• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 01

The Nursemaids

They are just shapes to me now, their dark forms stealing the warmth of the fire. My eyes can barely tolerate the light, but I am not ready for the blackness that pulls at my throat and fuddles my brain. How long have I been lying here? I shift slightly on the thin mattress. I am thirsty but I shall not ask for water.

Agnes is bent over, grinding the powder. Mary stands next to her, waiting. The silence is broken by footsteps. Mary raises her hand and the grinding stops. I prepare myself. If I do not speak now...

The kitchen door is pushed open and a figure moves out of the shadows. I hear the rustle of skirts on the flagstones. Agnes and Mary have become statues, their faces turned towards her. The faithless cat licks her sleek pelt.

'How is your patient, today?' the lady asks.

'Your father is sleeping now,' they chorus.

I open my mouth, but no sound comes.

'I do not wish to wake him. I shall come again in the morning.' She is gone.

It is time once again. Agnes pours water onto the powder. The firelight catches it as it tumbles from the jug. I scratch at their hands, turn away my head. It trickles down my throat, and the darkness comes.