by Raji Singh
Accidentally trapped in the secret room and awaiting Nanny to come unlock the door so she can nurse Jamoy, her infant son, Shelva recalls:
* * *
Just when you are sure the Rope Haired Man will leap from behind a chair, or charge through a hidden door, you hear. ‘Up here, Shelva. Look up here.’
‘Through the window. Oh, never mind Shelva. I am swift. Now I am on the couch.’
You look over. See, no one. Just a light beam.
‘Surely you recognize me, Shelva. I’ve often visited you in your secret room no one knows of – your imagination. But I am a gentleman. So I arrive only when invited. Or when you need me. As now.’
‘At your service Shelva.’ The room dims briefly, and then brightens, as if a celestial doff of the hat has occurred. ‘How may I lighten your burden and warm a chill in your soul?’
“I have not thought of the Rope Haired Man in over 15 years, Poppy. I, like everyone else, was certain of his death in St. Petersburg. For no rational reason, I suddenly have doubts. I believe he lives here, stalking me: At the ready to torment me. Ease my mind, kind Sir. You reside here too, I see. Tell me that the Rope Haired Man is not your roommate. Tell me you do not brighten his path as you do mine.”
You feel your hand caressed reassuringly by Poppy Sol’s warm ray.
‘Ah my daughter. You well know I must lighten the way for all. That is my fate. It is up to them to choose my day light, Luny Mum’s night bright, or to reside in the darkness of their own soul. That; is their fate. It appears this is what the Rope Haired Man chose.’
Poppy Sol, his seeming cryptic answer angers you. Impatiently you pull from him and shout. “I am scared for tiny Jamoy, my dear sun: Because the Rope Haired Man may take his mother from him; or maybe my son, from me. I am desperate.”
Unable to control your emotions, you fist your hands. You cross your arms and begin to shake.
Hanging on the wall is a reminder of old time Mother Russia’s brutality and enslavement (as you feel enslaved by your emotions now). It is a rogatka, a spiky iron collar used to punish rebellious serfs. Poppy Sol’s rays slowly sweep the room, casting finger-like shadows onto it and it seems to begin encircling your throat.
You plead to Poppy Sol. “Please! Unshackle me from this yolk of despair I feel, Sol. Assure me the Rope Haired Man is not your roommate.”
‘Would I, if I could, my daughter. But I am here just a few hours a day; not when whoever else may be. Seems, he is a kind who treads only life’s murky fringes. If that is the case, even Luny Mum could not enlighten you about the intruder’s identity.’
The imagined, but so real choking of the icy rogatka makes it hard for you to breathe. You pull at the shadow collar. You feel that its icicle spikes stab your hands.
Your heart pounds. Blood, like ocean waves, rush through your veins and arteries.
So hot! You feel your skin could melt the rogatka.
Thoughts – a frenetic swirl.
“Help me, Poppy Sol!”
As you begin to pass out, you hear Poppy Sol assure,
‘You have the power to help yourself, dear Shelva. You must demonstrate the will to harness it, and to throw off that other harness.’
You flail about, knocking books, pens, and newspapers from table and shelves. The ceramic coffee urn smashes and breaks into dozens of chards that slide, squealing across the concrete floor. The earthen scent of ground beans swell, helping awaken your desires. Suddenly – for sanity sake, the sake of the everlasting cherish you’ll always want to feel in your sweet Jamoy, for the love of your darlink druzhyna husbant, James – you realize what you must do.
By damn, you will do it.
With the strength of Atlas, you throw off your worldly shackle and enter completely the ethereal realm of imagination. There you will conquer your demon and at last throw off his mental rogatka that has bound you far too long to him.
You breathe deeply, and return – “Hi ho!” a lone stranger, even to yourself now – to the Czar’s Winter Palace. You will confront the Rope Haired Man and the vile pain he inflicted on you that you buried and completely forgot 15 years ago, thence. You will free yourself, once-and-for-all time, from the mental hold you’ve allowed him far too long.
NEXT WEEK: Return With Shelva, To Those Thrilling St. Petersburg Days Of Yesteryear When…
(Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment. Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures. You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE. They are completely different stories. My novel is available at Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.)
©2013 Raji Singh
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