"Sometimes I wish I could save you
And there's so many things I want you to know~"
2nd of June, 1891
The journey which took me back home was an unspectacular one. I arrived in London after many hours of pondering over the fateful-seeming acquaintance with this Jeremy Keaton. How could it be that he seemed so familiar?
I had engaged a cab and was now sitting inside, waiting for it to arrive at Baker Street. Looking out of the window, I could barely see anything beyond the yellow circles of light produced by the street lamps. It was so very foggy that I could not help to smile as I thought: "Well, it's obvious that we're back home again."
After I had paid the driver, I unlocked the front door and found a telegram waiting for me. It was dated to the 30th of May. I had gone to Florence already on the 26th, so it had no longer reached me in London. Upon looking at it, I suddenly saw that Dr. Watson had sent it. He had of course had no idea of my sudden departure...
But what could this be? I remembered that he had gone to look after his wife.
"Let's hope it's not an urgent matter!", I thought to myself as I unfolded it. It contained but one sentence, and ran:
"it was too late to save her. j.w."
My heart turned to lead as I read these words. While something in me still desperately hoped that I had misinterpreted the message, I heard there was someone at the door. When I opened, I was handed an envelope with a black brim. I knew what this was, the very instant I had it in my hands. Yet I opened the envelope to confirm my assumption.
As I had suspected, it was a funeral invitation.
It said the funeral would be tomorrow, on the 3rd of June.
"Mary's funeral." I said loudly to myself, as if that would help me believe it. Could it really be that now all of a sudden, all these terrible things would happen, one after another, like they were following a secret agenda? Why did everything bad which possibly could occur in one life now accumulate to this heap of sad, most unfortunate events? I would not wish one of these to happen to my worst enemy- and even less to a friend of mine!
I glanced out of the window. The fog had thickened. To me it seemed like a veil shrouding anything bright which was left.
On the day of the funeral the fog had suddenly disappeared entirely. Yes, it even was a sunny day, like the weather was mocking at us in our grief.
After the service held in the church and after the burial on the cemetery I returned home, and despite of the weather I was now feeling cold and tired. All the time, I had been standing next to Watson, wishing I would be able to say something comforting to him. But I had remained silent, in the knowledge that no words in the world would be sufficient.
The following days remained as bright, friendly and clear. But the 30th of May and this 3rd of June had thrown another shadow on not only Watson's, but also on my life.
These shades would last in spite of the summer which was finally approaching.
I was only too sure of that.
6th of June, 1893
Two years had passed since Mary had died. During this time, I had sometimes been seeing Dr. Watson, but these occasions had become rare lately.
Even more surprised was I upon opening my front door on this early afternoon in June, to find him standing on my threshold, turning his hat in his hands.
I greeted him, and wondered what the cause may be for this unexpected call. While I led him into the sitting room, he said:
"My apologies, Rebecca, for not announcing my visit beforehand. I..."-
"It's perfectly alright.", I assured him with a smile in which he could not discern more than hospitality and friendship- at least I secretly hoped so. I hoped he could not see from the expression on my face how a warm feeling spread in my chest.
When seated in an armchair, I saw how Watson looked around the room, saw how his lips slowly curved to form a smile, saw how his fingers stroked the familiar fabric of the chair in an absent-minded way.
"It still looks like I left it. Just the way it looked like when Holmes... left."
Watson suddenly broke the silence of his reverie. I replied that I simply could not bring myself to change anything in this room. He softly tapped his fingers on the arm of the chair.
"This used to be my armchair-" He paused, like he was thinking about what to say. Then he gave a low laugh. "Good heavens, to think that I should be sitting here in my old chair! After all this time..." I managed a smile, despite of the memories welling up in me as well as in his mind. But then Watson turned serious. His eyes first were fixed on the floor in an almost shy way before he looked straight into my face.
"Rebecca, I came here because I need to ask something of you. If you have to decline, that's, uhm, fine. Please don't feel obliged to say yes- just because..." He trailed off.
With this preliminary statement he had made me very curious. I could not think of anything which he could possibly want and which would make him so nervous and wary to ask for. I waited for him to continue.
"Well, I was wondering whether you'd mind my moving back to Baker Street...?"
Watson bit his lip after saying these words, like he had realized that now it'd be too late to take them back. For a moment I could not reply anything. I could not say for sure what I had expected, but certainly not this. He misinterpreted my amazement for a refusal and said, his voice suddenly sounding a little hoarse:
"Oh, uhm, that's okay. I just thought..."
I quickly caught him by the sleeve just as he rose to go: "No- please, wait! I was just slightly surprised- but... of course you can move back in... if you want to."
A little calmer, I continued: "The house is too big for me anyway..."
Watson seemed to me to look somewhat relieved, but probably I had just imagined this.
When I followed him to the door, I hoped he would fail to read in my eyes the joy of the prospect of welcoming him in Baker Street again- not as a visitor, but as a man returning home. As we stood in the hallway, I suggested that he'd not move in immediately, but in January- to give him time to sell his house, and me to prepare everything.
Watson nodded and murmured: "I don't want people to talk, anyway."
I noticed that he was no longer wearing his mourning attire, and knew what he was about.
But then, to the bitter feeling a sweet one was added. As much as I still felt sorry for Mary, this also had made it possible that Watson would return to Baker Street. He would be here- with me...