Historical setting: Bragda, Galleacia, 563 C.E.
While Nic and the other boarders in this loft seem a chorus of bullfrogs in peaceful snores, I spend this darkness sorting thoughts and what-if’s; memories in glimpses; time in centuries not months, and I try to retrieve any lingering thoughts I have of a wife with a yellow braid of hair. That garish fresco at the villa has come into my thought — that nonsensical collage of rough Suebi portraits laid over the bodies of Roman gods and goddesses.
She was Susannah; now I have a name for her. How is it I have a name and a braid of hair in my mind but no face? How is it that I could have a wife and have no ancient thoughts of our lives together? And how ancient are these memories? Is she still here in Hispania waiting for me? How many years has it been?
My wishes are for inscribing that name of Susannah onto my memory in the golden ink of moonlight pouring through the gap between roof tiles of this loft. Surely, if I could sleep this Susannah would show herself in my dream. I only wish to recall a glimpse: her voice, her eyes, her touch. So fine it would be to know she is real and of earth and yet to be found at a familiar home place.
Do we have a home at that villa now? And when I was away in Gaul, why was I there, and how long had it been? Is her father, the don, still alive? Do we have our own children’s portraits on those walls now? Do our children have yellow braids of hair or is it simply black like mine? Surely it was Susannah who begged the bishop to dismiss the cult. Surely the villa is no longer threatened by the heresy. But I have no memory of anything more than the cult and the heresy.
I find myself spinning so many dreams and fantasies of a life I only wish I could remember. These are wishes not memories, Maybe they are only meanders of a scrambled mind dashed with hopes and longings.
Dear God, thank you for this friend Nic, who is helping me to retrieve my lost years. Give me the strength and wisdom to accept reality, whatever it may be. And thank you for this beautiful moonlight, the sunsets and horses, and the clear waters, and the comforts and plenty that surround us now. Amen.