She was there to save me when I fell out of this world. They are memories like the fragments of some dream or nightmare.
I remember stumbling through the woods, falling breathless against trees, looking down at the blood on me, dark in the moonlight.
I remember stumbling across the meadow as the dawn turned the sky red on the horizon I was fleeing towards.
I remember the house, standing alone like some possibility of sanctuary.
I remember the weight of my arm as my fist pounded the door.
Then I remember the door opening.
Sasha says I fell into the narrow cottage hallway, knocking everything off the small side table against the wall and tumbling into her coat stand.
She says it took all of her strength to disentangle me from the wreckage I’d caused.
She thought I was dead at first. She saw the blood in the flickering candlelight and the dawn’s early light – a dull orange glow through the curtains.
Then, not long after that, as far as I remember it, I awoke.
Although Sasha says, it was several days before I regained consciousness. But I had no idea of time passing, or that there was any such thing as time. I only saw what I took to be a goddess. I saw someone vague and out of focus, with a golden halo of hair and a worried frown on her face.
I remembered trying to laugh. The life I’d lived should have made a goddess do more than frown.
When I finally awoke properly, I did not know whether to be happy or sad that I was still on this earth and not in some afterlife peddled by one of the religions.
When you have seen men die as I have, you soon learn to distrust all religious and their promises of an afterlife. No-one entering any kind of paradise would scream like that or beg for their mothers – even grown men – as though they were mere babes in arms.
My eyes opened to see her looking down at me. She was nibbling at her bottom lip as she wiped a cool damp cloth across my face. It was the cloth’s damp coolness that awoke me. Never have I felt anything so good, so soothing, and I have spent – literally a nobleman’s ransom in the finest whorehouse in the Southlands. I thought that whorehouse would be the closest I would ever come to bliss in this life, but back then, I still believed in the Northern gods.
Now I know there are no gods. Or, if there are any gods out there, they don’t give a damn about us morals or our petty lives and concerns. Now I know there is no pleasure as great as a cool cloth over the face when you thought you were dead.
‘No, you are not dead.’ The goddess smiled at me, and I realised I must have spoken out loud. For a moment, I wondered what else I’d spoken of in my delirium. But I know that If I’d spoken the truth, she would have not thought me worth saving.
I remember glancing across at the window. Seeing the sun shining on the world outside I wondered how long I would have with my new goddess, before those hunting me found me again.