A story by Yordie Sands
Copyright © 2012
It was deep in the night and the entire household was asleep when Nicola awoke. He found himself in a strange room and could not comprehend where he was. He pristine logic was overwhelmed by streams of thoughts and images. He was delirious from his exhaustion and gasped for air again and again. His eyes searched for something he could identify, but the things he saw were distorted. His body was in fever, skin clammy and his heart raced. He struggled with even the sheets on his bed, then his night-clothes, stripping them off, as a fearsome light transformed them, the bedspreads and even curtains into something infinitely unexplainable and unreal, and frightening.
He jumped from bed in pure panick and ran into the hall screaming, “To je zastava! To je zastava! To je zastava!”
The commotion caused Annabella to wake instantly, startled. She recognized the language and loosely interpreted the screams, puzzling at the words, “it’s a flag.” She realized it was here guest’s frightened voice. She slipped quickly into the dimly lit hall believing something terrible had happened. In the hall, the commotion had stopped and the house was silent except for a man’s heavy breathing. As she peeked over the rail, she saw Nicola sitting on the stairs.
Already at the bottom of the stairs the butler appeared with great concern in his voice asking, “Shall I seek the doctor?” But Annabella calmed the situation, saying, “Mr. Tesla seems to have had a bad dream. Everything will be fine now.” And slowly the butler left the scene.
The young Serbian was naked and shivering. The night was cool, but he was sweating. She went back in her room and grabbed a large towel, and on returning she quietly slipped down the stairs and handed it to him.
She touched him on the shoulder and felt that his back rigid, and his skin damp and clammy. He asked her what had happened, explaining in English, “It was terrible. It was a flag everywhere.”
Annabella didn’t ask him to explain. Instead, she told him she was his patron, that he came to stay at her home for the night. She assured, “Nicola, you are in America.” And this so moved the man, cried out “America, yes, America!”
Nicola calmed a bit, then became embarrassed about his nakedness and instantly wrapped himself in the towel. He apologized but Annabella told him he should not worry, then she escorted him back to his room.
For a brief moment, Annabella noticed that Tesla was an attractive man, thin and fit.
The night was cool with soft breezes in guest room. Tesla put on his night cloths and climbed back in bed. Annabella stood at the door and asked if he would be okay. And he assured her his fright had passed. He attempted to explain again, but his voice trembled.
Annabella walked into the room to touch frightened man. She could hear his heart pounding and sat beside him. She took his hand and held it to assure him, and they sat quietly there, together. Time passed slowly as her calming way warmed and settled him. Then with a strange sense of human emotion, Nicola looked into her eyes with thanks. He tried to express something in his heart, but found himself seeing her loveliness for the first time. For several minutes he admired her delicate features, and delighted in her inviting warm aroma. Then perhaps for the only time in his life, he became aroused in the presence of a woman. And she did not resist.
The pair slept together till the dawn when cool breezes awoke them, and Annabella returned to her room. Hastily, Nicola collected his things and left for the hotel awaiting him. They never saw each other again.