Salem wakes in a small infirmary bed, probably in the town physicians home, or some other place where medical care can be given. It doesn't matter. No medicine can cure what ails Salem Marix.
His life has shattered like a mirror before him, unrecognizable and irreparable. Tears slip down his cheeks, and strangers would have sworn a child wept in the home that night. Through blurred eyes, the lights in the ceiling seem to spiral down like golden curls reminiscent of those worn by his lost love. As the darkness of depression crawls its way into his body and erodes away almost all that is left of him, Salem wonders if he can will himself to die. He considers closing his eyes and trying to usher in death, but worries he will find himself in his dreams again... only this time he will be alone.
Alone...such a small word, yet so powerful and profound. Salem is now alone, truly alone, for the first time in his life. His friends and family left him behind long ago, thinking he had slipped into an incurable madness. If only they knew it was not madness he had embraced but love. Maybe they are one and the same.
All he had left was his lover, and she lived in his mind. But now, her body lies dead at his door, outside of his mind. Outside of his mind...
Through the darkness that clouds his mind and his heart, a slim ray of hope burns its way into him. What if all is not lost? She lived both in his mind and outside it, one yet divided. Maybe she lives on, divided, one part lost to the jealousy of nature and order, one still his to cherish through a gift of God. He must know. Does his mind bend to nature's will, or is it free from her wrath?
He closes his eyes and forces himself to sleep, as he has done many, many times before, but never before has he entered this sacred place with tears and sorrow. The study opens around him, unchanged from his last visit, though it does not feel the same. The fire that once provided warmth and comfort seems lifeless and mocking with its dying flames.
If their is life in the house, he can't hear it. Only the sound of his own heartbeat can be heard, and it beats like a slow drum, filling his ears. He tries to rise to his feet, but can’t bring himself to do it for fear of what he will find. Or what he won’t. His body knows that if she is gone, it will shatter what is left of Salem, and it refuses to stand and seek the truth that could lead to its own destruction, determined to survive. He closes his eyes as tears flow from them without end, twin waterfalls of mourning. A last bit of strength finds its way into him,defying his bodies will and allowing him to utter a single word.
“Iris?” The name floats from his heart on the weak wings of sorrow and fear. The word doesn't carry farther than the study, and seems to crash to the floor like a heavy weight and fill the room with an ethereal pressure that seeks to corner and crush him.
Once more. Just once more...