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by Trish Bennett
The rest is my own.
I smiled today.
I almost hesitate to confess it in light of recent events in Sleepy Hollow. A dark evil has descended here like a shadowy veil, contaminating everything it touches. My beloved father under suspicion along with his associates, my own fiance butchered by some supernatural beast -- and yet there is a gladness in my heart that serves both to please and frighten me.
And for whatever reason, I know he is the cause. This stoic and ever-rational constable from New York captivated me from the moment we shared a fleeting kiss in a childish party game. With hair as black as a raven’s wing and dark, expressive eyes that see the terrible evil yet refuse to believe it, Ichabod Crane has captured my heart.
Perhaps I am simply infatuated by the mystery about him, the stark contrasts embodied in this one intriguing man. I have seen him perform acts of unrivaled bravery, yet cower like a school girl once the danger has all but gone. I have seen him boldly defend his scientific principles, yet struggle with an inner demon that tries to claim his soul.
And today I watched him writhe in restless slumber, uncertain if the pain he fought was the result of his fresh shoulder wound or some older, hidden scar buried far beneath the surface.
I sat for hours at his bedside, wishing for some spell or potion that could take his pain away. But I fear there is nothing to perform that miracle other than what already exists somewhere deep inside him.
His anguished cry startled me, but I caught him as he bolted upright into my arms. He clung to me, not as his lover but his savior, gasping for the breath stolen in his dreams. I can only assume I was a comfort, for as I held him I could feel his heartbeat slowly calm and his breath steady until even the trembling had subsided.
“Shhh...” I whispered, holding him. “You were dreaming.”
“Yes...” he said at last. “Of things I had forgotten... that I would not like to remember.”
I pulled back slightly to look into his face. His eyes avoided mine.
"Tell me what you dreamt."
“My mother was an innocent,” he whispered. “A child of nature... condemned, murdered by my father.”
“Murdered to save her soul...by a bible black tyrant behind a mask of righteousness.” His voice was bitter. “I was seven when I lost my faith.”
The confession came not easily but perhaps was even more difficult to hear than to tell. Whatever dark forces now conspire to destroy Sleepy Hollow could not compare to those that could destroy a child’s faith. I could only hope it wasn’t completely lost.
“What do you believe in?”
“Sense and reason,” he said, as if the words somehow brought him strength. “Cause and consequence. I should not have come to this place, where my rational mind has been so controverted by the spirit world.”
The thought of never knowing him struck me with profound sadness. Was I a fool to hope he felt the same for me? I almost feared posing the question.
“Will you take nothing from Sleepy Hollow that would make it worth the coming here?”
Finally, he looked at me. “No, not nothing,” he said. “A kiss... from a lovely young woman before she saw my face or knew my name.”
“Yes,” I said. “Without sense or reason.”
“Forgive me,” he said, embarrassment in his tone as he remembered himself. “I speak of kisses, and you have lost your brave man, Brom.”
I had nearly forgotten. May the heavens forgive me, but my poor, sweet Brom could not have been farther from my thoughts.
“I have shed my tears for Brom, and yet my heart is not broken,” I said. “Do you think me wicked?”
“No...” he replied. “But perhaps there is a bit of witch in you, Katrina.”
“Why do you say that?”
I could see a sincerity in his dark eyes that almost eclipsed the pain.
“Because you have bewitched me.”
Then he took me in his arms. And I smiled.
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