Your pocketed hand grips around the little glass vial, this unearthed curiosity found buried on your woodland walk now teasing you with wondering what promises and pledges you might find hidden within. A mystery of words inked and waiting, handwritten, else typed onto this tiny scroll of paper and rolled so tightly inside this silver threaded pendant.

Awoken, you startle, your own reflection caught napping in the dresser mirror, you listen vigilantly reaching for the flowing sound of bathwater, the taps left running. Hastily you place the pendant on the dresser and sweep through into the bathroom.

The window, mirrors and tiles are wet with condensation and steam as quickly you close off the taps and stir the water, piping hot, the bath now filled within an inch or two of the over-flow.

You scurry back into your bedroom to retrieve some matches and a soft scented candle. You place the candle on the tile ledge fitted at the foot of the bath then light the wick before pulling off your clothes, leaving them discarded in an ungainly heap on the cold tile floor and turning out the sharp overhead light.

The small room immediately mellows, warm and soothing. And as you raise your leg to step over, you take a moment, hovering your foot over the surface, readying yourself for the blanching, hissing as the heat grips your skin, dipping your toes into the steaming water, your blood vessels blooming.

Climbing in, easing yourself down, feeling the tension readily escaping from the confinement of your over-stretched muscles. You sense the pores of your skin opening, softening pink, as you breathe in the heat and allow it to heal you.

Sinking down until submerged, the water reaching over your shoulders and closing around your neck, your head resting gently against the curved edge, your eyes closing, letting go of the present, slowly slipping away, the soothing heat and the flickering candlelight summoning you to another place.

A gothic archway. Weathered brick and stone. Mottled with lichen and worn away by so many seasons of wind and rain, now bleaching in the sunlight. A heavy, wooden door framed within the arch, held by iron hinges, roughened and wrought with long ago mongering. An iron ring handle and latch.

You grip the wrought-iron ring and twist; the heavy latch lifting as you press your palm to the door’s warm oak and push, the hinges giving way to your insistence, the weight of the door easing open, revealing a wide corridor of continuous arches.

A vaulted ceiling, gothic ribs of quarried stone, masoned by so many hands, doubtless built with blood and sweat, broken skin and bone. Your eyes drawn along the spine, beneath the vertebrae of each archway to the farthest end of this cathedral’s cloister and the bright light that fills its farthest point.

Curious you begin to walk toward the light. Bare feet on smooth stone. You move between the shade and light of these archways, breaking their shadows and casting your own.