Anna had encountered David and Molly wrapped up with each other under that blanket in front of the open stove door. She had been alarmingly aware of what they were doing with each other even then, considering the telling sounds she could hear, sparking other memories for Anna to think about once she returned to her bed.
Those intimate noises as they'd made love in that chair—the devils—had filled her with enough envy about what they were sharing, that she was filled with a need to find out about her own recent circumstance that had involved her in a similar way.
That evening, with that memory helping her, she was soon back into her dream.
She remembered more of her tumble into the river, where her mind had blocked it before.
She remembered fighting for air and remembered feeling the cold that gripped her as her clothing became more and more sodden, pulling her down into the darkness. There was the bright sky and life-giving air above her, with her reaching out for it, but it was a lifetime away; inaccessible.
Then, something, someone, a man—not just a man, but a man she'd got to know in a very intimate way and who had known her the same way—was pulling her to the surface, with her coughing and spluttering, to draw a deep breath of air, not loaded with water. She still choked, fighting to breathe cleanly.
She recalled being tended to, laid out upon a nearby rock, retching, fighting for breath, feeling only cold, wet, and the fingers of certain death slowly, and reluctantly receding from her body. He was speaking to her, and with something rough, licking at her face and hands, but with her hearing nothing clearly, unable to respond, and then she slipped away again.
Then, brief consciousness once more, remembering being held tightly and close, as the man carrying her, mounted his horse with her, from the top of a slab of rock. And after that, recalled being jounced around while held securely, in safety now in his arms. Then, nothing again.
After that, she was lying on a floor, being undressed in front of a blazing fire, but she could not feel the warmth from it, only feeling the cold from her still-wet body. She was being pulled around, when all she wanted to do was to curl up and try to get warm—of being dried roughly, as a man, that man again, continually spoke to her, trying to get her attention.
Who was he, and why was he undressing her? He shouldn’t be doing this to her.
If he would only leave her alone. But he wasn’t doing that.
He was apologizing for undressing her, and then, once he had done that, throwing her wet clothing to one side, he firmly swept the water off her body with the flat of his hands, touching her everywhere as though she were a child rather than a woman, shocking her with his familiarity with her body, as he spoke to her, staring at her nakedness, hesitating at what he saw and touched, and then abrading her with those towels again as he dried her off even more. He lifted her arms, then her legs, drying between them, startling her, before coming back to her body, rolling her this way and that, and tried to rub and pummel some feeling, some life, back into it as her teeth chattered with the cold.
She tried to formulate words that would not come, to ask him, indignantly, who he was who dared do this to her, undressing her as he had, pulling her around as though she were a sack of grain, while ignoring what she was saying, and why was she here with him and, if it came to that, where was she?
He may already have been telling her that, but she was not listening, able, at last, to feel some warmth on her body from the fire and from his unrelenting attention.
Then, she watched, equally curious in a dreamy kind of way, as he undressed too, and dried himself as she watched him. She was half in a daze, entranced by what she could see, as though in an unfolding fantasy. He was cold too, and wet--he showed it--but his movements in helping her had kept some life and warmth in his limbs, but he could not have been as wet as she had been.
She had never seen a naked man like this before, but she knew what she was seeing.
He was like the farm animals that she was now in charge of, overseeing their roughly primitive, breeding efforts--and god help you if you got in the way of the bigger animals once they had that urge, and that 'smell' in their nostrils. Others had protested that a delicately sensitive woman like her, should not witness such a shockingly intimate ritual between such brutes, or be aware of the excitement it infused into everyone who watched. It would have a corrupting effect upon her morals, seeing that process, and would make her susceptible to all manner of moral failings.
The way this man was; his phallus (a polite term, she thought, different from the one she'd heard others use) standing out like that from his body, he looked like he was ready to breed too. She knew what that meant on a bull, or a horse, and it must be the same for a man. But who was he wanting to breed with? Surely not with her?
She was beyond caring.
She dozed for a few moments, trying not to think of that.
Then she was being moved again. Had he come for her that way?
No, It seemed not. He was holding her close, enfolding her in his warm arms, with his warm body next to her, (she could feel all of it) also... (shocking to discover and to admit)... one without clothing upon it; just as she was, but she did not feel anything else, as she knew she would, if he intended...!
Nonetheless, she could feel that other about him, but not doing what she had feared. She had watched him undress, so why should she be shocked? He was still speaking to her, but he was talking to himself rather than to her. At least he was not doing anything else more disturbing to her body.
What kind of a dream was this? A dance of death? No. It was real what was happening to her. It only seemed like a dream. But there was to be no rest for her either, not until she was properly warm, however that was to be achieved.
He would not let her rest, despite her complaining and closing her eyes to try and shut him out and make him leave her alone and go away.
He didn’t go away, but was demanding a response from her, however little, to keep her on this conscious plane with him until he could be sure about her.
If he was intending to have her, why didn't he just get it over with, and let her sleep.
“Open your eyes. Look at me.”
He still touched her everywhere he shouldn’t be touching; on her breasts, upon her thighs, and upon her abdomen, and far too personally as he pulled her close into him. Then he touched behind her, also in a far too personal way, in that hair between her legs, bringing the sheet up, to dry her there. Then he kissed her.
Oh, God! Maybe he did intend to...?
That kiss woke her up, where him touching her so personally between her legs to dry her, hadn’t. She'd even ignored that other part of him, still very hard, that touched at her too. That kiss had seemed so much more personal than those other intimate touches.
She looked at him then, ready to tell him off, but she couldn’t. He was only trying to help her.
Her subconscious screamed out at him… Let me rest for god’s sake. Please just let me die!
He wasn’t listening; couldn’t have heard her anyway as she’d said nothing.
When she next became conscious, she was wrapped in a blanket and feeling warmth at last. Where had the hours gone? Where had he gone? Had she lost her virtue yet? It didn't seem so. She would have remembered that.
He was sitting in front of her, encouraging her to sit up. The blanket dropped from her body as she sat up to reveal all of her; naked in all of her glory; nothing hidden away, as she had been taught it must always be, but she no longer cared and didn’t snatch it back to hide herself from him.