The earth rumbles with the sound of the distant train. The sky, the atmosphere, the air she breathes crackles with it.
It’s both a humdrum event, but also a sound that signals to her very core. After all evidence of the distant train vanishes, it is still her and the sky and the earth in the pitch black night. The stars are numerous. So numerous they make her heart ache for some ancient sadness that she cannot explain.
Maybe a current sadness too.
She is waiting. And picking roses, snipping them in the silvery light of the moon. She can’t see the thorns on their stems, but her slender fingers know where to press, to hold, to pull gently into her basket without pricking her fingertips or getting scratched. Her feet are bare, the cold grass and earth are soft, soggy under her feet. The night breeze, the one they caution is so terrible for health, brushes its calm hands through the locks of her hair that have escaped their braid.
It took about an hour. She stands in the light of the full moon. Her basket piled with rose stems, her feet icy, the stars speaking a language only she seems to understand.
An hour before she hears the clattering sound of a horse and carriage pulling up the drive of the Manor.
Murmurs, the sound of cases being put on the gravelly path. A door opening. A light behind her as the kitchen is warmed up for the person she knew would arrive at this time. She knew when she heard the night train. Three years of waiting; she knew.
And yet she sets her basket down in the inner porch, walks slowly to the backdoor, and melts into the darkness of the hallway within. The warmth immediately seizes her feet, encasing them in a comfort which awakens her as she walks silently in the dark, past the kitchen door which is slightly ajar, and where she can hear him telling Mr Baker about the delay, and which patients he had to see tomorrow. Up the stairs, through the numerous halls. Her bare feet making no sound on the carpets.
And into her own room at last.
She puts her face to the window, the stars gleaming at her, the moon so bright she almost has to avert her gaze. Her rose garden below, thorny yet beautiful, her roses are their own little moons, nodding in the breeze at the brilliance above.
And then her heart lurches as she sees a figure exit from the kitchen door, a floor below and adjacent to her bedroom window. It’s him.
She sees him turn towards the rose garden, and his face looks up… she moves sideways.. but he is looking only at the moon.
She watches him stand there for a long time. Until eventually he turns back to the kitchen and closes the door behind him.
He asked her, you see. Three years ago before he left.
And she said no.