The Lady


The woman’s face was etched deep into his psyche. Every time he closed his eyes, she was there. Every time his mind wandered into the state of idle, she haunted him.

It had been two weeks since he’d see her for the first time; He was walking through the woods searching for inspiration when he noticed a woman stood by a tall oak some twenty yards in front of him. He casually averted his eyes in the manner that one does when you accidentally stare at someone, but in the fraction of a second that it took before his curiosity managed to wrestle his eyes back to the object requiring scrutiny – she’d gone. He fervently scanned the wood in a vain attempt to find the woman whose beauty had made such a striking first impression, but there was no sign of her. In fact, there was no sign of her ever being there; a closer inspection of the ground around the oak showed no sign of human presence at all.

Three days passed without a thought of her when she appeared to him again. She stood on the bridge over the old brook ford in the centre of his village. He was sure she’d been watching him and he was also in no doubt that he hadn’t turned his head away or averted his eyes this time, but in the blink of an eye, she’d gone again. From that moment on she was everywhere he looked, never in corporeal form, just a fleeting momentary glance of her face burned on to the back of his retina.

In a desperate attempt to understand the reason for the vision visits, he wandered to the spot of her original sighting, and sat with his back against the oak tree. He closed his eyes and allowed the darkness to overtake him. Slowly, all the images polluting his mind faded away leaving nothingness and sound. He focused more intently on the sound and gradually closed off the audio stream from each individual emitter. As each layer of sound was stripped away and discarded; the chainsaw cutting trees, the motorway, the birds in the canopy above him, and the rustle of the wind through leaves, single simpler faraway sounds came to focus; children playing in the school yard during lunch break, a train running along the commuter line in the next town, and then nothing.

Now engulfed by complete nothing, her face found its way into his paradise locked away from the contamination of the everyday. She smiled and walked away from him, a cobbled street became prominent; dusty and grimy from the wear of the horse and carts and the fallout of the newly emerging industrial town. Large chimneys bellowed out dark smoke from the oppressive but beautiful factories. The sun fought to no avail to reach through a smog infested atmosphere.

She stopped outside a small but nondescript terraced house, looked toward it for a few moments and then bowed her head as if to show respect, before once more moving on. Why did she visit this house? What was its purpose? Who was that sign of respect intended for? He examined the house searching for more detail; a dirty lace curtain moved in the top window, but nothing else. He looked around but the woman was gone. He focused and calmed his thoughts for a few minutes until she reappeared.

The lady floated wraithlike along the heavily worn street, never coming in contact with the passers by who went about their day to day business in the opposite direction. Despite her otherworldliness, she seemed out of place, as if she never belonged amongst them. She stopped and engaged in conversation with a respectfully dressed young man. Who was he? What did they have in common? What was that conversation about? And what was it that he just gave to her?

She crossed a small bridge similar to the one in his village, stopping once at the top to peer over at the stream running underneath. A few yards after the bridge she entered a large private garden through a small but decorative iron gate. Whose house was this? Why was she visiting?

He watched with interest as she walked along the path leading to the house before veering off to a hedge at the side of the garden. She fumbled around in the overgrown shrub before opening a small wooden door that blocked off an entrance to the neighbouring wood - which she entered. She followed a winding blue bell edged path until stopping below a large oak tree. She stood motionless for a number of minutes before turning to take one last look at her voyeur, and then disappeared once more into the wood.

He came out of his reverie and glanced around the wood searching for some similarity between the real and the illusory. He contemplated the woman and the world she had inhabited, questioning much of what he’d seem, considering all the significant moments that she’d shown him. He took his notepad and pen from the inside pocket of his jacket and wrote:

“The woman’s face was etched deep into his psyche. Every time he closed his eyes, she was there. Every time his mind wandered into the state of idle, she haunted him.”

Written Without Prejudice
written without prejudice
Stories to go to bed with
stories to go to bed with

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