LIMINAL: Spring and Winter By Sally Madison

Word: Liminal
Words: 488
Spring and Winter
By Sally Madison

Having watched Alexandria leave his bed in the morning, her husband smiled to himself, as he slowly methodically maneuvered from his bed to his favorite sitting chair facing the garden. Alma will be bringing his morning herbal tea and brown bread any minute.

‘She thinks she is being clever, waiting until I’m in my liminal wakefulness. Last evening at dinner she was more charming than ever, plying me with heavy drink, not wine as usual. She has slipped in and out of this room, each time after Peter has visited, waiting until I stir. Calculating the time, so the servants and I can witness her leaving my bedchamber, but I know my body better than she thinks I do.’

‘Still now, I wonder if I did the right thing to marry her. I promised her grandfather that I would protect her, but where is the line between protecting and suffocating? When do you turn your eyes away from the happiness you want to give to someone you care for? Where do you draw the line between what is proper? and what is natural?’

‘There are so many dangers in being a young woman. I thought I was doing the right thing. We tried hard that first year to be a couple, but spring-and-autumn marriages are often short-lived, and spring-and-winter marriages hardly have a chance to begin before one is despondent towards the other. I know it was my fault, but what is there to do now?’

‘I realize that a young woman has needs and desires that an old man cannot provide. I see the longing in her eyes as she looks at Peter. She doesn’t realize my absence when he’s here is intentional. I like the man well enough. He appears to be a compassionate man and a good czar to his people. Unfortunately, their tradition will not allow him to marry a non-Russian. What was I to do? Stand away? Make trouble? Insist on a behavior that would result in a wasted happiness?’

‘Most times she was morose after his departure, but this time seems to be different. This time, she was not only charming; she was glowing, almost radiant. Several times, I saw a hidden smile that had not been there before. This change I have seen before. Aha! Could the answer be there is a new joy in her life this time?’

‘Perhaps all of these feigned relations will finally serve a purpose? What a joy it would be to have a little one here in the castle, not that I will be the one to raise such a child. I know my time is near, my body tells me so. Perhaps, I have fulfilled the purpose that God has intended for me. More’s the pity, it would have been such fun to be a teacher and mentor to a child. At least the child will carry on my name, if not my blood.’

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