It was late when I finally tried Baker's Street. He hadn't been at his house, at the Yard or at the club where he usually play billiards. He wasn't at Mary's grave. It was the last place to look. I was loath to come here. It was such a painful place for him. I closed my eyes, hoped that the housekeeper was still awake and rang the bell. An older woman opened the door and politely stared at me.
"Can I help you Ma'am?" She ran her eyes down my form taking in the expensive fabrics and white gloved hands.
"I'm looking for Doctor Watson. Please tell me he is here?" I kept my voice cold and to the point. The poor woman didn't deserve my desperation however well born. It was a bad day to leave him along. It was a bad month to leave him anywhere but in bed where I can keep an eye on him.
Her features softened and she nodded. "He's been here for some time. Wandered in a little after dinner. I'm not sure he even recognized what he was doing the poor man." She opened the door wider to allow me to pass. "Went straight into the sitting room."
"May I go up to see him?" I pulled of my cloak and hat. She took them from her with a troubled smile.
"Please dear. I hate to see him like this. He is such a good man." Her eyes pleaded with me to make this better somehow.
I smiled at her to allay her fears but I had no idea what to do. I turned to mount the stairs with a heavy weight in my stomach. What was I going to do? It was one thing to hold a man as he battles dream and nightmares. It was one thing to make sure he went out the door in clothes that matched. I would even feel comfortable protecting him from physical danger but this? How was I going to hold off the visions and phantoms that could reach him in the waking world? Would he even want me to? I was only a mistress.
I entered the room as silently as I could manage in my evening wear. He was sitting on the settee with his back towards me, his entire attention being absorbed by a chair setting by the fireplace. "John?" My voice was weak. I could almost see it, from pictures and John's tales, what John was seeing; the phantom of a tall man sitting in that chair. His eyes lit up like stars from the light of the parlor fire. I took a shaky breath. "John?" I tried again, a little stronger. I came up behind him and laid a hand on his shoulder. "It's Anne."
His eyes, red and wet, slowly moved up to my face. It took a moment for recognition to follow. "Anne." His voice was choked with emotion. "What? Did I miss the opera?"
I knelt down by the settee. "Lunch, the opera, a meeting with the inspector, dinner." I took the cold pipe from his hands and set it down. "I was starting to think you had run into some kind of trouble." I took both his hands in mine.
"I am so sorry." He went to get up but I gently pushed him back down into the settee.
"Don't be. " I pushed myself up and took the seat next to him. "I understand." I looked at the chair by the fire again. The shade was still there. The man didn't haunt only John in this place. He haunted anyone who crossed over the threshold.
John shifted, leaning against me. I wrapped my arms around him and pulled him close. He cried silently as I watch uneasily as the sad ghost watched on.
I own nothing.