Well, this is a weird one – but there is
something very pleasing about it, so I’ll follow my wickedness through. I hope
someone enjoys its quirkiness. This takes place in the very early part of the
XX century. It’s always so good to be back to these stories! <3
I hope this letter
finds you in exceptional good health. I read with enthusiasm the papers you’ve
sent me regarding hypnosis as a means to treat women with “man-sickness”, those
poor souls afflicted by a deep despise of the touch of a man. I have the utmost
faith that your work could cause a revolution and look forward to hearing your
preliminary results in order to apply them here in St. Lucius’ Hospital.
But the true motive
that forces me to seek your help is the utmost necessity of counsel for one of
my most challenging and, I must say, perplexing patients.
Two years ago one
young woman, née Claire Beauchamp, entered this institution brought by her
loving and distraught fiancé, Mister Frank Randall, a distinct man of London
and a University Professor himself. There are no points of contention in the
woman’s family history that I’m aware of; her being from an impeccable family,
pure in breeding with other decent and noble folks.
The patient seemed to
be fairing quite well until maybe six months afore her commitment; as a
suitable young lady she was only preoccupied with the arrangements for her
wedding to be. But according to Mister Randall’s description, Claire Beauchamp all
of the sudden started exhibiting disturbing behaviour without any further prodromal
symptoms – she slept very poorly at night and talked frequently of vivid
dreams. She became obsessed with this idea that she must leave him and search
for a man that she saw in her head. Supposedly, Miss Beauchamp was convinced
that this imaginary man was her soulmate and that she was destined to find him –
even that they had lived many lives together.
Since her institutionalization
here I’ve pursued every approach as per the state of the art – cold plunge
baths, at times with a prolonged immersion; administration of laxatives and
purgatives to rid her of any diseases of the bile or phlegm; sleep deprivation
to heighten the senses and open the mind; long sessions of talking to help her
deconstruct her ludicrous fantasy. It pains me to say none of these treatments
were successful, as the patient remains adamant and unwilling to deny this man’s
I’ve been made aware
of a new treatment in early testing stages, using electricity to induce
seizures upon which the patient comes awake more enlightened and lucid - they
call it “Electroshock Therapy”. I’m willing to try this new technique in this
case, if I have your agreement.
My best regards,
“Calman geal.” He
said, touching her cheek with his long fingers. She could feel them, hot and
real against her skin. He smiled, part tenderness and part mischief, as his
hand slid to reach her neck and then rummaged to caress her breast. He knew
her; knew the desires of her body and touched her every aching point, as if he
had been inside her all along. They shared something that needed no words to
find its meaning. He lifted her, holding her legs around his waist and laid her
down, gently. He whispered in a husky voice “Claire.””
She came abruptly awake. For a moment she was disoriented,
her mind adrift from the cell that
the nurses insisted to call “room”. This
one had no windows – her latest punishment for misbehaving during therapy with
Doctor Rawlings. If he insisted in prodding and commenting on her life and
intimate thoughts, she saw no objections to asking him if he used the
magnifying glass, which he had ornamentally displayed on his desk, to find his
Claire turned on the bed, seeking a more
comfortable position on the hard mattress. This dream was new; she knew her recurrent
dreams all too well. Sometimes she had difficulty puzzling them in the
different versions of herself she had identified by now; he always seemed the same to her – strong-hearted, warrior even in
times of peace, lover. Husband.
There were images that she thought belonged to
distant times – in those she saw them in earthy tones, faded and muted. But
some, like this one, were so present and immediate that were like images in technicolor.
More than dreams, they seemed like recent memories – an old life she wasn’t
prepared to let go.
The nurse knocked – the accurate term would be hammered – on the door, warning her
that it was time to escort her to the bathroom, where she would take a steaming
shower, too hot for her taste but apparently good for her mental health; brush
her teeth and have a chance to socialize with the other convicts – well, patients – of St. Lucius. It would be a
though choice though, choosing the company for the day with so many appealing
options – the lovely Lauren, a young woman of her own age, who strangled her
firstborn; the humorous Olivia, a paranoid schizophrenic who thought she was
trying to kill her half the time; or the lively Mrs. Duffield, a catatonic
middle-aged woman. Then she would suffer through two hours of pointless
conversations with the director and then she would finally be left alone, to
find freedom inside her own head.
When the dreams first started, she had been
scared. Her life was following the path she had determined; her marriage to
Frank, her sweetheart since her teenage years, would be the social event of the
season in London. She truly thought she was content with the life she had
envision for herself. Her first dream with him – Jamie – had been very erotic and she had woken up soaked in sweat,
a moan escaping from her lips as he thrusted inside her. She had attributed it
to a harmless fantasy of a woman about to pledge herself to a sole man for the
rest of her life.
But that first episode was like the drop that
anticipated the flood, the dam of her mind finally broken. Soon their shared
memories were the realest thing to her; the only thing. And finding Jamie had
become her quest.
Frank believed she was just anxious, that a weekend
in Cornwall would solve it. When that failed, a couple of weeks in Paris were the
thing in order. He became increasingly desperate and frustrated as she slipped
further and further away from him. Even though she deeply resented him for
placing her in the asylum, she had to concede that he had tried to mend things
to the best of his abilities. But no man accepts defeat easily, being passed
over by another; much more so when his opponent seems only to be found inside
her beloved’s heart.
Claire knew she could have spared herself from
this degrading life; but that implied that she had to renounce Jamie, to say
aloud that he wasn’t real. That she never loved him. That she wouldn’t find him. And that was
something she couldn’t begin to contemplate.
“Let’s go, Claire!” The nurse barked. “You’re
expected in the shock therapy later, so move along!”
Oh, the electroshock therapy – their hail Mary
to try and return her to the land of the sane. She had been frightened the
first time, and in spite of the drugs that they administrated her she had
suffered agonizing pain. But what they didn’t know was, that following that
session, she had had the most vivid and long dream with Jamie; a tantalizing reminiscence
of a wedding night.
She cackled, following the nurse that looked at
her with profound alarm. She was in a
mental hospital, after all – might as well have a little fun.
Claire was sitting by the big window, where she
could see the garden outside. It was her favourite place in the whole hospital;
standing there she could pretend she was in the outside world, watching the season’s
pass and life’s unending wheel. Here, she allowed herself to feel sometimes –
the loneliness in which her beliefs had placed her; the flicker of doubt; the
longing for him; the love she hadn’t experienced yet and that she already knew
“Rupert sends his love, he couldn’t come this
time.” She heard a male voice saying across the room. “But he wished me to say
he loves ye verra much and he will try to take ye home for Hogmanay, aye?”
Her heart clenched inside her chest like a
closed fist. She knew that voice better than her own - it had talked to her
throughout the veils of space, time and sanity; she had waited to hear it for
the past two years.
Afraid that she had actually lost her mind and
had started to have hallucinations, she turned.
Claire might have screamed; it was joy and pain
and relief coming together over her. She had to go to him, but arms were around
her now, trying to contain her and pull her to the hall. She resisted them,
struggling more than she ever had before, even during her first days there, before
she had realized the pointlessness of her efforts. Tears were streaming down
her face, as she saw him walking across the room to her, his brow furrowed in
“What is it, lass?” Jamie asked. “Ye called my
name, didn’t ye?”
“Yes.” She sobbed, still fighting the nurse’s
grip. “I need to talk to you. Please.”
His frown deepened, but he nodded. Jamie was
looking at her with a strange mixture of fascination and fear.
“The lass isna doing anything wrong that I can
see.” He gave the nurse at her right a hard long look. “She just wants to talk,
that’s all. Let her go.”
He was an imposing man, as she already knew he
was; and had an aura of authority and leadership around him - it took men much
more confident than those nurses to resist the urge to obey him.
“Do ye ken me, lass?” He asked softly, after they sat together near the window, finally alone. “Have we met before?”
“Yes.” Claire answered softly. “I know all
about you, Jamie.”
“Where did we meet?” He looked at her, serious,
his blue eyes boring into hers. “I would recall meeting ye, I’m sure of it.”
“You really don’t remember me, do you?” She questioned,
tears resuming their course down her cheeks. She had waited so long for him;
never once had she thought he wouldn’t share her dreams. In her mind’s eye they
always met and instantly recognized each other; their kisses were ardent; their
hands fitted together effortlessly.
“No.” He said with remorse. “No, I don’t.”
“That’s alright.” She laughed amidst tears. “I’m
just so glad to see you.”
Jamie smiled, giving her a puzzled look.
“Why are ye here?” He asked in a soft tone. “Ye
dinna seem like someone that…should be here.”
“I’m here because I dream.” Claire said,
looking at his hands. No wedding band in sight, at least. “It’s a dangerous
thing these days, or so it seems.”
“What do ye dream about?” He questioned and
seemed genuinely interested.
“A man.” She whispered, her fingers fidgeting
with a fold of her grey and unflattering uniform. “A man I loved. Still do.”
“Ah.” He nodded. “Are you…grieving then, lass?
Is he dead and ye are here because yer heart is broken?”
“No.” Claire swallowed, avoiding his gaze. Although
they were meeting at an asylum, she was adamant in wishing he didn’t think her
crazy. “It’s a little more complicated than that, I’m afraid.”
“It almost always is.” He smiled. “I’m here to
see a friend’s mother. His wife is sick and he couldna come, so he wished me to
make sure she was well taken care of.”
“That’s very kind of you.” She glanced in the
old woman’s direction. It was Mrs. MacKenzie; she was one of the quiet ones. “I’ll
try to keep an eye on her.”
“There is something familiar about ye.” Jamie
said and she turned her head to find him studying her with intensity. “I can’t
quite place it. It’s not even an image. More like…a feeling. Like…there’s
something important about ye that I should remember.”
“Will you come and visit me? And bring me some
poetry - perhaps Catullus?” Claire asked. She hoped he would remember; the seed
had already been planted. She intended to water it and make it bloom; but if
she couldn’t, then she must find a way to reconnect with him. He had loved her,
time and time again – it was only reasonable to think he would again, in due
“Aye.” Jamie said softly. His fingers brushed
her hand. “I think I’d like that, Claire.”
Claire could see the nurses approaching to tell
them their time was up. She smiled at him and got up, starting to walk away to
escape their claws.
“Funny you knew that. I didn’t even give you my
He looked intrigued at her, but there was light
in his features, like the moon half shining during an eclipse.
“And about the man in the dream?” He called.
“I’ll leave that to another time.” Claire
winked. “I have to make sure you come back, don’t I?”
Claire breathed, waiting for Professor Rawlings
to arrive at his office. She was due to another session; and for the first time
she was actually eager to talk to him.
Jamie had finally come. He would remember her;
she was already inside him, waiting for him to find her. For all the times he
had waited for her to be ready, she would wait for him this time.
And now, finally free to become a lying sane
person again, she needed to prepare for the rest of her life outside the
“How are you this afternoon, Miss Beauchamp?”
Professor Rawlings greeted her sourly, upon entering his kingdom.
“Quite well, actually.” She gave him a sweet
and innocent smile. “I’ve been thinking deeply and perhaps you were right about
The Gothic Revival of Regaleira Palace was so late (early XX Century), that you can even consider it a revival of Gothic Revival. But that’s pure academic bullshit - as you can see, this place is simply amazing.
This scene is clearly from the XVIII Century, but it was painted just in the beginning of the XX Century (I can tell you that because it belongs to Regaleira Palace). My mind is deeply rooted in the XXI Century, but, in order to create magic paragraphs, this brain need to travel to this picture for a while.