“It’s a charm,” said David, “it keeps harmful people out of your heart . . . and bed.” Adri walked out of the ring of red light cast on the floor by a stained glass window. “I don’t need charms,” she said, “unless you do.”
David nodded and tucked the paper in the folded hands of a statue on the Blessed Mother on a shelf in Adri’s livingroom.
That night David slept on the sofa, and decided to throw the paper into the fire the following evening.
Adri took a flashlight –her own home was foreign to her at night. Images of the sacred heart of Christ and of the Virgin Mother appeared in the yellow beam of light like ghosts.
She could hear David breathing, the comfortable rhythmic breath of a sleeping boy.
She crept to the statue of the Blessed Mother, where David had tucked the paper charm. She looked at the statue and in a moment of childish fear she said miserably “excuse me please” as she slipped the paper out from the statue’s hands.
In the dark, in her fear, Adri saw the statue sigh, and quickly she retreated to her bedroom.
The room was red. It glowed from the light of a red and gold handkerchief thrown over a lampshade. Adri unfolded the paper to find a watercolor painting of a dragon. A European dragon, British or German, not Chinese. And David’s own signature at the bottom. She refolded the page and tied a white silk ribbon around it three times and said the rosary twice before burning it in a glas ashtray.
She turned off her light and fell asleep.
That night Adri dreamed of a church on a mountain where skeletons in priests robes carved up the sacred heart of Jesus like a Christmas goose, while blood ran over their fingertips and down the aisles.
David had no dream at all.