Darkness before the Dawn

Darkness before the Dawn

Moonlight brings wisdom

Sarah had been awake all night. Although it was dark, it seemed light somehow. She felt as though she was being bleached inside and out. And stretched: every tendon pulled to snapping point. Someone must have it in for her. But who?

Or was she caught in the coils of her own past? Carefully she tiptoed through episodes that had given her pleasure or pain. That time when the Goddess Venus had manifested herself in a grubby four-ale bar. That time when the landscape below her had shimmered in the sun. That time when all she cared about seemed to have been destroyed. Those times.

She swung out of bed and walked through the house, stubbing her toe on something and cursing. She looked to see what she had tripped over. Sarah pulled the curtain open and the moonlight flooded into the room. She saw a large doll lying prone on the wooden floorboards. It was not one of her childhood toys, it was not a puppet, it was not a homunculus. It had blonde hair and green eyes and a blue sweater and a quizzical expression. Come to think of it, the doll looked like a miniature version of Sarah herself.

Sarah sat with her back against the wall in the moonlit room. The dust skittered across the floor as a slight breeze riffled through the curtains. The doll gradually, and with great effort, pulled herself up and walked over. She sat down opposite Sarah, cocked her head, and said: “well? Why can’t you sleep?”

“I don’t know” Sarah said. The doll said: “think about all you’ve lost”. And Sarah concentrated hard and conjured them up: her parents, her dead friends, the books she had never written, even her hopes of finding a true soul-mate. The tears sprang from her eyes as she saw them stretched out in a long row. There were so many of them! She held out her hand to them, but they seemed not to see her. They were engaged in their own business and had forgotten her.

“Now” said the doll “think of all you have gained”. Brushing her tears aside, Sarah focussed her mind again. She saw herself experiencing moments of great mental clarity, when new ideas had come to her out of the blue: moments when she knew what real pleasure was: moments when she lost herself in the trees or in the evening light: moments when she discovered a new person, who might be her kin.

She heard the doll’s voice again: “let the gains outstrip the losses.” The lost people began to fade away and become grey, until they were gone at last. And Sarah’s mind was now filled with colour and joy.

“Sleep now” said the doll, who laid her own cheek on her hand and curled up on her side. Sarah picked her up and lay down in the moonlight. The floor was hard, but it felt like thistledown. And for the first time in years she slept, cradling the doll who was her teacher and her guide. She might never wake, perhaps. Or maybe the morning would be like none she had ever known.