Heywood, Rosalind - The Infinite Hive – The love affair with Alex 'Your' he wrote, ‘were here’
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Rosalind Heywood – The Infinite Hive
Exaggerated rumour had reached home about the innocent safety valves by which my two particular friends and I had sought, when off-duty, to forget the sadness of the wards. We had gone riding over the mountains with gay young officers knowing very well that VADs were not allowed to ride. We had slipped across the Aegean in a torpedo boat and climbed quite a way up Olympus on the backs of strong-minded mules.
And I, with a young archaeologist, had climbed up the dome of Salonica Cathedral and taken photographs while clinging like a monkey to the Cross at the top. Though we did not know it, these childish escapades had caused a good deal of amusement in the Command and had earned us the indulgent nickname of The Three Disgraces: but though my parents were sensible people and said very little, I did not feel that such behaviour really accorded with their orderly outlook.
Unfortunately, rumour had also linked with mine the name of one of our escorts - in most places outside the hospital barbed wire we had to have escorts, by order, on account of brigands - and, unfortunately, rumour was right.
Purple mountains and blue seas and orange sunsets, iris and asphodel and oleander, set against a background of war, pestilence and death, could end for the young in one thing only - romance.
Early in 1918 I dived into my first love as a dolphin dives into the sea, with, though I had no idea of it, a HERO I had myself invented, all-wise, all-beautiful and all-entertaining. The young man I cast for this exacting role was a French officer of Scottish descent who was doing liaison work with the British.
All would have been well but for the fact that he was an idealist and that his Catholic family had married him off to the daughter of a neighbouring landowner just as the war began.
This and my Puritan upbringing drove us to behave with a frustrating virtue which may have led to my first exterior visual hallucination, apart from the morbid fantasies induced by malaria.
In September 1918 Alex was sent on a mission to Paris, and on waking one morning after he had gone I saw him, just for a fleeting moment, standing in bright daylight in the entrance to my tent. A little later the same thing happened in reverse. He wrote to me from Paris that I had come into his room, sat down at his side and taken his hand. As is frequent in such cases, I was in no way startled or even surprised at my hallucination, nor, which is far more odd, was Alex at his, though he was a shrewd and incisive soldier who would have laughed in theory at the idea of anything so absurd as ESP.
Yet he reported my appearance in Paris when he knew I was in Macedonia as a plain statement of fact.
'Your' he wrote, ‘were here’.