Historical setting: 589 C.E. In the Vosges Mountains
The storm starts with distant thunder, the wind, and now curtains of rain are moving across the hilltop in the darkness. I hang a buckskin down from the canopy of thatch over my bed, but the rivulets of rain run between the thatch and the deer hide and have thoroughly soaked the straw mattress, the sheet, the pillow and even my clothing. Every gust of wind jostles the edges of the hide and breezes into my refuge and chills this bed space. At a great bolt of lightning with a shattering boom of thunder I get up to check on the birds.
The nesting box we’ve set for them where a rafter would be, had we a roof, seems fine and nearly dry. The pair of young birds are nestled together in the straw. They seem to be sleeping or maybe so fear-filled they dare not poke their heads up. The bird from Annegray takes notice of me, but then nestles back again also.
I catch sight of a light behind me, and turn expecting the flame is still on the hearth; but it’s a candle’s light in the room beyond the doorway – Ana’s room with the roof.
And here is Ana, standing in the open doorway, beckoning me into that forbidden room. It’s often my dream. But now that I am drenched in cold rain from head to toe I can’t possible be sleeping. We can hardly hear our own voices over the torrential storm. I go in, under the roof, and she draws the door closed. It muffles the storm. It’s dry in here. I wonder at the workmanship of this old roof.
“I’m so glad you have a dry place to sleep, Ana. I was worried about you and about the birds, too. “
“Are the birds okay?”
“Yes, surprisingly so.”
“They are birds you know. They have their own ways with storms.” She giggles, “But not so much the nature of man, I see. You seem very wet through and through.”
“And I am probably getting everything wet in your little dry room as well.”
She hands me a cloth of linen and tells me to put my wet clothes out the door. And so I do. This room is warm and sweet, scented in lavender like my best-honed dreams of it always are. And here I am trying with all my willpower to keep the promise never to touch Ana.
(Continues Thursday, June 2)