He slept alone at night, his door locked from the inside, the shutters anchored firmly to prevent all but the wind from entering. Before surrendering to the warm comfort of his bed, before closing his eyes to sleep, he knelt and prayed, offering thanks to a merciful god for providing the sanctuary of the monastery, and promising to be ever pure in body and thought.
To be free of the temptations of flesh was a gift. He could walk the cloisters without fear of glimpsing a woman’s smile. His meditations were undisturbed by woman’s laughter. Only in the illuminated manuscripts that he copied laboriously by day could any hint of the female form and her seductive enchantments be found.
And there her demonic nature was truly revealed, not only her breasts bared provocatively as she offered up that accursed fruit, bidding Adam taste its forbidden knowledge.
Vile woman to be the downfall of man!
Oh, to return to Eden! To innocence in Paradise! To bathe forever in the light of God.
Would that he could banish her even from those texts, but she taunted him, slithering between the words, spitting ink like venom, her lips twisted in mockery as she spied on him from the margins.
But there in the library, surrounded by his fellow monks, he was safe from her. It was a cruel jest that his own quill perpetuated her. “Why do we not banish her?” he had asked.
“Take care, Brother,” the Abbot had replied. “Through your fear of her she will conquer you.”
But she would not. He was determined to master himself. No matter how she plagued his dreams, he would not yield to her. If he had to whip his body into submission each morning, he would. Rather that familiar pain than the memory of her lips upon his.
Or her breasts soft and warm against his chest, her hand reaching down between their bodies, her fingers curling about his…
“No!” he hissed, twisting about angrily beneath the blanket. “Our Father,” he whispered “who art in Heaven…”
The familiar prayer, repeated over and over, carried him through exhaustion and to sleep.
Lilith slipped under the cover with him and curled about him for warmth. “Sweet dreams,” she said, and smiling pursued him thither.
compelling reading! I liked the way you described the woman as a serpent-like creature in the texts…
I don’t know if it’s true in old manuscripts, but in modern printed text the spaces between words create sinuous patterns.