Darkness

Last week the sons of Usnach were ruthlessly killed…

I awoke to find myself lying in a bed, with a familiar face hovering over me. “Lebharcham?”

“Yes, Deirdre, it’s me.”

I just lay there numbly. “Have they been buried yet?”

“Not yet.”

“I must see them.” I pushed her aside and walked like a ghost through the palace. I was just barely aware of Lebharcham’s footsteps behind me.

They lay peacefully together in a little hollow to the east of the palace, in the direction of the sunrise, which gently caressed my hair as I gazed at them. They didn’t look happy, or sad. Just – peaceful.

I was drowning in black fog that grew thicker every moment. I wish I could have your peace.

“Well,” a toneless voice cawed behind me. “We are going to be married today.”

I turned. There stood King Conchobar, smiling at me..

“Are we?” I turned back to my husband. “Please leave me.” At this moment, Conchobar was just another person.

I was brought to sit by his side later, in his arms, and I absently accepted all his attentions. My mind was full of a flirtatious, proud, golden boy who had won my heart. Naoise, how am I to live without you.

It crystalised. You had everything, but I had nothing except you. You were my life. Now I have nothing.

And I’m afraid not one thought crossed my mind of my little children, far away on a magical island, waiting anxiously for news.

I was in this mood too long for Conchobar. “Cheer up, Deirdre,” he would often say. “Come, just eat a little meat.” I would shake my head. “Or drink some of this wine then. That will make your heart merry.”

Merry to please you, I thought. That’s all I’m here for.

“Upon my word,” Conchobar cried one day, finally losing patience. “I wish I’d known you would be a cold limp fish before I married you!”

My eyes flashed. “I hate you!”

He looked at me, “And am I the person you hate most in the world?”

“No, believe it or not,” I laughed coldly. “There is one person I hate more than you. The man who killed my Naoise.”

“That would be Eoghan mac Durthacht,” he crowed triumphantly. “You shall spend some time with him. Let’s see if that will mend your manners towards me. Guards! Seize her!”