15 — In the Mind

John Stanley – 8th July 1355

John felt compliant, obedient; but confused, resentful.

He had always welcomed an environment where the rules were set and all he had to do was follow them, but this was different. It was as if he was totally separated from the world around him. A world which was specifically designed to oppress him.

The blackness of the cellars and tunnels closed in on him. The flickering lights from the flares terrified him, at times it was as if the world was on fire. Perhaps they were all in hell. He could eat nothing, even the smell of food made him feel sick. He was aware of Don Fernandino, Guilliam and Ximene but felt they had no desire to communicate with him. they were just another component of the oppressive environment.

Also, most of the time he was in pain, serious pain, something that none of them seemed to be interested in.

They did not listen to anything he said. In fact, he had no longer any real desire to communicate with them. He had no idea who Don Fernandino was and it seemed that he was making decisions without any right to do so. Guillam he recognised, but he was rarely there and he struggled to pin down the relationship. When he was there, Guillam seemed sympathetic but did absolutely nothing to help.

Then there was Ximene, always close to him physically but separated from him emotionally. He had fond memories of Ximene, but the memories were far from precise. He dreamed of her when they were asleep in the same bed, but there was always an impenetrable barrier. She was a mysterious, distant princess.

When he was out of the bed she was the major source of his pain, always pushing him to do things he was not able to do comfortably, things which caused him distress. As he exercised, John reflected on his relationship with Ximene. She is my big sister. This is what big sisters do, bully their brothers!

He frowned. There was something badly wrong. Deep inside he wanted to hold her tight and kiss her passionately, but he was not sure it would be appropriate. His kisses had become chased tokens of affection. Despite the pain she inflicted on him, he loved her but found it difficult to determine what kind of love it was.

The most dangerous woman in the world

The Treasure of Trencavel