August 5th, 5.00 am
I hold myself in that delicious state between sleep and wakefulness. With eyes closed I look around the room. I need no sight to see the silhouettes of familiar furniture, expectant and soulless. I am aware again of the sensation of deep relaxation spread throughout my body, which shortly will flee as the tensions of the day begin. I do not need to open my eyes to sense the light, stealing, even now, around the edges of the blackout blinds to plunder me of my sleep. Gradually I turn to acknowledge the coming morning. Should I choose, I can remain in the half stage between the worlds of reality and conjecture for a little longer yet.
This is the place where choices are made. Here I can reach into the depths of my own soul and select what truly matters to me. Today I must decide which path to take. For of two, there can be only one. The choice of the one necessarily precludes the selection of the other. And yet again I face the oldest question known to man: which of two enticing females will I select? She who has been my only one for so very long or she who entices my being with the beauty of her youth? And as I consider the age-old question I am aware the outcome is already known.
It is for this reason and this reason alone that I cast back the bedding and rise to meet the coming day.
In silence I prepare myself. A cunning thief hell bent upon the disruption of complacency, I steal away from my home of history. With regret, I realise that she who has mean so very much to me for so very long is now without consequence. Should I admire in myself the capability to dismiss the dedication of decades? Should I allow the moral catastrophe of illicit love to overwhelm me?
Regrettably, there is no contest. I am a man possessed, possessed with the burden of passion. And the beat of my heart drowns out the voice of rationality that would so insistently demand a measured, considered and … sensible… yes, sensible decision from me –the decision to stay.
Silently now, so as to preserve the equilibrium of ordered existence a little longer, I exit, stage right.
I am without excuse. As I remove myself from the last vestiges of normality and the relationship I have known for more years then I care to admit, I cannot but feel a pang of regret. But I shall calibrate my rationalisation of reality with the balances and weights of passion; for only in this way will I be able to justify to myself, in the long lonely nights to come, my chosen course of action. And thus, with burden unremoved I extricate myself from the inconvenience of a love long borne. I choose to apprentice myself in preference to a younger, fresher predilection.
As always, the dawn awaits my coming. I hold in my hand the token. I know that she will not have me if I do not bring it. And I know full well to whom it is rightfully belongs. Sophie, who has loved me faithfully more years then I would care to count is entitled to the gift I carry. It is not without significance to me that with not one word of complaint she has borne my burden faithfully for so very long. I would not be a man if I were not torn between the morality of consistency and the passion of new born love. I am beyond help. Caught in the grip of urges and sensations that I have not known in so very long, I compromise my integrity. Sophie will never know. I will return, changed but she will not see it. She will trust me yet. But in the meanwhile a darker love will possess my heart.
It is alien to me that the token I carry can stir to passion the urges of both the one I do love and the one I have loved. Yet despite my disbelief I know that it is so. And it seems to me a mere male, that the female of the species is so fickle. I could not begin to imagine a masculine predisposition to such passing trinkets in quite the same way.
I make my way hurriedly to the meeting point. She knows I will come. There has been no doubt in her heart. There has been no betrayal of uncertainty in her bearing these days past. I approach the appointed place at the appointed time. There is no question in my mind that she will be waiting. And my anticipation is not disappointed. I round the turn and see her, standing, patiently in full and certain trust.
At my arrival she betrays herself. The signals, the signs, are those that only I can read. Another would deem them insignificant. But I know her. She cannot hide her secrets from me. She is expectant of my love. Yet it would not seem the same if I brought no token. And with the gift I betray my faithful lover of yesteryear.
I am safe.
Asleep at home in her stable, Sophie will never know of the carrot I bring to the wild forest pony.