Reaching your front door, your legs begin to weaken with relief, your calf and thigh muscles giving in; they’re making meek, childlike complaints, churlishly claiming to have grown leaden from the long walk.

Relieved you step inside and feel the welcome quiet, a blanket of calm that wraps around you as the front door closes and squeezes the space to silence, sealing you inside.

Pausing, you consider the weight of an invisible, anxious armor, the vigilant defenses you carry with you whenever you leave the house, even just to walk alone, and the relief you feel on returning, reunited with your own protected space, a place where you can shed these outer layers.

A moment of melancholy pulls at your emotions, reminding you of the sanctuary you seek. A yearning, to be this vulnerable and not be alone. Recalling a fleeting moment, the soft strength revealed in the unspoken quiet of your lover’s presence as he shared the silence, secure enough to just let it be.

That was then, stood beneath those defiant buttresses, their commitment and ambition unrelenting, seeming to shoulder the weight of the open sky, an audacious mass of weathered masonry, serving to provide strength wherever weakness seeks shelter, finding refuge within the ruins of Bayham’s Abbey.  

Unlacing your heavy boots, you pull them off and let them drop down with a thump-thump, landing heavily on the hardwood floor of your hallway. And where finally free of their weight you turn to climb the stairs, your hand on the rail, your mind keen with running a bath and soaking your aching limbs.

In your bedroom, you stand before your dresser and empty your pockets, seemingly lost in long ago thoughts, admiring the smooth pebble gemstone, as you lift her from your pocket and return her to nestle with her companion stones, a handpicked collection of treasured rarities, each one gifted to you over time by your Bayham lover.

Your eyes rest on this accumulation of little surprises, a collection of Birthday, Christmas and other spontaneous presents, each parcel arriving from overseas, containing wrappings of colored tissue, hand tied with ribbon or string.

You recall fondly the excitement of each occasion, cherishing the opportunities to slip out of sight, taking your time to intimately peel away each layer, recalling precious moments of shared solitude.

Eventually uncovering the luxuriant lace of some fine silk knickers, discovering the delicate intimate feel of their exotic fabric, so seductive against your fingertips, his final touch wrapped around your chosen gemstone.

Glancing in the direction of your dresser mirror, you catch sight of the crushed jade and emerald amethyst colors buried in the iris of your eyes, and you see the glint of their light brightening from within, the animated embers of their amber fleck igniting, whetted and awoken by the opening of this private trove.

Your subconscious aroused, a séance of your own design begins unfolding, one practiced and perfected over time, your awareness slipping inside and ritually disappearing from the waking world, descending into a daydream, saturated with nostalgia.

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