Last night I dreamt of Manderley. These dreams would taunt me, never being spoken of aloud – I wouldn't dare; for Maxim's sake, I couldn't.
I dreamt I walked down the drive as I approached the house, the house which was once my house, but never my home. I was always a guest there; it was still her home. Everything that was done was done by her command, I was just acting in her place, a substitute no one wanted. I was an imposter.
I was wrong. One person wanted me: Maxim. Wanted. Now, I'm not so sure he does. We are alone, on the run, hiding from anyone and anything that could remind us of the past, of his past. We have no servants, nor Jasper, nor a new Happy Valley to spend our days in, and no damned seaside to curse us with the soft lull of its waves all through the noiseless night.
I walked down what was left of the drive, as I always did, as I always do in these dreams of mine. The rhododendrons bloomed red, dripping drops of blood at my heels, growing faster, closing in around me. The house stood as it once did, the first time I arrived fresh from my honeymoon; how innocent I was back then – ignorant of what this world could truly do to someone like me. The house appeared just as it did on the postcard I lost long ago.
I walked through the grand entrance, into an abyss. Though possessing an ancient and ornate ambiance, the hall itself was empty, save for the dining room table running through the foyer.
Some force drew me to the table, to three boxes sat together in the centre. I opened the largest first and a flash of light breathed life back into the dull, dark hall. I saw the fancy dress party which, unbeknownst to anyone at the time, was the beginning of the end. People gathered around the table, preparing to dine on a meal I was not present for.
How strange I should recall such an image in my dream-state as that of a festivity which passed without my presence. In reality, I had been locked in my bedroom, crying over that stupid white dress – Caroline's dress.
"It'll surely shock you," I had said to Maxim; how foolish I was that night. How childish I was back then.
With the party still twirling an about me, I reached into the second box and pulled out, amid the sawdust, a heavy silver candelabra. I recognized it immediately, seen in the possessed hand of Mrs. Danvers, being waved about in a passionate rage from atop the very staircase I now saw my still-innocent self descending.
That night still haunts me; that night is why I still have these dreams. Each time, it's a new adventure, but it always leads to the same end. But my fancy continues the story, pretending it doesn't know, hoping things will be different this time. Isn't that why we dream – to try to change the past?
My pale blue train trailed behind me on the spiral staircase. I looked stiff and out of place; I never belonged at Manderley.
I finally reached for the smallest box on the table; it was empty, save for a little gold ring. The party began to disperse as I removed the curious object. Maxim looked at my blue dress in disgust; I was crying.
The band had stopped playing and the guests began fleeing the hall. Maxim turned to knock down all the decorations – food, candles, discarded props – sending each one to crash upon the marble floor with a loud, metallic cry echoing through the hall and my head.
Young me ran up the stairs, trying to tear off the offending blue garment, as though she was suffocating. One by one, the steps ignited behind my hasty feet. Mrs. Danvers was smiling.
I ran from the house, as fast as I could, not bothering to look back; I know what I'll see if I do: the bloodstain on the horizon, Manderley up in smoke, the last image I have of the house I had dreamt would become my home.
It's not until I reached the main road which intersected the never-ending drive that I dared stop to catch my breath. The horrors of the house can't reach me here, nor can the oppressive rhododendrons.
I found myself alone, vulnerable, out in the open.
"Where is Maxim," I wondered, frantically looking around. Deep down, I know he is lying safely beside my physical form, but my dream-self couldn't shake the feeling that something terrible had happened to him.
That's when I realized I still had the ring in my hand, forgetting in my frenzied haste. I closed my eyes and rolled it between my fingers, hoping the cool touch of the metal would slow my racing heart. It was like I could feel a strong power emanating from it – stronger than I could ever be.
I chanced a glance at the article. The pale glow of the moon light shone reflected on the ring, accentuating the engraving on it – that haunting taunting carving in that dreadful, district hand: