An Incongruous link to Good Friday….?
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“This is getting seriously weird.” Mary brought through a Royal Albert pot of tea and two matching cups and saucers, placing them clumsily on the coffee table in front of the sofa. “Early Grey, Elena, things always go better with Earl Grey.”
Elena wasn’t much in the mood for small talk, she just wanted answers. “What do you think he meant by saying that I feed him?”
Mary flopped down beside her, with a whiff of Chanel 19. “It’s love, isn’t it?”
“Love? But how can it be love?”
Mary poured a little milk into each cup. “I don’t know how, but it is. Love is blind, they say. Never experienced it myself.”
“The problem is that each dream is getting longer, clearer, more real somehow. He even spoke to me, properly this time from his lips, though there weren’t many words. Michael thinks I’m working too hard, but I’m not. I haven’t been able to work for days, I felt quite ill this morning. And I’m getting worried now.”
“About falling to sleep?”
Elena nodded, watching Mary fill up her cup to near the top. “If only I knew who he was, why doesn’t he come out and tell me.”
Mary sat back in the sofa and sighed. “Have you looked at yourself in a mirror in these dreams?”
“I’ve not come across one yet, though I know my hair is a bit lighter than my own, virtually blonde in fact.”
“Then those initials carved in the oak tree, PH, you said?”
“The P could be you, if he sees you as Persephone and the H is Hades. Unless we’re talking about two historical figures.”
“It would be a shot in the dark but I’ll give it a go.”
“You mean, find out all the men in the past whose Christian names begin with H? That would be a very long shot.”
“Not all history, Dear. From what you describe he lived somewhere between 1490 and, say, 1600. And there’s already something bugging me about all this.”
“Bugging you!” Elena reached for her cup of tea.
“Yes, I can’t quite put my finger on it, from what you described about him and that initial H… the number twenty three. I don’t know. We’ll go through to my library in a minute, I should’ve been onto this days ago.”
Mary Allen’s library, in fact her spare room, was an eclectic collection of books, old and new, mainly historical, though there was plenty of biography and fiction too. Elena sat down on the wooden chair and watched her friend peruse the massive selection of titles.
“Maybe we should just stick to the internet,” Elena said, eyeing the grey sky out of the window.
“No, no, Dear. Books are far better, especially my books.”
Elena noticed that Mary was drawn particularly to the Shakespeare section, which included a copy of the First Folio.
“Hm. You know when I said this fellow’s odd behaviour reminded me of Hamlet’s ghost?”
“Yes.” Elena noticed a book that had Pluto in the title, one of Mary’s astrological books. She stood up and pulled it out of the bookcase. “Can I have a look at this?”
“Of course, Dear, jump in. We need to get to the bottom of this.”
Elena recalled that some astrologers talked about Pluto’s mask, from the myth of Hades, who was said to wear a mask which could make him invisible. “Maybe this isn’t all about Neptune and the Moon after all, like we suspected.”
Mary turned to face her, peering over her reading glasses. “Go on.”
Elena held up the book about Pluto. “Perhaps it’s all about drastic change and masks and hidden things.”
“What makes you say this?”
“It might be a hunch but think we can narrow down the search to someone in history born on February 23. I just know that number means something.”
“You may be right, Dear. Let’s get to it then.”
An hour later, after much intensive searching on the internet and through Mary’s book collection, they had found nothing of apparent significance.
“It’s looking as though I’m going to have to wait until tonight to find out more.”
Mary knelt down beside her, putting a consoling hand on hers. “It is all rather exciting though, isn’t it? I know it’s easy for me to say, but you really can’t beat a good mystery.”
As ever, Mary was right on the case. “Is there anything else going on in your birth chart, apart from the Neptune transit?”
Elena nodded, vaguely. “Well, transiting Pluto is coming into opposition with my natal Venus in the fifth house.”
Mary looked concerned. “Ooh, your love life is going to change.”
“Mn, I’ve been thinking that, or it might just mean a kind of creative clear out.”
“Cripes, you’ve lost me there, girl. The fifth house is about children too, isn’t it?”
“Yes, but as I don’t have any, it might be more to do with children of the mind. If I’m honest, Pluto scares the pants off me.”
“Really?” Mary took out some bread from her pocket. “I thought this gentleman didn’t scare you.”
“No, not him, I mean Pluto.” She watched Mary throw pieces of bread towards the ducks who all came waddling over. “Astronomers can classify him as a minor planet now if they like, but as far as I’m concerned, Pluto is still very powerful, a heavy weight.”
Elena flinched, looking across at Mary. She had suddenly sat forward. “The H you saw in your dream last night.”
“Only a guess, a stab in the dark..”
Mary leaned toward her, raising an eyebrow. “Could H stand for Hades?”
Elena was watching a mallard duck scramble awkwardly out of the water, rushing to join the feast. “Hades is the Greek name for Pluto.”
“Hold on, though, it was only an H. It might have stood for Hercules, Henry, Humphrey, Hermione… it might not even have been an H at all.”
Mary was touching her arm now. “What if you were Persephone? The way you described yourself to me in that dream, it sounds a bit like her.”
“I couldn’t get out of that room, but it wasn’t in the underworld, if that’s what you mean. It was a bright, clear and warm day this time.”
“If I remember correctly, Hades can come into this world occasionally, according to one version of the myth.”
Elena pulled the woollen hat over her ears. “But I’ve only ever seen this man in my dreams.”
Mary touched her arm again. “Are you sure about that? Think, girl. Hades spots Persephone in a field of flowers, I believe, falls in love with her instantly.”
Elena laughed out loud. “A field of flowers? In February? Where am I going to find that? Madeira?”
“I’m only recounting the story, Dear… Elena, are you alright? Elena?”
She felt even colder now. A memory from the other day was replaying in her mind, over and over.
“Elena, come on – out with it.”
She sat up. “So, it might be nothing, but on Saturday morning I went to the florist. I wanted some daffodils to brighten the house up, remind me that spring was on its way.”
“As you do.”
“I don’t often go there, but there was a new guy serving, clean cut, clean shaven, but now I think of it, he had that dark hair and those eyes, kind eyes, the sort that make you stop in your tracks. And he was certainly very friendly, in a quiet sort of way.”
Mary swivelled towards her on the bench. “If he was that gorgeous, how could you forget about him, not make the connection to your dreams?”
Elena rubbed her tired eyes. “I know, but I did. Maybe it was the change of context, so I didn’t think it was related. That was real life and we’re talking about dreams, aren’t we?”
“And he had very similar features to the man in the dream.”
“In retrospect, yes.”
“Elena, Dear, you must go back there, to the florist.”
She looked at Mary. “I don’t think so.”
“Why not? Are you scared?”
She had to think about that. “Yes, a bit, if I’m honest. Michael would be furious if he found out.”
“Nonsense! I mean, does he need to know?”
“So what are we saying here? The god Hades works in my local florist? I’ve got more chance of finding Elvis working in the chip shop.”
Mary paused, looking at the river. “It does sound rather bizarre, I have to concede. But even so, it’s all we’ve got right now.”
“You’ll come with me, won’t you?”
Mary took both of Elena’s hands in hers. “Just you try and stop me, girl. I’m loving this retirement. And it’s not every day you have the chance to meet a living god, is it?”
“Mary, please, don’t say that.”
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