Hope in Bitter Waters

Wednesday, 21 July

Another postcard from Leonard arrived this morning. The picture on the front is Gustav Klimt's Hope I. It is a striking picture, made even more extraordinary by the fact that the pregnant woman resembles Amber in many ways, but since Leonard has not met Amber then I must assume that he does not intend to make such a comparison. The quotation on the reverse is from the journal of Eugene Delacroix (I recognise it from one of Leonard’s essays on the French artist):

‘The things that are most real to me are the illusions which I create with my painting. Everything else is a quicksand.’

Last Wednesday night was an emotional rollercoaster on many levels. It was an enjoyable night out and I was finally able to relax for the first time in months, but this is the third time that I have encountered these sinister individuals in public and they are starting to test my nerves considerably. I experience the alarming sensation of being watched and followed so frequently now that I am afraid to venture out in public unless it is absolutely necessary and this fear, combined with the physical pains that I have been suffering recently, means that I am increasingly confining myself to the flat and avoiding visiting friends, inventing illnesses to excuse myself from social events and keeping travelling times to an absolute minimum when journeys are unavoidable. Alex is incredibly frustrated by my excuses and he forces me to accompany him out to dinner or to the cinema once in a while, but I get so nervous when preparing to leave the flat that I start to shake violently and I feel physically ill. The fact that I even agreed to go out for my birthday - let alone stayed out all night - was a brave but incredibly difficult decision to make. I know that I am being silly and if I allow this madness to continue then my life will be restricted to frantic dashes between home, Elmfield House and the university, so I must learn to ignore or stand up to these monsters that (I hope) I have created.

But, if I am honest, the flat is not proving to be much of a safe haven either. Several times over the last month or so I have been disturbed during the night by a threatening presence in my bedroom and I wake up to find that I can't move a muscle, my entire body is paralyzed and there is a crushing pressure on my chest as though someone is pressing down hard on me. Fortunately these episodes do not last for long and I fall asleep again fairly quickly, but my chest is tight and painful throughout the following morning and I awake to find large welt-like scratches on my body that gradually fade over the course of the day. I have heard some extremely upsetting things too and only last night I awoke with a start, convinced that I could hear something heavy being dragged across the floor in the next room. But the screeching noises are by far the worst; Alex can never hear them and he gets angry when I disturb him and ask him to listen for them. He dismisses these upsets as childish nightmares and he leaves our bed to sleep in the spare room during my ‘bad nights’, much to my frustration and annoyance. I desperately need the reassurance of his presence but Alex’s sole concern is to get a good night's sleep and so I have spent a number of nights alone, just staring at the ceiling and listening to the most unsettling sounds for hours on end. I was so tired this morning that I found myself crying from exhaustion in the shower. 

But whereas Alex is being little comfort to me recently, my relationship with Luke has progressed dramatically over the last few weeks and he is proving to be a great pillar of support. I have kept true to my promise and I inform Luke of any illnesses or troubles that I experience, such as my stomach pains and my night-time harassments. He tells me that I am experiencing cataleptic episodes which are brought on by 'hag attacks' and I have nothing to worry about, but I should take regular salt baths and wear Leonard’s ankh at all times, even during the night (I have slept for the last three nights with the mother of pearl crucifix that Leonard bought me under my pillow in case that makes a difference). Luke says that these troubles will come to an end soon but I must suffer them for now because ‘we have to pass through the bitter water before we reach the sweet’. I don't fully understand what is happening to me, but I believe that Luke has my welfare and safety at heart and I trust him unquestionably.