Your eyes open, your limbs flex, the bathwater splashing, jolted by the sudden shift of your mind and body, suddenly brought back from your Bayham fantasy.

You’re reminded of too many mornings, waking as if there’s an emergency, as if sleeping has become a dangerous thing. Your heart beating so fast, racing to keep up or escape the buzzing in your brain.

It’s as if they’re cabled together, the muscle of your heart jumping, trying to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation, CPR, the extreme procedure intended to preserve brain function and resurrect someone from near death.

Only here your brain seems close to unresponsive, a flat battery, worn out with the exertions of the night, where armies of emotion have come out to fight, and where heavy casualties on either side have left you exhausted from a marathon of erratic peace-keeping and problem-solving.

And so, another day will pass, as if you’re hungover, and not from drink, but from the nightmares that demand solutions. Working your way through the fog and carrying all the armor you can manage until eventually you get home, shedding the layers of your defenses and climbing into bed exhausted and desperate for the sanctuary of sleep.

But instead of rest we find our innocence caught in another conflict, an uncivil war between our desire for closeness and our fear of intimacy, where hidden behind our inability to bond is a stark truth: we prefer to be alone. Because for us relationships spell closeness and closeness means pain.

You imagine a coin, with boredom on one side and fear of abandonment on the other. “Heads or tails?”, you ask yourself mockingly. Admitting to how survival has pushed you to subconsciously seek out individuals who might on occasion be physically present, but emotionally and spiritually they’re absent.

And how much have you forgone to stay within these vapid relationships, even though we both know they’ve not fulfilled even your most basic intimacy needs? Too much.

In an effort to shift away from the emotional sobriety of your waking thoughts you climb up out of the bath, letting the now lukewarm water go. You towel yourself dry and slip into your bathrobe, carefully taking the candle through to the bedroom and placing it before the mirror that stands on your dresser.

Playfully you consider the silver pendant, surprisingly clean and resilient, recovered from your woodland walk. And holding it up by the ends of the fine chain you wonder whether to wear it. You reach your hands behind your neck and pinch the clasp, fastening it, then let the pendant hang between your clavicles, touching it to your chest, admiring the little glass vial with its clandestine contents.

It’s a pretty piece, you admit, enjoying the feel of the fine silver resting against your skin. The serenity and ease of your Bayham fantasy seeming to seep back into your consciousness.

From your dresser drawer you retrieve a small bottle of your most luxuriant lavender oil, one you cherish for special occasions and climbing up onto your bed you unscrew the pipette and begin to administer tiny drops of the sensual oil along the ridge line of your freshly shaven shins, where the excess of bathwater, now evaporating, leaves your skin feeling tight with the drying.

Continue…