Cold blows the wind, and I almost smile as I make my way down to the churchyard, wrapped in the simple black shawl I have become surprisingly fond of. The other churchgoers, a few lone figures on their way home from evening service, hurrying before the storm truly hits, have learned to ignore me by now. They know where I will spend the night. I know they pity me but I do not envy them their homes and hearths. After all, how could I lie down in a soft bed while my true love lies in the cold, hard ground?
I do not even know where Camville is, nor do I care. My true love was sent home in a coffin covered in white lilies and I never bothered to find out what happened to him in that accursed place. It does not matter. A young girl can only faithfully wait for her true love, then pray, and, finally, weep. They sent a letter on lily white paper, and I ripped it to pieces before anyone could read it to me. The pieces are lying in the ground with my true love, slowly rotting for twelve months and a day.
Cold blows the wind over a world muted by repetition, gray the familiar path below me, gray the skies, yet I find I do not mind the monotony. The cold does not sting me, I am not afraid of its touch anymore, and even my weeping has lost its bitterness by now. I will meet my true love again tonight for a kiss, and neither the skies nor the heavens can stop me. The icy wind pulls on my shawl, and when I look up, it is just in time to feel the first drops of rain hitting my face.
Soothed by the slow, steady rhythm, I stand at his grave. My true love lies here, so beautiful even with lily white lips, and for him I weep. Turning my back to the warm lights from the village, I am alone now. I do not need light for this, nor do I want warmth, unless it is the warmth of my one true love, the warmth of his kiss. I kneel and bury my hands in the earth while my tears mingle with the implacable downpour. And I wait like I have been waiting for twelve months and a day.
Cold blows the wind in my hair, playing with the strands that have come loose, a welcome caress from beyond. I know he is here with me now, as he only can be with the skies misty like this. Never do I feel his presence in the bright, warm sunshine, nor in the serene lily white moonlight. My true love is standing behind my back, hesitating to stroke my hair as he always did in life, for his fingers are icy. I am too afraid to turn around ere I find out he is only joining me in my imagination.
I realize that, imagination or not, my true love is here, and that is the only thing that matters to me. Still I do not turn around, instead fixing my gaze on the remains of a wreath of flowers I had made for his funeral. The stalks are still there, a skeleton of what has been. I let the shawl fall on the grave, not letting the thought of dirt disturb my anticipation. My drab mourning dress joins it after a minute and I kneel there naked, shivering. I have not felt his touch for twelve months and a day.
Cold blows the wind, howling deeply now, distorting my true love’s voice to something inhuman from another world. He is speaking to me and I know he still loves me, for he reminds me of all I am leaving behind and tries to send me back to the village, back to the light and the warmth and the life. And yet I know he could never resist me for long. So when I start touching myself, running my fingers through my hair, now unpinned, then over my shoulders and bare breasts, I am not surprised when his hands join mine.
The smell of damp earth fades into the background. Hands dance over my body, slowly but steadily in time with the gusts of wind bringing down the rain. At no point am I ever entirely sure which are mine, clammy from the cold evening, and which are his, forever cold from the grave. I cry out when fingers find that sweet spot between my legs, I am shaking now, and when I start sobbing I do not know whether this is in mourning still, or in relief. This is what I have been missing for twelve months and a day.
Cold blows the wind and I do not even notice. To an observer it might appear as if I were mad, but I know no one is looking. Everyone else is lying in their beds now, sleeping soundly. What I do is find a place near my true love’s place, rip out the carefully tended lawn with my bare hands, take out the shovel I had brought with me, and dig while the storm batters the churchyard. The second grave is uneven and not as deep as I would have liked, yet it looks as comfortable a bed as any.
Then finally I turn around, as I had always known I would do in the end. He stands right there, pale and lovely, inevitably my fate. We look at each other while the very earth resonates with the deep notes of the storm. Not giving my true love a chance to protest further, I close the distance between us and kiss him, right on his lily white lips. This is what I need, what I want. He yields to me on this last day. I too will lie down and sleep now, for twelve months and a day, or longer.