ARCHIE'S JOURNAL
by Michele

Long Time Since

 

It has been nearly two months since last I gathered my thoughts in
this manner.

The chain was eventually removed from my burning ankle, albeit not
exactly four weeks after it first became my constant, unwanted
companion. Certainly, I had been counting the days, and then the
hours until they were to come and remove it. But on the day I had
expected (by my reckoning) for the guards to come and relieve me of
the cursed thing, they never came; my heart fell into a new despair,
and I was afeared the Don might have changed his mind... or perhaps,
forgotten about me.

One and a half interminable days later, they DID finally come. By
that time, I lay on my bed, in utter despair, feeling quite forgotten
and very much alone. The guards did, in fact, startle me when they
entered. There were two of them: One locked the door behind them,
whilst the other kept his musket pointed at me. (As if, following
one month of being so hobbled, I COULD make an attempt at escape.)
The first guard knelt down and unlocked the manacle from my ankle,
casting it aside with a heavy clank that at once freed and tore at my
heart. At first, a searing pain shot through my skin, in a circle of
agony round my ankle, and then radiated deep down until I nearly felt
it in the bones within. My body must have become used to the
pressure, the constriction, and the cutting that that horrible thing
had inflicted upon my flesh for so long; so that when I was finally
freed of it, it was as though that part of me finally screamed out in
delayed pain that it could finally, fully recognise...

The guards DID, at least, leave me some water and fairly-clean
cloths, so that I could clean my wounds. I tried desperately to show
a brave front whilst they were still here, but the moment they left
and locked the door on me once more, my suppressed tears of anguish
fell freely, and anxiously I began to dip the cloths into the water
to clean my ugly, purulent, and bleeding wounds. My raw flesh burnt
and ached so badly I feared a putrid infection might set in, and I
feared to lose the foot. My foot itself, which was swollen, pounded
mightily as proper circulation began to return to my long-deprived
appendage. My leg, above the ankle, was also swollen and painful.
It was a great effort to rotate my ankle, which I had not been able
to do for a full month, and when finally I WAS able to accomplish
this simple movement, I heard some dreadful sounds inside, much as I
have often heard from the joints of older persons.

If Don Massaredo had wanted to prevent me from attempting another
escape, I recall thinking he had succeeded quite handsomely indeed.

**********

My ankle was in burning agony for several days following the removal
of the chain, and for that time I could do little else but lie on my
bed and limp round the cell. My rations, thankfully, improved
following the completion of my punishment, and once during the first
week thereafter, I was allowed outside into the courtyard. But it
was such an effort for me to cover the distance, and such did my eyes
sting with the long-unfamiliar sunshine, that it was just as well my
full privileges were not to be returned for another week.

Nonetheless, with improved rations, and that horrible chain no longer
weighing me down, my strength began to slowly return. My ankle is
feeling stronger now as well, and the wounds are scabbing well,
although I am certain I will bear the scars for the rest of my days.
And after that first week without the chain was over, my full
privileges were indeed restored to me, and life, such as it is, has
returned to "normal."

Normal, of course, being that I remain a forgotten English prisoner,
alone in the hands of my enemy, and hopelessly far from home....

And so go the days, and the nights....