I opened my eyes some time later. Had I fallen asleep? Was that even possible? How much time had passed?
I did open my eyes didn’t I? I couldn’t be sure since it was still pitch black . Not even a glint off a window. Well Goose had closed the curtains. It could be morning for all I know.
‘Are you awake?’ I whisper.
‘D’ ya think!’
‘Do you have to pee?’
‘Well you’re coming with me anyway,’ as I crawl half through and half over him.
There was no way in Hell I was climbing out of my side of the bed in complete darkness. Goose turned on the lamp and we quietly stumble into the bathroom….well, I did…he stayed by the door.
‘What time do you think it is?’
‘Oh my God….will this night never end?!’
Shutting off the light, we leapt back into bed and pretended we were the closest spoons ever drawered together. I kept my eyes shut tight. Tighter than I ever have in my life. Why? I couldn’t see anything anyway. Nor did I want to. I could hear Goose breathing. His heart beating into my back. At least I hoped it was him breathing. Put that thought out of your mind! I told myself.
Finally, after what seemed forever…I found myself fully awake again. Was it morning? Please let it be morning!
‘What time is it?’
‘How do you always know that?’
‘Because I never sleep.’
‘Well you must sleep so-…ahhh 6:30…. why is it still dark?’
‘I don’t know…..’
I heard him get up and walk across the floor….a sudden flood of glorious sunlight washed over the room as he whipped open the drapes.
‘Ohhh! Thank God!’
‘We made it…’
‘That was a horrible night!’
‘I can’t believe it…we could have died, you know…’
‘Imagine the kids having to go through our luggage to see what’s left’
‘You know…it really wasn’t that bad….’
‘…..now that it’s over?’
By the time we were seated at the breakfast table downstairs, we were giggling like schoolgirls at how silly we behaved the night before.
‘Demons….’, he snickered.
‘Bony hands reaching up from the crack in the bed,’ I laughed.
‘Wow…what imaginations we have.’
‘Yeah….’, I shook my head.
As he took a bite of his toast, I said, ‘You know….we still have one more night here?’
‘Uh-huh….’ his smile faded.
We explored all over the area that day. Ancient ruins, decrepit castles…burial grounds, pagan ritual sites. It was amazing. The history, the energy. We went for a late supper at a pub down the road. We ate as slowly as we could. Suddenly it was extremely important to chew each bite 76 times before swallowing. It was almost dark when we pulled up the laneway to the mansion.
This structure, what looks like an old mental institution, abandoned and lonely, stared as we drove by. It sat about 500ft from where we were staying. This is about as close as we got to it. We parked the car and looked at the house looming in the near darkness. There were a few lights on in other parts of the house. Not ours.
‘Maybe we could do a walk around the grounds?’
A bat flitted over my head.
The heavy front door creaked shut behind us. No sign of anyone….anywhere.
‘Backgammon?’ Goose offered.
‘I love you!’
We pushed open the door to the parlour and it was filled with darkness. A flip of the switch brought on all the lights at once. We found the game and got set up on the sofa. A moment later, our host came in and offered to start a fire for us. We were so grateful for the company, the warmth, the extra light…was he sure he couldn’t stay a bit?
And then he was gone. The first game seemed to be over in minutes.
That lasted an even shorter time.
‘Best out of 3?’
‘You got it.’
I looked at Goose awhile later and realized he was leaning badly to the right. Or was it me? We were so tired we could no longer see straight. We put off the going to bed as long as we possibly could.
‘Okay then….let’s get this over with.’
We turned everything off, smoored over the fire, tiptoed up the stairs, peeled off our clothes and climbed into the big lumpy bed. Goose decided we would leave the drapes open this time, so we would know when it was morning. It felt so good to finally be resting. My eyes were already closed. I opened them once. There was nothing around me. And I was actually so tired I didn’t care. Complete exhaustion seemingly breeds bravery. We both took a nice deep breath and drifted off to sleep.
With the bathroom light on.