I unknot the cord, allowing the heavy, damask cloth to drape naturally. Gingerly, between thumb and index finger, I rub the material. The alizarin fabric still looks as rich and sensuous as I remember, but the musty scent and the fine veil of dust that drifts to the dark floor speaks of long, lonely years of neglect. The threads are worn, eroded by time.
Holding the curtain to one side, I glance out the window but the inky darkness draped over the disused and overgrown gardens outside turns the pane into a dark mirror, reflecting the dim, ruddy light of the embers in the fireplace opposite. I, too, am reflected in the glass but as a soulless, enigmatic silhouette. How could it be otherwise?
With both hands, I clench the material and pull downward, hard and sharply. The fabric rips from the rod with little noise. The curtain comes away in my hands. I gather it in my arms and take it to where she lies. I drape it over her body, half expecting her to wake. She does not. How could she?