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It’s early morning, and the sun streams through my bedroom windows, and I wonder if all people who have eastern-facing windows are early risers? They’d have to be, wouldn’t they? The kind who bounce up out of bed at first light ready for anything.
Ordinarily, that is me, but today, only one of my eyes makes it all the way open. I lean in closer to the mirror and carefully prise open my left lid. Through the lightning-like pattern of a bloodshot hemorrhage, my eye looks back with a singular message: Get even.
Downstairs, beginning with my family at breakfast, I’ll tell them plausible lies and dismiss their prying —this time to explain away my brutalized face. However, I’m likely to be interrupted from further deception by the inevitable arrival of a note from Miss Walker, probably appearing around nine, inquiring about the Rev. Ainsworth’s departure and did I, perhaps, know anything about it?
Should I tell her yes after deceiving her about so many things? Would she like to know how many former lovers I have from here to Spain? Or perhaps, she’d rather hear how many women before her I’ve asked to marry me? Should I tell her that toying with me —like she’s been doing in this hellish back and forth —has eaten away at my heart whole because only a broken aching thing would satisfy its ghoulish appetites?
Should I tell her how insane it makes me that my love life resembles a battlefield because I’m at war with surrender? I cannot lose another woman I love to yet, another man. So, yes! For the love of God, yes! I horsewhipped him because he forced himself upon her, and it was mine and mine alone to do it. Might she say thank you for protecting her from filth? Might any of her idiotic relations?
Is there any way back with Ann or have I failed to catch her? I stifle a cry of pain while removing my dressing gown to splash water on my face. I know the minds of the medievalists in Miss Walker’s family —they are jealous of me. I should have seen it before now.
For miles and miles in any direction, I’m the only one in this valley having sex. Miss Walker, of course, is also having sex, and until very recently I could walk over there, and twenty minutes later she’d be on my lap for the afternoon. However, that seems in grave jeopardy now that the medievalists are controlling her mind with witches and demons and hangman’s ropes.