you that I don’t know how I know.”
“… ok… ”
“… come to me.”
She held out her hand. I stood. I walked to her. I gave her my hand. She pulled me to her and leaned her chin up to mine and everything turned bright and warm. I had wanted it so much for so long that as it was happened I wasn’t sure if it was real. But she put her palms on my cheeks and when her lips met mine we kisses like death would take us if we stopped. To taste her again and know that pleasure once more, to have returned to her after everything we had been through, to be whole again in her arms, I was complete at last. My hands found her hair. Her hands found my shoulders. Our tongues and souls glanced and arched across life and death. We were one again and as she pulled the blanket from me I undressed her. That night was made of magic. Time was not time. With each heartbeat and breath a thumping glory, at last, in the silent hours of darkness we became who we were meant to be.
To be continued…
© Stephen Fahey