A Midwinter Night's Dream

Hermia awaits her father's approval in time for christmas morning, but the clock is ticking... and Demetrius' hands are approaching.

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5. Some Snow

Lysander twisted round his head and looked deep into my eyes, anger raging,'Hang off, thou cat, thou burr! Vile thing, let loose or I will shake thee like a serpent!'

'Why are you grown so rude?' I ask, 'What change is this, sweet love?'

'Thy love? Out tawny tartar, out! Out, loathed medicine! Out hated poison, hence!'

'Do you not jest?'

Instead of Lysander answering, unwished Helena speaks,'Yes, sooth and so do you!'

'Demetrius, I will keep my word with thee!' Lysander promised, still secure in my hands and attempting to break free.

'I would I had your bond, I perceive a weak bond holds you. I will not trust your word!' He points down towards me, as planned I was in the way of their fight - no one was going to get hurt.

'What, should I hurt her, kill her, strike her dead? Although I hate her, I will not strike her so'.

Around, I twist him to face me, understanding that now I was in control,'What, can you now do me greater harm than hate? Hate me? Wherefore? O me! What news, my love? Am I not Hermia?' I question, hoping I will reach his truthful thoughts,'Are you not Lysander? I am as fair now as I was erewhile. Since night you loved me, yet since night you left me. Why then, you left me - Oh, the gods forbid! - In earnest, shall I say?'

Ay, by my life, and never did desire to see thee more. Therefore be out of hope, of question, of doubt. 'Tis no jest that I do hate thee and love Helena!'

'O me!' Once again I turn to Helena, prepared to speak my mind, no matter what the consequences should be,'You juggler! You canker-blossom! You thief of love! What, have you come by night and stol'n my love’s heart from him?'

As expected she opens her mouth to speak,'Fine, i' faith! Have you no modesty, no maiden shame, no touch of bashfulness? What, will you tear impatient answers from my gentle tongue? Fie, fie! You counterfeit, you puppet, you!'

'“Puppet”? Why so?—Ay, that way goes the game. Now I perceive that she hath made compare between our statures. She hath urged her height, and with her personage, her tall personage, her height, forsooth, she hath prevailed with him.— And are you grown so high in his esteem because I am so dwarfish and so low? How low am I, thou painted maypole? Speak. How low am I? I am not yet so low but that my nails can reach unto thine eyes'. Despite her confidence to call me low, there are only certain limits Helena can go.

'I pray you, though you mock me, gentlemen, let her not hurt me. I was never cursed.' She begs them, as Lysander now holds me back, 'Let her not strike me. You perhaps may think, because she is something lower than myself, that I can match her.'

'“Lower”? Hark, again!' I scream.

'Good Hermia, do not be so bitter with me. I evermore did love you, Hermia, did ever keep your counsels, never wronged you -save that, in love unto Demetrius, I told him of your stealth unto this wood. He followed you. For love I followed him. But he hath chid me hence and threatened me to strike me, spurn me — nay, to kill me too. And now, so you will let me quiet go, to Athens will I bear my folly back and follow you no further. Let me go. You see how simple and how fond I am', although I was moved by the words she threw in my direction, I remembered Lysander, who may not love me ever again.

'Why, get you gone! Who is't that hinders you?'

'A foolish heart, that I leave here behind'.

'What, with Lysander?'

'With Demetrius' she corrects.

'Be not afraid,' Lysander assures his love,'She shall not harm thee, Helena'

Behind us, Demetrius crawls up and speaks to his rival,'No, sir she shall not even if you take her part'.

Helena jumps in to explain the position,'Oh, when she's angry she's keen and shrewd! Despite being little'.

'“Little” again? Nothing but “low” and “little”!— why will you suffer her to flout me thus? Let me come to her!'

'Get you gone, you dwarf, you minimus of hindering knotgrass made, you bead, you acorn!' Nothing had stabbed me quite so much until that moment, after all he had said. Lysander let go of me, no longer were we attached... not even by hate.

'You are too officious', Demetrius offends to Lysander,'Let her alone, take not Helena's part!'

'Now she holds me not...' he finally realises,'Now follow, if thou darest, to try whose right, of thine or mine, is most in Helena!'

'"Follow"? Nay, I'll go with thee, cheek by jowl.' Demetrius says, and together they run into the woods preparing to fight.

'You mistress!' I shout at Helena, 'All this coil is long of you! Nay, go not back'.

'I will not trust you, I, nor stay longer in your company. Your hands are quicker than mine for a fray, but my legs are longer though to run away!'

In the woods I could still see her, and ran after her stomping feet.

'...with thick white snow... make them lost like so...like to Lysander sometime frame thy tongue... then stir Demetrius up with bitter wrong...and from each other look thou lead them thus... till o'er their brows death-counterfeiting sleep... with leaden legs and batty wings doth creep...then crush this herb into Lysander’s eye...memories of the night will pass by...'

I hear them call in the woods as I wander helplessly, spying Helena turn and spin around the trees, as she spoke of, she is fast, more speedy than I could imagine making it easier to lose her out of sight in the midst of the cold wintery night. All of a sudden a flake fell from the sky into the palm of my hand, it was watery and cold, unexpectedly, it was going to snow.

Continuously they fell, in packs, in lonely forms, before I knew it nothing could be seen... just walls and walls of fluffy ice. 'Oh, please guide me!' I called, but not one could hear.

'Lysander, speak again! Thou runaway, thou coward, art thou fled?' I heard Demetrius cry, reminding me what the unusual weather would bring. The fight would not go on, and souls would be saved from harm.

'Thou coward, art thou bragging to the stars, telling the bushes that thou look'st for wars, and wilt not come? Come, recreant. Come, thou child!' Lysander responded, a slight husk added to his voice. I followed the sound through the trees, locating the spot they fought at.

Continue to fight they did, verbally, for physically they could not. Voices cried out to each other, '...and here will rest me', I heard Lysander whisper to himself... would he still love me if I let him sleep by my side?

'To measure out my length on this cold bed...' Demetrius' voice followed a long, I heard a thump, and asleep I was sure he was. Follow a long would I, if Helena I could only spy. A flash of blonde I spotted in the snow, Helena, tonight, is the only blonde I know.

'O weary night...' I made out from her speech in the snow,'O long, and tedious night'.

'...yet but three...come one more...two of both kinds...make up four...'

At last I could rest, and freeze myself to sleep. Not until Christmas morning would I peep... but Lysander and I will not celebrate with love... so hope do I the heavens above shall claim my soul. Tonight I deserve to wither away, my story left untold of the girl who died on christmas day.

'Heavens shield Lysander if they mean a fray!' I beg to the sky I lie below, and drop to the earthy ground I shall no longer know.

'...on the ground...sleep sound...I'll apply...to your eye...gentle lover, remedy...'

*****

It was Theseus' voice that woke me up on the joyful Christmas day, not the golden sunset bursting through the trees, finding it easier without the remaining leaves. '...judge when you feast upon it. But, soft! What nymphs are these?'

I was not shocked as the voice of my fathers reached my ears,'My lord, this is my daughter here asleep. And this, Lysander. This Demetrius is. This Helena, old Nedar’s Helena. I wonder of their being here together...'

'No doubt they rose up early to enjoy this Christmas Day, and hearing our intent came here in grace our solemnity. But speak, Egeus. Is not this the day that Hermia should give answer of her choice?'

'It is, my lord'.

'Go, bid the huntsmen wake them with their horns', already awake, I prepared to face the alarming noise by shielding my ears. A cry of voices could be heard, and a hooting sound played around in my head. Along with the others, I stood up shaking off any remains of sleep. What a dream I had experienced... the waking dream... already Lysander was the one I dreamed to marry, but now I understood that we were destined to be, for I love him dearly, and he loves me.

Theseus stood before us so, we therefore knelt below him. 'Pardon my lord' my lover Lysander spoke.

'I pray you all, stand up', he paused as we climbed up off our knees, accepting the state we were in. No longer did snow rest on the ground, the mud was dry and so were ourselves. Theseus turned to Lysander and Demetrius who were at my side,'I know you two are rival enemies. How comes this gentle concord in the world, that hatred is so far from jealousy to sleep by hate and fear no enmity?'

He stepped forward, proud and true, the Lysander I loved, not the one I did hate - the one who was loving, king and great,'My lord, I shall reply amazedly, half sleep, half waking. But as yet, I swear, I cannot truly say how I came here. But as I think—for truly would I speak, and now do I bethink me, so it is— I came with Hermia hither. Our intent was to be gone from Athens, where we might, without the peril of the Athenian law—'

My father spoke without a chance to hear the story straight, 'Enough, enough, my lord. You have enough! I beg the law, the law, upon his head.— They would have stol'n away, they would, Demetrius, thereby to have defeated you and me, you of your wife and me of my consent, of my consent that she should be your wife.'

'My lord, fair Helen told me of their stealth, of this their purpose hither to this wood.' Demetrius stepped in and took his own side, no longer did he wish for me to be his bride, 'And I in fury hither followed them, fair Helena in fancy following me. But, my good lord, I wot not by what power— but by some power it is—my love to Hermia, melted as the snow... The object and the pleasure of mine eye, is only Helena. To her, my lord, was I betrothed ere I saw Hermia. But like in sickness did I loathe this food. But as in health, come to my natural taste, now I do wish it, love it, long for it, and will for evermore be true to it', My words to Helena had now come true, and as well as for me, I was happy for the two.

A present was given to us all that night, a love, a surprise and some proper sight on who we love, who we hate... Christmas Day is truly great. Acceptances were given, new friendships were made and silly obsessions began to fade. Rights were granted, and my life is my own, something my father had never known. But what happened that night is a mystery to me... one night I wish to wake and then I will see the forgotten memories left in me from that very Christmas Eve.

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