„And though my only other wish was to see her one last time, I discovered that love has no charted course. We navigate by the fires in the sky, those sublime violet circles that simultaneously mark the journey in our hearts… ”
„. It was left to the unspoken language of the soul”
„We are Climbing…Jacob’s ladder”
In „Firefly” Whitney Hamilton created a beautiful combination of a historical Civil War novel with a lesbian romance trend. The story seems to be written after Henry Kieler’s journal, it starts in July 31st, 1861 in Charleston, South Carolina at the begining of the Cold War when the news comes to Grace’s home that her brothers Henry, William and Hamilton and her husband Luscious had died in the War and shortly her parents die too and shortly they have lost their big home into the Great Charleston Fire and their Columbia farm very soon and Grace and her sister Louise decide to join the war as their brothers Henry and Will, while Lucy is pregnant and has the fever and it is left behind at some aquaintances. The story ends in July 13th, 1866 in Shepherdstown, West Virginia when Henry finanlly finds his home into Virginia’s arms marrying her as an arrangement to help her not to lose her farm. Remember, in those times many men died and women were alone and without rights because the men in the family had all the rights according to the laws and women had none, that’s why when Virginia’s husband Oliver died all the propriety rights went her brother in law Loyd, her sister’s Jessie husband who was secretly in love with Virginia and very jealous on Henry.
„“I see you.” She said almost whispering. Then she got up and moved to where he was sitting. “I get up from my bed…and I walk out to the barn…and I can see you lying there…on your bedroll plain as day.” She continued and she could hear him almost catch his breath. He was so small, she thought. He could fit in her hands.
“You’re—you’re saying you’re only blind during the day?” He teased nervously.
“My spirit gets up and wants to wander to where you are sleeping…And so it does…” She said and her words were laced with something potent and staid and perhaps even dangerous. He got up quickly and moved about the room as if looking for something, but there was nothing for him to find. Everything was in clear view.
“Alright, so…what do I look like.?” He stammered and chuckled hoping to call her bluff.
“I know what your soul looks like as it sleeps on the cold ground.” She said as if she were reading the story of his life. But her words were careful and filled with profound understanding. “And…and I see you in my dreams.” She added. She knew that she could make him see himself in the real world. He needed to see himself. He needed to see…“I can see in my dreams, you know.” She added.
“Is that so?” He said softly.
“Yes…because dreams are just forgotten memories.” She said and she knew that the words meant something to him. “You’re a crimson red color.” She said softly as she moved close to him.”
„Firefly” is a huge surprise regarding the expectations from the characters. Henry/Grace mysteriously starts his/her journey and it follows in the same undertone of disguise on his/her road less taken to maturity from the high society mistress grace to a soldier that witnesses the horrors of the American Civil War including the martyr of his/her sister Louise and finally into Virginia’s shy husband in disguise. And there’s Virginia, a usual housewife from the south to whom the War has stolen her sight, her child, her husband and almost her property, yet not her feminine surface and the beautiful intimacy between her soul and her heart and her mind engulfed in her body and her need to love and belong altogether with the southern hospitality that turns her into the strong woman that although being blind manages to conquer Henry’s heart and to follow and fulfill her destiny.
„She pulled him closer and tighter hoping he would never let go. She moved and sighed and he kept hold of her. They stood in the darkness of the night for some time. She lost herself for a moment and followed her desire. She buried her face against him and kissed his neck softly and before she knew what was happening he moved slightly to face her and he let his small soft lips rest on her for a moment. He kissed her. It was so innocent and pure and filled with youthful yearning. She could feel his heart pounding, racing in his chest and she could hear him as he took in a long sensual breath and it did something to her that she had not known before. She let him kiss her again and he lingered for a moment and it felt as though there ”
“I love you, Henry.” She said and the words rushed out of her as if escaping. And she realized as she said those words that she had never said it to Oliver. Not in that way. She had never expressed herself so honestly before. And now this boy had become the hallmark of everything she felt and yearned for and remembered and hoped. She loved him. And she realized for the first time that she loved him with everything she had.
“It’s getting late…” He said softly and he began to pull away and there was that awkwardness of being too close, too intimate.
“Henry—“ She whispered and she kissed his neck again and she let her fingers hide in his thick mane. And for a moment he let her touch him. He let her embrace him. She knew that he desired her.
“I’ll be out in the barn.” He said softly and he took hold of her hands gently and he brought them to his lips and kissed the tops. Then he turned and she could smell the cedar waft away as the humid night marched on.
“Dream about me, Henry…and maybe you’ll be able to see what I really look like.” She said. He had already made his way to the porch and she waited as the ink blue of night swallowed him up into his own unknown.
“Goodnight, Virginia.” She heard him say softly as he closed the cabin door and disappeared into darkness.
“‘Night.” She whispered.”
Grace needs to get lost into Henry’s identity in order to survive and willingly takes the burden of war onto him, perhaps in search of forgetting the death of her family members or perhaps out of innocence she becomes him, yet holds a tenderness and a self consciousness that melts Virginia’s heart. Henry fights with Louise as Will and Robert and Joseph, yet she has to witness her pregnant sister’s brutal death and swears she will find Eliza, Louise’s daughter. They meet Virginia while they were heading towards Gettysburg and she was very scared with Sophie in her arms, her daughter and they take her silver service, yet Joseph will return it after the war. After his sister’s death, Henry deserts the army and lives in the woods with a boy, Jamison, he saved from a dangerous situation, Grace was dust and now Henry just needed to survive, but when Jamison is badly hurt by Indians and he let himself go in the river, Henry’s heart sank and he was also wounded, had an X marked on his chest and in search of work he arrives at Virginia’s farm right on time to help her keep the land.
Henry/Grace wanting Virginia
„She was complex and uncanny and wise and innocent. He loved her for it. He loved her. He continued on and for some time did not know where he was going. He knew that he just needed to walk. The night was still and humid and he imagined her in all of her loveliness. He imagined her with him. He imagined touching her and holding her intimately and it sent a shot of fire through him. And he imagined kissing her with the fullness of his being. He imagined being with her in a way that did not have words. He could feel her and sense her moving in all her exquisite sensuality. She was intoxicating and together they could suspend time and truth and pain. They would be cocooned in a violet circle that cut away the past and only allowed them to be and to love. He cocked his head toward the sky and he studied the rings that twinkled from the pole star. Sailors navigated by it. Builders set their cornerstones by it and many temples housed the silent prayers of fulfillment by it. She had weight and the way she pulled at him was as steady and as constant as that star. He could feel her hips against his and her bosom as she pressed herself to him. He could smell the lavender and the muskiness of a hard day. Her soft thick hands held him up—suspended above the everyday. But most of all he imagined that moment when his lips met hers—how soft and supple and full she was. What words could describe that tenderness. There were none. It was left to the unspoken language of the soul. ”
Virginia’s thoughts on Henry
„“I wonder…what I look like to you?” He said softly. And he could feel himself falling helplessly in the reflection of her eyes. She got up slowly and wandered over to the table that was her piano in disguise. When he looked up he could see her unfastening her blouse and he trembled for a moment as it seemed that this evening may be the test to surpass all tests—a test of will, of acumen, of skill, of secrecy…perhaps, of trust. She pulled out the small bench and sat at her piano. She slipped off her blouse and it fell away like a cocoon revealing slight supple shoulders and the cinnamon dots of the sun. Her camisole was the only thing hiding the rest of her from his gaze. Her fingers touched the keys and he could see for the first time the slender muscles in her back and arms work in tandem with the notes as they reverberated through the night. She played a reel that had an Irish flair and it lifted his spirits toward celebration. He watched as her soft fingers hit the keys with such force and purpose that the music seemed to be forged in the heat of creation. She was a blacksmith of the ethers. Then she played a delicate ballad that mesmerized him into a fit of joyful melancholy—a song that spoke the language of unrequited love and the tragedy of unspoken words. And her hands glided over her instrument like water caressing the sensual curves of the earth. He studied her as she moved and there was a sensuality that he had not met before and he realized that this was the music that had enriched his dreams for the past several nights. The last note was barely audible and yet it rang through his insides as a whisper packed with the profound essence of revelation. She touched the keys as she had touched him and as the interlude found its conclusion she sat for a moment and whispered, “This is what I see…”
He could not speak. He could not tell her about Eliza. He could not explain why he felt conflicted. His throat ached with silent emotion. He wanted her so much…and yet he would never have her. If he spoke he was liable to let loose a flood of tears. So he sat and let the image of Eliza glide through him—steer him through the murky waters of fate. Quiet settled like a light snow and he could hear her charged breath in the darkness as the candles had burned down to a faint glow.
“You have an extraordinary gift.” Henry said softly. His voice pierced the silence and drew her away from her intimate thoughts.
“Yes. My blindness…” She replied. And he thought it odd that she would revere her handicap in such a way.
“If I could give you anything in this world, I’d give you sight.” He said and he meant it even though it might mean the end of their union. Then she laughed and said that it was very kind of him for saying so. And at that moment he understood that to wish sight for her would be to imprison her in a finite world. She began to untie the strings that kept her camisole bound. She faltered for a moment and it made his heart jump. She removed her camisole and sat there as an offering and he gazed at her nakedness and the likeness they both shared was uncanny. It was like peering into a mirror and he saw himself in a different light as he gazed at her. He realized he was no longer just a woman. He was no longer a woman pretending to be a boy. He was no longer female or male. The boundaries of physicality no longer marked the edges of the world. As he stared into the face of the ineffable, he moved far beyond the edges of mortality, of this universe as we know it and somehow he grew blind. The further he moved in that intimate moment the less he relied on his eyes to tell him the truth. He let the air and the scent of the room and the taste of her skin and the sound of her breath be his guide. In that moment he realized the kind of freedom she experienced day to day —touching, feeling, listening to the things around her. And his desire to cling to that freedom was almost consuming. She sat still…inviting and he knew that to exchange illusion for truth could set him on his quest alone…without her.”
Henry’s return promise
„“You will come back to me…” She whispered and her voice was small and as fragile as a child’s.
“Yes…” Was all that he could manage to say. And that crooked word hid the image of Eliza from his voice and his promise and his attraction. He could see that her face revealed a mission. If given time somehow he knew she would mend his heart. She would mend it with tenderness and music and blindness and unswerving devotion. She would tend to it, teach it and make it grow. She would imbue him with the great mysteries and the language of silence. She would initiate him into the realm of the senses and the great sanctuaries of earthiness. She would breathe into him the epiphanies of recognition. He could not leave her like this, he thought. She was so fragile. She was so committed. He took her hand and escorted her to the threshold of her room. She sat on her bed and something escaped her lips that sounded like ‘please’. Then she turned away and curled up like a child and faded into the haziness of sleep. ”
Grace’s home is Virginia
„She dipped the nib of the pen into the ink and watched as the indigo seeped down onto the virgin white paper. It bled…not much, though. And as the blue black etched its way into the fibers of the linen stationary, she thought for a moment of Virginia and the farm and the corn and the moon. Her heart ached. For so long, it seemed most of her life, she was always moving. At Virginia’s there was peace and the essence of home. The silence invaded her. Nothing sounded familiar anymore. There was no Henry. There was no going back. She knew it. A slight breeze settled on the air and stirred the delicate curtains that hung in the windows of the quaint room. She began the indelible marks that would lead her to her kin and away from her wife.”
Virginia’s life was beautiful with her husband Oliver, although she feared everytime he left their cabin at the farm from down the Appalachian Mountains to join the war, especially now when she was pregnant with his child. She helps her sister Jessie to tend the wounded and Oliver dies in her arms and she’s badly wounded and lost her sight , yet gives birth to her daughter Sophie right there between the hospital’s bricks, it’s a miracle. She lives with her sister a while and when for the first time she stays the night at the cabin, she meets Henry and Joseph, but she loses Sophie who dies of the cold. She’s shattered and involves herself into silence until she meets an old mistress who offers her a home and the chance to become a piano teacher to the children in town, there she meets to women that love each other Anna and Katie, yet the funding is off after some time and she decides to come back to her cabin at the farm after her brother in law had tend to it a bit after winter and then she meets Henry.
„“Can I make you happy, though?” She asked. He remembered what his father would do when his mother had asked him such pointed questions. He would be vague.
“I guess.” He said softly.
‘How?’ he thought. She was charming and talented and smart and stunning. He could sit and watch her all day long and never be bored. He could take in the exact shape of her lips and her cheekbones as the sun drifted across the sky and wonder how on God’s green earth he had managed to be in the company of someone so special—someone who evoked passion and compassion simultaneously at any given moment.
“I don’t know. Just by giving me shelter and food.” He managed to say.
“That’s all you want?” She asked surprised.
God no. He thought. He wanted to be with her every moment. He wanted to laugh and to cry and to tell stories and to fish, damn it. He wanted to touch her. He wanted to feel every inch—every contour that made her who she was.
“It’s all I need.” He replied honestly and it was true. But in that moment he realized he needed more than that—every human with a heart and with blood needs to feel. He needed her to feel alive, to know that he was not resting in some shallow grave of repeated memories.
“Do you need me?” She asked slowly.
The words descended on him with profound clarity. Of course he needed her. He needed her to breathe. He needed her in order to know that his heart still worked. He needed her to see.
“In what way?” He responded vaguely.
“Any way that you might think of.” She replied exasperated.
“What is the matter with you, Virginia?” He asked, but the question was really something he needed to ask himself.
“I just want to feel like I make a difference. I mean if I hadn’t been home when you trotted up to my door, would you be living on the next farm over? Would you be missing something?” She asked. He could not answer. He could not feel his way through the maze of his emotions. “So…are we just strangers that have crossed each other’s paths?”
He felt ashamed of himself for lying, but there was truth in it. He was a she…She…He rubbed his face with the warm water and let the moment settle. He was a she…She was Grace…She was a woman not unlike the woman she had fallen so completely and irresistibly in love with.
“Oh…” Was all that Virginia could manage. It was packed with the weight of extreme disappointment. Perhaps their whole marriage revolved around the fact that eventually Virginia would have a family again, he thought.
“If you wish to have a child and need to find someone to become your husband—” He began.
“Henry. I want you.” She said softly. Her voice was filled with surprise that he did not know that already. She let her fingers find the wet ringlets of his hair. “Don’t you see? I want your child. I love you…I feel like…I want to do something. I want to make you–I want to make whatever it is that’s in your voice—the sadness, the melancholy go away…But I don’t know how.” She explained and she was so honest and sincere and delicate that it made his heart break again and again. She was mending him and she did not even know it.
“That’s not your task—” He began.
“But it is! When I…I touch you. I feel something that I haven’t felt in a long time and…I know that it’s been a very long time since you lost her.” She said. Her words pierced and pieced him together. He was a patchwork of her nimble fingers. He craved her touch and her understanding.
“Her?” He whispered and it was as if she knew Louise and Eliza and those beautiful moments when life was simple.
“Yes.” She said softly. “Whoever she was that gives you such great sorrow. Whoever it is that you think you must find. It’s just that…Well, Henry…I’m here…flesh and blood. And she isn’t.” It was so true. She could see clearly that he was chasing a myriad of shadows. And none of them would offer any complete answer. She knew…She was the sanctuary. “Whatever it is she gave you, I can give one hundred fold…Let me.” She said softly. He could feel her strong hands as they caressed his face and his arms. He wanted to let go. He wanted to tell the truth. But there was such enchantment and attraction that he could not bear to disappoint her. He could not bear to disappoint himself.
“We all need to be held. I’m sure lots of soldiers suffered…I won’t expect anything. But if you want me to…wash your back or hold your hand or keep you warm at night. It’s alright…Don’t go…” She said and she kissed him softly.
“I have to. You’ll understand why…” He replied. She got up slowly and began to unfasten her blouse. She let it fall to the floor. He watched as she let her hair down, in the dying firelight. Her small round breasts with pink centers were speckled from bathing in the creek and yet white like a dove. She seemed like a dream. She ran her hands through her long sandy hair and then she let her skirt fall to the floor. There they were. Both of them. Revealed. Both apart with no promise of anything except a strange silent understanding. He took in her form and the places that made her unique. She was ephemeral…She was creation…she was all…she was him. Virginia disappeared into her bedroom and her silhouette revealed her lithe form. He wanted her. He wanted to be there when she fell asleep. He wanted to watch her dreams as she moved restlessly in her bed. He wanted more than anything to wake up within inches of her. To kiss her. To make love to her. To be everything he could be…”
Tears of Grace
„He began to untie the cloth that bound him and found the small features of a woman hiding beneath. The round pink medallions may one day suckle an infant, although the idea seemed far removed. The pink “x” above her heart seemed to be a mark and a talisman for survival. She was small and she was undoubtedly weathered. She unbuttoned the canvas trousers and kicked off her mud sodden boots. Beneath the rough cloth lie the delicate trappings of a female…a woman…there in the lonely room she studied herself carefully—every inch and she concluded that the secret could go no further. It was too hard. It scraped at the very things that held her together. She wanted so much and yet in the broader scope she wanted relatively little. She yearned for the contact of another. She craved the warmth and the ease of another’s arms and she knew in the darkest corners of herself that that other was Virginia. It was hopeless. It was impossible. She watched herself as the tears trickled down her cheeks and the rain pinged against the windows. She watched as her female self reemerged in the gray and the diminishing light. Her own sounds mingled with the desperate cries of men on the battlefield and babies fussing for food and comfort. She had no reason to cry when she thought of those men who died and bled on the ground. But now in the throws of absolute oblivion she realized that tears are the wellspring of strength. That everyone cries no matter who he or she is and how courageous he or she may have been. Everyone deserves the respect of mourning those places in the human soul that pass away and no longer serve. Her face was bright pink and the lines that marked her dimples had softened in the dimming of the day. Her eyes were clear and filled with purpose. It was the one thing she had not lost in all of her travels. She patted her face and pulled the quilt from the bed. She wrapped it around herself and sat down. She listened to the slow even rhythm of the rain. In the mesmerizing sound she could hear the soft music that Virginia played somewhere in the distance, perhaps in the secret corridors of her heart.
It was dark by the time she had awakened. ”
„“I appreciate you comin’ and stayin’…you know…helpin’…” He mumbled.
“She’s my sister…” Virginia said softly. Then silence seemed to overtake them again. She felt awkward and so she held Anabel tight and let the baby suckle her pinky.
“You love him?” Lloyd asked suddenly.
“Yes.” She replied. “More than anything.” He didn’t say a word. She could hear his defeated breath as he sighed and shrugged off the years. He just stood there taking in the pink sunlight. Then she sensed him move as his shadow vanished out into the fields and into the new day.”
Virginia was created very imaginative, with a strong sense of tenderness, kindness, intimacy and self-conscious, she studies her feelings towards her husband, she learns so much together with her blindness comes a whole new world of wanders, she ties knots and creates phrases that speak her own mind, she’s intuitive, her other senses are sharper now, her sense of smell, her capacity to empathize and to sense things deeper, she can read people with her mind’s eye. As a reader I fell in love with Virginia’s combination of beauty, tenderness, intimacy and strength of will. Henry too, that’s why he accepted her marriage proposal, that’s why he helped her save the farm, that’s why he left when Grace couldn’t understand the fact that she loved a woman. Virginia found out so much about herself in loving Henry and how her sensations differ and how her feelings deepen for a boy that hasn’t even kissed her, she will kiss him and he’ll kiss her back after a long time, yet this waiting creates the love that makes their hearts last with hope and with a love beyond eternity.
„We each have our share of night to bear.’
‘The soul selects her own…then dreams it into being.’
‘Bliss is silence torn through the middle with light.’”
„To her it was a mystery and yet it brought a sense of happiness. She did not know why. All she knew was that she could hear people’s souls at certain times when the air was thin and still. And it seemed that a veil would be parted for a few moments while in the company of others she seemed especially attuned to. And in that time she could hear them in their sorrow and their joy. She could hear them in their most exquisite state of innocence. She took this new insight as a gift.”
What’s striking, indeed, is the fact that the sexual relationship between men and women are very well written and described widely, while the lesbian sexuality is missing and gets lost in the intimacy of the inner feelings of the two women and the care, the understanding of each perception of each other, remember it’s their first and last time with a woman that will last forever.
Virginia longs for Henry
„Maybe the lesson was to let go. That’s it…let go… Maybe the beauty of love lies in a state of being…plain and simple. It all seemed so amazing that life had given them the gift of one another. Maybe he could not live that close to the fire, she thought. Maybe she desired too much. If he could not love her like a man loves his wife then she longed for his mind, his gentleness and the soft, sensual tenderness that she knew he was capable of. She let his voice and the sounds of his boots on the pine plank floor echo through her mind. It was so real that she moved suddenly to see who might be on the porch.
He loved her. That should be enough. No matter where he was his feelings for her would not stop. So she would accept his love in the lightning bugs and the flowers and the sounds of a crackling fire and the sad chords of an Irish ballad. She would bind herself to him through the wailing of a fiddle and the carvings in the bark of the walnut tree and the weeping twine filled with words that blew in the wind. She would connect with him in the field and the corn and the earth. It was a treasure that she hadn’t realized before and that most people cannot find. Simplicity…humility and profound gratitude just to be alive became a kind of chant for her in the stillness and the passing of days and weeks. He was not gone. He just wasn’t present. And he could not take away what he had given to her. It was preordained. It was in the fabric of their chance meeting and their blossoming exchange that would last until the other breathed no more. She was on an adventure of the heart and she did not know what lie ahead at each turn. But she was glad for the courage to feel…
And though my only other wish was to see her one last time, I discovered that love has no charted course. We navigate by the fires in the sky, those sublime violet circles that simultaneously mark the journey in our hearts… ”
„Unknown date Zion, 1866
In the stillness I can hear her. She whispers to me in my dreams and her voice sounds so real that I must remind myself that she is an illusion. I can feel her—sense her so close it’s almost palpable. It is as if she is in me…a part of my insides…a part of the wellspring of desire. And I long to be awakened. I long for the kiss of midsummer and the kindness of her presence. In the slow turning of time and the whispers of exchange I can see our fingers touching—intertwining—reluctant to come apart. There is no end. That’s what love is…endlessness…the sea…the crashing of waves and the gentle tide washing away the old and pulsing with the luminous teal of tenure. I want to begin… I gaze at the sky that had turned a brilliant blue as the moon with its yellow horns trekked across the heavens. And though I know that Virginia cannot see the heavens I wonder if she can feel the brilliance of the night as I do. And I wondered if she is willing to begin…
She remembered the night she played for him and how he kissed her and how his slight body felt in her arms. Her fingers softly wedged themselves in between the bone and his neck muscles and she thought of him as an instrument—an exotic, exquisite musical thing. She could play him. She could make him hum with the silence of desire. He was the perfect chord…the inspirational harmony that floated in the air above her head. She could tune him and slide herself across the strings that held him close to the earth. She could whisper away the melancholy and the mournful sounds of regret and despair. She would not let the fever take him. This was her vow. He coughed suddenly and to her consternation he had let loose with a sticky mucous. She wiped her hands and cleaned his face.”
Virginia kisses Henry knowing he was Grace
„And her fingers fell onto the softness of his lips. Those small, delicate lips that had whispered her name. Those lips that had held so much promise and felt too much pain. She had kissed him before and wondered if it would feel any different now. So she leaned down slowly and let her lips brush against his. Her heart still raced and her hands trembled. And she caught herself in the moment knowing that she loved him. She always would…”
I loved it when they married and Henry keeps the distance and sleeps in the barn, yet he cannot deny his growing feelings for Virginia and he fears she needs to tell her the truth of Grace and of the War. And he gives Virginia her own wedding ring. And when Henry goes home to see Eliza he realizes his home s Virginia and how thy see fireflies separately, very romantic. Virginia senses Henry’s desire towards her and even his love, yet doesn’t understand why he doesn’t make love to her, I loved the image of Henry’s bath and the way Whitney Hamilton described Virginia naked in the firelight.
Mesmerizing novel with blisful, real living characters from yesterday brought to life today.
Henry thinks of Virginia
„Then the calm of acceptance and that unquestionable feeling of being everywhere at once—of being in the trees and the sky and the sweat of my labors envelops me in a kind of tenderness. I can feel her desire to be set free in that moment. I can taste heaven through salty contact and I know that the divine hovers behind a veil of physicality only inches from myself. I can taste the blood in my mouth and something about its heaviness and its tang brings me to a crossroads. Once there I can see Virginia waiting for me and I can see the worry on her face and the eminent betrayal she feels. She would not know how I long for her…how much I love her. And as my body throbs with numbness and intermittent pain, I lay here in this empty road surrounded by the life I thought I was moving toward. And I imagine that exquisite moment when I had kissed my wife’s neck speckled with dots from the sun. That image—that feeling—that intense craving becomes the key that sets me loose. Perhaps all life is…is a simple kiss…an unexplained gift from nowhere. ”
„“I…I’m not…” He began and he could not find the words. There was no easy explanation. He closed his eyes and felt his throat tighten again. He could feel her hands move across his face and brush the hair from his forehead. He had grown so close to the softness…the tenderness…that she had become a tonic on him.
“I know…” She whispered. He was at once relieved and stunned. She knew and yet she did not act any differently. He began to cough again and he brought his hand up to cover his mouth. There was something on his finger. It was the wedding band. He looked up at her and she was tired and her eyes spoke of sleepless nights and bedside vigils.
“How?” He asked softly.
“The hollowness of your voice.” She replied and the sound she made was not unlike the music she played. It was even and sweet.
“Most men die of heartbreak when their voices get as hollow as yours. I’ve known many women with the same soul-aching sound that lived to be ninety years old. They’ve either buried a child or several or a husband or several. The sound is unmistakable, Henry. I heard it in my own voice for a long time. When you took ill I wiped your forehead. I soothed your body with cool water and I knew…I knew you were just trying to survive…like me.” She said. He realized for the first time that he was not in his clothes. He was self-conscious and naked. And yet he felt strangely content.
“But…I’m not…what you wanted.” He said softly and he let his eyes wander to the floor. She wanted a husband. She wanted a man. She wanted a family and he could not give her any of those things.
“You’re everything I wanted and more…” She said and she took his face in her hands and held it close.
“I love you, Henry….” She said softly and the words melted away all the hurt and the pain and the doubt that had plagued him for so long. Nothing could tear them apart.
“If you close your eyes at night and hear the voices in your head as you’re about to fall asleep it is your soul speaking to you.” She explained softly and she held his young face in her soft hands. He gazed at her exquisite eyes and he fell deeper and moved closer than he had ever been before.
“You would not have done what you did simply to get by…This is too permanent. You have to fool yourself before you can fool anyone else and you’ve grown into a life and you followed its natural course…I hear your voice in my head because it paints the pictures that I cannot see with my eyes.”