Raven sat on the bed. He pressed his gloved hands against his forehead as Ambrose slept.
Will not sleep.
Must stay awake for him.
Must not fail him too.
If only I could close my eyes for a moment.
That’s all: One.
He opened his eyes.
I could lie down and he’d be safe.
I could lock all the doors.
He opened his eyes again. Everything was distorted: half in focus, half out of focus.
want to sleep.
need to sleep.
must stay awake.
He opened his eyes and his world transformed into colors without shapes.
His mind went blank.
He opened his eyes, but his eyelids were weighted and sticky.
He opened his eyes. They were tired of being opened. They wanted to stay closed.
He couldn’t open his eyes.
His hands slid up his forehead into his hair as his head slumped forward.
He startled awake.
I can’t do this. I need to sleep. If I don’t, I will be worthless should anyone come to take him away.
I need to sleep.
He crawled on the bed over to Ambrose’s blanket-cocooned body. “I will protect you, sir.”
Raven lay beside him and stretched his arm over the blanket mound. “I promise I will protect you.”
He closed his eyes.
I wish I…
Raven was ironing the Master Farlington’s slacks when May Rose Farlington walked by.
He raised his gaze, but she didn’t notice.
She held herself with a queen’s poise and grace. Her light blonde hair trundled up into a soft pompadour. Her neck – a long beautiful line. She wore a simple tan dress without any jewelry, but she made it look like a ballgown littered with diamonds.
He opened his mouth to speak, to say something, anything. He even considered telling her that her slip was showing when it clearly was not doing any such thing.
She stopped and looked back at him.
His words slipped away. He bowed his head and resumed ironing.
I know my place and it is not with her.
But, oh! How I wish it were.
He almost scorched the slacks.
“I mean, Arden.”
She knows her place as well and it is not with me. “Yes, Miss Farlington?”
“Do you know where my father is? I have something I must discuss with him.”
“I last saw him in the day parlor, Miss Farlington.”
A moment of silence passed between them.
“Very good. Carry on, Arden.”
He bowed his head.
She will surely marry someone from her own class. I will continue as I am.
Our lives will spiral to our natural ends.
Miss Farlington with another man at her side.
I wish I could be that man.
I wish I could always be there to protect her.
I wish I could be the one to love her.
But it is not meant to be.
I wish it were.
Raven startled awake.
Someone was running up the stairs.