At first nothing. And then blue, only blue, and just blue, wherever her eyes were turned. Only moments passing, though it seemed so long, until an edge of cloud told her it was sky overhead. But there was nothing beneath her, she knew with surprise, she was lying on air. The air, could it be, was she in a balloon again? But no, no streamers above, no basket beneath, and yet sky all around, blue, oh so blue. Falling, she was falling. And slowly, so slow, where could she be?
Time seemed stilled, or moving so slowly it passed without motion, and she, watching it pass, not in and not of it. It was, yes, was like that time in France, when that almost child had been born, or not born. When that pain beyond all pain she'd expected had torn her from herself, when that almost child, that dead thing had wrest her from herself and she'd watched it all from so far away, there, but not in and not of it, there but not there. Like theater it was, so far off, herself, in a distant box, and on the stage, herself again, like a dream, but not a dream. The dead child not a dream.
But there, she had fallen away, right away, into a dark place, far from that awful scene, that not child, that deranged play she could be no part of. It had been weeks until she returned from she knew not where. To Paris, to her friends, herself. While here, there was no pain, no infant horror, no dark away, only drifting peace, the clouds, the blue, the down. Down. She was falling down. But where? Where could she be?
Turn, she must, her eyes turned, and there a dark frenzy of skirts, near to her, turning, and then a face, the mouth a grotesque O, a soundless scream. Aunt Williams, it was her aunt as she'd always been in her mind's eye, more herself than in life. Life. Where were they, in life? And then, beyond Aunt Williams as she turned, her dark-stockinged legs waving in air like a crazed off-balance dominoed saltimbanque she'd once seen, beyond her the horses, together in traces, the torn ends floating softly behind, their legs wildly waving too. Suddenly she knew. The bridge. The coach. The wall. All of them falling. Death.
Death, how clear, how slow, how could it be so? God? Oh God, could Stephen have been right? Stephen, who nightly paused for prayer before reaching for her, he'd wanted their marriage blessed, to be together forever, her baptized, Brigid baptized, oh had she been wrong to refuse him that comfort, it was too late to wonder if she had lost it for herself. Too late. To whisper what they both knew, her need for him now passing his own for her, what they both knew but never spoke, that if one should go before, better that it be she. That one comfort, at least, at last.
And now not only sky above her, she saw rocks falling, so very slowly, but falling, the dark smooth edge above now crevassed, someone leaning over. And sound began again then, so faint at first, a high distant scream, the soft air whistling. Her eyes up once more, to blue, only blue, she remembered then, once, on hearing he'd be leaving the morrow, rushing to change her gown, to make his last memory of her ashore blue, he loved blue. And as her skirts rose around her in a last swirl of blue, so glad blue, she turned herself within, enfolded herself for him, turned as she always did, towards whatever was coming her way, with all she had of Grace, all she could give of love, for him, for her, maybe for Him, still blue, only blue, and just blue. And then, nothing.
© 2000 Annie Roberts