Walking down the begrimed passage of the alley, my slick black Pradas echo firm beats against the alley walls. My suit is well fitted and my thick black coat is drawn in tightly around me, its collar popped up to keep the icy British breeze from nipping at my neck, while my hands nestle comfortably in their snug pockets.

My thoughts are grim this early November morning. My nightmares are coming back to me, more vividly than ever, in flashes of terrified children whimpering, mothers crying helplessly, fathers bellowing with rage and so it goes on and on and on. Guilt greeted me every morning with sunrise and accompanied me to bed every night as a familiar lover would.

With senses flaring and head throbbing, I continued down the cobble stone path, every step a step closer to my destination, my absolution.

Almost at the mouth of the passage, I start to hear them again. Distant howls of torment growing louder and louder by the second, like a charging bull and I the matador. They reach me with full impact moments later, pounding and thrashing inside my head like caged animals. Somewhat accustomed to this, I grit my teeth, squeeze my eyes shut and force myself forward towards my relief. With every step towards my haven, my demons snap and snarl at me as if challenging me to take another. Yet forward I push, shivering and sweating.

At last at the mouth of the alley, I see my oasis. The Peterborough Cathedral stands before me, illuminating sanctuary to all. By now my demons are flailing madly against the wall of my mind, almost desperately. Gasping, I fall to one knee clutching my head as a stab of pain shoot through it, setting my nerves on fire. Struggling to my feet I take a determined step, making my way to the cathedral doors. While staggering across the courtyard concerned faces look my way, others look away. Yet all the while my pains grow worse until at last I tumble down on the steps of the cathedral, darkness consuming me.

I wake to the sound of gentle voices, but no voices inside my head. Cool hands lie softly against the fevered flesh of my forehead and chest while firmer hands grip my arms and legs. Something cold and light lies against my collarbone, like a shiver around my neck. Slowly opening my eyes I can see four concerned fatherly faces peering at me. I look at them with a clear mind and they break into relieved smiles. Freeing myself gently, I sit back, bringing one shaky hand up to my throat and fold my fingers around what seems to be a tiny crucifix.

I realize were I am and a sob escapes me as relief flows into my being, staining my cheeks with tears. I am in my haven, my sanctuary from madness.

*Simone Troskie, March 2009


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