Solo la sed nos alumbra

Thursday, 1 July

The last ten days have been very difficult, to say the least. I am still deeply embarrassed by the events that took place at Elmfield House last week and I have spent every hour of every day that has passed since worrying about what took place between Luke and I. I have not been particularly well either. I awoke last Wednesday morning with a pounding headache which I attributed to eye-strain from a late night spent writing on this blog. The headache refused to be soothed by medication and I foolishly aggravated the pain even further by writing another blog post that morning, which I knew was unwise at the time but I wanted to commit the memories to print as quickly as possible. By that evening I was sick like never before in my entire life; I suffered crippling stomach pains that had me bent over double on the mattress for most of the night and I vomited violently on several occasions. The sickness and stomach pains had abated by Friday morning, but I spent the weekend struggling with the after-effects of the illness and feeling terribly sleep-deprived, dehydrated and exhausted. 

I didn’t hear from Leonard throughout the remainder of last week and I was beginning to grow concerned until I received a phone call from him around eight o’clock on Monday night (which annoyed Alex immensely, he said that eight o’clock is ‘out of office hours’). I answered the phone to a very subdued and concerned Leonard who was not calling to arrange our next session but instead to check on the state of my health. Luke had informed him that I was feeling unwell at our last meeting and so Leonard had been allowing some recovery time to pass before he called to arrange my next visit. At first I wondered how Luke could have known that I had been poorly, but I quickly realised that it was just a cover story to account for my quiet and withdrawn state on Tuesday afternoon and as our conversation progressed it became clear that Leonard was entirely unaware of the incident that had taken place between Luke and I, which was a huge relief. 

Leonard proposed that we put our work on hiatus for a second week, but I was eager to see Luke again and so I dismissed any serious illness and explained that the exam period has really taken its toll on me and this must be the post-degree slump that former students talk about. Besides I have had very little sleep over the last few weeks and this may have lowered my immune system and contributed to my general malaise. In fact, contrary to Leonard’s prescribed period of rest, I suggested that a session at Elmfield House might help to lift my spirits and we should continue with our work as soon as possible.

Leonard agreed and so on Tuesday morning I caught the bus to Elmfield House. I took a seat on the bus next to a middle-aged woman with long brown hair and an exceptionally thick and shiny fringe. She gave me the sweetest smile as I sat down beside her and then she discreetly crossed herself. I’ve seen people do this when they pass by a church or see a funeral cortege, but we were passing by the shopping centre and there was nothing remotely religious nearby. Either I had failed to spot something out of the bus window or she was a very devout shopper! 

I’m not sure whether I was still harbouring symptoms of my illness or my mind was working overtime thinking about the strange behaviour of the woman seated next to me, but I became incredibly dizzy and nauseous during the bus journey and when I arrived at Elmfield House Leonard remarked with concern that I looked tired and as white as a ghost. He rushed me into the workroom, seated me in the leather armchair and dashed off into the kitchen to brew up a large pot of 'fever brew’ (which turned out to be Linden Blossom tea). Leonard concluded - in his typically omniscient way - that my symptoms sounded more severe than simple exhaustion and he diagnosed the onset of a more serious illness, so we agreed to have an ‘easy day’ and we sat listening to his cassette of TaizĂ© chants while he put the finishing touches to the dress sketches. I found the TaizĂ© chants to be very soothing and we listened to one delightful piece called ‘De Noche’ at least a dozen times over, but as I rested in the comfy chair clutching my hot mug of strange-smelling herbal tea and listening to the gentle music I couldn't help but feel like a sedated patient in a hospital death-bed!

As the morning progressed the room began to spin quite violently and my chest became uncomfortably tight, but I was determined to remain at the house in case Luke arrived and so I fought desperately against the blanket of sickening nausea that was descending upon me and I tried to relax as best as I could. Unfortunately this proved to be an impossible task as a number of disturbances were continually jolting me from my tranquil state of mind. The first was a deep aching in my muscles; my arms hurt when I lifted them higher than my chest and my thighs ached as though I had completed a marathon which made even sitting in the comfy chair very uncomfortable indeed. The second was a faint creaking noise coming from upstairs, but I have heard this noise many times before and I have perfected the art of blocking it out so that it doesn't upset me. The third was Leonard's visible agitation. I could tell that he was reluctant to disturb me but Leonard is like an irrepressible child who is incapable of sitting in silence for a prolonged period of time and I could tell that he was bored and wanted to chat. He could see that I was in no fit state to hold a conversation of any great intellectual magnitude but he was keen to talk about my forthcoming degree congregation and my (entirely fabricated) research project involving editing Greek texts at the university. I persevered with our conversation and my aches and pains for as long as possible but eventually a severe headache began to present itself and it became apparent that Luke would not be visiting that day, so I decided to leave Elmfield House and make the laborious journey back home…but not before spending half an hour convincing Leonard that I felt well enough not to require a taxi!