The Restoration of Gwendolyn Lloyd
There were two hearts in the room that night, the first belonging to a girl, pale and gaunt, trapped in a prison of her own making, the other, belonging to a golden boy, divine in his elegance. There was also a third presence felt in the room, a kind of silence, so thick and intense, it seemed to become tangible, corporal. The silence held its place, even as the storm raged on outside. It took residence all around the room. The boy closed his eyes for a brief moment and then sighed.
“Gwendolyn, how are you?” he whispered.
She looked up.
“Remember me?” he ventured, unsurety passing over his features.
She frowned. He asked her this every night, every night she gave the same answer.
“Perhaps,” she whispered back, her voice ringing clear.
He closed his eyes and did not open them for a long time. When he finally did, they were damp. He cleared his voice and started.
“Remember last week, last month, last year?”
Her gaze slid into the corner. Last week they went into the woods, braving the snow. Last month they were enjoying the last of the sun by the stream. She wore her sundress and picked wildflowers that she tucked into his flaxen locks. Last year, they … they … they were sad but she could not recall why. She could not find it. She told him so. He grimaced and reached his hand over to grasp hers.
“Do you remember our old house, Gwen?” he prompted.
She smiled as memories surfaced.
She remembered the warm climate, she remembered the mansion. She could picture every room, the gold trim of the wall decorations, the laurel carved into the plaster, the velvet upholstery of the sofas.
“Do you remember the incident?”
The tranquility of the previous image was disrupted as more memories came back.
She felt the pain as if it were recent. She saw the blood everywhere. She remembered seeing the arrow pierce her shoulder before she felt it. She remembered seeing her parents’ broken corpses, their bodies disfigured with arrows. She felt the helplessness as she fell. She remembered little else.
“What are you doing, Roland why?” Tears trailed down her cheeks.
“You will soon see,” he tightened his hand around hers, his smile pensive and sorrowful. “Do this for me please?”
“Remember after?” he continued.
She went deeper into the waters of her memory. The sights there were less pleasant.
She squirmed as she uncovered hidden secrets. After the assassination of her parents, when she woke up in a medical ward, she happily accepted the prescribed medicine. She just wanted to be rid of her burdens, and the pain. She was in a great deal of pain. She took theherbs with her shaky hands. She winced as she swallowed the bitter concoction, the acrid taste lingering.
“No, after that. Try harder, really search.” he pushed.
She was neck deep in her ocean of memories now, struggling to keep her head afloat.
“I don’t want to, I can’t.” she pleaded.
“You can, you are strong. I believe in you, Gwen. You must.” he urged, taking her other shaking hand.
She squinted her eyes as she braced for impact. Gingerly, she reached for the memory again and was sucked in.
The following months were hard. Their previously large coffers were draining fast. She was beginning to feel the side effects of the painkillers. She became more turbulent, her moods more unpredictable. She spent her time on the border of wakefulness and the land of sleep. Her previously calm peaceful temperament got replaced with rage, an unbreaking fever. She braced herself for what came next.
“And what else happened?” he prompted.
She squeezed his hands as the repressed past came tumbling back. Eventually, they had no money left. It was midwinter and they were freezing. Roland had prepared himself for this day since the day she woke up but was not ready. He anxiously approached her and told her the news, they could not fund her medication anymore. He broke the news to her and she… she…
In anger, she didn’t recognise him. Her eyes strayed to the kitchen. It was enticing, so alluring, the shine of metal, the gleam of the sharp edge. It seemed so easy. It sang to her, a macabre song of death. She wrapped her fingers around the blade, paying no attention to the blood running down her arm, feeling no pain. She swung with newfound strength and smiled as it connected with his skull. He fell to the ground, surprise in his blank eyes. She felt the warm spray of sanguine fluids and reveled in the way it felt, the fleeting warmth it provided against the cold.
Then the tiny part of her mind that was still lucid caught up. She dropped the blade, hitting the ground with a dull thud. She fell to her knees and rushed to the cooling corpse of her beloved. She let out a guttural scream that made all the beasts in the forest flee. He was gone.
“Roland, I’m so sorry. Wait.. all this time… what…” tears cascaded from her closed eyes.
“Open your eyes, Gwen.”
Reluctantly she faced him. He took her face in his hands and smiled.
“Gwenny, I forgive you, now you must forgive yourself. You must move on now, start healing. Promise me that.”
“Anything, I’m so sorry, Roland. I promise, don’t leave me.” she pleaded. “Good, now close your eyes.” he pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Goodbye
Gwendolyn Lloyd.” he whispered.
When she opened her eyes, he was gone. So was the house, instead replaced by the blank walls of a mental asylum. She looked down at her hands and ran her thumb over the white scars that covered her fingers. Her only companion was the silence and in that was grief.
The strange way that human minds can fabricate anything from nothing. The way that they hide from grief and how it can transcend all bounds of reality. However, the only thing that conquers grief is love, love and forgiveness, often both.