In the darkest depths of night when the solitary mind cries out in loneliness. When the blessed oblivion of sleep is denied the mortal soul, which yearns for the companionship it cannot find. When they who are quite unlike their fellows reach out for the hand of amity, only to find the cold embrace of isolation, who will hear their silent prayer.
And when the heart afflicted by melancholia offers up its prayer to the endless gulf of space and time. Where is the soul whom I may love and cherish? Where is the one who might love one such as me? What ears may hear the echoes that desperate appeal. And what being from beyond, may choose to hear that desolate plea and bring comfort to that disconsolate heart.
In the empty blackness of night she awoke, her consciousness unfolding as though born of the darkness which was her shroud. It was the song of a heart that hungered that had awoken her, that had called her into being in the mortal world once more. She had felt the loneliness and the longing penetrate her dreams. She had heard the unspoken prayer, as the music of a heart that yearned seep into her consciousness.
To her it had been as the irresistible song of a siren, and from whatever realm of being she had inhabited, she followed the thread of that yearning.
She knew nothing other than that she was.
And a name.
The entity inhaled the glorious cold night air, allowing life to flood into her being once more. And she exhaled allowing her breath to carry that name into the world once again.
“Ah Neh Ka….”
She opened her eyes and seeds of recognition began to germinate in her mind when she saw the stars, just as they had always been. Just as they always would be.
She could feel the beating of her heart, driving the flow of blood through her veins with increasing vigor. She could feel her lungs expanding as she breathed in the cold night air. And she could see the condensation as the warm exhaled breath mingled with the cold of night.
And Ah Neh Ka was alive, awakened into creation once more.
The entity searched its mind for meaning and purpose and found nothing but emptiness. Only the cold reality of her manifestation into corporeal form, and the music of that desolate soul, the slender haunting thread that had led her here.
Her body was shivering, it was feeling great discomfort. It needed warmth, it needed clothing and a fire to warm itself by. There was a pain, an aching within her body. She remembered this, she remembered that this was hunger and thirst.
She spoke. Her thoughts coalescing into words in the last language she remembered speaking.
“Ninda an ezzatteni, watar ma ekutteni.” Now you must eat bread and drink water.
Ah Neh Ka rose unsteadily to her feet, fighting to balance the weight of her body as the world upon which she stood spun on its axis and hurtled through empty space.
She carefully placed one foot before the other clumsily moving her body forwards.
She remembered walking.
She remembered that to be awake in the world was difficult. Her body felt heavy and unstable, and she felt the cumbersome burden of its needs acutely.
The ground beneath her feet was rough and uncomfortable, she remembered the sensation of pain. She carefully tried another step, and then another, and she remembered equilibrium. Ah Neh Ka closed her eyes and concentrated, growing accustomed to the long forgotten sensation of being as she searched again for the thread.
For the lament of the heart that yearned in its loneliness. The music that was in accord with the longing within her own heart. It was weak now, the merest whisper. But there it was, just as she had heard it. Ah Neh Ka set out to find the source, following the whisper thin thread of longing.
She stumbled and fell many times as she grew accustomed to her body, the waking world was full of things that tripped her up and sent her sprawling to the ground. Anneke remembered blood and pain.
She held her hand to her cheeks and discovered water flowing from her eyes, salty water. Anneke remembered tears and crying.
And the world was full of little flying things that bit at her skin and stung her, tormenting and annoying her. She remembered that she could use her hands to brush away the irritating, whining things as they hummed and buzzed around her.
But these torments she would gladly endure, for she had heard. A soul had called out in the darkness and she had awakened, a heart had reached out across dimensions.
And she had heard.
Josephine Rheaume reached out and tapped the snooze button on her clamoring alarm clock, before wrapping herself up in the comforting warmth of her bedclothes. She lay half asleep lingering in that brief, blessed period between waking up and having to actually get out of bed. Ten minutes later the alarm went off again.
Josie groaned, she so wanted to go back to sleep, to dwell a little longer in her dreams before facing the reality of the waking world. She turned off the alarm and swung her legs out into the cold morning air. She sat on her bed, she yawned, she scratched and she sighed, time to emerge from her cave and return to the world.
Josie loved her bedroom, it was her sanctuary from the real world. Although she thought of the outside world as the fantasy and the four walls around her as the true reality. As far as Josie was concerned the world had things turned about the wrong way.
The dream was the true reality and reality was just a nonsense to be endured while awake.
Josie’s room was big and bright and beautifully decorated. It had originally been two rooms, but Josie had knocked through the wall to create her dream bedroom. It had windows to the east, and north with gorgeous views of the coniferous mountains which bordered her property.
The western side of the room was occupied by a gorgeous ensuite bathroom. The room was to her eye, wonderfully feminine without resorting to the usual frilly clichés of girlishness.
She had a wonderful vanity with a big mirror and a matching chair, accompanied by several matching dressers. Two large antique wardrobes sat at either end of the room with a large painted vanity screen accompanying one, and a gorgeous chez longue with the other.
Every piece of furniture was of the art deco style which she had carefully selected and painstakingly restored. She had hunted high and low and spent as much as she could afford to secure the perfect pieces to realize her dream. Even the light fixtures, lamps, draperies and bedclothes were of the art deco style.
Every painting and decorative item was in strict keeping with the theme of the room. Stepping into Josie’s bedroom was like stepping back in time to nineteen twenties France. Although Josie’s tastes had dictated the style of the rest of her house, this was her pride and joy. This was where she had focused her time and resources. This room was her own private universe, a place where she could be, just exactly as she chose to be.
Josie finally got up out of bed, she went about the room with a feather duster and meticulously made the bed. She would not think for a moment of leaving this room in a state less than perfect. She put her pure wool robe on over her silk pajamas and stepped reluctantly into the present day. She showered and dressed before heading downstairs to make her breakfast.
Josephine Rheaume was in reality an agricultural mechanic, her everyday vestments consisted of jeans, t shirt overalls and steel capped boots. Far removed from the stylish and delicate Josie she was when in the sanctuary of her boudoir.
And while at first blush the contrast of realities might appear quite contradictory, the juxtaposition mirrored Josephine’s inner reality precisely. For Josie Rheaume belonged at neither the male end of the spectrum of gender, nor at the female end.
Although Josie moved through the world as a woman, albeit a rather robust woman whom the unkind might refer to as a handsome rather than pretty, she was not entirely as she appeared. Josie was one whom nature had decided to supply characteristics of both the male and female, and although beauty and femininity dominated, she was not entirely thus.
And the facts of her physiology and psychology set her quite apart from others, for in truth Josephine didn’t quite fit amongst either sex. Nature had condemned her to be a breed apart, and quite alone with few close acquaintances with whom she could identify.
It was lonely and it was isolating, but Josie was a practical woman who took her situation in stride and held her head high. Refusing to acquiesce to the alienation which the facts of her physiology had placed upon her.
Josie and her sister Bernadette had grown up to the rumble of diesel engines and had begun their apprenticeships, as soon as their hands were large enough to grasp a combination spanner. Their father Patrick Rheaume had established the business in the small rural city of Coleraine before they were born. And after their birth, he had seen no good reason why daughters wouldn’t make good mechanics, and no good reason at all why they would not be worthy inheritors of his business when he died.
So as soon as they were old enough, he set to work making mechanics of his daughters, and they had both proved to be naturally gifted in this trade. Alas Patrick had died when the girls were both in their teens, but their mother, Manon had taken over full control the business in his stead.
Although grief stricken at the untimely loss of Patrick, the women had persevered regardless. The name Rheaume had been synonymous with prompt reliability throughout the district and with the passing of Patrick, nothing changed in that respect.
Of course there were those who sought to take advantage of the three women, apparently suffering the delusion that they might be somehow vulnerable in the absence of a man. These were soon disabused of their misguided thinking, and in fact the name Rheaume came to garner greater respect than ever before.
Josie pottered about in her kitchen preparing a small meal of an omelet and coffee as the sun began to rise in the east. She sat down at her computer desk to check the weather forecast as she ate.
Checking her email she discovered a new message from Bernie, yet again her sister had broken up with her boyfriend Steven. Bernadette’s on again off again relationship with the boy puzzled and irritated Josie. The two seemed perpetually embroiled in some turmoil or other, always at odds over some triviality.
Josie had no good use for men, she found them to be a generally childish and incapable breed of creature. With few exceptions they were all rather brutish and emotionally unstable characters. She could not see why Bernie chose to suffer so for this unworthy boy. She turned off her computer and washed the dishes before taking her coat from its rack beside the front door and setting out for work.
Upon opening her front door, Josie discovered the girl. She was curled up on her doorstep, completely naked and shivering. The poor girls bruised body was covered in scratches and grazes, she looked as though she had fallen naked down a mountain.
“Oh my good god….!” Josie fell to her knees. She brushed the long black hair from the girls grubby tear streaked face.
“Are you awake? Can you hear me?”
“E…e…ekuna.” The girl uttered through chattering teeth.
“Oh my god, come inside.”
Josie wrapped the girl in her coat and helped her to her feet, guiding her into her home. She sat the girl down in an armchair beside the radiator and turned on the heat.
Josie rushed to her linen closet and fetched several warm woolen blankets which she draped around the girls shivering body.
“Are you injured, what happened?”
“W…war…essa.” The girl stammered through chattering teeth.
Josie rubbed warmth into the girls frozen hands. She seemed to speak in some tongue Josie didn’t recognize.
“What’s your name?”
There was a brief pause before she answered, during which she gazed intently into Josie’s eyes. She looked as though she were searching for something. Eventually she replied.
“Ah Neh Kah” the girl muttered
Josie brushed the hair back once again from the girl’s brow and looked into her eyes.
“….your name is Anneke?”
The girl nodded.
“What happened to you, where are you from?”
The girl looked at Josephine, her eyes filled with confusion. She lingered for some time before answering as if in that gaze she were somehow probing. As if her eyes were searching Josie’s mind, reading her thoughts. Josie had the strangest feeling that the girl was learning. The impression confused Josie, how much can one learn from the gaze of another. But the sensation was strangely distinct.
The girl’s words were fumbling, as though English were foreign to her.
“Okay. First we’re going to warm you up, then we’re going to the hospital. Do you know hospital?”
“Hos…spit…ahl.” The girl repeated as if inspecting the syllables, examining them. Josie wasn’t sure if she understood or not.
Josie filled a mug from the still warm coffee pot and adding a small measure of brandy, she handed it to the girl and helped her drink.
The girl was strange, she seemed puzzled by her surroundings. And the way she held the mug suggested a lack of familiarity. It was as though she had fallen straight out of the sky. Josie slowly helped the girl gain her composure, working warmth back into her poor frozen body.
“Can you remember anything?”
Josie’s mind worked as she helped the girl recover. Perhaps she had been kidnapped or assaulted, that would explain her nudity. But her injuries seemed to be scratches and grazes from falling rather than from assault. Perhaps she had fled some assailant, escaped into the forest. Perhaps? Who knows? Slowly the girl seemed to be recovering, Josie went to the kitchen to call her mother.
After a few dial tones, Manon answered. And the girl listened intently as Josie spoke, as if studying the disjointed discourse. She could not hear the other voice, only that of the one whose call she had heard.
“Mum, I’m going to be late. Very late probably.”
“Yes, I know….”
“…..Bernie will just have to deal with it on her own.
“I know that….”
“….mum. Listen. I found a girl, she’s injured.”
“….I have no idea….”
“…..she was just there on my doorstep.”
“No, I don’t know how she got there….”
“….I don’t know. All she can seem to remember is her name.”
“No. I’m taking her to hospital.”
“No, I’ll take her myself.”
“….okay, I’ll call you later.”
“Okay, love you too.”
Josie returned to the girl, she seemed to be a little more stable now. Her shivering had subsided considerably and she appeared to be a little more composed. Josie knelt down in front of her.
The girl was rather odd in some strange way Josie couldn’t quite put her finger on. There was a look in her eyes, was it wonder? It was as though she were looking at the world through the eyes of a child.
Josie took a damp cloth and wiped the dirt from her face, brushing her long hair behind her ears to reveal the shape of her face. She was strange looking, rather young but somehow old at the same time.
She was in fact astonishingly beautiful, but in a most curious kind of way. And certainly not in any conventional sense, her eyes were large and protruded a fraction too much. Her face was a little too round and her chin a fraction too narrow. Her ears were elongated and pointed far more than would be considered usual. But for all of these…abnormalities she was strangely captivating.
And her eyes, there was something curious about her eyes. Her gaze was strangely diverting and oddly mesmerizing.
Josie regarded the girl as she looked around the room, until eventually her eyes fixed upon Josie’s. Her face became a mask of sadness and of concern. She reached out her hand and touched Josie’s face with the tips of her fingers. Her eyes, they were deep and penetrating. She spoke, her voice filled with…compassion?
To Josie’s amazement, emotion swelled in her heart, for she was indeed profoundly lonely. To be a mechanic in a rural area, working almost exclusively with men was indeed lonely, and to be doing so as a gay woman made it that much more so. And somehow this strange girl had seen straight through her outward bearing of confidence and poise.
She did not want to concede to this truth, she wanted to be strong in spite of it. She had the strength, without doubt. But having to employ that strength day in day out was so very lonely. Tears welled briefly in Josie’s eyes as a confusion of disallowed emotions arose in her mind until at length she composed herself.
“Clothes, you’ll need clothes. We’ll get you dressed and then we’re going to hospital.”
Josie’s first thought was to let the girl take a hot shower and get cleaned up but, if there was a question of any kind of assault. The police would need an examination they would need evidence…Josie didn’t let herself dwell on the possibilities. She fetched a frock and a warm jumper and helped the girl to dress.
The girl was so very odd, she seemed unfamiliar with clothing and required a great deal of help. Josie had to dress her almost as if she were a child. Perhaps there was some form of intellectual disability, but somehow Josie had the impression that this wasn’t the case. Josie tied the girl’s shoes, put a warm coat on her and helped her to her truck.
Anneke seemed unfamiliar even with seat belts, and the sound of the diesel engine turning over seemed at first to terrify her. But after a while, the sensation of driving appeared to exhilarate her.
She was excited and interested, laughing from time to time at the beauty of the rising sun. It was as if Anneke had simply fallen out of the sky from god knows where.
Thank you for reading
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