Rebecca Dempsey — A VIGIL ON LUCY’S NIGHT

It’s difficult to recall, my life, before I fell in love. That ‘ordinary nothing’ kind of existence of work and chores and bills, but those days are gone. Now I feel like I’m drowning yet ‘the world’s whole sap is sunk’. Once, I was a teacher and tried to make disinterested teens see the worth in poetry. Maybe I still am. Not a teacher perhaps, but a lesson, to those who would ‘study me…. who shall lovers be at the next world’. Poetry’s meant to be a solace, but all I remember are damned lines from Donne; ‘for I am every dead thing, in whom Love wrought new alchemy’. Love and be damned, don’t they say? There’s little consolation in rhyme and meter anymore and I think fall is the right way to talk about my love. Without him, life is ‘dull privation and lean emptiness’ indeed. I fell further when he died. ‘Life is shrunk’. I’m still falling. He ‘ruin’d me’? Ah John Donne, I don’t know.

It was near midnight, but the glass panes had been painted black any way to defeat the merest hint of natural light and there was no electricity. I fumbled a little, but once the candles were lit I could see it was ready. Salt poured in a circle, widdershins, as he’d commanded. As ‘his art did express’, I should say. I clutched the dagger. The oracles, his servants sat patiently and repeated the secret words for ‘this long night’s festival’. Anything to see my love. Even this. Droplets of blood edged the blade.


His voice, in the gloom, was the same. ‘A quintessence even from nothingness’.

“You’re here?” I said, not knowing where to face in the smoke.

“For a little while,” and he was all around me.

“Are you in pain?”

“Only as much as I deserve.” His laugh ended in his old low rumble.

“When will be together?”

“They will bring you to me.” I shook my head. ‘I…am the grave
of all, that’s nothing’.

“Yes, but when? Soon?”

“Perhaps.” He felt close. Velvety shadows caressed me.

“That’s all I want. To be like we were. Wherever we are”. ‘To be two chaoses’ again.

“And we will be my little one. But for now, my Lucy, you are in the world and I …” his voice faded.


I opened my eyes. The circle was broken, and the shadows fled. Lurching for the door I ran until I was bent double, breathless. Alone and still his. Always.

It was hard, learning to wait and cope with the light, which grew around me. ‘Oft a flood have we two wept’, but this time there was no sadness. Through my streaming eyes, stung by the emerging dawn, I knew I was ‘re-begot, of absence, darkness, death—things which are not’. Of course we’d be in the dark again. We’re beyond love. We’re the ‘things which are not’. I smiled. It wouldn’t, couldn’t be long. Oh my love, come high water, hell and all that’s unholy.

Rebecca Dempsey is an Australian writer of (mainly so far) short fiction, based in Melbourne. She has been previously published in Danse Macabre Du Jour, Ricochet Journal and 21D Magazine.

visit Danse Macabre 61


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