Laura, you rest here
No, I'll never rest again
Walter rolled over and reached out his arm to encounter empty space. Immediately he opened his eyes and looked at the vacant spot next to him in the bed. The sheets were hardly crumpled and there was barely any indentation in the mattress.
She clearly had not slept again.
With a groan Walter sat up and ran a hand through his already ruffled hair, causing it to stick up further. Tiredly he rubbed a hand down his face. Part of him desperately wanted to lie back on his pillow and let sleep claim him but worry won through and he swung himself out.
"Laura," he whispered in exasperation as he discovered her in the parlour. The carpet was prickly under his bare feet as he made his way to where she was standing at the window. It was dark outside but for a single glowing Victorian street light that was shrouded in thick fog.
Walter paused in the middle of the room, uncertainty halting his footsteps. She was wearing all white again, just like Anne had. He could see the back of her white gown as it hung off her slender frame, all lace and silk, with golden hair cascading down her back in a waterfall. It was no longer as healthy as it used to be and carried a dull sheen.
Laura twisted her head and for a moment Walter started as he saw Anne's face, gaunt and ragged gazing at him, but the eyes were different. The moment passed as instead of seeing wild, fretful eyes he saw tired, despairing ones; exhausted and compassionate.
"Oh Laura," he breathed sadly.
"Did I wake you?" she asked quietly, sorrowfully. "I'm sorry for it."
"You made no noise," Walter contradicted, "but your absence disturbs me."
Laura sighed and again turned back to the window so he was once more left talking to her outline against the glass.
"Go back to bed. Pay me no mind."
"Come back with me."
Laura shook her head against his imploring tone.
"I cannot. I cannot rest."
"But why?!" Walter exploded despairingly. "Glyde is gone! You…" he corrected himself, "…Anne…should be at peace."
"A year of hardship," came the whispered reply, "cannot be eradicated by one of peace."
Walter dropped into one of the chairs, "Nor one of sleepless nights," he added ruefully.
Laura turned back to him, this time swinging her whole body around.
"You need not suffer as I do Walter," she told him softly. "Go back to bed."
He rubbed at his eyes.
"I can't just do that…in sickness and in health…" he quoted softly. "I promised you."
There was complete silence in the room for a few moments longer before Laura's quiet voice shattered it again.
"How much longer can this go on Walter?" Tears filled her eyes and ran down her face. "How much longer can my nights be filled with dreams of him?" A shudder passed through her body.
Walter quickly got to his feet and wrapped his arms around her, holding her gently.
"It's always nightmares…its better not to sleep. I can't face them."
Walter guided her towards the sofa and sat down, easing her down next to him. Laura curled up and buried her head in his chest.
"I just keep thinking…that you're going to stop loving me," she sobbed. "I'm not the same person you fell in love with…"
Walter put a hand on the back of her head and started to stroke her hair soothingly.
"Believe me Laura," he whispered, "that's not going to happen. Trust me."
I don't trust him…or anyone.
"Please," he whispered.
Slowly the flow of tears subsided as they sat there in silence, until Walter glanced down. Laura was asleep in his lap. Her breathing was even and her pale face peaceful. With a sigh of genuine relief Walter watched her until his own eyelids felt heavy and then he too drifted off to sleep.
It wasn't much but it was a start.