A beam of melancholia was cast into the room as fine rain tapped on the glass of the window pane, the water flowing down and projecting waterfall shadows onto the pale walls inside the quiet house.
The sole inhabitant stood and watched the rain fall as silence enveloped him. He longed to leave the dark house but had been forbidden for fear of damaging himself, or time, or something altogether different. He had been told that staying where he was would limit any potential impact on the future and the past simultaneously, and while his temporary foster family had gone out, he had been left in charge of…
Well, of nothing at all as it turned out.
Shakespeare was alone once again, as he had been so many times over the previous weeks when the O’Connor family had gone to their respective jobs and school. He wasn’t allowed to leave the house and so for the last six weeks he had found himself thinking about life in general and what it meant.
A quick search on the laptop, now he knew what that was, had told him that the meaning of life was 42, which he didn’t understand and simply accepted as one of the silly quirks that modern beings had, but while he browsed through the world, the man trapped out of time gave in to temptation to read about a subject that he had, so far, managed to resist.
As the search engine appeared with it’s latest doodle, the Bard typed his own name into the bar in the middle of the screen, and watched in wonder as results instantly popped up. He was still in awe at such technology, and was thankful to have access, although he had found it overwhelming to begin with, as were all the modern contraptions and appliances. Shakespeare looked at the screen, with his own face looking back at him, although it wasn’t his exact face. He wasn’t sure where they had got the inspiration from for the portraits, but he personally felt that he didn’t look like the hairy egg that he inexplicably resembled. He couldn’t be sure, of course, but he was of the opinion that he had been given a bad image over the years. Another quick tap of the keys brought up more pictures, and memories of people that now lived only in his memory and in words, and when Shakespeare looked at faces of his old contemporaries looking back at him through the screen, he couldn’t help but feel that he had drawn the short straw when it came to his image. They weren’t the most handsome of men, but at least they weren’t portrayed like a hirsute Humpty Dumpty, he thought grouchily.
With his old friends and their frowning faces looking grumpily back at him through time, Shakespeare cast his mind back to Jonson and Fletcher and various others, and found himself wishing that he was able to be with his friends once more. They had often spent nights in the Duck and Drake or The George, playing chess, drinking, and playing out their stories, and the Bard wished himself to be back there.
The Sweet Swan of Avon had experience with such solitude, having been confined to his lodgings in Southwark during outbreaks of the Plague that cursed London for many a year, but this time felt different. He knew he was safer where he was, with no diseased rats to trouble him, but being trapped out of time was no better. The uncertainty of when he could return to normality, to his friends and to his colleagues, was weighing heavy on Shakespeare’s mind, and some days he felt overwhelmed with sadness at the isolation that he found himself in. He loved and enjoyed the company of those around him, of course, and he was so thankful that they had taken him in and looked after him, but the Bard was of the opinion that they couldn’t compare to those that the internet called contemporaries but that he called friends. Some days were better than others, but at times Shakespeare found himself grappling with the sadness and melancholy that he was occasionally subject to. He often felt that he wished to not be disturbed or called upon, but tried his best to think of the brighter future that he would inevitably see in order to drag himself through the feelings of loneliness that lingered heavy upon his heart.
It had been both overwhelming and humbling during the early days of his stay in the modern day, but Shakespeare had slowly adjusted to the realisation that he had affected the world in ways that he never thought possible. When he had published Venus and Adonis in 1593, Shakespeare knew what he was, but not what he could be, and had never in his wildest dreams envisioned the impact that his writings would have, but as he sat alone in a dark and empty house in Chicago, he wished more than ever that he could be with his familiars.
“Would I were in an alehouse in London, I would give all my fame for a pot of ale, and safety,” he softly declared to an audience of none, as he looked sadly at the images on the screen.
He walked over to the fridge and grabbed a glass bottle, still amazed at the coldness of the object. He savoured the hiss as he discarded the metal cap, never believing that such a serpentine sound could bring such joy. Sitting down in front of the frowning faces once more, Shakespeare raised the bottle above his head in silent salute at his absent friends and prayed for the day that he would once more be released into the world and when his contemporaries would again be full of life and full of ale.