Seasoning – Part 15

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“Far, far away Soria Moria Palace shimmered like Gold” Painting  by Theodore Kittelsen

Seasoning – Part 15

Eventually, Henry succumbed to exhaustion. He spiraled into a deep sleep, haunted once again by a familiar nightmare, where he found himself in sight of an elusive glowing city. But this time was very different. He was no longer a young boy but a man, his vantage point closer than it had ever been. In fact, he was actually standing on a cobbled road just a stone’s throw from the gate.

He looked down at his ash smudged hands and disheveled clothing. This journey had been a long and rigorous undertaking. But there, as he basked in the warm, golden glow of the city lights Henry was more convinced than ever that happiness resided beyond the gate because she was there.

Consumed by longing, he unconsciously wrestled with the bed covers. As he tossed between wakefulness and sleep they seemed to be the only thing keeping her from him. Finally, Henry cried out to her, his lover, his soulmate,“Hannah!”

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The full moon lingered mid-sky as the sun warmed the horizon, sending streams of amber light through wisps of fog. Mr. Gordon’s rooster crooned a lusty cock-a-doodle rousing Hannah from a sound sleep.

She had already dropped her feet to the floor when the rooster managed a final doodle-do. With breakfast to prepare, she quickly bathed, donned her working dress and smock, and rushed to the kitchen.

Hannah started to hum, hoping to quell the cacophony of images and emotions that swirled in her head. Just before waking she had experienced a most disturbing dream.

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Painting by Olav Johan Andreassen “Storm Night”

She and others were caught in a catastrophic flood. The force and depth of the water was so severe that it uprooted trees and dwellings scooping them up and tossing them miles away, along with animals and people too, who happened to be in its wake. The last thing Hannah remembered was being crushed and trapped under a boulder unable to free herself. There at her side was her lover who held her hand as he tried to comfort her. She felt herself fading, her heart breaking, as she looked away. He took her face in his hands, forcing her to look at him, begging her to stay. As the darkness closed in around her, his piercing eyes transformed from pale blue into Henry’s dark eyes,  his voice deepening into Henry’s voice,“I will always love you…I will always love you…”

Hannah stopped humming and frowned. “Impossible!” she said loudly, “I’ve lost my mind. I’m sure of it!”

“Well, I would be happy to help you find it, madam. Your mind that is. Though I find life to be quite delightful if one is able to manage with a few screws loose!”

Startled, Hannah turned, nearly crashing into him. “Oh my lord, you gave me such a fright! I was just getting ready to bring breakfast to the dining room.”

“Well. That, I can help you with!” Henry loaded several dishes, a basket of biscuits and the butter tray in his arms. “Don’t forget the coffee, Hannah. I’m certain that I would still be lazing between the sheets if not for its irresistible aroma this morning. By the way, I hope you fared better than me and got some sleep last night.”

“I’m afraid not,” Hannah lamented, as she followed him into the dining room, “and I had the most disturbing dream. I must remember not to eat a full meal so late at night.”

“Mmmmm, you may be right about that. What I can remember of my dreams last night, is that they were quite strange as well.” Henry bit off a huge corner of biscuit and guzzled a mouthful of coffee. With his mouth still full, he queried, “What are your plans for today, Hannah?”

“Well, there is Helen’s list…”

Henry rolled his eyes, shaking his head as he leaned back in his chair with his arms crossed over his chest. Hannah giggled.

When she regained her composure she continued, “As I was saying, there is the list,” she flashed a coy smile raising a single eyebrow toward Henry, daring him to tease her again, “and then I plan to begin work in the garden.”

“It sounds like a busy schedule. I plan to have a grounds keeping service come to remove the trees that got destroyed last night. While they are here, feel free to employ them to do any heavy lifting you have planned. I also want you to find time to go downtown to the tailor shop. Jonathan Stephens, the proprietor, is a personal friend, as well as the best suit and dressmaker in town. I couldn’t help noticing last night that the fire and rain ruined your lovely dress. The very least I can do is replace it.” Henry’s face softened as he remembered how lovely she had looked.

“Thank you. That is most generous of you,” Hannah blushed, “should I expect you for dinner this evening?”

“I wouldn’t dare miss the opportunity to taste your cooking while it is still hot!  Yes, Hannah, I will be ‘dining in’ this evening. We still need to have that talk.” He reached for her hand, “I hope you don’t mind waiting until tonight. I have an early appointment and need to leave soon.”

“Of course.” Hannah smiled, trying to hide her disappointment. The entire conversation this morning had been all business. She was beginning to realize, and didn’t mind admitting to herself, that she wanted more.

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A Fiction Series that is inspired in part by Jane Dougherty’s Microficton Challenge and wonderful painting prompts. You can read previous parts of this story by clicking HERE and scrolling to the story entitled “Seasoning”.


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