sun-in-an-empty-room

Sun In An Empty Room
The Weakerthans
Sun In An Empty Room

the hands that we nearly hold with pennies for the GST

the shoulders we lean our shoulders into on the subway, mutter an apology

the shins that we kick beneath the table, that reflexive cry

the faces we meet one awkward beat too long and terrified

know the things we need to say (sun in an empty room)

and said already anyway (sun in an empty room)

by parallelograms of light (sun in an empty room)

on walls that we repainted white (sun in an empty room)

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

**inspired by a post I saw where Regina uses her magic mirror to check in on the Queen and Robin Locksley**

It’s been over a year since she has checked in on the Queen, a small little peek into the other woman’s life just to make sure that everything is okay, that they are okay. And so far, everything seems good, really good. She’s had a couple chuckles over watching this other version of herself lose the royal thickness about her and become a woman of the forest. Long gone are the jewelled cloaks and high heels, all which have been traded in for more sensible clothing, furs, trousers and a bow on her back. It reminds her of the time she herself spent as a bandit, for that moment in time where she had been on the run from an Evil Queen and an outlaw had come to her rescue. It’s odd, to watch it play out in real life.

But this other Regina seems happy now that she’s stopped grumbling about living in the forest. It suits her. Suits them. And while they may live in a forest, Regina can’t help but smile at the fact that apparently you may be able to take a Queen out of her royal castle, but you can’t quite take all of royalty out of the Queen. They live comfortably, in a large-ish cottage on a hill surrounded by trees overlooking a lake. Thanks to her magic, they have everything they need, even indoor plumbing, a note Regina did laugh at. But Robin is still Robin. He still hunts and lives off the land, and makes campfires beneath the stars.

She’d watched them one night, tucked on a couch together underneath a blanket, a calm flickering of orange glow from the hearth beating about them as Robin combed through her hair till her eyes closed. She hadn’t meant to watch them as long as she had, feeling like a peeping tom and all, but Robin had waited till his Regina was nearly asleep, breathing heavier than a few minutes prior when he rustled gently in his pocket, and pulled out a small little box. She’d watched as his eyes trailed back down to the near asleep woman on his chest, a small smile creeping into his dimples as he kissed her temple and begun to play with her left hand.

Her heart had thundered as she sat silently in her room, absorbed in them and what was about to happen. He’d kissed her cheek, placed a few to her temple, and across her brow until she grinned in her sleep, curling further into his arms, as he pulled her gently awake. The Queen’s eyes had drifted blissfully open, contentment swirling about in them, at least until she saw the box Robin had pressed into her palm.

Regina’s breath had hitched at the same time the Queen’s had, the mirror in her hands creeping closer as she waited to see what the other woman would say, knowing the answer in her heart already. His voice was low, curious and full of love as he asked her the question, the Queen’s eyes flickering up from the diamond to his gaze, stunned, before she broke out into a smile, and nodded, pulling him down to meet her lips that ceased to stop grinning. She’d put the mirror down after that, wiped away a few tears she wasn’t sure were from longing or happiness. That had been the last time she’d seen them, snuggled together in their home, newly engaged.

She doesn’t do it often anymore, gaze into her magic mirror and see how they are, because it feels a bit strange sometimes, to see a life she could have lived going on in front of her eyes. It brings about an ache in her heart, wondering if she and her Robin would have lived this way, happily together. Maybe that’s why her checking in on them have been fewer and farther in between over the past two years. She is content that they are happy, that she was able to be a part of making that happen.

But something just felt a little different today, Henry had left for a school trip for a week and she was feeling a bit lonely in her mansion. For a few hours she’d managed to occupy her mind with cooking dinner (for one). Had made apple turnovers she’d not yet touched and had a long bath, even done her nails. And it’s only eight o’clock. Too early to fall asleep, nothing to capture her attention on TV, her book long finished.

Humming to herself, she thumbs the mirror on her bedside table, gnawing at the fact she wants to see them, that maybe, for a few minutes she’ll allow herself to pretend it’s her and Robin instead. Just a few minutes, ten tops. Sinking beneath the covers, she sighs, turning the glass towards her face and whispers out, “Mirror Mirror on the Wall, show me what I want to see most of all.” It glows a deep purple, bright and swirling in her palm till the light settles and the image fades into view.

It’s day time there, warm sun pooling into an empty living room, though seems no one is home. The thought makes Regina pout, unamused, what is she supposed to do now? Huffing out a breath, she sets the mirror aside, as stares out the window silently. The quiet is nice, she supposes. Not what she wanted, but what can she do about it? Settling into her pillow her eyes flutter shut, and she pictures Robin beside her, or maybe downstairs, frowning adorably at the appliances he’d yet to figure out.

She’d lost a toaster and a coffee pot whilst he was here and his curiosity had gotten the better of him. The sheepish look he’d given her as she’d walked into the kitchen to put out the fire alarm blaring away due to another smoke bomb from a destroyed instrument far too precious to have her irritation even flare a bit. He’d apologized, run his hand through his hair and sighed at the small carnage he’d created. But she hadn’t care, would just shrug and kiss him happily, letting her wrist flick and restore the appliance back to it’s working state. She liked those moments. Domestic ones between the two of them, it felt like normalcy had finally begun to settle into her life.

A muffled voice cues her attention back to the mirror beside her as she fumbles and flips it back over, light streaming into the cottage as a door swings open and she sees the other Regina walk into the living room, carting a basket on her hip and a smile on her lips. “I’ll be right there!” She calls back out over her shoulder, heaving the load from her arms onto the table. Robin must be outside.

She looks different. Her hair tied into a loose braid that swings over her cotton clothed back, face void of all makeup and dirt under her nails. It’s not the first time Regina has been amused at the sight of the once regal royal all dirtied up playing house. It’s nice. She dusts off her pants, makes her way quickly to the kitchen on the left just out of Regina’s view. In the distance she swears she can hear more than just one voice. Robin’s certainly, but there is someone else there with him, someone younger. Her heart flutters as a hushed laughter echoes around her. It sounds just like–

“Roland! Come back here.”

She freezes under her blankets, jaw dropping and eyes watering as she sees the mop of brown curly hair rush into the cottage. He looks exactly the same, a bit bigger no doubt, with the time that has passed, but his face hasn’t changed from the picture in her memory. Big button brown eyes, chubby dimpled cheeks, two new missing front teeth as he shouts cheerfully into the kitchen from the sofa he’s landed himself on. His little chest puffs in and out, and Regina can’t help the tears that fall, nor the way her fingers trace his face. She misses him so goddamn much. Kicks herself everyday for not being able to figure out how to get to him somehow.

“Hello, my little archer.” The Queen smiles as she steps back into the room, flopping herself down beside him, lips playfully coating his cheeks in affection as he squeals in delight beneath her.

Regina’s heart clenching at the sight of him moving to settle into the Queen’s lap, grinning up at her as his hands part, revealing a perfectly sliced apple, well almost perfectly sliced, one half is surely larger than the other. “I did it!”

“I see that! You’re getting better than Robin!”

“Yup!” Roland munches triumphantly on his half he hadn’t relinquished into the Queen’s hands.

“Oh you think so, eh?” Robin comes into view, his hair tousled on his forehead, a grin beaming as he settles down beside them with a smirk. “Should I tell Little John you’re about to take over as the leader of the Merry Men then, yeah?”

“Let him down easy, he’s a sensitive guy.” The Queen winks as she nuzzles down into Roland’s hair. “Speaking of which, he’ll be by rather soon to come collect you.”

“Awww, Gina, do I have to go?”

The pout he sends her is beautiful, as is the smile she sends back. Regina still sits enraptured on her bed, can’t help but feel a flutter in her stomach. They found each other. All of them. How she doesn’t know, but what does it matter anyway? It’s a perfect picture glowing out from her mirror. “You need to get some sleep or else you will fall asleep on the way tomorrow, and be a little grumpy toad.”

“No I won’t!”

Robin laughs, laces his fingers behind Roland’s back with the Queen’s, “Perhaps we can convince him to let you stay the night.”

“Yes!”

“We all know he is an easy turn if you show him just how good your archery has gotten, maybe he’ll seen reason in letting you stay and practice some more.”

Roland bounds between them, whooping and hollering as he grabs his small bow and arrow and races back outside, his cheering still heard from the quiet that surrounds the pair still on the couch. Robin turns his eyes from the doorway back to his wife who leans her head on the soft brown cushions, humming happily when he moves closer to her, draping her legs across his thighs, and tugging her tighter into him with a smiling kiss to her lips. The seemingly innocent kiss suddenly turns into something far more heated, a moan in the back of the Queen’s throat has Regina flushing hot, best be time to go.

Her hand begins to wave across the mirror, but her eyes glue to the placing of Robin’s hand on the Queen’s stomach, and she lets her magic fizzle out. They smile, a bashful blissful thing, eyes meeting one another’s before Robin shimmies down between the Queen’s thighs, his hands cupping a small swell Regina hadn’t noticed before.

“Hello, my boy. How are we this afternoon?”

The Queen cards through his hair, tilts her chin down and smiles as he begins talking to her bump, Regina hanging onto every muffled word and mischievous, cheerful grin he sends back up at his lover before focusing back down to the task of talking to their unborn child. “Now, you stay safe and warm in there and try to ease up on your mother for a while okay?” His kisses the swell and moves back up to buss the former Queen’s lips. “We should start thinking of names.”

“Already?”

“Why not?”

“Do you have anything in mind?”

Robin bites down on his lip, brow creasing as he scoots back down to the barely there bump. “Well, my father’s name was Richard.”

“Baby Boy Richard?” She cringes hard.

They both lock eyes before sharing a laugh, Robin shaking his head, “A definite no.”

“What about Rigel?”

“Rigel Locksley?”

The Queen shrugs, “I kind of like it.”

“As do I. And for a middle name?”

Regina soaks in the moment. Little Rigel. She wonders if he will look like Robin, or maybe a smaller version of Roland, her complexion to Marian is close enough anyway. And when the Queen whispers out a name, Regina’s heart stills, eyes flush with new tears.

“Henry?”

“I know that you didn’t really know him, either of them, my father or my son, but I’d like to…”

Her words are cut off by another melting of Robin’s lips to her own. “Say no more, Rigel Henry Locksley it is.”

“You’re sure?”

“Of course, my love. It’s perfect.”

They settle in together, lacing their hands over their baby boy safe in Regina’s belly.  

“You’re sure you want to go tomorrow? We can wait a few days for you to feel better you know.”

“I’m okay.”

“You sure? You’re only a few weeks along, we don’t even have to go.”

She kisses him again, slow and steady before nodding, “I promise I’m fine, it’s not as bad as it was with Rae, that’s for sure.” Her eyebrows arch momentarily, “Plus, we promised Roland we’d take him.”

“He’d understand if you aren’t feeling up to it.” He rubs down her legs and back up her arms, saddling a fraction closer to her on the sofa.

“I know, he’s a good little boy, but I swear, I’m okay.”

“You’d tell me if you weren’t right? We can turn around anytime you want.”

He frowns, though the Queen chuckles, “You worry too much.”

She bumps his nose with her own as he sighs through a laugh, “I know, but it’s only cause I love you’re cooking and can’t imagine having to go back to eating boiled rabbit.” He jests at her, dimples on full display, as she scoffs, slaps his chest half heartedly.

“That’s why you married me? For my cooking skills?”

“Well that,” he leans in to catch her lips once more, “and maybe a few other things.”

Clearly something, no matter the realm or version never changed.

She huffs, pecks his lips a few times more, “Roland’s waiting. I’ll be right there.”

Robin smiles through his lingering concern, nuzzling into her neck for a few well placed kisses before extracting himself from her body, letting his hand circle across her stomach a few more times. “Speaking of little ones, shouldn’t she be up by now?”

“Probably, if we want to actually get some sleep tonight.” The Queen hums, running her own hands along the small swell as Robin stands, kissing her forehead one last time before whispering gently, “I’ll see you outside, my love.”

Regina watches as Robin leaves the Queen still smiling on the couch, soothing her hand over her stomach. This she certainly wasn’t expecting to see… an expecting version of herself. Where she’d figured envy would creep in, there is nothing. Well not nothing, there is a bubble of calmness that surrounds her as she smiles at the sight.

“Mama?” A little voice calls from up the stairs.

“Coming baby!” The Queen stands, and skips up the steps quickly and Regina can’t help but wait to see what their daughter looks like, what her and Robin’s daughter may have looked like. The room grows quiet as she sits up taller against the headboard, brushing a lock behind her ear, she needs a haircut, desperately so. But Robin liked it long, and she can’t really find it in her to shear it again. Oh well, unruly waves be damned, it will stay this length at least for a little while longer.

The sound of footsteps and happy bubbling laughter brings her eyes back to the mirror, the brown boots of the Queen coming into view first, her thighs and then a small dangling pair of matching boots at her waist. It’s all long brown curls hiding a little face burrowed into her mother’s neck. She can’t be more than twelve months, a baby still. A beautiful giggle muffled by the Queen’s own humming chuckle as she balances her daughter on her hip, whispering something Regina can’t quite catch.

“Shall we go see your daddy?” She turns and makes her way to the door, bouncing the little girl on her hip, and as they begin to walk away from the wall mirror Regina watches them from. Her eyes lock onto a pair of sky blue sparkling ones, chubby pink cheeks, dimples and a perfect rosy pout. For a second the little girl almost seems to sense her, and Regina can’t help but wave her fingers slowly as mother and daughter walk into the distance, and just before she loses sight of them, five little fingers wave back.

She laughs, brushes the tears off of her cheeks and sets the mirror down, her heart blooming and bursting at its seams. Her eyes close as she nestles back into bed, her mind swirling with the image of the perfect little family she had a part in bringing together, and something settles in her, a sense of calm and understanding that this will be the last time she uses the mirror, they have found a happily ever after, after all.

Edward Hopper, Sun, Empty Room, 1963.

I wonder who is more lonely.
The ocean or the sky.
The moon or the sun.
The lover in a empty room, waiting for the return of their world.
The soldier at the bottom of a trench, waiting for the end.

I wonder who cries out more often.
The clouds or waterfalls.
The child or the mother.
The otter lost in a river rushing toward the sea with no hand to hold.
The monkey in the trees with no vine to swing, no leaves to cling, no fruit to eat.

I wonder if there will be a tomorrow.
Will we wake or sleep forever.
Will it be our last day on earth
or has that day already passed.
Do we dream endlessly?

I think I know why I struggle to fall asleep without you.
I think I know why I stare at my phone wishing for a simple ‘goodnight’ or 'sweet dreams’.
Because I feel it all,
the longing of the ocean, sky, moon and sun;
the echoes of the clouds, waterfall, child, mother.
I feel it all.
And if tonight is really going to be my last
then I want my dream to begin with you.
I want my dream to begin with you.

—  Elzaro | I want it to begin with you (February 10th 2014)