Actions

Work Header

Fool's Paradise

Chapter Text

Entry the sixth. Date: September 21, 2004 (allegedly)

The visitor has arrived. Cannot collect my thoughts enough to write, suffice to say, “he” is actually a “she” and “she” is the most lovely vision I have dared lay eyes upon. Her beauty puts that of the high-and-mighty Ms. Cecily Adams and the strumpet I encountered in that blasted barn to most bitter disgrace. I will strive to make her best acquaintance, despite the provocative flash of ankle she insisted on displaying upon our first meeting.

Later:

I have whiled away the most enchanting day with Miss Summers. Her company is made that much more delightful given my extended solitude from the outside world. Again, though, I am placing the cart before the horse! Let me begin once more.

After a fitful night’s rest, I requested an early shave from the orderly upon rising – no blades for the madman of course – and a cup of their strongest tea for fortitude, which is still quite weak by my standards. I wished to appear fresh and alert for my noon appointment. Surveying myself in the mirror, I thought myself rather a dashing rogue. I still do not have enough hair to tie back, tsk, but the odd bleached colour has faded. I told Doctor that morning I believed my burns and the tint of my hair, not to mention how cropped it was to my head, could indicate that I had fallen victim to a fire of some kind. Doctor promises that he will discuss the matter further with his associates.

On to more important matters: the arrival of Miss Summers. I will try to repeat verbatim our first encounter so as to affix it forever in my memory.

I sat in wait in the sun-drenched common room, wearing attire not of my choosing, but only that made available to the invalid. I balked at having no dresscoat – however could I greet a guest in my shirtsleeves? And the shortness of those sleeves! But Doctor assured me that the orderlies’ uniform was quite the fashion in Western America and it became clear that I would not be given any other choice. So white collarless shirt and canvas pants it was. May I also add that the Americans’ version of underpants borders on the pornographic in its scantiness, but that is another topic for another day!

She appeared as if a vision from my dreams. A woman so far above my status that it hurt my very soul to gaze upon her.

Framed by the sunlight, the glow reflected on her flaxen tresses like the promise of dawn upon dew. Something about her seemed so dear, so achingly familiar that I rose out of my chair before Doctor Powers had a chance to guide her to me.

“William,” Doctor began. “William Langley, this is Miss Summers.”

I gave a short bow, my eyes never leaving the girl’s face and I waited for some spark of recognition to alight there. Yet instead of a warm embrace or a cold refusal, what she gave me next was most unexpected. The tiny princess burst into tears!

“It’s you!” she sobbed. “I can’t believe it’s really you!”

Her reaction astounded me, even frightened me. This fair-haired maiden truly held my life within her grasp.

“It’s me,” I said. “I’m most pleased to hear you say that, but begging your pardon, if you please Miss, who am I?”

Her eyes flew to Doctor Powers in alarm and the kindly dear reassured my new friend with a squeeze on her arm. “Is this the man you’ve been looking for?”

Miss Summers nodded quickly and took one of my hands in hers. I blushed at her audacity but could not bear to tear myself away.

“We have many questions for you then. Spend some time with him, see if anything rings a bell, then we can talk privately in my office later.” The doctor smiled at me. “I’m so happy for you, William.”

Indeed, I was quite pleased with myself at the good fortune of Miss Summers finding me!

“Let’s sit,” she said and I immediately pulled a chair out for her at the window-side table. She stared at me as though she’d never seen such simple acts of chivalry. Instead of sitting, she grabbed me violently to her breast and embraced me as though greeting a long-lost relative –with more ardour, if that were possible.

I could not extract myself from her embrace – her size belied her inner strength. Truly, I did not wish to separate from her, mortified as I was by the public display of her affection.

The scent of her awakened something so powerful and primal in me, I cannot speak its name. I knew at that very moment, I had been well acquainted with this woman in my past, no matter how implausible as it would be for her world to intersect with the one I remembered. I knew not how, but I vowed at that instant to let my heart be my guide.

“So, you’re William now.”

“Now,” I nodded. “Yes, now and always. You should know that better than anyone,”

Her bright smiled dimmed somewhat. “William…Langley.”

“Why yes. You say my name as though it is unfamiliar.”

She looked down, avoiding both my eyes and my reply. “I’ve read what Doctor Powers wrote about you, your psych evaluation. I hope that’s okay. I just wanted to understand as much as I could as quickly as possible.”

Her earnestness touched me. “Yes, of course. Although, its contents cannot have provided you with any new information – you, who have travelled all this distance to identify me?”

“William, I – I knew you by another name.”

Delighted, I smiled at her. “A soubriquet? From you?”

“Uh, you mean your nickname?” Her eyes widened. “Ohh, no. I didn't give you that name.”

“I do not recall it,” I hitched my chair closer to hers. “Pray tell me what it was!”

But my lady bowed her head and shook it gently. “No, I don’t think it matters. William suits you. Besides, it’s your real name.” She laced her fingers through mine. “I want to give you something real.”

My tongue turned to sand in my mouth. I could not begin to imagine what the promise of her hand could mean.

“We are…companions, then,” I heard my voice ask her.

“We weren’t,” she admitted. “Not for a long time.”

“Perhaps that is why I did not share with you my real name!” I pointed out to her.

She nodded slightly. “Maybe. We fought on opposite sides for what seemed like forever.”

This disclosure shocked me. “Fought? In battle? Like soldiers?”

“Not anything that official,” she smiled. “But yeah. We had our moments, definitely.”

“I took up arms against you?” I asked, still reeling from the thought.

“But in the end,” she squeezed my hand. “We fought on the same side. For good. You’ve done some amazing things, William. I’m sorry…I’m sorry that you can’t remember the good you’ve done.”

At this moment, I felt familiar enough to clasp her hand in return. “With your help, I hope that I will.”

Sleep tugs on my eyes, dear diary. The good Miss Summers has promised to do everything in her power to bring me back to myself. The feeling of being within the bosom of her good graces is bliss, utter and complete bliss…