Ancora Io (pt.16)
(this is a continuation of a novel, Ancora Io, started here. The full text can be found here.)
After the trouble with the police, Betty shrugged off her duties as Chief Librarian and fixed herself half a glass of red. As mist engulfed her little town, she lay down to dream.
Her dreams normally started and ended at the train station, decades ago as she fare-welled her husband to the war. Tonight was different. Out of dreams strode Father Luis holding a sheaf of pages. Betty found an icy chill go up her backbone.
She complained, “You should be asleep in the monastery rather than bothering my sleep.”
Father Luis stared at her woodenly, “There will be hell to pay for this in confession. What are you doing here!”
Betty tried to dismiss the dream in a matter of fact sort of way, “Let’s try to sleep. This is just a dream. It has been a trying day.”
They looked at each other, but neither made a move to leave. The mist swirled around them, and in the distance they heard the rumble of a distant storm.
Father Luis coughed, and looked at the papers he held, “I think I am here to deliver a message. Perhaps if I read it to you we can both sleep.”
Betty said, “No. I am awake because I couldn’t talk to Thelma about my retirement.”
Father Luis had private views about retirement, but chose simply to nod and said, “You are too young to retire. Besides, you cannot do it right now. There is trouble brewing.”
Betty sighed, “The load is too heavy.”
Father Luis shot back, “Share the load.”
Betty shook her head.
Father Luis said, “That is not all” and suddenly he was running though the shelves in her head rummaging through the books.
She heard herself arguing with him, “I don’t want to learn the net.”
“We can help. It is not hard. It can make some task easier.”
“It will destroy the things I fought to preserve.”
“That is not be the case. You love stories. The medium is important, but it changes. In your own lifetime it has changed a dozen times.”
“It leads to sloth and moral decay.”
“Lots of things do. Fight back.”
“It can be subverted by power and wealth.”
“That must be resisted.”
“It will change our lives, people will believe impossible things.”
“Our lives always change. It lacks moderation.”
With a supreme effort she threw him out of her head and they were back standing in that misty place that was not the railway station, both looking confused. Betty thought she should feel angry about the intrusion but instead found herself wondering whether she had had two half glasses of wine instead of one. Surprisingly, she felt a little more relaxed, and risked a small smile, “Perhaps I am ready for sleep now after all. You can go now.”
Father Luis started to turn but then stopped, “I still have this message to you, or, perhaps us.”
Betty shook her head, “I don’t need any dream messages. If it is important, call me in the morning.”
With a wave, she spent the rest of the night in a deep dreamless sleep.
The world reappeared in the fog of next morning when Betty was awoken by the sound of her phone ringing.
She looked at the bedroom clock and reached for the handset.
Full of cobwebs, she ventured, “Hello.”
Father Luis replied, “Please pardon the interruption.” He sounded tired.
She asked the phone, “Why are you calling me at this hour?”
Father Luis said, “You asked me to call you. With the message.”
Betty started to wake up quickly. “What message?”
Father Luis read from a page:
“Come, step up to this portal.
In cool airs soft as night, full hinting of delight, I am here not to outshine you.
How could it be? A broken nose, an old sword scar, a sun pocked face.
No, here is simply a setting for your smile, as you weigh those great adventures that await.”