The land was brown and so was the sky. Trees pricked up like vanilla beans. I lived in a twig cabin by a bog. The bog was brown and wore a skin.
My husband, a boggy damp man, was away. He was away often and I liked him being away. On a hill I could see the Big House through my window. It was dark gray. I would sit in the window and look at the House that wasn’t brown. I was in the window of my twig house when the man with Knightley’s face, who lived in the big house, came down through the twiggy forest and stopped by my window. He invited me to the house and I climbed on the back of his horse and we rode to the (might as well say it) ‘castle’.
There, he walked me through all the rooms asking how I liked them, if I wanted to change anything. He introduced me to his zingy red-haired freckled sister. He walked me through his suite – the small dressing room, the unexpectedly small unmade blue canopied bed, the writing desk and chair, the rugby shirts and khaki shorts thrown over dressers and tables.
Then, holding my hand in the middle of his messy rooms, he asked me a question. I couldn’t hear his question but I saw his mouth move and I knew it was an important question. His milk-white forehead was a little bit furrowed. But I shook my head and pulled my hand out of his, even though being in those messy rooms made me feel lax and heavy, like a cat fed too much cream.
Instantly, I was back in the twig cabin by the bog. It was raining and in the distance (or from the sky – it was both views at once) the skin over the bog grew taut. The rain was so hard and black it made seeing hard, but I was unblinking in it, staring at the increasing bog. The bog began to look like a fat pudding.
I reached out of my window, across the flooding forest, and pricked the skin with my finger.Exploding and swelling the bog overran the forest floor. It was so fast, so black and thick, my damp boggy husband, who had been on the other side of the forest was overcome and he died. I watched from my window as the bog river flattened everything in its path. There was a certain satisfaction knowing I had exploded the bog. I wanted it to reach the castle and batter it down, but the hill was too high and the bog ineffectually swamped at its feet.
I heard a sound in the trees closest to my house and there was the man from the castle, his face changing from Knightley’s to a high-cheekboned Chinese face; it corresponded to his mood: Chinese for gentle, Knightley for stern. He smoked a pipe in the rain and wore tweeds. He wanted me out of the twig house and when I stepped outside, the rain stripped me of my clothes. I was naked. I turned to find another dress but Chinese Knightley, now stern, said he liked me this way and we walked next to the bog, on our way to the castle.
We climbed the hill, my body feeling free and wet; he was silent behind me still smoking the pipe. Inside the castle was quiet; no bustling sounds except the sound of the water dripping off my body onto the marbled floor. We climbed the stairs to his rooms again. He laid me down on his bed; he was naked, too. His face was in a constant slow flux, melting from Chinese to Knightley and back again until it was dizzying. The sheets were warm and dry. We just laid there on our sides, looking at each other.
Then his sister knocked and I panicked. I ran to the side bathroom door to hide and peeked through the round window while the two of them talked, his face turning back to stern Knightley. She laughed, hugged him and waved to me as if she knew I was there all the time. When she left he held an egg sandwich we shared in bed. Then we slept. We were so tired. It was quiet and we slept on the too small messy bed, listening to the spattering of the rain on the stone and the soft shhhing of his face changing.
(i had this dream about a year ago and wrote it down; i just found it today and thought i'd share it.)