Time, as I have often remarked in these pages, is a very strange thing. It is much stranger than I could possibly have imagined, especially since my life has become somewhat detached from it. I have so few fixed reference points any more. I know it was 1885 when my encounter with Katarina turned my life upside down. I know it was 1891 when I arrived in that pocket of London I knew as the Isle of Legacies. Since then, I am less certain of time. The shipwreck, or possibly the Nexus, cast me up on the shores of Jasper Cove, which, while separated from the main stream of time, apparently stayed more or less parallel with what had been Gwyn’s present, some 120 years into my future. Then, a burning bridge took me, via a brief encounter with the Boatman, to Ashmourne Wylds and Mysthaven, which, if I take the Phoenix’s word, puts me some 400 years in my past, so I have no definitive idea of what year I currently exist in. I think that some five years have passed, by my experience, since I left London, but I can’t be even sure of that, given that some of my time has been spent in the faerie realms, where time flows differently anyway.
Whatever year it might be, I do at least know where I am in that year, guided as I am, much like my ancestors, by the circle of the sun, by the passing of each solstice and equinox. So, I know that some 30 days have passed since the Winter Solstice, making the latter part of January, by the calendar I once knew. I know, by watching the sun, what time of day it is, ably assisted by my pocket watch. What I don’t know, not since I left behind the church bells in Legacies, is what day of the week it is. This normally doesn’t matter much. As Lord of Mysthaven, every day is a working day. The same applies to my beloved wife, who has to be Queen every day. However, when she suggested that we have a weekend away, I found myself at a loss as to the question – when is it the weekend?
Lacking any reference, we decided that we would take a couple of days off from being Lord and Queen and call it a weekend away. She found a cabin by the river, somewhere and, I suspect, somewhen closer to her own original time. Normally, I would be apprehensive about visiting my future, but, since the plan was that it was to be a weekend just for the two of us, with no interruptions from the courts or from my stewards unless it was a matter of national importance, I was more than happy to go there and then.
Of course, nothing ever goes as smoothly as one might like. I got held up in a meeting with my stewards, so Gwyn went on ahead, knowing that she, of all people, I could find anywhere, anywhen and step there as easily as I could step into the next room. I concluded my meeting, changed into the clothing that Gwyn had told me was more appropriate for her time, grabbed a change of clothes and set out, stepping across the realms to where, and when, she was.
It was a pleasant looking cabin, aside from a rather worrying unconventional upper floor held in place by steel cables and accessed by a ladder. Despite the alleged time-period, it would not have looked out of place in my time, and was pleasantly rustic in appearance.
What was less pleasant was the sight of my beloved wife, leaning on the door of the refrigerator, crying. When I asked what the matter was, she said there was no cheese in the fridge (that looks wrong. I am sure the word is refrigerator, so I would expect frig, or frige, but the way she said it sounded like bridge… the problems of an unfamiliar vocabulary).
“There’s cheese here, honey,” I told her, pointing at, and sampling some that was out on the counter with some crackers. “It’s quite nutty, but perhaps a little bland, and these crackers are rather salty.”
“You don’t understand,” she cried, starting to sound a little hysterical. “That was all the cheese.”
I looked at the small portion. “That’s all of the cheese?” She nodded, still looking upset. I tried to reassure her. “It’s not the end of the world,” I told her. “We have a mirror still.” Which was true. There had to be some way of contacting us, should the unwanted emergency occur. “We can just use it to call Clutie and have her bring more cheese, preferably something with a bit more age… and maybe some soda bread.” I think sometimes Gwyn forgets that my job used to include provisioning a whole ship for voyages. Of course, then, with landfall several days away in either direction, running out of cheese would have been a bigger problem. While I did have a mirror in my cabin, summoning fae servants was not among its powers.
She looked at me and hiccupped. “You mean you’re not angry?”
“Of course, not, Gwyneth,” I said. “Just because I am running Mysthaven, doesn’t mean I am going to turn into Maric and lose my temper.”
“But Victorians love cheese,” she said, as if this somehow made the absence of cheese worse. I’m not sure why. I may have been born and raised in the era of Queen Victoria, but I don’t think I have been Victorian for a while. Nevertheless, I assured her everything would be all right. I held her in my arms and we rubbed noses and kissed for a while. “Everything will be just fine. Let’s send for Clutie, and she and Bran can bring over as much cheese as we need.” I looked up at the strangely suspended and possibly unstable upper floor, which I suspected was the bedroom. “And, while we are at it, let them bring some blankets and such like, so we can sleep down here by the fire. Won’t that be so much more romantic?”
She followed my glance. “I don’t think we are going to break the place,” she said.
I looked back at the suspended floor. “You never know,” I said.
Cheese and soda bread was thus obtained, as were sufficient blankets and pillows etc to make a nice cosy nest by the fire.
What passed after that was purely for the two of us and I shall not detail it here. That, after all, had been the purpose of the weekend, whatever actual day of the week it was.