Drenka: Beyond a Dream
"Mistah Kennedy, what on earth is wrong?"
Archie smiles at him, shy and somewhat strained. "You're silly. Why don't you call me Archie ever? It's always "Englishman" or "Kennedy" or something like that. Horatio calls me Archie."
"Goodness, we mustn't let Horatio outdo us, dear Archie."
Archie closes his eyes, smiling a little more. "Thank you."
Martin frowns and pokes him gently. "You still haven't said what's wrong. I didn't think you were here at first. You were lying down and I couldn't see you. Why were you?"
"Martin? Move me down by the sea?"
"The sea doesn't sing," Martin reminded him.
"Yes, but move me anyway?"
"Can't you walk, English b-- Archie?"
"I'm... I'm too tired tonight. I can't."
Martin shrugs, seemingly nonchalant, and gathers him up. "This isn't the easiest of tasks..." he murmurs, stumbling down the Rock face with some difficulty.
"I'm sorry. I imagine Horatio had this sort of trouble in El Faroll. I could tell he was carrying me, you know. He didn't know. I was part awake. I could feel it. He wasn't very careful, but he didn't know I was awake. It was raining."
"Archie, you're babbling."
"Yes. Yes, I know." Archie clings to his shirtfront without much effort in the action, nearly dreamlike in his slowness. "I can't help it. Are we almost there?"
Martin peers down at him incredulously. "Are we almost there? Can't you see?"
"Well, we are." Martin sets him down in the sand. "There. Bloody damp. Are you happy?"
"Mm-hmm. It's very nice; thank you." Archie puts out a hand and curls it in the wet sand, collecting a handful. "We're not close enough to feel the waves wash, are we?"
"No, we're not. --For God's sake, Archie, what's wrong?"
"Nothing, I promise. Oh, Martin. I haven't got my hat any longer, see?"
Archie turns over on his side, and looks out at the pearly sea, turning and flowing in a somewhat translucent way. "It is pretty. I'm sorry I didn't think it was enough. Everything was always enough, and I didn't notice."
"Now I know something is wrong. You must tell me."
"I promise, Martin. I promise. I'm all right. I'm happy, you know."
Martin wraps his arms around Archie from behind, gently ruffling his hair. "Mad. I can tell. Why are you happy, silly Englishman?"
"Horatio kissed me before I died. Just once, and no one saw."
Martin is silent a long moment, the few words sinking in. "Just once... Before you died... Oh, my God. Oh, my God, that's why you've gone like this. How long before you leave this place?"
"I don't know. Not so long, I suppose."
"I shall never trust anyone I meet in a dream ever, ever again. I shall never, never trust-- Why didn't you tell me before? Why did you die? Why did you come back tonight?"
"I didn't tell you because you'd have been angry." Archie sits up, struggling to do it. "They shot me. They always used to miss. If I'd been Horatio, they'd have missed. I don't mind. Horatio was proud of me. I know he was. And I came back to say goodbye." The shy, beautiful smile. "I knew you'd hate me if I left without saying goodbye. Don't worry. I don't mind. Just leave me here, and I'll go with the sea. I ought have loved it before now. All the acting is over. I shall miss Drury Lane."
"You are mad," gasps Martin.
"Not really. Just a little."
"It's all one, isn't it? It's all one, the tale is done."
"And I'll strive to please you everyday, everyday. You're as mad as I am."
"Not so..." Martin stands. "Goodbye, Archie. I shall miss you."
"I shall miss you, as well. Thank you... thank you so much for pretending with me."
"You're welcome." Martin turns away. "I'm going now."
"Adieu." He disappears into the mist, swallowed behind it. Archie doesn't watch him, but hears him trip and fall twice.
At last, the sounds of footsteps fade, and Archie is alone. He slowly stands, and begins to wade into the pearly ocean.
"It's pretty, Horatio. You would like it if you could see it. It washes away everything. My uniform's getting wet. It's very pretty, this colour. It's easy to walk in. And I shan't need my uniform any longer. I shall miss Martin. He was terribly kind. 'A long time ago, the world was begun, with a hey ho, the wind and the rain... but that's all one; our play is done, and we'll strive to please you everyday'...."
Back to the Index.
Back to Chapter One.