The following night Elena was finding it difficult to sleep. Half past midnight and she hadn’t had a wink. She couldn’t blame her husband, despite the fact that he was snoring away beside her, as he often did.
She still felt little fear, not knowing what to expect when she fell asleep. So she reached for her book again and began to read. Very soon, however, she her eyelids began to drop. The book fell open beside her along with the bookmark.
So where was she? This was no church, not this time. A warm light was cascading in from a very large, medieval style window with decorated stone tracery. And she felt hot. Walking up to the open window she looked out. Below her was a river, or maybe a canal, thronging with boats and people, predominantly men in strange clothes, a scene of hyperactivity. The sides of the canal were gorgeous, the multi-coloured tall buildings rising up spectacularly before her, though most looked as if they had been recently built, or perhaps restored.
Something was telling her to look behind. Yes of course, he would be there, sitting with a swan quill in hand, gently smirking at her. He was wearing a loose fitting white shirt, open a little, revealing a few dark hairs on his chest. His long dark brown hair was swept back. She looked down at her own clothes, a green dress reaching to the floor, shimmering in the bright light.
Elena walked up to him as he was dipping the quill in ink. There was a closed book with a dark red leather cover beside the ink pot, right on the edge of the table. “Please tell me what this is all about.”
“Elena, this is a dream.” She heard the voice but it wasn’t coming from his mouth, which remained closed, his dark, liquid eyes gazing up at her.
“Who are you?” She touched the table where he was sitting, it felt so real. Then he stood, pulling her gently towards him, kissing her.
“Elena, this is a dream,” she heard, as their lips parted. He was staring into her eyes, as if he was communing with her soul.
“Please just give me some signs, symbols.”
Elena looked down at the piece of paper in front of him. Reading it upside down, she could make out what looked like a large H.
“An H – is that what your name begins with?”
His expression gave nothing away, no affirmation.
To the left of the table was a rather large, yet basic looking bed, unmade, the off white sheet tossed and crumpled up by the white washed wall. On the floor was what looked like a flagon that might have contained wine. And two used and empty goblets.
Elena walked back to the window. A chorus of men’s voices working on the canal came up from below through the opening; sailors, porters, businessmen and their lackeys. A slight breeze was wafting around her face, cooling her cheeks. There was the smell of fish, meat and vegetables cooking somewhere, too. She touched her hair, it was longer, blonder, thicker, so she pulled a few strands down over the top of her green dress. Green seemed to suit her in this realm, whatever it was. To her left, she noticed a door. There was a large key in it. Walking up, she tried to open the door but it was locked. She turned the key but still it wouldn’t open. Elena eyed him. He was sitting back now, smiling while he laid the quill on the table. With that, the large book beside him slid off and thudded on the wooden floor.
She awoke with a start. The book she’d been reading must have fallen off. Michael was stirring too.
“Are you ok?” he croaked.
“I can’t sleep, that’s all.”
“Is it me? Am I snoring again?”
“No,” she lied, “it’s not you.”
Michael turned over again, leaving Elena to search for things on her phone.