I rubbed my eyes. Were they deceiving me? Was I still asleep? Was the light playing tricks on me? I wasn’t sure. He looked so real, just as I had seen him in every painting since as long as I could remember. He’d been dead for such a long time though, what was he doing on my sofa? I pinched my arm, I must have been dreaming, what I was seeing before me just couldn’t be real I thought, but the pinch hurt me, I cried out in pain as my finger nails sunk in, I tried to stifle my scream but I was too late.
William Shakespeare looked up at me from the book he had been casually flicking through, he looked me up and down before smiling. The smiling wasn’t sinister, it was calm and welcoming, my heart was pounding but that smile seemed to ease my fear slightly. For a moment I felt like I couldn’t breathe, there I was standing in front of the most famous playwright ever to walk this earth, a thousand thoughts flew about in my head, I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t dare to speak.
“Ah, it seems I must be the first to break this awkward silence” The bard spoke kindly and concisely with a smiling that seemed to mock my fear slightly.
“Yes, umm, I’m sorry I should have spoken sooner, forgive me. Are you, erm, I mean you can’t be, but you look so much like him, oh god. Are you who I think you are?” I stuttered, I was finding it utterly impossible to string sentences together. I was suddenly aware that I was shaking, at that moment I thought he had noticed too.
“If you believe me to be William Shakespeare then dear child you are indeed correct. I’m ever so sorry to have woken you, that was not my purpose here” He smiled and shook his head.
“Then why are you here, I mean it’s impossible, you can’t possibly be here” I was shaking even more now.
“I am here because I was drawn here, like many others before me, and I am sure like the many that will come after me. Your house called to me, and I answered that call. I hope I am not intruding” The man before me seemed slightly awkward, almost as though he had come to the conclusion that he was unwanted.
“Oh no sir you aren’t intruding at all, I mean its an absolute honour. I’m just confused, I don’t understand how you could be here, I mean your, your…”
“Dead?” The bard interrupted me.
“Well, yes” I gulped slightly, I felt like I was being rude. Where were my manners?
“Life and death have no real substance, the end of life is not after all the end of everything. Time is flexible, one can move forwards and backwards through it once the body has given up” He smiled.
“I don’t really understand” I shook my head.
“One day you will my dear, for I doubt I shall be the last midnight visitor you will have” He smiled again, he seemed to smile a lot, he seemed kind.
“What do you mean?” I was even more confused now.
“Do not worry my dear for tonight is the first time you have had these strange events befall you, if I were to inform you of what was going on I expect I would completely overwhelm you!” He laughed and smiled again. I was beginning to feel at ease in his presence. “I’m sure you have many questions about me, after all I know I am from a time unlike yours! What would you like to know, ask me what you will” He beckoned me to take a seat beside him, I didn’t expect my feet to move as he invited me, but they did, as if I had no control over my body whatsoever.
“Well yes I do have a few questions! So many that I’m not sure I can even think of any to ask you, mores the pity. However something has bothered me since you first began speaking, why is it you sound so much like me? I mean like you said before we are both from different times, surely we would both have difficulties understanding each other?” He smiled at me as I asked my question, I smiled back, I was surprised at how comfortable I was feeling.
“The answer to that question is a simple one, I am within your home, it is the rules of the house and all its magicks that any one who addresses you must speak in a way that is familiar to you, after all that is only fair!” he laughed.
“I appreciate that, never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever be addressing you! No one would ever believe this!” I shook my head in disbelief as I thought of what my friends and family would say if I told them this story.
“That is precisely why you must never reveal to anyone the events that happen in this house, for if you tell a soul, that person will surely think you insane, and that is never a good thing!” He shook his head, he looked stern for a second.
“I understand completely. There is something I have always wondered actually” I spoke rather hesitantly this time, I wasn’t sure whether or not my next statement would be welcomed.
“And what is that my dear?” he said, kindly.
“Your writings are so well known now that children all across the world study them everyday at school, I had always wondered what you would think of that.” I laughed, he laughed too.
“Obviously when I penned my plays I did so because I wanted to entertain people, I had no idea that one day my works would be used to educate, in fact I’m not sure I like that idea!” He went quiet for a second, I could hear the clock ticking on the wall, I felt awkward.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you” I shook my head, I felt a twinge of guilt.
“Oh no! Do not be sorry for you have done nothing wrong, I am glad you brought this to my attention, although I can of course do nothing about it!” He laughed again, it felt good to see that the bard was smiling once again.
“I saw you were reading, what did you think of that book?” I picked up the worn out copy of my favourite book, I had lost count of the number of times I had gotten lost within those pages.
“I found it interesting, I was in fact looking for inspiration. I’m still writing you see, I’ve been dead an awful long time and there isn’t a lot else I can do other than that!” He laughed again, he seemed to have a great sense of humour. “My dear I fear I must depart now, I do not wish to keep you from your slumber for too long”
“Oh no, I could happily stay awake for hours talking to you, after all, it is an honour!” I laughed. A lot of laughter seemed to go on that night.
“Do you have anything else you would like to ask me before I leave you?” He smiled.
“Actually yes, and you may think me rather bold for doing this for the question I am about to ask is rather rude. I’m aware that you were married but I have often heard rumours that you also liked the company of men. Many historians have suggested that you were homosexual, are they correct, I would love to be the first and only person in hundreds of years to know!” I gulped, I knew my question was rude.
“I’m surprised you asked me that my dear but I will answer you” He laughed out loud for a while but eventually leaned forward and answered my question, his answer is something I will keep from you my dear reader for I’m afraid I will not divulge any secrets that are not mine. “My child I must leave you now, I wish you luck for the future, for I fear the house will test you many times, but do not be afraid, one day you will find the answers you will soon begin searching for”.
“Oh must you go?” I felt sadness grip me, did not want him to leave so soon.
“Yes I am afraid so, but before I go I must ask your name for we have been talking now for some time, I can’t believe I forgot to ask your name!”He smiled politely.
“Ah yes I guess I didn’t properly introduce myself, my name is Sophia”
And with the bard was gone.