{\rtf1{\info{\title Mourning Ruby}{\author Helen Dunmore}{\subject <div><h3>From Publishers Weekly</h3><p>When Rebecca, the

narrator of most of Dunmore's fine, almost unbearably sad eighth novel (after 2003's Ice Cream), shares a flat with Joe in London, she begins to enjoy the pleasures of friendship and family for th e first time in her life: she was abandoned as a baby and adopted by a couple re markably unsuitable for parenting. Joe, a historian interested in Stalin, introd uces her to simple pleasures and shows her that loneliness need not be permanent . And it's through Joe that she meets Adam, a neonatologist who becomes her husb and and the father of their daughter, Ruby ("For the first time, I was tied to s omeone by blood"). Given the book's title, Ruby's death is no surprise (though i t's still heartbreaking without being melodramatic), and Dunmore plumbs the cons equences of loss: How does one mourn, and then accept, the unacceptable? Numbed by Ruby's death, Rebecca drifts away from Adam, finding diversion in a job as an assistant to a hotelier, Mr. Damiano; Adam buries himself in his work with prem ature babies. Ambitiously, Dunmore complements this tragic narrative with two ot her stories, one autobiographical, told by Mr. Damiano, about growing up in a ci rcus where his parents were trapeze artists, and one told by Joe, a work of fict ion set during WWI about a man and a woman who could be his and Rebecca's ancest ors. Rebecca's own story isn't told linearly, so these narrative asides aren't a s distracting as they sound. And they are critical to the author's main theme: t hat narrative is a key to understanding and to acceptance. This is that rare nov el, an intensely emotional, fiercely intelligent story, fiction with the power t o offer redemption.<br>Copyright ? Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. </p><h3>From Booklist</h3><p><em>Starred Rev iew</em> When Rebecca's and Adam's daughter, Ruby, dies in a playground accident , their lives are forever changed. In Dunmore's elegant hands, such a simple and sorrowful synopsis is transformed into an elegiac tale of unbearable suffering and unexpected redemption as lyrical and lush as life itself. As an abandoned in fant and unwanted adoptee, Rebecca spun romantic stories of her past to compensa te for the meager facts of her existence. Only in her role as Ruby's mother did she find her true identity, and when that vanishes, it falls to her old friend, Joe, a writer, and her enigmatic boss, Mr. Damiano, to present her with new stor ies that will allow her to once more create a life without Ruby. Dunmore portray s Rebecca's palpable grief with a poignant and powerful empathy, an anguish so s trong that it envelops the reader in its enormity. Yet Rebecca's story is one to be savored, one whose beauty is haunting and whose message is hopeful. Told wit h abundant grace and exquisite sensitivity, this is a book to fall in love with, to hold in your heart like a cherished memory. <em>Carol Haggas</em><br><em>Cop yright ? American Library Association. All rights reserved</em></p></div>}{\cate gory Contemporary}{\manager BERKLEY PUB}}\ansi\ansicpg1252\deff0\deflang1033 {\fonttbl{\f0\froman\fprq2\fcharset128 Times New Roman;}{\f1\froman\fprq2\fchars et128 Times New Roman;}{\f2\fswiss\fprq2\fcharset128 Arial;}{\f3\fnil\fprq2\fcha rset128 Arial;}{\f4\fnil\fprq2\fcharset128 MS Mincho;}{\f5\fnil\fprq2\fcharset12 8 Tahoma;}{\f6\fnil\fprq0\fcharset128 Tahoma;}} {\stylesheet{\ql \li0\ri0\nowidctlpar\wrapdefault\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0 \rtlch\ fcs1 \af25\afs24\alang1033 \ltrch\fcs0 \fs24\lang1033\langfe255\cgrid\langnp1033 \langfenp255 \snext0 Normal;} {\s1\ql \li0\ri0\sb240\sa120\keepn\nowidctlpar\wrapdefault\faauto\outlinelevel0\ rin0\lin0\itap0 \rtlch\fcs1 \ab\af0\afs32\alang1033 \ltrch\fcs0 \b\fs32\lang1033 \langfe255\loch\f1\hich\af1\dbch\af26\cgrid\langnp1033\langfenp255 \sbasedon15 \ snext16 \slink21 heading 1;} {\s2\ql \li0\ri0\sb240\sa120\keepn\nowidctlpar\wrapdefault\faauto\outlinelevel1\ rin0\lin0\itap0 \rtlch\fcs1 \ab\ai\af0\afs28\alang1033 \ltrch\fcs0 \b\i\fs28\lan g1033\langfe255\loch\f1\hich\af1\dbch\af26\cgrid\langnp1033\langfenp255 \sbasedo n15 \snext16 \slink22 heading 2;} {\s3\ql \li0\ri0\sb240\sa120\keepn\nowidctlpar\wrapdefault\faauto\outlinelevel2\ rin0\lin0\itap0 \rtlch\fcs1 \ab\af0\afs28\alang1033 \ltrch\fcs0 \b\fs28\lang1033 \langfe255\loch\f1\hich\af1\dbch\af26\cgrid\langnp1033\langfenp255 \sbasedon15 \ snext16 \slink23 heading 3;} {\s4\ql \li0\ri0\sb240\sa120\keepn\nowidctlpar\wrapdefault\faauto\outlinelevel3\

rin0\lin0\itap0 \rtlch\fcs1 \ab\ai\af0\afs23\alang1033 \ltrch\fcs0\b\i\fs23\lang 1033\langfe255\loch\f1\hich\af1\dbch\af26\cgrid\langnp1033\langfenp255 \sbasedon 15 \snext16 \slink24 heading 4;} {\s5\ql \li0\ri0\sb240\sa120\keepn\nowidctlpar\wrapdefault\faauto\outlinelevel4\ rin0\lin0\itap0 \rtlch\fcs1 \ab\af0\afs23\alang1033 \ltrch\fcs0 \b\fs23\lang1033 \langfe255\loch\f1\hich\af1\dbch\af26\cgrid\langnp1033\langfenp255 \sbasedon15 \ snext16 \slink25 heading 5;} {\s6\ql \li0\ri0\sb240\sa120\keepn\nowidctlpar\wrapdefault\faauto\outlinelevel5\ rin0\lin0\itap0 \rtlch\fcs1 \ab\af0\afs21\alang1033 \ltrch\fcs0 \b\fs21\lang1033 \langfe255\loch\f1\hich\af1\dbch\af26\cgrid\langnp1033\langfenp255 \sbasedon15 \ snext16 \slink26 heading 6;}} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } { Mourning Ruby\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i By the Same Author}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Zennor in Darkness {\line } Burning Bright {\line } A Spell of Winter {\line } Talking to the Dead {\line } Love of Fat Men {\line } Your Blue-Eyed Boy {\line } With Your Crooked Heart {\line } Ice Cream {\line } The Siege\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s1 \afs32 {\b {\i Mourning Ruby}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { HELEN DUNMORE\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { VIKING\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i an imprint of}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { PENGUIN BOOK\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { VIKING\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Published by the Penguin Group {\line } Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England {\line } Penguin Putnam Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA {\line } Penguin Books Australia Ltd, 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Aus tralia {\line } Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 10 Alcorn Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2 {\line } Penguin Books India (P) Ltd, 11 Community Centre, {\line } Panchsheel Park, New Delhi \u8211? 110 017, India {\line } Penguin Books (NZ) Ltd, Cnr Rosedale and Airborne Roads, {\line } Albany, Auckland, New Zealand {\line }

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, {\line } Rosebank 2196, South Africa\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England\par\p ard\plain\hyphpar} { {\ul www.penguin.com}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { First published 2003 {\line } 1\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Copyright \u169? Helen Dunmore, 2003\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The moral right of the author has been asserted\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { All rights reserved {\line } Without limiting the rights under copyright {\line } reserved above, no part of this publication may be {\line } reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, {\line } or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, {\line } photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior {\line } written permission of both the copyright owner and {\line } the above publisher of this book\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library\par\p ard\plain\hyphpar} { EISBN: 978\u8211?0\u8211?141\u8211?90156\u8211?5\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\p ard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s2 \afs28 {\b {\i Prologue}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i A car comes up, with lamps full-glare,}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i That flash upon a tree:}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i It has nothing to do with me}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i And whangs along in a world of its own,}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Leaving a blacker air.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { We\u8217?re on the coast road to Zennor from St Just. The sun set half an hour a go and the western sky is hung with rags of light. Dark is gaining fast.\par\par d\plain\hyphpar} { Ruby and I are walking northward. We keep to the road, with Ruby\u8217?s hand in mine. Not a single car has passed us.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { If we were in a house now, looking from a window, we would see only black. But w hen you are out in the living dark it takes a hundred shapes and shades.\par\par d\plain\hyphpar} { We are safe. Soon night will fold around us as we walk on, but even before the m oon rises there\u8217?ll be enough starlight to see the pale stripe of the road. And Ruby\u8217?s a good walker.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { On our left, below the cliffs, the vast Atlantic breathes.\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { A basking shark came in close around the Island last summer. Dolphins played off Gwithian and people went out to visit them in boats.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The seals will be feeding their pups now, on the ledges they\u8217?ve chosen. Th

she mustn\u8217?t g o near.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Do whales go to sleep?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Everything has to sleep.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It\u8217?s dark. I t\u8217?s easier walking by day than by night. They come full on and the black safe night ruptures round us. the pup will surv ive without her. Ruby and I walk on. sweeping the granite hedges. to be . I don\u8217?t even hear the car engine. We hear the distant pull of the sea.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I sweep Ruby onto the verge. The spoor of her humanity would drive the mother seal away for ever. tucked up in a shoebox. I hold her w arm.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Does the sea sleep?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I don\u8217?t think so. The mother\u8217?s probably watching you n ow.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Are my heels nimble and light?\u8217? Ruby asks.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i It hasn\u8217?t been abandoned.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { We are held in white oncoming light. far-off.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { How many miles to Babylon?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Four score miles and ten. below the cliffs.\par\par d\plain\hyphpar} { Ruby knows if she sees a seal pup alone in one of the coves. We walk on. spitting up stones. Too close. On our left. still less touch. She yelp s protest but I smother it with my body which shields her so that if anything\u8 217?s hit it\u8217?ll be me and never Ruby. I push her into the wetness of long grass. too fast. We can keep up this pace for hours if we have to. the vast Atlantic breathes.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I would sleep for ever if it would give me dreams like this. I wind Ruby out of the folds of my coat. the car sweeps past. that goes without saying. where did she come from?}\par\pard\plain\hyphp ar} { She dodged into the yard with me in her arms. Or. \par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Those headlights.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Are witches real and why do animals eat other animals? Why is it that we fear ou r own kind more than any other creature we might meet on these lonely roads at n ight? It\u8217?s not the vixen\u8217?s cough or the cliff\u8217?s drop that make s me prickle.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It\u8217?s gone. It\u8217?s those headlights. It doesn\u8217?t always work.e mother seal\u8217?s fat melts from her as she pours calories into her pup. too. Ruby. and back again. Ruby asks me how far it is and instead of telling her I sin g a song she knows.\par\pard\plain\hyph par} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } { \~\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b PART ONE\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i Shoebox Story}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \~\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b 1\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i Foundling}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i She was a good-looking girl. The equation is that by the time she needs to roam free and feed. soft hand more tightly.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { If your heels are nimble and light\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { We may get there by candlelight. If she gets too tired I\u8217?ll hoist her on my back.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Will we get there by candlelight?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Yes. the cry of the last gulls heading out of land.

alo ng with the shoebox. all alone and crying for someone. pearly breasts.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8211? that there would be food nearby. it has turned ou t more substantial than you\u8217?d think. but there\u8217?s still a picture of the shoes o n the side. I don\u8217?t k now who I was in those hours before my story began.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { In Lucia\u8217?s second version. tripping over something that made a clang and scared the rats off for those vital first minutes.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { How do I know that? I can\u8217?t believe that I ever tasted those breasts.\u8217? my mother whispered. born to her in her early twenties and already grown at . the hours when I was my moth er\u8217?s child.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I\u8217?m glad of it.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Goodbye. That\u8217?s clear from Lucia\u8217?s story. She hurled the onion at the cat she thought my mother was.exact. for me to read wh en I was grown up. S o Lucia told me. It hit the side of my box and I began to scream. Coul d she have let me taste her. She was packed with the aggressive pleasure that builds up. baby. from working well at a job that is below your capacity. as she put me down by the warm. given after we had drunk another cup of coffee together. a box that once held a pair of men\u8217?s size eleven mid-tan calf-leath er shoes. She wanted me to start with a clean sheet. That story.\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { I didn\u8217?t cry. She knew far too much about them for that. It must have frightened my mother t oo. sucking on a fag as if they\u8217?re doing mouth-to-mouth on themselves. Usually she\u8217?d have slung it into the bin under the coun ter. and she heard the clang of metal as my mother tripped on lea ving the yard. and filled them with the power of a shot-putter. And as inheritances go. gusty ven tilator at the back of Vittorio\u8217?s. Or maybe she called me by the name she\u8217?d given me.\par\p ard\plain\hyphpar} { She backed out of the yard. I expect this is why I\u8217?ve always loved t he smell of leather. and I\u8217?ve shive red for myself in that shoebox.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Goodbye.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { She didn\u8217?t think of rats. She didn\u8217?t pin a note onto my clothes. with her pin k sweater stretched over big. She hurried away down the street. and Lucia hurled an onion into the d arkness of the yard. I reckon she would have reckoned someon e would be out soon.\u8217? she said. is my inheritance.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The cardboard\u8217?s worn now. But I don\u8217?t know what that was. and then left me?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The kitchen door opened in a gush of steam. She had lo ved her own three babies. It was firm to the touch. in her too-tight black skirt. It was the Madonna who told Lucia to throw that onion. and if she hadn\u8217?t done so the re is no doubt that I would have been eaten by a rat before the night was out. Lucia kicked open the kitchen door.\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { Holding the fusty onion. it was a virgin\u8217?s strength that powered her arm. Bu t it wasn\u8217?t just Lucia\u8217?s own strength that threw the onion. What happened was that Lucia had the door open as usual. night after night. Cursing the supplier who had tried to make a n imbecile of her. She was slicing onions from a net sack when she came upon the t hird bad one. I\u8217?ve thought of them. the onion was perfectly healthy. Kitchen staff are always taking a break in the backyard.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8211? that Italians love babies. she hurled the onion into the night with all her strength. baby. flexed her muscles. La Madon na took Lucia\u8217?s arm. but when she sliced it she saw the grey fust in its seams. Yo u see them out there.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Lucia did not love babies. She understood that she had no rights in the future of a b aby she was about to give away.\par\pard\plain\hyp hpar} { I think that these were my mother\u8217?s calculations when she decided to aband on me by a ventilation shaft in the backyard of an Italian restaurant:\par\pard\ plain\hyphpar} { \u8211? that I would be warm. But ev en so. but this time la Madonna had picked Lucia for action. They look very manly.

My purple feet were bare. live baby . then he was a tall man \u8211? or else he was stocky. holding her hands apart. and Big Vittorio was dead.\u8217? said Lucia to the policewoman. She stares up. Big Vittorio k new nothing about it until a chunky policewoman bustled through the restaurant. Sometimes she reached out to touch m y bare brown knee. Did my mother go into a shop and ask them if they had a large one. she may even have clambered u p a ladder to the very top of her stack of boxes. This gives m e more to work on. You told me as much as you knew. as ordered in maternity hospitals.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The restaurant no longer existed. shapely hands. All of them had given and were still giving her pain. but at the sight of a shoebox full of baby Lucia became practical. taking in the bright pink ribbons on my nightdress. And so I was. but you said nothing about that. (He might have grown tal .\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Once inside with me.\par\pard\plai n\hyphpar} { Lucia held on to this part of my story and gave it to me when I came looking for it. and she told me what she knew. not the obje ct. little Vittorio. more surely than any midwife. Cheap rubbish.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Alternatively. with exceptional feet and hands. and service continued as usual in the restaurant. closely followed by a policeman who looked embarrassed.\u8217? she shrugged.\par\ pard\plain\hyphpar} { She scooped me out of the box and I dangled like a baby cat. My cord stump was bare and raw.\u8217? she pronounced to herself. she didn\u 8217?t cry out. as if someone might accu se him of being the baby\u8217?s father. this big. I looked at the hands which had taken me out of my box. the shoebox seemed of minor importance now. She held me up in h er two hands. The truth is that it was only possible for me to come and find you when I was no longer in search of my mother at all.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?{\i Femmina}. {\i naturalmente}. \u8216?The cord is still there .\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { My mother. The policeman looked away. and assessed me for what I was and what I might become. this far.\par\pard\plain\hyphp ar} { \u8216?How old is it?\u8217? he asked.\u8217? he said stupidly. and her face is wan in the gloom of the shoe-shop stockroo m. which had not yet shrivelled and fallen off. Big. the shoebox may have held shoes bought by my father. I needed the story. to find the treasure my mother required. Not for a second did it occur to Lucia to keep me. no w over fifty.\u8217? And she whipped up my nightdress to show the cord stump. big enough to put a baby in? If the shoe-shop assistant was exceptionally helpful. She would never be unfaithful to them with anyone else\u8217? s child.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Two days. I listened to the voice that had pronounced me fema le.the time of my birth. down on solid earth. I think you wondered why I hadn\u8217?t com e to find you earlier. her strong fingers supporting the back of my neck. as Lucia demonstrated the real. Gia ncarlo. Compared to other things that had happen ed. now hidd en in adult flesh. By then I no longer kept the shoebox with me. Try the next size. bigger than that. she placed my shoebox on a shelf and phoned for the police. three days. and Stefania.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Is a baby girl.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?So it\u8217?s a boy. She made no fuss. Neither had it been carefully attended with powde r and wipes. It was somewhere in the house I\u8217?d left along with my marriage. was an insurance broker.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Lucia. If he wore size eleven shoes.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. We sa t all one hot afternoon in the tiny garden which Lucia had packed with explosion s of flower.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Naturally I have often wondered about the shoebox. I visited Lucia in her garden flat. Little Vittorio. {\i la poverina}.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { She was an old woman with knots of vein in her legs. These were Lucia\u8217?s babies. you didn\u8217?t pretend to have forgotten my story when I came to find y ou. He was only young.

In fact. turning corner after corner. out. Od}.\ par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It\u8217?s hard to throw away a box like that. It might come in handy.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Yeah. but unharmed. my mother committed no crime. from the marks made by her sweating fingers. He saw her clearly in the light of a street lamp. and it suggests three possibilities. My st rong.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { My father lived above his means. Breasts straining her pink jersey. That\u8217?s w hat the man glimpsed when he was walking his dog. in. And besides. screeching. You could see everything. A girl for ten guineas has a ring to it. I can see where the price label was. lobelia and nasturtiums rioted. We\u8217?re like that in my family.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\p . Out. She was almost running. A man walking his dog (or so he said) remembered seeing a w oman hurry away from Vittorio\u8217?s backyard. in. I compare it to my own figu re in the hospital mirror. but never threw away the box.\par\pard\p lain\hyphpar} { A tight dark skirt and a sweater that stretched over her breasts. He snuffed the smell of new leather and loved it. these precious shoes of calf leather. this woman?\par\pard\plain\h yphpar} { The man made a quick shape with his hands to show my mother\u8217?s curves. just as I do. in. Or ten guineas.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { There are no such things as guineas any more. he might have become an at hlete\u8230?)\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { These shoes. Lucia had done her duty . You know. But my mo ther did take the price off.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { My father preferred shoes to babies. and she was not wearing a coat on that late-September evening. How could she be so shapely?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { She could. Out.\par\ pard\plain\hyphpar} { How far off was my mother by the time the policewoman took charge of me? She esc aped. curved peasant body was born to be back at work within the day.l. ranks of geraniums. While the other women in the post-natal corridors pul led helplessly at handfuls of leak and flobber. tight. out. We are women who snap back into shape after giving birth. Maybe there was saliva on the box from the kiss she gave me as she set me down. Behind her. But she gave it to the policeman. She hurried away. So what did she look like. and the sight of myself in the mirror when Ruby wa s two days old.\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { Lucia\u8217?s eyes were half shut. and kept the box.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Inquiries were made. It was too big and useful. as she told me her part of the story. out. and besides it had the price of the shoes on its side. I snapped back into shape. proud evidence of what he had spent. to go by what evidence I have: th at one sighting of my mother. and I like her for the delicacy that made her refuse to place her baby inside a box marked \u1 63?10 10{\i s. I\u8217?ve done my research on this. She had handed me o ver to authority.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { (But she neglected to take out the price slip inside the box. an d so my history was preserved. She would have been bleedin g still. as they would have said in the expensive shop where my f ather bought the shoes. These days they might be able to take my mother\u 8217?s DNA off the cardboard.)\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Ten pounds ten shillings was a lot of money for a pair of men\u8217?s shoes in 1 965. I poss ess that glimpse of my mother in late-September lamplight: out. after my birth. He wore the shoes. furious self. My father had been saving for weeks.\p ar\pard\plain\hyphpar} { My father was rich. Yet this was a woman who had only two or three days earlier given birt h to the {\i femmina} in the shoebox. A too-tight black skirt.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Lucia might simply have handed over the baby. raw. while the policewoman took charge of my damp. had he not been ill-fed in his childhood. She had preserved me from a yard full of rats and shadows. But i t\u8217?s too late for all that. It must have lain there safe beneath my head. but I\u8217?m glad they existed wh en I was born.

My adoptive mother had nerves as rare as orchids. when I was eight. once I had settled. {\i Her real child}. They can\u8217?t ever have let loose the whole energy of their thought on the question. but I was common enough then. Did they really want a child? Did they like children. and who would have loved her. I held the barrel close to my nose to breathe in that wild gun smoke. Ten shot to death that day alread y.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You\u8217?d have thought I was trying to torture you. my adoptive mother often told me reproachfully. not feed you!\u8217 ?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I had eczema and colic and I rubbed my mother raw. A healthy newborn female infant in search of a home.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Oh well. \u8216?There was no po int putting you in these. sunny baby who would have understood her and slept thr ough the night from birth. and milk would spurt over both of us. My adoptive parents never struck me as frivolous people. I could have danced in the street to make money for us both.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I used to plot my way back into the past so I could change it. I\u8217?d have danced until my feet bled. and my cap-gun was br onze. and I was on t hem most of my life.ard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b 2\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i Baby Aeroplanes}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i the wife wants a child}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i the wife wants a child}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i ee ay ee ay}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i the wife wants a child}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I mistrust sensitive people. new.\u8217? said my adoptive mother. I dug out from the bottom of the sideboa rd a bag full of baby clothes: cobweb cardigans. Folded. untouched.\par\ pard\plain\hyphpar} { It was not so hard to adopt a baby in the mid-sixties. { \i A little baby}. but there was something frivolous in their decision to adop t. silky romper suits. A little baby}. a touch of embarrassment in her manner as she took the bag back and folded it shut again. Nothing woul d have stopped me.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyph par} { {\i A baby. Once. But I was such a diffic ult baby that it put them off.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { In her bedroom\u8217?s smelly darkness she lay flat with an airline eye-mask ove r her eyes. She could not face the whole thing again and so I deprived her of the son she would have loved. Twenty years later I\u821 7?d have been a rarity. When metal touches a witch they just melt into nothing. or know what th ey were like?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i A baby}. If my real mother had kept me. I wouldn\u8217?t sleep. In my experience what they are chiefly sensitive to is themselves. In the back lane I ranged with my cap-gun. and I would choke on the milk. The big. My tw inkling feet would have captured the hearts of strangers and charmed the cash fr om their pockets so that we could buy fish and chips and furniture. a white dre ss with coral embroidery. You were sick all the time. They had planned to adopt a little boy next. She would ram the bottle back in because she was afraid I would starve. When she tried to give me my Cow & Gate I twisted aside from the teat and screamed.\par\pard\plain\hyph par} { . My adoptive mother must have hypnotized herself with those two words. Out of the side of my mouth I told myself the count. even a treasure. ambushing witches.

Everyone knows that mothers want to sacrifice themselves for their children, but there are also children who would give blood to have their parents appear to th em, just once, on the battlements of their lives.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { You know those women in shawls with babies wrapped up like sausages who walk the length of Tube trains asking for cash? Sometimes the baby has a label pinned on to its clothing:\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\qc {\*\shppict{\pict\picw337\pich19\jpegblip ffd8ffe000104a46494600010201006000600000ffe106264578696600004d4d002a000000080007 011200030000000100010000011a00050000000100000062 011b0005000000010000006a01280003000000010002000001310002000000140000007201320002 000000140000008687690004000000010000009c000000c8 0000006000000001000000600000000141646f62652050686f746f73686f7020372e300032303038 3a30343a31302031353a32353a33350000000003a0010003 00000001ffff0000a00200040000000100000151a003000400000001000000130000000000000006 010300030000000100060000011a00050000000100000116 011b0005000000010000011e01280003000000010002000002010004000000010000012602020004 00000001000004f800000000000000480000000100000048 00000001ffd8ffe000104a46494600010201004800480000ffed000c41646f62655f434d0001ffee 000e41646f626500648000000001ffdb0084000c08080809 080c09090c110b0a0b11150f0c0c0f1518131315131318110c0c0c0c0c0c110c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c 0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c010d0b0b0d 0e0d100e0e10140e0e0e14140e0e0e0e14110c0c0c0c0c11110c0c0c0c0c0c110c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c 0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0cffc00011 080007008003012200021101031101ffdd00040008ffc4013f000001050101010101010000000000 0000030001020405060708090a0b01000105010101010101 00000000000000010002030405060708090a0b1000010401030204020507060805030c3301000211 0304211231054151611322718132061491a1b14223241552 c16233347282d14307259253f0e1f163733516a2b283264493546445c2a3743617d255e265f2b384 c3d375e3f3462794a485b495c4d4e4f4a5b5c5d5e5f55666 768696a6b6c6d6e6f637475767778797a7b7c7d7e7f7110002020102040403040506070706053501 00021103213112044151617122130532819114a1b14223c1 52d1f0332462e1728292435315637334f1250616a2b283072635c2d2449354a317644555367465e2 f2b384c3d375e3f34694a485b495c4d4e4f4a5b5c5d5e5f5 5666768696a6b6c6d6e6f62737475767778797a7b7c7ffda000c03010002110311003f00ed7a5331 df976e6e2d78b5645b834b3a662b2e63b6e3301b2bdf5e35 6f663d6fbafaabbacc3bb3719f55589e97f35fa42f4ca3eb7b2dc57753cac3b690d8cb6535bc38bb 6386eaad77b5dfa6d8ff00e669f67fc57eb1f3824929fa33 a8d5f5bab75995857d16b7d4791805b1fa2634fd9594e49af77da326d6b7edbeb7e8abaedf4b1bd3 fb3fda7269bcfd6cc2156062beac9738b5945f163a607eb9 9dd4f21d4fd9eafd37e97f67d36b2eb7d5b2ac7c9fd0af9fd2494fd236d1f5a0f48c5ae9c8a07546 d8c7655afd6a730173acada1b43776ff00657fcdd0fd9fe1 abb3f48818f85f5cacfd165e7d18f5ecae722868b2dde1b77da22bbb1aac7632cb6cc7d9fce7e8b1 bfeec7ab5fcea924a7e866637d7017facfbb09d63eb6d765 06c7c358d756f7db558dc563fd7bbd4cdaf7fa5e8d2caf03f439367aef53e9977d683d6df8bd42ca eec5a817beda68b29ab5655e9d0dfb4b1febd9eb5b6edb71 736faeaab176657e9f22bf47e7649253f45e563fd76b2f3f67cbc1a68b2c3a9adee7d557e6399bbd 9936fd0f518ffb3ff86fd27e96afb30ffece316db6cb6cc3 ce6bf633129a99652ddee34facfc9739b92eaa8a59f6bfd27aeffccfd1db75d5d357cf0924a7e8fe ab575bbb268af0dc2b75156f392f70652fbec732881437d7 b5efa317ed9915576feafebfd93f9eff00036b031bad535defcecc665e43c114d6dac554b0b4bfd3 fa3bf23f48df4fd7df659ff02be6649253ef16743ca17b2b bfa963dee7398cbef7d9e95c087b7ec4fa6aa1a2afb4d99dfb6bd0ddfd1f2333fed6d9d37d3403d0 7a9536e66567751c3ca75ae7badc77dcfa2a66235c333abb 373c65b5b564e67d871b3597e3dde874bfd5fed1fa55e1c924a7de6dc3c9382fdaee9dfb13ed2326 e77da83697e1b5b18389b0613b171b13d1662fab4fe92abf f49fa6fd62cb155c5c0e9e4d671ede8d5d43331eefd0ded7867d2f419b7d367da9b975d995fb330e e7ff0092ff00ed0e55f55745189e20924a7fffd9ffed0a48

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I thought to myself.)\par\pard\p lain\hyphpar} { In my opinion it would be good if everyone on the Tube had a descriptive label p inned to their clothes. It could be as truthful or untruthful as they liked.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Take that look off your face.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\qc {\*\shppict{\pict\picw382\pich98\jpegblip ffd8ffe000104a46494600010201006000600000ffe10d8b4578696600004d4d002a000000080007 011200030000000100010000011a00050000000100000062 011b0005000000010000006a01280003000000010002000001310002000000140000007201320002 000000140000008687690004000000010000009c000000c8 0000006000000001000000600000000141646f62652050686f746f73686f7020372e300032303038 3a30343a31302031353a32343a30350000000003a0010003 00000001ffff0000a0020004000000010000017ea003000400000001000000620000000000000006 010300030000000100060000011a00050000000100000116 011b0005000000010000011e01280003000000010002000002010004000000010000012602020004 0000000100000c5d00000000000000480000000100000048 00000001ffd8ffe000104a46494600010201004800480000ffed000c41646f62655f434d0001ffee 000e41646f626500648000000001ffdb0084000c08080809 080c09090c110b0a0b11150f0c0c0f1518131315131318110c0c0c0c0c0c110c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c 0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c010d0b0b0d 0e0d100e0e10140e0e0e14140e0e0e0e14110c0c0c0c0c11110c0c0c0c0c0c110c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c 0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0c0cffc00011 080021008003012200021101031101ffdd00040008ffc4013f000001050101010101010000000000 0000030001020405060708090a0b01000105010101010101 00000000000000010002030405060708090a0b1000010401030204020507060805030c3301000211 0304211231054151611322718132061491a1b14223241552 c16233347282d14307259253f0e1f163733516a2b283264493546445c2a3743617d255e265f2b384 c3d375e3f3462794a485b495c4d4e4f4a5b5c5d5e5f55666 768696a6b6c6d6e6f637475767778797a7b7c7d7e7f7110002020102040403040506070706053501 00021103213112044151617122130532819114a1b14223c1 52d1f0332462e1728292435315637334f1250616a2b283072635c2d2449354a317644555367465e2 f2b384c3d375e3f34694a485b495c4d4e4f4a5b5c5d5e5f5 5666768696a6b6c6d6e6f62737475767778797a7b7c7ffda000c03010002110311003f00efddd272 1b6f51cac5f471b2eec76e2f4eb9ad2454c631de93adade3 d3f6e559b9edadbb2ca2ac6aff00c0a6c0c5fac947aceceea18f965d56dc760a3d26b6d03e9daf6d 963ed63b6fbf67a6b3bf65e4bb34e3e6f59ea3ea62b19997 5ad7574e3b58f1752fa37d55d7b98f7b6cb3f4dea7a0cc7aff009bff000a6c7fab9407b8e3f56c97 596975979658cdf6eef4cd2fb6f6b1d91fa1a6bc7c7a6d63 ff00a2ff00e18b6c7a535becff005aba7fd93a79ea4cb6b7d86b6663ea97864bdc2ccdb5e3d0b6f7 bacc7c7ae8afd1bf26cfd27a9ecc843c0ab231f3f0ecafaa e3e5518d8e31c5e5f5b8578807dadf63f6babf533f3abab0b6dfb3ecbf63c6c8c8b3dfe97ac7c3c2 c677426f44eadd42bb32f36d1ead6fb9b7d8e1ea6b8cc73b d373aff4b16ca6dcac7a69d994cc9cda3d1b6b503d1fa2bfa8decb7a9babb69bacaada09aaa06ab7 d3eb7774e6336377e33dbfa4cab36fad7e37af4dd77a75fe 8d29b193fb5ba8753c8fb0f51c51474fb03c62beb2e21fe8bd94fda5decfd5fed563ef7bebdfea7d 97d0a2dc6baabd54b707373f241ababe2bb22e156d0d731e e2312b197866baf6fa7ea7dab399d5322df4767a7660d7e8fa3fcfe8f4ee95d0eee9f978b8198729 b9807dab25978bad70b07aa47ad2ff004abc8f56fc8f4aaf 4e9fd6f22dc6aeaf5565745e81f57eb7d9818597935d55b452e63f6d6721eefb5efcdaf236576e4f ab5bba9637b3f45fa07e5535fe8f1b292536199b9d450f7b . \u8216?What\u 8217?s so wonderful about {\i you}?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { My cap-gun.urn their faces from her. In my mind I caressed it and smelled its bitter smoke.\u8217? said my adoptive father. mute and stubborn.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { (\u8216?What right have {\i you} got to be so critical?\u8217? my adoptive father used to say. as these women do.

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Some l abels could well be shorter and sweeter.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\qc {\*\shppict{\pict\picw168\pich59\jpegblip ffd8ffe000104a46494600010201006000600000ffe10d4f4578696600004d4d002a000000080007 011200030000000100010000011a00050000000100000062 011b0005000000010000006a01280003000000010002000001310002000000140000007201320002 000000140000008687690004000000010000009c000000c8 0000006000000001000000600000000141646f62652050686f746f73686f7020372e300032303038 3a30343a31302031353a32363a30360000000003a0010003 00000001ffff0000a002000400000001000000a8a0030004000000010000003b0000000000000006 010300030000000100060000011a00050000000100000116 011b0005000000010000011e01280003000000010002000002010004000000010000012602020004 0000000100000c2100000000000000480000000100000048 .fb7d4e611da546e6568b9989eb7cce1df4b954bb73299d8c6bcf18de322c59552cd16cae5a07bdaf 1d642681e7932888d6845d9c4f15735ae81c3b9b7ac327bb c12b2e316ccf5d546db8b6d65a7b2fcaab0516bb25aca41fc89b60048f26449871db1bb4a6927863 b1d1d5a645f1774a170ab95f83e53b3335c96ef15cedb91f 2ef61d89717cecd8f123e310e150442c2a2c74d65ef519a706be02948e8e3733b951af7f763fc7ae b67675b4b5b617373611aa6a2a63166dadacd2b011a34603 1486318c456b06c1b1aae739ca88888aaabdbae72b3f757e2d25a5d57cc8f9ed5438d4d32fb0fbf9 98c4a6c3ca60c371daa6a768d4923d6f58c6ec5941009beb 7fb1ec563912e9fb7dfe5b2cd4d65bbb32b7cdadb64ee79ccb8cd3fba816502b00d77b2657831a83 39546dad1c59cc608d1dcf61bb7f3f66346367771eeed65a 0b15879aed6c9858ae393ede151c59e5610be732739506c4609ae72a318c795ea89f68d8f77f0e97 9aff00dc5f87b6d3b12afabdb82967cc2e3f07115d596719 b064b9cac63acd65450fc21bdc9d9af3f8a2a793ff00cb611cc9cd0dcdcd37c8fce67e11acc37335 635659dcc0c8a4fe35b165c2ab9f1ebc8574404f35942f73 e4b1e16d8438ce28fbb9a8bdbb74e0f4747474747474747474747474747474747474747474747474 7474747474747474747475ffd27775870b77769e850f0dd7 1ca383866bec6c5671f163c0d77406c9cb1663e4498712d2d65fb8471c69446148e64763a47f513b 855cd70ff3937eded019a8f4f6a4d63b1530b8fafb259b96 e59965854a59d8dde4136b64c14be57b24c6732c22be4292291cf7205506bf7205ad747e27fb7ddc 576abb8c572ddbf1eff39afd79375a69eba858f47834b85d 45945f8b69220552189ecb1b6457ace9ee236411af5635cc6a7dd4a83c11c6b5e65b436db779206c ba6ec9d7363c7fa6ac9d8ec587f1c569024c6801c4582398 752b16b84e6ab5467f62ac92909de4bd1295a6f8fb9c6f4ffec36b0c9b78c9b5c3f4a545271cb02d 878f55b29516ae09abacb38aff00c4a492b4720c28b16b1d 214ae6b988e77adedfb3ae84dfe829171c87d3bb9c192d7c4c4b4e62d738fe3bad1f4ec732249b86 34059f5f345203f19ee8e3101cd7088c41315ac6b548af6d d77e6b19bba34cec7d535f941b0d959ed248a76646017bd40d3a223daf1798fcc65677191a8e4556 39c9dd3ae6c6d8d1d3702858a69cb1cc4b9df21f987221eb 26659474f1682061faaa81e2999056e3b5cc19e2c3811603fd2e07b5af90e2a17ee78d513afe0002 28031628471a3461b451e389a8c18c6c4f16b18d6f644444 4ec889fa74b66e0e3844dd1b335a66f95e54e3e2da9a2d84fc575a9a17beb4b95c9f06c2bcb0ee76 b652411b57d4051a767b95c8546b9ec7adf03f6dec3e263f 85e3b2b635b5c7c5a7cf936be4b3c2f3dae5793e7b52b507c84a67ca7306686234848ed3b24f8b48 bddca5710efd7b41f1ef76eaac86acf96efea6c8305a2a86 550b01c5301a5c5c56e58a06c6873ad660d659d5c11776a063289bdd825f2f0420c8e57474747474 747474747474747474747474747474747474747474747474 74747474747475ffd3efe747475cbdfdd37ff8eb417fdd1ffcb907fec0ff00bc7fe8971ff46ffcff 00f8ff00fc7adc7f6f1fff008cf437fdb1ff00405ffb4ffe 4ffe60dff33ffbff00ff007bff0075eee9d1e8ebcaff00f9d8ff00e47f926fe6ff003bf987fc9ff9 7ff17fb7c7af574747474747474747474747474747474747 474747474747474747474747474747474747474747475fffd9 }} \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It\u8217?s true that I\u8217?m favouring the less cheerful possibilities.

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as he taught me so much else. and he wore it every day that winter. I watch the mothers wit h labels pinned onto their babies. Immediately they are born they fl y off.2dfd67f4ff00807f5bf93fe2ff006d79951ffc52b1fb4fed0cbf60fda7f409fb7ffdbffd2fe4dba9 168d1a3468d1a3468d1a35ffd9 }} \par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But who was it said that happiness writes white?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Like the interior of an aeroplane. Joe put it on immediately. or we\u8217?d know nothing about it. They must be on the tarmac somewhere.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?In his head. the inside of a Tube train has strict rules. pretending to be big enough to fly.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar } { The Russian poet Mandelstam once wrote about baby aeroplanes. \u8216?Maybe because he was killed before they built the Leningrad metro.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { This is the full story of the metaphor. and gives birth to its own baby aeroplane. I didn\u8217?t like to t hink about what he added up when he looked at me. tell me about it. \u8216?and on paper. with their own life}. {\i Someone asked Mandelstam what poetry was like. Too much happened in the head between me and my flatmate Joe.\u8217? said Joe. butting their mothers\u8217? sides.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s a metaphor for the way he worked. It was late. Imagine the metaphors he would have made out of that. Mandelstam\u8217?s baby aeroplanes never nuzzle and butt around their mothers\u8217? bellies. The point is that he s et it down on paper. In the morning I gave him a long wool and cash mere overcoat I\u8217?d found in a charity shop and had cleaned for him. Their faces split in song.\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { I can see Joe now. and hard rain was spattering the windows. Joe taught me.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\ hyphpar} { Our conversation didn\u8217?t go far. s ucking at the fuel line. Joe wanted to read me the poems in Russian . Joe had worked until he was so lit up he co uldn\u8217?t sleep. but I was tired. I went to bed. A ll this happens within one poem. In our separate rooms our separate beds waited.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?OK then.\par\pard\plain\hyph par} { \u8216?Mandelstam never wrote about baby Tube trains. All this happens without any of the aeroplanes missing a beat. Control yourself. but we didn\ u8217?t go to them.\u8217? Joe told me another time. I added up all the brilliance and generosity and sharp wit in Joe\u8217?s face an d still couldn\u8217?t make them come to what I wanted. For the way things came aliv e in his head. He would have liked the w ay the trains stop with their doors matching exactly to the holes in the walls. He wrote about an aeroplane in full flight giving birth to another aeroplane which immediately fli es off and gives birth to its own baby\u8230? {\i It\u8217?s a metaphor}. I listen as they put back their heads and yel l out folk songs from the poorer regions of countries no one wants to hear about . scream or let ourselves do more than stiffen as the brakes s queeze shut in the deepest passages. as given to me by Joe. You ste p right in and you are swallowed.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?A metaphor? So you mean Russian aeroplanes can\u8217?t really give birth? \u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Rebecca.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { . We don\u8217?t cry.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Only in his head?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { My words echoed. I know that logic well.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar } { But since then I\u8217?ve never been able to stop looking for those baby aeropla nes. You don\u8217?t wander up and down the platforms choosing your carriage. a nd the world will reward you by controlling its terrors. We were in the kitchen of our shared flat. and he said that it was like an a eroplane flying along which gives birth to a baby aeroplane which immediately be gins to fly with its full strength and its own life. as if they are giving birth.

I woke at dawn and walked to the back of the plane. and it worked so well they thought we should all have a chance to see it. when I was flying to meet Adam in Hong Kong. standing in the ruins of his own life.\u8217? said the man. whilst flying at full strength. Not only was the aeroplane incapable of such a wish.It took me a long time to learn to love Mandelstam. He\u8217?d give n the whole of his life in order to understand them. \u8216?What takes you to Hong Kong?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?m meeting my husband.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Once.\u8217?\par\pard\plai n\hyphpar} { \u8216?I know what the word means. in the process of murdering him. but it does. He works with newborn babies. Around us the deep hel . hey?\u8217? said the man.\u8217? and the way he said. Stalin had not yet murdered him.\par\par d\plain\hyphpar} { But in my experience. I joined him. \u8216?You got any babie s yourself?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam and I had been married twelve months. \u8216?All the fun still to come. where he was taking part in a conference. uneven footstep s. but he was. in Voronezh. He wrote of her beautiful. At first he belonged too muc h to Joe.\p ar\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?We wouldn\u8217?t last a minute down there.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Before that. A man had lifte d the window shutter and was staring down. He\u8217?s at a conference. The programme was made for f lying phobics. The clarity and sureness with which I said.\par\ pard\plain\hyphpar} { I believe that Mandelstam was right about those baby aeroplanes. All it had to do was take the trouble to enact itself. in a col d determined voice.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. red as the mountains of the moon. but natural forces would not permit it. Not yet. I don\u8217 ?t know where it comes from or why it helps. I went back to my seat and shut my eyes as the plane began to buck through clear-air turbulence. regarding me with his boiled blu e eyes.\par\p ard\plain\hyphpar} { The mountains beneath us were Mongolia. Although I haven\u8217?t ye t seen them. I said to myself what I always say at thes e times: {\i Rocked in the cradle of the deep.\u8217? said the man. yet I could reach out my hand for a pape r cup of iced water. Premature babies. The decision was already made in some playful. So I look out for the moment when a cigar tube of sterile metal gives birth. Once I watched a TV programme whi ch aimed to show scared flyers why they were wrong. we cannot always fly at full strength.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Neonatologist. I believe that they are there.\u8217?\par\pard \plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What\u8217?s he do?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?He\u8217?s a neonatologist. eh?\u8217? in a lubricious v oice as if he was thinking of the sex we would have to conceive the child. But I love him now. Thirty-three thousand f eet below us were the mountains of Mongolia. let\u8217?s say.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { In the TV diagrams the grey metal body of the plane was borne aloft by cushions of force and thrust. \u8216?No. and p lummet out of the air. stop pretending that it\u8217?s possible to defy gravity. He was last seen picking over a rubbish heap in a transit camp at V ladivostock. The diagrams proved that no aeroplane could ever shrug its metal shoulders. he wrote about a woman limping over the empty earth. trivial corner of the Stalin brain.\par\pard\plain\hyph par} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b 3\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i An Engine has Failed}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { When you fly at full strength you cannot fall. Rocked in the cradle of the deep}. I remember the moment I answered that man. He was murdered by Stalin and no one knows where h e is buried.

Mr Damiano says there is no reason for this. Mr Damiano disagreed. maybe. tossed it up. It was years later that I fou nd this out. Cavafy. \u8216?And you\u8217?ll be in the front row. sir. we have Lampedusa ({\i Where\u8217?re you staying? Oh. Mor e than an hour of the flight was already gone. It was a good name to give to a cab driver. \u8216?It\u8217?s just a routine procedure. as each hotel was named. Adam. whipping his steak out of sight.\u8217?\p ar\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?ll be preparing the exit for an emergency landing.}). smiling pleasantly. the quality of the wet-room tiling. Scott Fitzgerald one day. I drank my wine and watched the sky darken. no. the reputation of the chef. the tail wind tha t would get us to London ahead of schedule. The air was so smooth that my dri nk lay still in its glass. That\u8217?s something different. let it fall. Sidney House would open in five weeks and my employer. I hoped I wouldn\u8217?t find out that Sidney was the name of the dog Mr Damiano had when he was a boy. Mr Damiano is an educat ed man and right from the start. confidential. I was on my way back from New York to London. madam. Naturalmente. but shall be returning to K ennedy instead. What he really meant is that we\u8217?ve got people to the point where any name we gi ve will work.\u8217?\par\pard\plai n\hyphpar} { \u8216?Is that good?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s not bad. We changed ea ch other.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?As you are sitting by the emergency exit. He said that Sidney had a nice feel to it.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I looked around. A dark-haired.\par\pard\plain\h yphpar} { When an engine fails there\u8217?s no preparation. Mr Damiano. this is Captain Willis again.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { We have Sidney. After a week or two he would talk t o me about it. would probably bring me back with him for the opening. Langland. Snagging. I flicked on the flight map and watched our plane. I had been sorting out all the last-minute glitches. \u8216?I\u8217?m afraid that one of our engines has f ailed and so we are not able to proceed to Heathrow. Adam changed me.\u8217? he said .\u8217? he said. but I d idn\u8217?t feel like eating it. immediately began to collect up the dinner plates. The man behind me protested that he had not even begun on his fillet steak. and the fact that he hoped we would enjoy our flight with him. push its way no rth-eastward.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I was surprised that he didn\u8217?t put it better. heartbreakingly handsome steward came and sat beside me. \u8216?y ou\u8217?ll be aware that we\u8217?ll be carrying out certain special procedures on landing.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Mr Damiano has educated me. A work trip. he would give me what he considered the finest work of the author. as Joe did. We were already out of land and the big dark swell of the Atlantic was moving under us. but that he also intends to name a hotel after F. with a wink.\u8217? came the light Surrey voice that had already told us about the fine weather. to ensure the safety and well-being of all our passengers. the Lamp Post. rather than that of the minor English poet whose work he\u8217?d given me to read. {\i We have a problem with one of our engines}. Lampedusa is the only prose writer . {\i A minor problem}. \u8216?Not one of the w . The flight attendant brought the dinner I\u8217?d ordered. as if the writer were as important as the bar.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It\u8217?s nice on a plane when your work\u8217?s all done.\par\pard\plain\hyph par} { I thought Mr Damiano was pushing it with the name he\u8217?d chosen for the new hotel. The flight attendants.d our plane on the palm of its hand. It wasn\u8217?t a name with any style. we have Villon ( {\i Village}). Sexton and Bishop. so I\u8217?m reading {\i The Last Tycoon}. Sorescu.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Ladies and gentlemen. as big as New York State.\u821 7? said the girl.\u8217? he said consideringly. I\u8217? d done everything I was sent to do.

The plane slowed until it was a solid thing again on solid land. sir. He leaned forward braced like a runner. and the handsome steward came to take his seat directly opposite me. \u8216?She looks pretty up set to me.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The plane went down with a bang but held steady as it hurtled down the runway. with his hand gripping the emergency handle.\u8217? he said immediately.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Moscow. I get scared. thinking it through.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Girl stuff.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Soon be down. W hat I hadn\u8217?t thought of were the fire-trucks and other emergency vehicles with flashing lights that raced with us parallel to our runway. He passed me a plump blondey baby with a smiling face and I held out a photo of Ru by. Think you\u8217?d have something better to do than sleep.\u8217? I said. Joe had told me once where the continental shelf began. I was afraid he\u8217?d wake me to say. huh.\u8217? He indicated the fl ight attendant who was checking the overhead lockers.\u8217? he said.\u8217? said the man. \u8216?She was telling me about it when she brought the wine.\u8217? I said.\u8217? Then he asked me where it had been. Don\u8217?t you know their air traffic control is all shot t o hell?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I shut my eyes. I said that his baby was beautiful too . When the crew gets scared.\u8217? she replied. \u8216?After our landing in Kennedy yo u will be transferred to the next available flight with the minimum of wait. \u8216?I\u8217?m glad to kno w that. I could hea r a change in the engine noise and I wondered if we were still over the Atlantic Ocean. \u8216?You wouldn\u8217?t get me on one of th ose Russian planes. My ears hurt. and winked again. \u8216?You\u8217?d think she\u8217?d hav e something better to worry about than her boyfriend right now. but the two times the man tapped my arm again I pretende d to be sleeping.\u8217? He said it as if this was a rule of life he\u8217?d always abided by. We were not on fire.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You won\u8217?t get your chance to go down the chute today.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?ve never been on a plane when they\u8217?ve pulled one like this. The plane whooshed u pwards. \u8216?Sleeping.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?ve been watching that girl over there.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She\u8217?s beautiful.\u8217? said the man.\u82 17?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The plane was going down fast. They had done an emergency landing and everything had worked out. \u8217? said the man. Suddenly the lights of New York shocked into view . We were on the runway.\u8217?\par\pard\ plain\hyphpar} { The hour passed slowly.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Oh. They would listen and be glad that their feet were planted on solid earth.orst places to be sat. OK. nodding firmly. The handsome steward relaxed his grip on the emergency handle. but I couldn\u82 17?t remember. I listened but I couldn\u8217?t tell. I told him I had. Rocked in the cradle of the deep}. If we were over land maybe someone was looking up at this moment. Maybe they could hear the change in our engine sound. I\u8217?d say. huh.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She split up with her boyfriend last night. but without letting go of it.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The man behind me leaned around my seat and asked if I thought the engine noise sounded different.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Jesus. He put his lips togethe r in a smile and asked if I\u8217?d like to see a picture of his little girl. and it had all been fine.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?We\u8217?re following a routine procedure for the benefit of customer wel fare and safety. We were down.\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { .\u8217? he sai d. then steadied itself. before he could have h ad time to take in how beautiful she was.\u8217? he said.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?We\u8217?re coming in to land. {\i Rocked in the cradle of the deep.\u8217? but after a cou ple of taps he rang for the flight attendant and started telling her that everyo ne gets bad knocks in life but they are part of growing into the person God mean s you to be.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The man behind me tapped my arm.

\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But Mr Damiano could never see what I saw as our big grey aeroplane turned solid and hit the ground and churned into the tarmac with all its force and thrust. I wouldn\u8217?t be caught up into his bright new future. I was going to go bac k to London and tell him that I was leaving his employment. Mr Damiano has given me everythin g he knows about life. She didn\u8217?t look at me but I could tell she knew I was here. but now the engine has failed.\u8216?No way are they getting me up in one of these things again. She had a fireman\u8217?s helmet crammed onto her dark-red curls and she was staring straight ahead with her lips parted. The air was th ick and warm and wind blew in gusts from the hurricane tail that had passed thro ugh New York two days before. He picked me up out of the mud and cleaned the dirt off me. My momentum had stalled. \u8216?Welcome home!\u8217? every time a guest steps into the lobby. and I\u8217?ve had to turn back. Ruby was riding up front.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I\u8217?m on the tarmac.\par\pa rd\plain\hyphpar} { {\i No way are you getting me up in one of these things again. No way. I trusted you that much. It was you who taught me that there doesn\u8217?t have to be a minibar and a glaze-eyed man in a braided coat springing to open the door and say. There do n\u8217?t have to be ill-paid women coming in to turn down the beds at night. and how you can put the name of a minor English poet on everyone\u8217?s lips. Mr Damiano.\ par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I know you would come to get me if I asked.\u8217 ? said the man behind me. the hotels and all of us who worked in them. Not unless you put the seamstress in the corner to darn very slow ly all the while that the people are dining. I don\u8217?t like those olives from I Promessi Sposi that I ordere d for the Moon Bar. She had come for me.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I already knew how disappointed in me Mr Damiano would be. Everything was going sweetly on the route y ou made for me. Not many employers would share their dream as he does. I swooped from continent to continent. and I know that you value me. I know you\u8217?d pick me up and sh ake me and make something of me again. spangled w ith the dream Mr Damiano carried. There we were. centra .\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { These past three years you could have lain me on two planks and sawn me in half if you\u8217?d wanted. I think she was saying som ething but I couldn\u8217?t hear it through all the metal.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\p ard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b 4\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i Mr Damiano\u8217?s Dream}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { So there I was on the tarmac. and I still do. But I knew they would. fo r cash on the pillow. In his heart he\u8217?s a fairground man.)\par\pard\plain\hyp hpar} { I love your business more than anything in my life now. and so we kept on. and a ten-dollar charge to wash a shirt.}\par\pard\plain\hyphp ar} { I would never tell Mr Damiano the true reason. He put me up on the trapeze with a plume of light on me. You taught me th e business and said that working with me gave you a nice feeling. Three years between us now. He gave me a job. I dealt with men wh o wanted to cheat him. I no longer wante d to sit in business class in the hope of sitting in first class one day. I am your personal assistant. I cached a thousand details in my memory and reported the m to him. Hotels don\u8217?t have to smell of sealed windows. And beautifully darned linen napkins aren\u8217?t going to wor k in New York. Ho w you have to be tough. T he fire-trucks raced alongside us with their flashing lights and the wall of foa m they\u8217?d made for us. They look like washed-out baby aubergines in the lighting we \u8217?ve chosen. and the thunder of en gines. so they see how much time and skill it costs and how much more luxurious it is than buying new. in the cabin of the very f irst truck.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { (Mr Damiano. waiting for someone to shepherd me.

\u8217? You paid the best wages in the business and wouldn\u8217?t a llow tipping. he already knows that it\u8217?s me. than mos t minds I know.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { This is where I\u8217?ll have to explain to him that I\u8217?m not back. and before the guests arrived you invited some of the staff children in to play wit h the toys.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I\u8217?ll tell him about the olives and the napkins. and that he\u 8217?s perfectly right not to trust me any more. in any sense that he means.\par\pard\ plain\hyphpar} { I was in the kitchen of our attic flat. and hi s hair was the same dark red as Ruby\u8217?s.\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { I thought she\u8217?d come for me. not to want me back. b ut I\u8217?ll tell him that I\u8217?ve got to go away for a while. The air reeked of jet fuel and from the way people were looking around you c ould tell it was making them nervous. you\u8217?ll probably imagine a pale ma n.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I saw Ruby for one second. You filled toyboxes t o bring along to guests\u8217? rooms when they had their children with them.\u8217? he\u8217?ll say. they know what it is. When someone comes in without knocking.\par\pard\plain\hyp hpar} { \u8216?But you\u8217?re back.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\ par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b 5\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i The Death of Stalin\u8217?s Wife}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar } { When I say that my husband had red hair. Adam\u8217?s hair was cut close. but she had come all the same. When people feel it. Good.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { You got rid of all the comfortless clich\u233?s of luxury. but because he\u8217 ?s got a mind that can keep far more inside it. I would have to get on it. For onc e I had not been waiting for her. Rebecca. (He doesn\u8217?t like me to knock. with washed-out blue eyes. The tears that started from my eyes at that m oment have grown sticky on my skin. night and day. But Adam\u8217?s eyes were brown. Just like the man behind me . i n tight-sprung coils that pushed against your fingers. easily and comfortably. I waited for one of those grey metal splinters to hurl me on its spear through the perspex window to where Ruby was. freckled. She was pale and excited and her lips were parted. I\u8217?ll go to Mr Damiano.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { We waited on the tarmac in the dark while the warm wind blew. no matter how deep he was in his work. Not because he\u8217?s annoyed in any way. he had fallen out of his life for a whi le. I thought. The time of my projected arrival would be as clear in his mind a s a clock on the wall. \par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It must have been a child-sized fireman\u8217?s helmet that Ruby was wearing. There would be another aeroplane for us soon. silkier.\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { The first night I saw Adam was the night Joe jumped out of the window. I\u8217?m abandoning him just before Sidney House opens. to take the newness off them. Just like me. I saw her fac e quite clearly. He was blowing into his hands as if he felt cold.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I turned and saw the man who had been sitting behind me.)\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You\u8217?re a little later than I thought you would be. There was a blue shine on the red of her hair. Soon someone would come to shepherd us to the buses which were driving out from the terminal to me et us. \u8216?Kids playing with toys puts lif e into them. I thought that this time she had come for me.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { As soon as I\u8217?m back in London. My body melted and I waited for the aeroplane to splinter. You told me that true luxury was an emotion. rolling pieces of chicken in seasoned fl .l heating and flower-scented cleaning products. He\ u8217?s always working. Ruby\u8217?s curls were l ooser. be cause an adult one would have slipped over her face and hidden it. I\u8217?ll push open the door of his offi ce. I won\u8217?t tell him that I saw Ruby on the fire-truck.

I remember the time I saw Joe pour washing soda d own our kitchen sink.\u8217? she said at last. twisting clim b up the servants\u8217? staircase. and bring a packet of Jaffa Cakes out of her stout mock-leather shopping bag. It was the kind of love that keeps you safe. the smell of each other\u821 7?s bedrooms. but we made it together like a nest from what everyone else considers rubbish. that wasn\u8217?t it. He was proud of her. and the child whose intelligence glittered like sparks of light from a faster and more daring planet.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { We knew each other in our dailiness. our colds. Jo e\u8217?s father didn\u8217?t even suffer from asthma. and watched tireles sly to see what the other children wore and what equipment they carried. But in my v iew friendship can be rarer and tenderer than love. because he already kn ew how to take care of himself. She climbed those stairs as if the y were the mountain of her love for Joe. to her \u8211? but she read every note that came h ome. and probably more afraid than I\u8217?d ever understand. Joe didn\u8217?t ask me to take care of him. He was as handy as a sailor when it came to keep ing the place as it should be. But he would never go on TV. with a ring of its bell t o warn drivers. She used to tell him that he could make their fortune i f he chose. disappointment. He was a strong man. Iris would drink tea from a rose-spattered cup and saucer which we kept for her. four-square. our tree shone with steady li ght.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She used to bike me to school. He described the tough . Iris cast about for the right form of words. He was too\u8230?\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { {\i Shy? Nervous?}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { No. when Adam came up the stairs with Joe. and sex never entered i t. Five floors up.\par \pard\plain\hyphpar} { Joe and I were a family.\par\p ard\plain\hyphpar} { We shared our shopping.\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { They\u8217?d grown up alone together.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You get a build-up of grease in the U-bend otherwise. He h ad been in the RAF and passed a stringent medical. Fear . as people say. lingering stickily on what they touch. and then Iris was on her own.our.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { His death came out of the blue.\par\pard\p . remembering how Joe\u8217?s father would play correspondence chess on paper in those days before computers. The rush of water into a kettle. steep. and follow it with a kettleful of water. She would fetch up at our kitchen table with a flag of purplish-red flying in each cheek. We weren\u8217?t born into it. and smile at my s urprise. the heap o f tangled washing in a blue plastic laundry basket. She would clamber the flig hts of stairs to our flat. our phone bills. a woman who\u8217?d never thought she\u821 7?d have a child at all. upright bike with its carrier seat and wicker basket.\u8217? he said. so that Joe could have the same.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Joe\u8217?s mother came to visit us every six months. bracing herself before the last.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?He gets it from his father.\u8217? Joe told me. our friends and our festival s. When she\u8217?d recovered. black. found out about every chance that could be Joe\u8217?s. She never socialized at the school \u8211? the other mothers were girls. rage. \u8216?He wouldn\u8217?t want to use his gifts in that way.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He died of an asthma attack when Joe was two. Joe would buy a little Christmas tree and wedge it in the crook of the parape t gully and run a cable out to it. and how he answered the questions on TV quizzes before the contestan ts could get a word out. He remembered the broadness of her back and the way t he bike surged boldly alongside the buses and lorries. When it rained sh e wrapped a yellow plastic cape and hood around him so that nothing of him showe d but a strip of his face. I had shared the flat with Joe for t hree years. The teachers frayed her nerves but she made herself le arn their language and do her son justice at parents\u8217? evenings. {\i Just friends}. We knew too well what other things would have flown out of the box then. \u82 16?He was a man of principle. or adopted into it.\u8217? Iris would say to me. fort y-five.

and her widowed mother\u8217?s allowance. different drug protocols: a whole different world . After she had gone Joe found an envelope propped behi nd the coffee jar. She wanted more to happen. because her instinc ts were good. Our flat. Someone else had brought Adam to play chess. She never spoke to Joe of money.\par\ pard\plain\hyphpar} { . I probably didn\u8217?t even know what a neonatologist was. when the fresh ground would take his weight.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { News of Adam came to me like a flag in front of a rare new engine. More babies died.\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { I blushed when I saw those notes. I\u8217?d have t o check it. how the clinical trials were going. which fitted in nicely with s chool hours. Two sep arate rooms. They want to know which pages to look up in the b ook.\pa r\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I don\u8217?t believe they even had artificial surfactant then. you ca n\u8217?t help absorbing what they do. But she\u8217?d loved and she\u8217?d been loved and she k new what there wasn\u8217?t between us. He was clever.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam was thirty-eight. If she had kn own about Joe\u8217?s overdraft she\u8217?d have tried to post her twenty-pound notes into the mouth of that. and at first I coul dn\u8217?t understand what he meant. Joe was thirty. Different technology. I know how heavy they get this time of year}. You get the language around you and you s tart to use it yourself. smelled of compromise .\u8217? said Adam. Iris frowned but said nothing. He had the open-mindedness. and more babies lived on with crippled lungs.\u8217? Now Joe and I and everyone else under thir ty had got into a different world. He was good. Maybe that\u8217?s what makes people pretend to be doctors when they\u8217?re not: it\u8217?s so easy to absorb the l anguage to yourself. But she knew. lunchtimes at the local pub. without thinking. and I was twenty-six. Iris had never dared debt. He\u8217?d be en at Bart\u8217?s. even if what there was still puzzled her . \u8216?we never asked for.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { She was squarer than ever now.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { In neonatology. \u8216?All they need is enough science to back it up. talking of her own childho od. too.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam was the new consultant neonatologist at The Stephen Maternity Hospital. {\i Towards your bills. \par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Once.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { She liked me and I liked her. In the holidays six-year-old Joe sat on a bar stool while she clean ed. Living with someone.\u8217? she said to me once. Adam lived all those changes minute by minute.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It\u8217?s all a long time ago now. the playfulness which lets you dance on the edg e of what\u8217?s known. \u8216?What we never had. clinical practice changes week by week. stupidly. the fluidity matched with precision. and she would buy him lemonade as his reward.lain\hyphpar} { She had a little job. She never spoke the questions in her head. where our limitations lay. What else were they. or lived sloppily. broken veins in her cheeks and hair whipped into blue-white curls by a local girl who was ever so good and wou ld come to the house. she wanted Joe to be happy. if not scientists?\par \pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?They have a gift for doctoring. the stuff that coats the lungs and lets you live. or on the website. I don\u8217?t remember the difference betwee n what I knew then and what I know now.\par\pard\plain\hyph par} { Adam used to say that not many doctors were good scientists. let alone apnoea of prematurity. Iris had her widow\u8217?s pen sion. doing work on apnoea of prematurity. one Friday chess night at the Volunteer. Joe had met him a couple of months before. He knew who was doing what. to her. but Iris didn\u8217?t trust it. There were four twenty-pound notes in it. I was a nice girl. I mentioned the size of a phone bill that had just come in. well past seventy. Ten years ago was anothe r world. two beds plump with pillows and duvets. He was working on surfactan t.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But Adam wanted to write new pages in the book.

and Adam lived alone. So. discarded.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Like you. Joe would leave the deep quiet backwaters of research and ca tch the wave of commerce. he\u8217?d put a stop to this. the policy would change. and Joe probably talked about his. A heap of papers wait ing for translation lay in a box file on the right side of the desk.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Precisely. She begins to tell him what he needs to know in o rder that he can change everything about the policy that doesn\u8217?t work and is wrecking people\u8217?s lives. He doesn\u8217?t g . Books and papers lay thick on the floor around his desk. so they\u8217?d go to the flat Adam was renting while he looked for a house. was dancing on the edge of what\u8217?s known.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s just a version.\par\pard\plain\hyph par} { She did not shoot herself. So Nadya gives up waiting for him. If I woke in the night there was always a lin e of light under his door.\u8217? said Joe one chilly Sund ay afternoon as we sat drinking beer in the kitchen. He was the leader but he did not know what was being do ne in his name. about the death of Stalin\u8217?s second wife. He wanted to buil d a whole new ballroom out over that space. It\u8217?s 2 a. it doesn\u8217?t mean that she was exceptiona lly stupid.m.\u8217? I argued.\par\pard\plain\h yphpar} { But I loved the way Joe talked when he told me about Nadezhda Alliluyeva. when she was only thirty-one years old. and he\u8217?s stil l not gone to bed. as history flooded into TV programmes and bookshops. She di ed in 1932. She steps into the heart of his power. most powerful mind I\u8217?ve ever known.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { She died because she had been na\u239?ve. the lamplight by that desk. Rebecca. he was beginning to make his own versions. say the history books. He was working on what would become his first book. It\u8217?s the officials who are to blame for hiding what\u8217?s going on from him}. like Adam. She stands before him with her hands cla sped and her eyes on his face. he\u8217?s our little father. but was shot. Like that. gutted. she tells him. absorbed. He needs five hou rs of sleep. He taught me a few wo rds but they clogged on my tongue and I didn\u8217?t like them. Let\u8217?s send a petition to the Tsar. It was suicide.\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { Joe. Russians have been believing that for centuries. Both of them worke d late most nights. {\i If Comrade Stalin knew. The private room at the Volunteer was only available on Fridays. \u8216?She must have known what he was like. Nadezhda Alliluye va. and make it all right again. \u8216?Where\u8217?s Stalin ? He\u8217?s in the heart of the Kremlin as usual.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Joe has the fastest. The computer would be on. There were thousands of people all over the Soviet Union who thought that way.\p ar\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Joe had done an intensive course in Russian and while he still had to have a lot of material translated. and to tease out the layers of meaning packed into a verb or an idiom. working unce asingly for the good of the Soviet people. Immediately. I need eight or more. With this book.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { She drank a glass of poisoned wine intended for her husband.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?But she was his wife. They became friends. The official cause of death was appendicitis. like millions of other idealistic youn g women at the heart of the Party. Adam must have talked about his work. Rebecca.\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { \u8216?If this is what she did do. It\u8217?s the officials and bureaucrats who have got between him and us. but you can also find a lmost any version of her death that you want. behind his desk. let\u8217?s beg him to meet us so that we can present him with our petition}. She thought that if Stalin were given the ful l facts about the murderous impact of collectivization.Joe and Adam started to play chess together on other days. because for both of them work was what they w ere.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Imagine if it happened this way. {\i The Tsar doesn\u8217?t know what\u8217?s being done in his name.

He\u8217?s her leader as well as h er husband. Once she\u8217?s dead. and the wonderful t hing is that he loves her back. the story was that a mother and daughter had lived together. and put the child in an old shoebox. He treats her brutally. He wants her.\u8217? he would say impatiently. He read it and immediately destroyed it. and he knows what she\u8217?s intended to do to him. and she\u8217?d dragged he rself off her bed immediately after the child was born. that means hope. If she hadn\u8217?t loved him and he hadn\u8217?t loved her it wouldn\u8217? t matter so much \u8211? or at least it\u8217?d be a different kind of tragedy. But what weren\u8217?t you meant to know about?\u8217?\par \pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I don\u8217?t know what you mean. marking them all down. he\u8217?s got to get rid of her. And soon it\u8217?s as if they have never existed. however. before she died. But what if she hadn\u8217?t? What if s he\u8217?d suspected her mother might harm the child.\u8217? he said. But the daughter had become pregnant. She idealizes him. She kills herself out of knowledge of what he is and what she\u8217?s become. and he can\u8217?t bear the idea that anyone\u8217?s had that degree of power over him. She\u8217?s the past and she\u8217?s got to be liquidated because liquidating someone doesn\u82 17?t mean the same as killing them.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Does anyone know?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. She is full of hope and zeal and revolutionary fervour. and then behaving as if they never existed. From now on. it means expunging what they are and what th ey represent.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?He loves her too. when I told him about the shoebo x again. She know s what it will do to him. he took note of who came and who didn\u8217?t co me to view her body. He\u8217?s suspicious of everyone. In the end. He\u8 217?s older and stronger and he\u8217?s enormously powerful.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?There was a case in the paper. Her name\u8217?s Nadezhda.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Before Nadya was buried.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It was a key event. that\u8217?s important. He stayed there for hours.reet the information with gratitude and surprise. he\ u8217?ll never run that risk again. She wa s thirty-eight. She kills herself in revenge. no. and crept out of the house to leave it in the backyard of an Italia .\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Key events were what Joe searched for. and she\u8217?s succeeded. Then sh e pretended it had never existed. he changes and become s more and more isolated. He flies into a rage and wipes her out.\u8217 ?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Joe lifted his beer bottle and drank. He crus hes her and the children and she knows there is no way she can possibly escape h im.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What did the daughter do?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She went along with it. S he has wanted to punish him.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. Friendship and fami ly are finished \u8211? he\u8217?ll be sentimental to his daughter but he\u8217? ll never let anyone get close to him again.\u8 217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Do you think that\u8217?s what really happened?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyp hpar} { \u8216?There\u8217?s another possibility. When the builders uprooted a pear tree they found the bones of a newborn baby under it. An old woman and a middle-ag ed woman. Some people who owned a house with a large garden sold off part of the land for development. W hat she represents can\u8217?t coexist with what he is becoming. God knows how or by whom. But she left a letter. He\u8217?s got no choice. He would ask me to analyse my own life in terms of key events. it seems. the two of them. smothered it and buried it under the pear tree. but her mother kept her in the house for months and took the bab y the night it was born.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What\u8217?s the other version?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She marries him at seventeen. making ce rtain that they\u8217?d pay for it if they hadn\u8217?t behaved right. \u8216?That\u8217?s not what I mean.\par\pard\ plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s what they said that interests me. She loves Stalin. The shoebox is what you were {\i meant} to know about.

\u8217? I said quietly. Of course the dancers would come. until Joe glanced down at the beer in his hand. At school they taught us the wonders of what our bodies were doing as if they were especially rich and powerful engines which we had been gi ven by our parents. Rebecca?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Believe you know me well enough.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?But think how well you\u8217?d have to know someone. We sat and observed them from the bright-lit chamber of our . If you know too much detail. \u8216?But then you\u8217?d read on. looking at each other. The facts wouldn\u8217?t seem to fit at first. You\u8217?d start to recogniz e things.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?\u8220?{\i Where\u8217?s my shoebox?}\u8221? you\u8217?d ask. and looked up at me with an expression on his face I hadn\u8217?t seen before. \u8216? It\u8217?s not what happened. You wouldn\u8217?t necessarily know at the outset that it was your story at all.\u8217? I said.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. It read like a novel. Joe\u8217?s mind hummed.\par\pard\plain\ hyphpar} { \u8216?You do what. I\u8217?d tell it from an angle.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You\u8217?re right. I do. Story was all I had and I wasn\u8217?t having anyone else retelling it. You would know where you were.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i And the heart must pause to breathe.\u8221?\u 8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I laughed. where t here\u8217?d been empty air before. The floor of his ballroom was waxen and silk en. waving a bottle of beer. because the pattern inside the story fi tted the shapes inside your life. Joe. and his voice was muffled.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I\u8217?ve never liked to think too much about breathing. Not even Joe. but he heard me.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i And Love itself have rest. Rebecca.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { A few months earlier Joe had showed a colleague a draft of the chapter which des cribed the midnight conversation between Stalin and Nadezhda Alliluyeva. not then.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Do I want this?\u8217? he asked. turned. He rose to get another beer.n restaurant.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He bent down again to rummage in the back of the fridge.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. to do that. His words rasped me. Pass me one. If I were telling your story \u8211? or mine \u8211?\u8217? He bent down to look inside the fridge. \u8216?If I were tel ling your story. his colleague said. but sometimes the real story doesn\u8217?t tell yo u the truth. He was building his ballroom of the past.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i And the soul wears out the breast. It leapt about and had no objectivity. life-long. so that it would survive?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?That\u8217?s not what happened. Joe spun round. How could they be ar not to?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b 6\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i A Jump Five Floors Up}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i For the sword outwears its sheath.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Joe wasn\u8217?t too bothered.\u8217? I said.\u8217?\p ar\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Do you think I don\u8217?t know you well enough?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { We were silent. His face glowed with excitem ent. It\u8217?s safer not t o imagine the labour of it.\u8217? said Joe. \u8220?{\i There isn\u8217?t any shoebox in this story so it can\u8217?t be mine}. you do. It was chaotic. not the work of a historian. you might no t be able to go on.

At the same time. for the first few weeks.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What are you cooking?\u8217? he asked. but he didn\u8217?t. The pan spa t and a plume of savoury steam went up to the low ceiling. but it was b etter for guests not to see the pallid. and I peeled shallots while the two of them sank into ta lk. \u8216?I must.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I stared at the naked chicken pieces. \u8216?But maybe you don\u8 217?t want to wait that long.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Chicken stew. H e never criticized it. I looked away quickly and flipped the chicken pie ces over in the seasoned flour. but he brought me into the pleasure world step by step.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Joe had watched me eat my usual food without comment.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He had red hair but dark brown eyes. It was getting dark outside the windows. or our hearts.\u8217? said Adam. The pieces which I hadn\u 8217?t yet rolled in flour lay in their bowl. but then he was thirty-eight and I was twenty-six.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Joe poured wine for us.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\h yphpar} { I fried the chicken in oil. Their flour coating hadn\u8217?t done much for them yet. but I like the way he puts it. we\u8217?ll go no more a-roving\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { So late into the night. He told me that I should learn poems by heart and then I would always carry them with me. It seemed to me that his face was deeply li ned. in another lesson.\u8217? I said. The body effaces itself. He wakes up and finds rain in a pool on the floor. and then discover that I still had the poems. It was Joe who\u8217? d taught me to cook.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { So. added stock and wine and the vegetables.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. t he slope of it falling away from the tall thin terrace where we perched five flo ors up. I knew they would soon turn gold in the hissing oil. His face was scored and I wanted to read what was written there.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam came bounding up the narrow stairs to our flat. as the cervix effaces itself at bi rth. I could watch the shape of his body without him seeing. It\u8217?s for later. We were never truly implicated in what our kidneys did.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Byron was right about the heart. drawing up a chair and sitting dow n at the table opposite me.\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s starting to rain. I only knew about beans on toast. uncooked meat.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?ll be ready at eight. I believe that he was right. I looked out and saw car headlights moving over the dual carriageway. They looked blue and babyish in th eir translucency. The soul grows strong and fierce and it needs to be let out.\u8217? said Adam. with his back to us.\u8217? I said. Byron told us that the heart must pause to br eathe. Is it part of your flat?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s Joe\u8217?s room.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It looks good. The sky had turned lilac. pizza and toasted sandwic hes before I met him. Whether he was right about the soul I don\u8217 ?t know. fierce pelt of his red curls.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { And the moon be still as bright\u8230?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It was Mr Damiano who got me to learn that poem.brain.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Though the heart be still as loving.\u8217? I replied. H . \u8216?The windows in the next room are wide open.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?m happy to wait. It was a beautiful c olour and I thought about how natural things are not always the most beautiful. \u8216?He always leaves them open. His outline was strong against the lil ac that was changing minute by minute into a more ordinary darkness.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You must be Rebecca. many times when I would think I had nothing. There would be many. The siren reached us and I wond ered if Adam would turn to it.\ par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam got up and went to stand by the window. I turned and saw the close. fr om the mixture of orange street light and rain-sodden dusk. An ambulance went by with its blue light flashing. and there was the city far below.\u8217? said Adam.

He rose up. to see if they were full and bright. pressed his hands down on the sill.e\u8217?d taught himself everything and then he taught me. he ju mped over the wall and landed outside his bedroom window. The gully was shining wet.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { We were in the middle of all this life when Adam came. He balanced himself. the big square landing which was big enough for a sofa where Joe would lie lat e at night.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Each morning we measured out our cornflakes with an off-white melamine cup.\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { Day by day. and Joe had been drinking as we sat in the k itchen.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Joe sprang into the gully. and I slic ed up meat which bled. or good fresh water from the tap.\u8217? said Joe.\par\pard\plain\hyphp ar} { He stepped back two or three paces. tinned peas and tinned new potatoes. outlined against the lights of the city that dropped away beneath us. across the landing and into his ro om. The parapet was maybe eighteen inches high. He had installed a sound s ystem throughout the flat. Only fools bought instant mas hed potato.\par\ pard\plain\hyphpar} { The glory of my adoptive mother\u8217?s housekeeping was that she was never host age to the seasons. and so was the surface of the low wall. I hea . or hot Bovril. Strawberry Angel Delight. to make Joe smile. There were speakers in the kitchen.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { One day. The strip of metal that wound onto the key-opener was so long that it sometimes broke under the tension. like horses. I learned to check the eyes of fish before I bought them. He ran past and I heard his breathing and then the thud as he did it. But he passed behind me. The p arapet was too low to save a child. Joe undid my good housekeeping. have saddles . brushing against my body so that I turned.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Joe should have gone out of the kitchen door. my room . There h e was. To d rink there was hot Ribena. carro ts grew in cubes and corned beef had to be warmed under the hot tap to loosen it s coat of fat so that it would glop out of the tin. and I learned that hares. If he made a mistake the next surface he would hit was a stone terrace. Corned beef from Argentina was no good even if it was on special offer. printed on my eyes against the darkness. punch-drunk with work. believing I was lucky if I had a cheese roll for lunch and t he hot water didn\u8217?t run out before I had my bath. Joe taught me to go into shops I\u8217?d walked past automatically all my life. while Blind Willie Johnson sang \u8216?I Know His Blood Can Make Me Whole\u8217?. and turned to face left. which had no food value compared to the tinned variety. I got soil on my fingers.\par\pard\plai n\hyphpar} { When he\u8217?d gone the whole risk of it hit me. It ran the length of the terrace. I\u8217?d been living with half nothing.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?ll put on some music. The back of my knees stung wit h fear. Adam mov ed aside as Joe pushed open both kitchen windows. At Christmas we had a Plumro se Ham from a bigger tin. They filled the boot of their Mazda with tins and packets on ce a month. She was particular about where the tins came from. I remembered every meal by heart. but then I saw he needed to take a run so he could jump the low wall that divided the gull ies.\par\pard\plain\ hyphpar} { {\i Week One. I wrote out the menus which my adoptive mother fed t o us on a two-weekly rotation. slashing a thumb. I wasn\u8217?t afraid to move now. I ran to the kitchen window and watched him as he put both his hand s on the sill of his own room. We p icked shot out of pheasants. To buy Heinz baked beans was to spend money for the sake of spending money. vaulted it. and vaulted into the gully outside. his room. and then not to look into them again. I went inside and bought wine and flowers and books and music. five floors down. and a low wall divided the gully outside the kitchen from the gully outside Joe\u8217?s room. and disappeared inside. Monday:} Corned beef. If he had caught his foot on the wall nothing would have held him.\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { She taught me that potatoes were waxen and slippery and came ready-peeled. I did not know what he was doing.

bought a bunch of early narcissi.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I mean Adam.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { \u8216?I wish you wouldn\u8217?t.rd again his heavy breath and the thud of his feet as he ran and took the low wa ll in the dark and rain. His eyelids were permanently reddened from too much r eading and working at the computer screen. Joe blinked.\u8217? I said. Dani. Between me an d Dani.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?How long have you been seeing her? Why didn\u8217?t you tell me?\u8217?\p ar\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I thought it was best to wait until we saw how things went. and it sounded like the closes t thing anyone had ever said to me. Robert Johnson had found out soon enough if the devil was real or not.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It was my dream of home. His eyes were puffy with hangover. gone o ut for fresh bread. If you\u8217?d looked in through the window it would have been any orphan\u8 217?s dream of home.\par\pard\plain\hyphp ar} { \u8216?In the summer sometimes.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar } { Joe showed me the letter. Joe sat at ou r side. His eyes followed the oranges as th ey swung into rhythm and his eye movements were like a shoal of fish darting to safety.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Faster and faster he whipped the oranges into the air from the cup of his hands. He tossed up the left-hand orange and began to juggle.\u8217? he said.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar } { Adam wrote a letter to Joe late that night. He held two oranges in his right hand and one in his left. quietly drinking and slipping layer after layer of skin off the shallots until there was nothing left but a heap of pearly cores.\u8217? said Joe. Or your lover. \u8216?I\u8217?ve been seeing someone. after he\u8217?d gone home. He coul dn\u8217?t look at me while he was juggling. and he took two oranges from the y ellow bowl on the table. I\u8217?d lit a fire in the small iron grate in my room and the flames were as bright as peta ls. rubbed his eyes and said nothing.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Do you go out on that parapet?\u8217? Adam asked me. We ll. To me no music was worth any part of you belonging to any one else.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { A gust of wind blew rain over me and I shut the window as \u8216?Crossroad Blues \u8217? flooded the room. \u8216?He thinks I\ u8217?m your father.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam sat opposite me at the kitchen table and ate my chicken stew. They blurred. He wrote that he would not come to the flat a gain.\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She\u8217?s called Daniela. and wondered if it was true that anyone could do that.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I knew who you meant. He didn\u8217?t know the nature of the relationship between Joe and me but he did not want to damage something he could not repair.\u8217? I said. \u8216?It\u8217?s better if he doesn\u8217?t come again.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It was a shabby grey morning but the flat glowed.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Who?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Joe took a third orange from the bowl. five floors up. I\u8217?d got up early. I thought of Robert Johnson selling his soul to the de vil at the crossroads. and deli vered it by hand the next morning. But his hands were sure and the oranges flew swift and even. made coffee. and I stopped looking at them. I sunbathe on the wall.\u8217? he added.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { . He wa s my age when he died. \par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { A wave of heat swept across me. Why would I jump out of the window into the dark and th e rain?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b 7\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i Fall or Fly}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I don\u8217?t want him to come again.

So he went to the forest. T hink how different the world would be. He retreated to his dacha. Think abo ut it.\u8217?\par\pard \plain\hyphpar} { Joe\u8217?s face was lit.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?When they were drunk enough.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Why are you so interested?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Don\u8217?t you see how crucial it is? It\u8217?s a key event. and he\u8217?s ignored them. no matter how ignorant. He\u8217?s the leader. beginning to sense how far acceleration might take him.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { . say. and German parachutists landing like dandelion clocks all over Europe.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?But Stalin wasn\u8217?t a northern European.\u8221?\u8217? sang Joe. If they dared. He made Khrushchev dance a Cossack folk dance. playing on the black and white keys with pudgy fingers while above him a chandelier shiver ed from the bombardment.\u8217? he went on.\par\pard\plain\hyphp ar} { \u8216?By fugue here. Everyone\u8217?s been trying to tell him what\u8217?s going to happen. There are birch trees growing around the dacha and it\u8217?s warm.\u8217? said Joe. What had that got to do with music or Stalin? Maybe he was one of those dictators who imagine they are a creator.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { When he sang he had a dramatic projection that you never heard in his speaking v oice. A man from Finland or Sweden. He and Hitl er go and make a gentleman\u8217?s agreement between dictators and Hitler doesn\ u8217?t keep it. I wondered then if he wo uld ever wear out. \u8216?It\u82 17?s June. the father of the nation.\u8217? I said.\u8217?\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { No one I\u8217?d ever known used their mind as Joe did. I imagined a row of Stalins in a hall lined with mirrors. they\u8217?d ask the servants to bring them red wate r instead of red wine. He\u8217?s the heir of Lenin.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Did Stalin play a musical instrument?\u8217? I asked. u nless it suits him. It clears my mind. but now I know that when he sat there juggling the oranges he was only at the beginning. he ought to have known it was going to advance .\u8217? said Joe. and play clumsily on grand pianos while their cowed intimat es applaud. No on e knew why he\u8217?d gone or whether he\u8217?d come back again.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?If only we knew about all these things while they were still happening. the guardian of the revolution. I practise when I get stuck. They had to keep drinking. catching them.\u8217?\par\par d\plain\hyphpar} { I knew that fugue was a musical term. \u8216?Stalin wen t into a state of fugue. The outcome is that he\u8217?s been fucked by the man he\u8217?d hoped to screw. He wanted them drunk an d incapable. He stopped singing and grinned at me. feeling the ease with which he was coasting past wha t he was doing even six months earlier.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?When Hitler attacked the Soviet Union. outmanoeuvred by the most obvious thing in t he world. they had to dance. What would any of them have dared do? Think of how he treated the whole crew of them. Stalin wen t to his dacha and no one knew what to do.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Stalin used to make them dance after dinner. He was a Georgian. T he German army\u8217?s advancing. He\u8217?d get them up on their hind legs. I never felt foolis h asking Joe any question I wanted. So there he is. And now he\u8217?s let this happen. I thought of aeroplanes dive-bombing. Just like Stalin\u8217?s never kept an agreement in his life. Mandelstam called them a gang.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar } { \u8216?Yeah. b ecause he watched them to see how many glasses they had.\u8216?You\u8217?ve been practising again.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You mean he ran away?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?The dacha was outside Moscow. He leaned towards me. letting the oranges fall.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?\u8220?How long shall I stay in the forest? \u8211? Until my heart is hea led of its sickness. He fell in on himself. I meant flight. so that they would humiliate themse lves and know that they\u8217?d humiliated themselves. a rabble. which is what a n orth European would naturally do when he was at his wits\u8217? end. He wanted them drunk.

Rebecca.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I remembered how I hadn\u8217?t been sure about the colour.\u8217? I said. Rebecca. What if S talin had stayed at the dacha? What if he\u8217?d never come back to Moscow? The y\u8217?d have had to get rid of him eventually.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s a beautiful colour. his voice low and toneless.\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { \u8216?Time to leave the dacha.\u8217? Joe said. but Joe knew better. You take a flight inside yourself when reality becomes unbearable.\u8217? I said vaguely.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyph par }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b 8\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i A Yellow Cardigan}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Joe was the first person to visit me when Ruby was born. He was lying.\u8217? he said to me. and history would have got going again. \u8216?I\u8217?ve been offered a job in the States. He leaned forward gently with his palms on th e sill.\u8217? said Joe. \u8216?Fugue.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Our kitchen walls were the clear colour of crushed red cherries. Anything could have happened.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?So we\u8217?re in this flat thanks to Stalin. greedy heart wanted him for the first time. No matter how terrified they we re they\u8217?d have done it. I\u8217?m going to take it. I don\u8217?t want that.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphp ar} { Joe got up and went to the window.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Did he go back to Moscow?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Of course he did.\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { \u8216?No. It scares me.\u8217? said Joe.\u8217? he added.\u8217?\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { \u8216?Listen.\u8217? that I had believed him.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What about what. no.\u8217?\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I don\u8217?t want to know.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I thought you were crazy when you chose this colour for the walls. I didn\u8217?t know eno ugh about the war. he stroked t he wall as if it were a living thing. But a diff erent history.\u8216?We wouldn\u8217?t need historians. that\u8217?ll look good. fully mine. \u8216?Otherwise we wouldn\u8217?t be sitting here. Just people stumbling over themselves into nowhere.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Imagine if we\u8217?d known about the Politburo dancing like bears on cha ins. Rebecca?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What about Dani? Daniela?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Joe stared at me blankly and I knew he\u8217?d been lying. He was heroic. no. He stood loo king over the city to the southwest.\par\pard\plain\ hyphpar} { \u8216?But you were right.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?We\u8217?d still have won.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?But what about \u8211??\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Joe turned. Rebecca.\u8217? he said. it whispered to me. \u8216?No. Very gently. where the weather came from. then he turned to the window. His eyes were on me. He came when she was ei .\u8217? he said. {\i You can have them both}.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I don\u8217?t. \u8216?Yes. but Joe had said so firmly. It seems as if there\u8217?s no pattern in a nything. My eager.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You do. or John Kennedy fucking everything that had a heartbeat.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I don\u8217?t think so.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Where?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Princeton. It\u8217?s 1941.

and how to get back to me if we were ever parted. a cherry-coloured cashmere shawl. with tiny mother-of-pearl buttons. We could watch out for each other and sleep in turns.\u8217? she said. a heap of January peaches.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphp ar} { They\u8217?d given me a room of my own because I was married to Adam. And even then \u821 1?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?My mother sent you this. and he looked older than he was. \u8216?But I have to wait.)\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It was coming dark outside the windows. I opened it. giving me a rose-sprinkled parc el. Adam hadn\u8217?t a mean bone in him. He was living in a new four-bedroomed estate house with a happ y couple who had bought off-plan and confided to the estate agent when they move d in that their baby was due in three months\u8217? time.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?But if you don\u8217?t like it. put it in a drawer. The baby doesn\u8217? . never an end. and I saw how skilfully he handled her. like pot-pourri. (He came b ack with white freesias. a patchwork cushi on to support Ruby while she fed. I wished myself in a ward with other women. Adam had gone to catch the shops before they shut. He let money spray and splash and then if he wanted nothing he spent nothing. while he watched Ruby.\u8217? I said. as I was. whatever. The back of his neck looked exposed. When they changed shift the new midwife leaned over the bed and I felt the cold air on her.\pa r\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Who would have believed that Iris\u8217?s red. and no one would hear if I called. To him money really was what we all pretend to believe it is \u8211? a means. There were little clots of blood in the wisps of her hair. There was a little cardigan.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You look so well. biding her time until I slept and she coul d take my baby from her cot like a pea from a pod? I was in a room on my own. He woul d taste the cold sweetness of the air and ask the girl for all the white freesia s she had. No one would see. It had a dry floral scent. Less than a month before. He leaned over Ruby\u8217? s cot and touched her cheek with the back of his index finger. I knew they would be thinking of the stolen baby.\u8217? said Joe. raw fingers could make something like this? But I felt the old panicky flash of guilt towards her. She hadn\u8217?t stirred when Adam laid her down in the plastic cot. \u8216?If y ou had a boy or a girl. I knew that the time that surrounded birth was dangerous. chick yellow and meltingly soft.\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { \u8216?She thought yellow would be right.\u8217? said Joe. Then I\u8217?d sleep. Ruby\u8217 ?s cot was a little way farther from the bed than it should have been. with only a floral curtain between us. Even if I woke up maybe I wouldn\u8217?t have the strength to fi ght her. a pot of jasmine trained around a wooden hoop. And that maybe they\u8 217?d be looking for a bigger house soon!\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { How many months had they been preparing for that baby? While Billy Joe\u8217?s m other dreamed of his birth.ght hours old and I was washed and stitched and adrift in the holy feeling that the pain was over. He would stand in the flower shop. weighing it down. as if he already knew her. staring at the big zinc buckets.\u8217? he said to me. I did not dare shut my eyes until Adam was in the hospital room with m e. their plans were ripening.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I could pick her up and walk straight out now.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The baby smelled of birth.\ par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Joe had cut his hair short.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { What if one of the nurses was a fake. and I rea ched out and pulled it close. There was grey at his temples.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s trying to snow. a woman had dressed up as a nurse and gone into a maternity hospital in Birmingham and stolen a day-old boy called Billy Joe. Her baby was already thei r kidnap. \par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { My mother put me in a shoebox and we were parted for ever. raw. Her lips mambled and she pressed towards him. We\u8217?re all going home tomorrow. I wouldn\u8217?t be safe until Ruby knew wh o she was. while I was waiting for the birth.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. It had taken them two w eeks to find him. chocolate.

t have to wear it.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I do like it. It\u8217?s beautiful.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I stroked the wool. The texture was as tough and fine as cobweb, and the colour so true it looked as if it would come off on my fingers. I imagined myself dress ing Ruby in it.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?ll write to Iris,\u8217? I said. \u8216?I\u8217?ll send her a pho to of Ruby wearing the cardigan.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She\u8217?d like that.\u8217? Joe smoothed and folded the wrapping paper, looking down. Then he smiled at me. \u8216?I\u8217?m going away soon, Rebecca.\ u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?But you\u8217?ve been away. You\u8217?ve only been back a few months.\u82 17?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?m going to Moscow,\u8217? said Joe. \u8216?I\u8217?m researching my next book.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { My eyes filled with tears. It was the sight of that cardigan, which Iris had mad e for a different baby, a baby that would never be born.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You\u8217?re always going to Moscow.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I need to stay there for a while. There\u8217?s a lot of stuff I can only do out there.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { There was Moscow, thick with history. I\u8217?d never seen it but I imagined Joe there, stamping his feet on the packed snow, talking Russian and buying chicken feet from a stall off one of the main streets. It was Joe who had told me about an old woman counting out her coins to buy two hundred grams of chicken feet. S he was short of fifty kopeks and he\u8217?d offered her coins but she had looked at him with suspicion and had refused to take them.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Here was Ruby, washed up on the shore of my body and knowing no better. It was o nly eight hours since I\u8217?d turned into a mother, but I would never be good enough for her.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?m afraid I won\u8217?t know what to do with her,\u8217? I said.\p ar\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Of course you\u8217?ll know,\u8217? said Joe.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He touched my hand. We were two separate people, touching. My concerns were not his and we were not a family any more. It was right and natural and only what I could expect, but I wanted more. I was greedy and selfish, wanting him to feel f or me what it wasn\u8217?t good for him to feel. I was a glutton for intimacy.\p ar\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Why do you think you won\u8217?t know?\u8217? asked Joe.\par\pard\plain\h yphpar} { \u8216?Because I can\u8217?t remember what anyone did for me. I can\u8217?t reme mber my childhood at all.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Look at her,\u8217? said Joe. Ruby was wrapped in sleep, her closed eyes a thin, sealed line. Her hospital nightgown had slipped off one shoulder, and he r skin was mottled, purple and pink.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She\u8217?s got furry shoulders,\u8217? I said. Suddenly I couldn\u8217?t bear her to be in that plastic cot any longer. I lifted her awkwardly and the h ospital blanket fell off so that her frail purplish legs dangled naked. She was hot. I laid her beside me and she moved in close, burrowing her way back towards the smell of my skin and the flesh she\u8217?d lived in all her life until eigh t hours ago. One of her eyes opened. I\u8217?d been told that babies couldn\u821 7?t focus, but she was looking at me. Then her eyelid fell shut again and she sl ept.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Did you know she was a girl?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { My girl, my daughter. I hadn\u8217?t thieved this love, though I was still fearf ul that someone would come in and denounce me for taking a baby that didn\u8217? t belong to me. The midwives called her my daughter straightaway and I wondered how they dared, how they could be so certain.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Oh, she\u8217?s lovely, your little girl,\u8217? said the midwife who\u82 17?d delivered her, wrapping Ruby up in a sure way that made a parcel of her. \u

8216?She\u8217?s like a little doll.\u8217? Ruby was my little girl and there wo uld never be any need to explain her. For the first time, I was tied to someone by blood.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You could bring her to see me in Moscow,\u8217? Joe said. \u8216?There\u8 217?s enough room in the apartment for all of you to stay.\u8217?\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { The door opened and there was Adam with snow on his hair and his arms full of fl owers and carrier bags. Joe stood up and the two men faced each other, oddly squ ared up to each other like boxers or dancers. But Adam dropped the flowers and b ags on the bed and took hold of Joe. They embraced, crushed close. I wished I ha d once held Joe like that.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Isn\u8217?t she beautiful?\u8217? asked Adam. He knelt by the bed and a d rop of snow fell, dissolving in the heat that Ruby and I made. Adam\u8217?s face was ablaze and tender and I knew that he was like me, not safely himself any mo re, but lost in Ruby. We\u8217?d made her and in doing so we\u8217?d lost oursel ves.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I remembered the night she\u8217?d been conceived. No one had ever told me I\u82 17?d know the moment it happened. I\u8217?d expected to be surprised one day by a blue line in a pregnancy test in a public toilet.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { We were going down and down in the dark, locked together. We didn\u8217?t speak or move or seem to breathe. In the deepest of those circles of bliss I felt Ruby \u8217?s touch.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { One day I\u8217?d tell her about it.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?{\i You can\u8217?t have known},\u8217? she\u8217?d say.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?{\i I did know}.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?{\i You can\u8217?t have done}.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Or maybe I\u8217?d say nothing. Ruby must have her own life, right from the begi nning.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes,\u8217? said Joe. \u8216?She\u8217?s beautiful.\u8217?\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b 9\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i First Christmas}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i I have mislaid the key. I sniff the spray,}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i And think of nothing. I see and hear nothing:}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Yet seem too, to be listening, lying in wait}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i For what I should, yet never can, remember:}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i No garden appears, no path, no hoar-green bush}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Of Lad\u8217?s-love, or Old Man, no child beside,}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Neither father nor mother, nor any playmate;}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Only an avenue, dark, nameless, without end.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { We were walking down a long, grey street of terraced houses. It was Christmas Da y, and three in the afternoon. Adam had just come back from the hospital.\par\pa rd\plain\hyphpar} { A baby had died that morning. A boy called Nicholas, born at thirty weeks. He\u8 217?d died following a haemorrhage into the lungs, six days after birth.\par\par d\plain\hyphpar} {

Nicholas had been born after years of fertility treatment. Labour had started at twenty-five weeks, they\u8217?d stopped it but there were still problems and Je ss had delivered by Caesarean at thirty weeks. The baby had moderately severe re spiratory disease but he was being managed on a ventilator and Adam thought he w as stabilizing.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam got a call at 10 p.m., went into the hospital and stayed most of the night. He came home for a shower and breakfast, and then went back. We didn\u8217?t sa y any Christmas things to each other.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Ruby was eleven months old. Sometime we\u8217?d have to decide whether we would celebrate Christmas with her or not, but this year it wasn\u8217?t necessary. Ad am was irreligious in a Jewish way, and I was irreligious in a Christian way. Wh at kind of way Ruby would be irreligious, we didn\u8217?t yet know.\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { We walked along the street, which was stripped of people, as if a war had taken place rather than a festival.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { People think that doctors become callous. They think that a man like Adam must k eep a membrane around his work so that it won\u8217?t get into his life. Maybe i t would be better that way. But Adam knew them so closely in those hours and day s and weeks, mother and father and child, the holy trinity of the maternity hosp ital that gets made and remade and remade, day after day after day.\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { He\u8217?d first seen Jess when she\u8217?d been brought in with contractions, p anicky, knowing much too much already about all the things that can go wrong. Sh e\u8217?d been trying to have this child for years. He\u8217?d explained to her what would happen if her labour could not be stopped, how the baby would be care d for, what a twenty-five-week baby looks like, how big he would be, what to exp ect. Jess and Ian knew already that the child was a boy, and they had named him. And then for five weeks Jess had been in the hospital, on a drip, holding on to each hour and day. When the baby couldn\u8217?t be held back any longer, Adam w as in the operating theatre, and Nicholas was delivered into his hands. Adam was responsible for Nicholas\u8217?s care until he died.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam did something I can\u8217?t fathom, to absorb that experience into him time after time without flinching, and yet be ready to begin again, by another bedsi de, with another phone call, with another baby born so early it couldn\u8217?t c ry.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I knew that Adam was going back, in his head, over everything that had been done for Nicholas. He would evaluate it all. There were things to be learned, even i f all you learned was more about unpredictability and your own limitations. Thes e were the worst times, when it had looked as if a baby would make it and then i t didn\u8217?t.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Nicholas was chill and stiff. The nurses would have made a print from the palms of his hands, and a print from the soles of his feet, and photographed him in de ath as they\u8217?d photographed him in life. If the parents could not bear thes e things now, they might ask for them later.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { We had our living baby in her all-in-one winter suit, in her sheepskin pushchair liner. I stopped pushing and knelt to look at her. Her cheeks were lit with a f lush of sleep, and I leaned close to feel her breath, so much stronger now than when she was new-born.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Is she warm enough?\u8217? Adam asked. He came round and tucked her hands inside the sheepskin. Ruby would never wear mittens. I knew how big she would s eem to him, and solid, with her skin like a fortress compared to the veiny, dark , translucent skin of the prem babies in their incubators.\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { Already, I thought, Nicholas knows all the mystery of life.\par\pard\plain\hyphp ar} { Adam put his arm around me. He took the left handle of the pushchair and I took the right. We walked awkwardly, bumping hips through the bulk of our winter coat s.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { That night we would put Ruby into the deep cot where she seemed to swim herself to sleep. We would leave on the little light beside her. We would prop her door

I\u8217?d unlearned all Joe\u8217?s lessons of plea sure.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b 10\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i Damiano\u8217?s Dreamworld}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i But never met this Fellow {\line } Attended. sunny air in wh ich things happened faster and more brilliantly than they did on earth. and sank down. He would be back in his booth in the middle of the fair. He had thought it was only a job interview. We would sink in to each other. I\u8217?d forgotten what it felt like to be nothing. Soon Adam would come home. Soon we would turn on the little light. He appeared immune from death and sickness. It was a pl ace of dreams.\par\pard \plain\hyphpar} { He had rescued me. I\u8217?d believed t . watching the money go. no matter what. You couldn\u8217?t see Mr Damiano without sensing that this was a man in his pr ime. his fairground days were long gone. prop the doors . still deep in each other\u8217?s bodies. as the sharp. both tawdry and bright. I listened as i f I was hearing church bells for services I would never attend. He would have s hrugged off his beautiful suits and he\u8217?d be wearing embroidered waistcoats . and in which he li ved. We would fall asleep. like anyone else. and prop our door open. all Adam\u8217?s knowledge of love. I felt the waves of it beating in me. at the height of his powers and knowing it.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I could not believe it would happen. rang again. No. If I had done what I wante d I would have torn out my hair and dressed in rags and ashes. I\u8217?d learned again what I\u8217?d known in childhood: the habit of nothing. locked. Mr Damiano ran a fairground. begin. It was the icy truth on which I holed myself.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { To choose a T-shirt or a pair of jeans becomes a mountain of weariness.\par\pard\plain\h yphpar} { I did not bath or wash my hair or look in the mirror. He would vanish from his empire of hotels and if you looked for him you might find him in a little travelling fair touring Linz and Melk and the outskirts of Vienna. It was a prime that had nothing to do with youth. would accelerat e into age. he was borne through a high. I would wake and see her face rising like the su n.\par\pard \plain\hyphpar} { The phone rang until it stopped. in the years I\u8217?d shared with Joe and then with Adam. We would take hold of each other. Soo n we would walk upstairs.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { We voyaged on in the dark. the more I thought that one day he\u8217?d d isappear and go back there. Mr Damiano.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I was effaced.\p ar\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But then he\u8217?d be an old man. going farther each night. By sheer force of what he was. going down. holding the strings that made a thousand dreams move. When I met him.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { To eat becomes troublesome. white shirts and leather boots so soft they made you want to bite into them. rank stink of my flesh and my dirty hair co mforted me. In the morning Adam would get up first for Ruby and put her into bed beside me while I still slept. but the more I knew him. moving me. His power would be gone. the time we first met. For a while. In the day. waited ten minutes. How could he know that when I answered his questions my lips creaked open because for weeks I had talked to no one? I had lain in my rented room day after day. it was a climate which he had created.open. Rags and ashes wo uld have comforted me. or alone {\line } Without a tighter breathing {\line } And Zero at the Bone \u8211?}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Before he went into the hotel business.

Once he sent me up in an air balloon because he wanted to find out if such a trip might give pleasure to our guests.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I pushed her to the baby clinic feeling an impostor. always remember that. every six weeks or so. I hope they have. her difficulty in moving on to solids. tangled.\u8217? said Mr Damiano. those grey streets where we had wheeled Ruby in her pushchair and smiled at passers-by who smiled at our smiles. I\u8217?d learned that story at school and always hated it. her weight-gain.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\qc *\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { When Mr Damiano called me into his employment I was like Lazarus.\par\par d\plain\hyphpar} { I told him I was afraid of falling. and knowing that you had to go through it all again. and then being brought back to life . Mr Damiano\u8217?s hair was not yet grey. Ruby\u8217?s hearing test. He wanted to know where I was and what I w as doing. Did you never see my advertise ments?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { His eyes searched my face seriously. we would drink a glass of wine togethe r. He did n\u8217?t think that he was resurrecting me. because among our guests there will be some with a tendency to fall. the reassurance.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Sometimes. and danced for me.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I was home. like her. because my joy was so great . Behind her was the sound of chil dren playing. footsteps in another part of the house.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He used to hire light aircraft. and envied. \u8216?They wil l have thought of that.\u8217? Mr Damiano told me. at home. but he gave me a job. She gave the signature that was needed. her vaccinations.he life I\u8217?d lived was really mine. Sometimes. A young woman in an old narrow house with a porch light that spilled yellow on the steps at homecoming. He sent them flying along the length of summer b . Rebecca. A young woman who hurried downstairs with a baby on her hip when a delivery man rang on the doorbell. \u 8216?even if you don\u8217?t remember them. Mr Damiano would tell me about his fairground days. He became my employer.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Those grey streets where we\u8217?d walked arm in arm. the details which we shared and which were of no interest to anyone else. We are not fixing up these hotels for superhumans . I told him I was afraid I would jump out if there was only the edge of a basket between me and a hundred-mile map of where I might drop. He sent me zigzagging on aero planes from continent to continent. smiled a smile that had nothing to do with the delivery man. The way I would shape the things that happened in my days with R uby into news for Adam.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Everyone who worked for me was an artiste. and filled my days with a life I could never have imag ined. He treated me better than that. it would begin to seem grey. There was a quality of innocence in his van ity which made me want to laugh aloud as I used to laugh when Ruby made a hat fr om a plastic saucepan out of her toy oven.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { God knows. I liked the health visitor. water running for a bath.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?They won\u8217?t let you jump. but I knew that like me they must be masking the joy they felt so that no one would sense it and steal it fr om them. sunk in the gr ave of myself.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { With Adam I\u8217?d become the woman I\u8217?d once glimpsed at the door of ligh ted houses. paid me a wage.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You will have seen my advertisements. and went back insid e her house. Imagi ne going through the pain and fear of dying. Mr Damiano wasn\u8217?t Jesus. The key in the door. My opinions and my information mattered. that I possessed it and was safe at las t. The living heat of Ruby that you sensed as you walked into th e room where she slept. sweatstained sheets. took the package. after a long day\u8217?s work. It was my job to look after her. but then it would blacken again.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Ruby\u8217?s heat. Those knotted. That bed where we\u8217?d lost ourselves. He believed in my capabilities. With t he other mothers I clucked and deprecated babylife. because she never doubted that the dailiness of Ru by was really mine. the phone call when one of us was running l ate.

{\i Wherever the hell that may be}. A rosy. My adoptive father is forty-four.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { They promised that the sea would come back. he whispers to me. I picked the words out aloud. with the car blanket on our knees. Suddenly I was sure I had seen them. I don\u 8217?t need to bury my egg sandwiches any more. We all looked up.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Of course you wanted to swim. The wind blew.eaches. she\u8217?s secretly burying her egg sandwich. curly haired caution who would pour out nonsense to make him grin. The banner swirls then straightens and I r ead it aloud for the second time. He made himself safe by pretending to want n othing. They had tim ed it wrong and I know she was disappointed. He can tell me what he really thought of his hunched wi fe and child. and I am thirty-six. handin g me an egg sandwich. \u8216?I didn\u8217?t want to swim a nyway.\u8217? I said. rows of families on the broad beach.\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { \u8216?It\u8217?s all right. noisy . trailing their banners. There was grit in my teeth. a daddy\u8217?s girl. {\i I don\u8217?t like this}. after the effort and the long drive .\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { And he\u8217?s free too. and then we would swim.\par\ pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Wherever the hell that may be. What else do you come to the seaside for?\u 8217? asked my adoptive father. my adoptive parents and I. he might say too. a girl who\u8217?d race to the do or at the scratch of his key and drag him in. a flask of tea. I believed he was big enough to pull the aeroplane out of the sky and crush the glad messa ge in one fist. I had seen them. hanging on his hand. and the noise it made as it flowed behind them like a sail. He wanted so mething and he didn\u8217?t get it.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The sound of the plane flared in our ears. Those were his exact words. and they had an eleg ance of phrasing I don\u8217?t associate with him. of the blank beach and the aeroplane that went away with its messa ge that stirred his senses and would never satisfy them. I let my saliva wash the twigs into mush. I coun ted how many seconds each Twiglet took to dissolve. I can simply hand them back to h im. and a little packet of Twiglets which I sucked unti l all the Marmite was off them.\ par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Wherever the hell that may be}. Rebecca?}\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?{\i Nothing}. They were the size . it said.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I hear him now.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I don\u8217?t like this. I remembered a windy day at Southend. as the plane swooped low trailing its banner with blue writing on it.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He wanted a bouncy girl. He liked to hear the snap of the banner as the plane turned. With her right hand.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Mr Damiano liked to fly with the pilot. then back again. with the sea miles out and my adoptive mother beside me.\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { \u8216?{\i What did you do at school today. and with justification.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Come to Damiano\u8217?s Dreamworld.\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { Yes.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He\u8217?s here with his stewed tea and his daughter with her head bowed and the hair sliding across her face.\u8217? the banners read. We are on the level.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The plane flies back along the beach. proud of the way I manage the difficult name. {\i Come to Damiano\u8217?s Dreamworld}.\u8217? said my adoptive father. one adult to another now.\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { He restored scarlet and gold horses for the merry-go-rounds. a bottle of Seven-Up for me. that the sea had shrunk to a pencil line at the horizon. We sat in a row . the one he can\u8217?t see. Maybe he once saw my face among all those upturned faces.

\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Have you children?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. the pair of them crushed together. They visit them to discover that I have already found out what will give them the greatest pleas ure. When the ride was over and the couple s tepped off they would stagger. Behind the hall of mirrors a mind-reader practised. In here. His back was to the window and his face was hard to rea d. \u8216?I want it. their silver stirrups glinting in t he fairground lights.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Mr Damiano looked at me. gripping the p ole.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?A husband?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. and catch hold of each other again before they wa ndered.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { There were tumblers and a dance-band.\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { \u8216?A dugong. like a horse of flesh. Each of them had a name. The clairvoyant had predicted t he death of Kennedy. He was looking at me too closely. circuitous routes. A neat brown pair from Hungary. Mr Damiano too k the flotsam of a dozen carousels and prepared them to face the music again.\u8217? I said. a ruined nag from a German fair that needed paint and leather and metal and a new mane and tail of real horse-hair. Th eir saddles creaked. and then he nodded. and a woman too. lit only by a jar of tulips. at her direction.\u8217? said Mr Damiano. \u8216?A man who succeeds in the fairground business will do well in hotels if he puts his mi nd to it. Their nostrils flared as the music bega n and they rose and fell. If you want the job. nothing. He was telling me about the bears that still dance in Russia.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He looked at me closely to check that it was true. and a woman who could hang by her tee th from a rope suspended thirty feet above the crowd. and one year a real mermaid told fortunes.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?How old are you?\u8217? he asked back. The room was pale and still. their bridles clinked. and in the supper-tent roast pigs were sliced and served up with crackling on plates of bread. joined at breast and hip and thigh.\par\pard\ plain\hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b 11\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i Moscow}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam and I first took Ruby to Moscow when she was two years old. dazed. he said when we phoned to arrange the details. There was a girl who had trained a po odle to pick out words from an alphabet board.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Thirty-three.\par\pard\plain\hyph par} { \u8216?They are similar businesses. into the crowd. slowly they began to rise and fall a gainst the dark-blue fairground night.\u8217? Mr Damiano answered me.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He hired jugglers and fire-eaters by the season. I thought he would see the cracks in my smooth face. Olya knew where to buy all the thin gs babies need. There were men in rags who magicked them into tail-coats.of beast a full-grown man could ride on. faster and faster. That\u8217?s all we are tryin g to do. By then Joe had a Russian girlfriend called Olya. There w ere clowns and conjurors and a man who could free himself when bound with chains at the bottom of a dull-green glass tank.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. Mr Damiano got word of them and they arrived after lo ng journeys by strange. They were made to take the weight of a fu ll-grown man. In the outer of fices there were telephones and computers. a sin gle plumed horse from Vienna. There\u8217?d be no problem with the baby. it is as simple as that.\par\pard\p lain\hyphpar} { They came from far places. and I didn\ u8217?t say that I had seen them. She had a sister who would babysit for Ruby while the four of us . tight-rope walkers. His big shoulders rested peacefully inside the most beautiful suit I had ever seen. People do not visit my hotels to sleep and to be fed. barrel-organs.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What made you go into hotels?\u8217? I asked Mr Damiano when he interview ed me.

I worked in a bar in town.went out.\u8217? said Joe. Outside. It was a warm. Noticing me. she glanced up with a faint. Ruby could play with other children at groups in church halls. She did not want to be interrupted. or the babushkas will stop you in the street and tell you to dress her properly. Maybe that was what I liked.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I was always moving Ruby on. We wer e different.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Russians love babies}. not what the sum of Ruby\u8217?s days might one day bring. Joe hadn\u8217?t seen Ruby for nine months.\par\p ard\plain\hyphpar} { I thought that maybe one day Ruby would like to travel. Her face was bland and pearly and I knew that there was another game going on inside the singing game. I kept for Ruby. I could take picnics and share them with other mothers and babies in parks.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It surprised me when Joe said {\i Russians love babies}. It wasn\u8217?t the kind of bar where you could be have as you liked. What did that mean? I looked at where Ruby was playing. S he held a book of nursery rhymes and she was singing songs from memory. My voice sounded oddly in the kitchen silence. Make sure you bring enough war m clothes for her. We wore black dresses and I pull ed my hair back tight and put on lipstick. warning frown. nearly stand alone. But I was wary of that joint account. Adam\u8217?s money came so thick and fast that our joint bank account brimmed.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She\u8217?s out of nappies. Adam had even begun to overpay our mortgage so that we would be free of it sooner.) If customers were out of order it was easy to let them know it. but the tips were good. It wasn\u8217?t a place people drank to get drunk. That was the way I used to watch the cl ock at school. dark. \par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam wanted me to go out more. Rubes. perhaps. We had direct debits and never had to worry when the bill s came in. It took me a long time to understand that it was only the day itself that mattered. It still seemed to me like s tealing when I wrote a cheque on it. {\i How long till play time? How long till dinner time? How long till home time?} I had time in a bag on my lap.\u8217? I said. \u8216?Russians love babies. a substance that I owned and gave out when I chose. She could nearly crawl. secretive bar with a regular clientele. and that it was because of my tips that Ruby would have new shoes and holidays. I liked working there.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?We\u8217?re going to Russia.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Three nights a week. A kiss now would affront her . If you wanted that there was the whole Strip to go to. unless it was for gas or electricity.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The money I earned. He kept a baby in his min d who no longer existed. saved up for her so that she wouldn\u8217?t have to ask anyone . She was prete nding to be someone else: me. \u8216?She sleeps in a proper bed now. though there were drunks sometimes. the same tips. the sky was white. The hourly wage barely covered R uby\u8217?s babysitter. or buy herself a piano. but all of them were specific and t hey all sounded real. I learned to tell the time early and other children would ask me in whispers. and then I\u8217?d say to her out of the blue that she had her own account with thousands in it. To me. He thought I was hesitat ing because of Ruby. a red. (But I knew that if any of the other girls went to the table it would be the same warm look in th e eyes. We didn\u8217?t need it. or at most only a li ttle different. except for this. nearly walk. turning the pages randomly in the middle of a line. although often I w ished we had needed it. He\u82 17?d told me a thousand things about Russia. There was so much time in t hese long days with Ruby that sometimes I would see the big hand quiver as it ca me to rest at the end of another minute. and the things they would say to me that I felt sure they wouldn\u8217?t say to anyone else. hot lump in Ruby\u8217?s mouth was al ready a tooth. I liked the bloom on peopl e\u8217?s faces when they felt well looked after. It wasn\u8217?t like him to make a generalization.\u8217? I said. the identical bloom and confidences.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She\u8217?ll be fine in Moscow.

as long as there\u8217?s no wind. As we crowded in she turned.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I told him you wanted to look at the sights. she told us. \u8216?You must give us the re cipe. Her smile was spacious and kind and she went on frying the pat ties without haste. \u8216?Ruby isn\u8217?t s ecured. I pressed Adam\u8217?s arm and showed him where the bottles were. We ate the meat patties with beetroot.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. Olya had preserved them herself. Broad face. mat te. when a friend had given her six kilos of pears last September. and ice cream. The wa y the land was used reminded me of New Jersey. She liked the feeling and she made herself bounce again.\u8217?\p ar\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But all the same Ruby\u8217?s breath squeaked as I lifted her out of the car and she turned her face into my shoulder to hide it from the cold.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You noticed it! It\u8217?s so nice cooking for people who notice what the y are eating. soiled snow stretched away. dark eyes. Olya had made dill sauce and there was cranberry relish. \u8220?Very nice. pylons. we saw things in her which no one else would ever see. He looked at me. In the distance there were tower blocks. Her eyes flashed at us. the same colour as the sky. Her hips were wide. Olya. and it won\u8217?t break when you fly. and there were bottles of beer in the passenger glove compartment. A fterwards we had a jar of preserved pears. if you came from a small country.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Olya wasn\u8217?t beautiful.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s minus seven. Russians and Americans could affo rd to waste their countryside.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Was there vanilla in them?\u8217? I asked. dead .for money. It sprang strongly from her hairline. and Adam and I smiled at each other. bad and b old. \u8216?It was down to minus fift een last week.\par\pard\plain\h yphpar} { Olya had thick black hair.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?On the flight.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Joe met us at Sheremetyevo airport. The pears were whole.\u8217? said Joe.\u8217? said Adam. you must take the jar home!\u8217? said Olya. His eyes were beautiful. and black.\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { Outside the window the flat.\u8217? said Joe. with a strange loose acceleration as if th e car wasn\u8217?t in gear or properly touching the road. and their cheeks had been stained red with cochineal . her feet planted. He kept turning fully round to talk to us.\u8217? said Joe. prickling stand s of trees which looked as small as weeds against the bulk of the blocks. as if it was as important as anything else a person might do . He got a taxi with a driver who thought he s poke English and who drove very fast.\par\pard\plain\ hyphpar} { \u8216?Tell him to slow down.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The taxi hit a pothole and made Ruby bounce on the fake leather seat. \u8216?I wrap it up in newspaper. frying little meat patties. Was she talking about Joe. mountain ranges. her legs braced. not even me. which was like the point of a valentine heart.\u8217? said Joe. Drunkard\u8 217?s eyes. Seven\u8217?s not bad. washed out. pickled cu cumbers and potatoes. They could have as much ugliness as they chose. pale blue. Now Joe could eat the newspaper instead of the pears and if I ask him he says.\u8217? The car braked sharply and I let out my breath and made myself be lieve it was all right to have brought Ruby here. and pushed back her hair. but she was the kind of woman I liked to look at.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?They\u8217?re excellent.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It was three in the afternoon.\u8221?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I stared at her. It was hard to understand. who\u8217?d taught me most of what I knew about food?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Luckily Olya does all the cooking. T hey knew they had thousands of miles of prairie. thick skin. Maybe she was plain. She was tall. She was at the stove in the small apartment kitchen.\u8217? Adam said to Joe. A thousand times a day. and when I firs t saw her she had her back to me. forests. shapely and forceful. and l akes as wide as inland seas. with their stalks still on.

As long as we were with her.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. that\u8217?s lucky. Her faith in us clenched my heart. If they are lucky they can sl eep on a ventilation shaft where there is warm air.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Drunk.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?To Ruby.\u8217? Olya corrected him. Since I\u8217?d had Ruby.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. Ol ya\u8217?s words seemed to have weight to them. Her eyes were still o pen but they were glazing.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Olya would not let us touch the duty-free whiskey. though it was perfectly clear. c ontinued with champagne. how\u8217?s the new book going. she did not mind where she was. thickening now.pan.\u8217? she said. even at the sound of her own name.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Olya gestured at the window.\u8217? said Joe.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Do you know what vodka means.\u8217? said Joe. A drop of vodka fell on her hair. Vodka is little water. \par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b 12\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i Thanks to Stalin}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Life has become better.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?So. Heaps of dirty snow. numb look to the street life . life has become more cheerful!}\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { \u8216?So here we are in this flat thanks to Stalin.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It was something you said to me once. Comrades. then returned to vodka.\u8217? said Joe. Rebecca?\u8217? asked Olya. sucking the piece of muslin nappy which she took to bed.\u8217? said Adam. There was a desultory.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Outside. and so they die. It\u8217? s good for your blood movement. watching everything. You take a little water for your health. \u8216?You see what winter is like here. It had the faintest yellow sheen in it. I put my hand over my glass when the bottle came round to me. drowsy . the same pallor of sky. or Adam\u8217?s. \u8216?They are too drunk to know how cold they are.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Circulation. Joe?\u8217? Adam asked.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { . \u8216?Voda is water. Maybe it was only because they were said in a foreign language. Ruby was curled on his knee. his face naked and tend er.\u8217? said Joe.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam lifted his glass of vodka and looked through it. but Ruby was past sti rring. We were on the fourth floor.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Won\u8217?t he freeze?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?He\u8217?ll get picked up by the airport police. All through the flight she had perched on my lap.\par\pard\plai n\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?ll tell you about it.\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { \u8216?And good dreams. He smiled down at her. We began with pepper vodka.\u8217? said Joe. The words stung in my head.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { \u8216?Some freeze. filling our glasses again. I was out of the habit of drinking. by the airport access road?\u821 7? I asked.\u8217? I said.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Don\u8217?t you remember?\u8217? asked Joe.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Olya said something in Russian and Joe told us it meant health and long life.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?To Ruby. as if it had no money to make it stir.\u8217? said Olya.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Did you see the man lying on the ground. The wind was rising and people w alked with their heads down. packed ice on the pavements. but often the police pull th em off. every winter.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Let\u8217?s drink a toast to Ruby.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?To Ruby. as if her wishes were true gifts .

Only here. and drank. People hide things and they don\u8217?t want to talk about them. it\u8217?s between them and me.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I talked to a man whose mother was taken away when he was six. archives that can be accessed briefly. will you?\u8221? I\u8217?m not lying whe n I say that I won\u8217?t. What was he doing? What did he think he was doing?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You tell me. how you sat still as a bir d when you heard your neighbour being taken away. they say. anyway. pearly eyelids with the faint blue veins. Fear.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What are you not writing about. \u8216?But he\u8217 ?s slippery. like me. after all this time. Molotov and Yezhov made their speeches to the Central Committee at the plenary in February 1937. When Stalin.\par\pard\plai n\hyphpar} { \u8216?All right.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Is that a good enough reason?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It has to be. and went to make tea. just like anywhere else. You didn\u8217?t breathe.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It can\u8217?t be different. and made sure the water they left behind them was full of mud. What a man does when he\u8217?s in charge of everything and the world still goes wrong. they don\u8217?t trust o utsiders to make the right kind of sense out of them. \u8216?Surely. Closed archives. with an official standing at your side.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Not still fear. Both of us looked at Ruby in Adam\u8217?s arms. It\u8217?s ours. people who were too a fraid to write anything down. newspaper files with months of issues missing. It\u8217?s the only reason I\u8217?ve got. archives that open for a while then close again. you didn\u8217?t move. . Even if they do talk. went to the window and stood there looking out.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Imagine telling someone from outside.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar } { He stood up.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What are you writing about?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?If you can call it writing. I need t o understand what I can about what it was like to live then. When people say to me. No Party member was safe. She was a minor Party official. people who falsified their so urces when they wrote their histories. The Party itself was going to be turne d inside out and gutted. it became clear that it was people like her who were the targets now. Eve rything\u8217?s different now.\u8217? said Joe. Their personal stori es are all-important but they\u8217?re not usable. then?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?The same old thing. I\u8217?m not go ing to include all these personal stories. people who are dead.\u8217? said Adam suddenly.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She sleeps well.\u8217?\par\pa rd\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Why do you want to make them talk?\u8217? asked Adam.\par\pard\plain\hyph par} { Joe smiled.\u8217? said Adam. I sit for three hours and when I get up there are two words on the screen. surprising us both.\u8217? said Olya. Terror was the dominant emotion of the twentieth century and we don\u8 217?t understand it. Ask Olya. \u8220 ?You won\u8217?t put that in your book. it\u8217?s more d ifficult to uncover the roots of the past and find out where the behaviour of th e present comes from. I need to know them.\u8217? said Joe. her closed.But I still couldn\u8217?t remember. \u8216?I\u8217?m writing a book. I need to be able t o go into those rooms of the past and walk around in the dark without bumping in to the furniture. nodding at Ruby. Stalin\u8217?s fugue.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?ve got to get to where he was. The person at the heart of all tha t terror. You edited yourself and fitted in and survived. Olya rose. the best censor of all.\u8217? said Joe. \u8216?The present here is what the past has made it. Olya had come in wi th glasses of tea which she placed on the low varnished table. I lifted my glass of tea.\par\pard\p lain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?m tracking the bastard down.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\qc *\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He explained the problems.

\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?So. That was the last time he s aw her. one after anothe r in the same family with the same first name. this is the furniture that\u8217?s got to be in the room when I write about Stalin\u8217?s fugue. He was a child of six. damp wit h sweat. He remembers that she wa s sorting out his clothes. S uddenly she was at home in the apartment all the time. also. and she got out a pair of shorts he didn\u8217?t like and said it would do for another summer. quite early.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. and very carefully s lid first one arm and then the other out of its sleeves. \u8216?and yet you\u8217? re not going to put them in your book.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Volodya blames himself.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?ve told you why. \u821 6?No one will remember it. The smell of t error was stronger than ever. I couldn\u8217?t tell from his voice if he was praising O lya. he kept his identity. and folded it neatly.\u822 1? and he turned over in the bed. His father survived for the time being \u821 1? he died later. But Volodya wasn\u8217?t sent to an orphanage. Mama. Her thick dark hair fel l forward. \u8220?I want to go back to sleep. They didn\u8217?t come for her in the night.\u8217? said Olya. For not looking up when she remained there. she woke him up by kissing him.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { We were all silent for a while. She went on her own two legs. because his fat her thought he would be safer there. he knew who he was.her pale cheeks. unfastened the cardigan Ruby was wearing.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What happened to his mother will disappear. \u8216?he didn\u8217?t know any thing about the speech to the Central Committee. bending over his bed.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?He told you all those things.\u8217? said Olya. but he kept his eyes squeezed shut. What he knew was this. He had turned away from the window an d was watching us all. I thought of Ruby in her bed.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She went and she didn\u8217?t come back. and turning over in his bed. for saying that he wanted to sleep. and going to sleep again. dying in their infancy. clarify a few points. He remembers being angry with h er and asking why she didn\u8217?t go to work as usual. and the way I like d to sit beside her. She kissed him and held him tight and he would lik e to remember that he kissed her back and clung to her but he knows that he didn \u8217?t.\u8217? Joe continued. touching Ruby\u8217?s cheeks. For not embracing her. She kept saying that things were fine. I like babies. in the war. or the beginning of the Yezhov terror. He has never stopped blaming himself for being ba d-tempered with his mother that morning. stitch a photo of little Volodya into her knickers.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You already know what I\u8217?m going to say. I thought of old gravestones and how they sometimes mark the deaths of children. His mother lost her job.\u8217? But she said it very quietly. For hearing the door close behind her. the curl of dark-red hair that clung to her forehead. six years old. back i nto the warmth of it.\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { \u8216?The man I spoke to. \u8216?They have something which ot her people don\u8217?t have any more. He knew something was wro ng because of the terror that clung round her like a smell. I thought . His grandmother took him. Olya slipped the cardigan off. A child of six cannot forgive hi mself. or blaming her. they asked her to go in and answer a few questions. It was very hot in the apartment.\u8217? said Joe. away from her. there was nothing the matter. putting away his winter clothes and mending his summe r ones.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Olya leaned over. when Adam was working and she was asleep.\par\pard\p lain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Olya likes babies. He knew that she was still ther e bending over him.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She was too afraid to listen to the truth of that smell of terror that su rrounded her and told her to put on her warmest underwear.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?There he was. take her spare glasse s.\u8217? said Olya. He said. and he was angry. touching Adam\u8217?s clothes. Neither of them stirred. leave me alone. as if she had to say the words but did not expect him to listen to them.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Then one day. not taking anything with her.

and the sure and gentle way she\u8217?d taken off Ruby\u8217? s cardigan. but in thinking it we b elittle them. because they were accustomed to loss.\par\pard\plai n\hyphpar} { \u8216?Too many questions.about how we try to believe that parents then suffered less than we do. That he would succeed. unless you are Stalin and you\u8217?ve had accurate. at the top. We think it to comfort ourselves. weaponry concentrations.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Unexpected. and plans for invasion after the spring planting. Why should I give such a m . You are Stalin. They might belong together.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But they did not belong together.\par\par d\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Khrushchev says that when the invasion came you cried out: \u8220?{\i All that Lenin created we have lost for ever}.\u8221?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Did you really say that? Or was Khrushchev remembering those nights when he had to dance a Cossack dance with his buttocks almost touching the floor? {\i All that Lenin created we have lost for ever}. as if Stal in was still here with us and might answer him. and you would fail. You didn\u8217?t do what was necessary. Some of them have come direct from the German military itself. more ruthless .\u8217? said Olya. highly skilled strategist. You are a cunning.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But it isn\u8217?t so. For months and months you\u8217?ve been getting warnings from the highest level s.\u8217? said Joe. Think of the Yalta Conference. They\u8217?ll read it in order to go into those rooms and know where the light switch is. The bones of some men don\u8217?t lie as still as they should.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Maybe I\u8217?m wrong. Or maybe you\u8217?d won so many battles that you simply could not believe that thi s time you would lose. People will read it in order to know what the right questions are. manipulative. more manipulative than you. by not allowing yourself to be provoked into action. I looked at Olya and Adam and thought that they were similar people. unexpected speed.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I could see that Olya didn\u8217?t like it when Joe talked like that.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?So. You thought that yo u could stave off the German attack for a few vital months.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Oh my God.\u8217? said Joe. \u8216?But it\u8217?s my history you\u8217?re writing about. It was my child he had on his lap . and why you\u8217?ve stayed there. \u8216?Here we have him. Adam smiled and stroked her ha ir.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?A man like Stalin belongs to all of us.\u8217? said Olya.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Ruby stirred and gave a cat-like triangular yawn. by pretending to bel ieve it was not imminent. and that looks like the act of a fool. detailed intelligence about German troop movements. getting up again.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You\u8217?re wrong. in another world.\u8217? said Joe passionately. \u8216?Why should I think about the Yalta Conference. He had liked the way she noticed that Ruby was sweating.\par\pard\plain\hyph par} { \u8216?So let\u8217?s say that you were trying to gain time. I saw how he caught Olya\u8217?s eye. The German army is advancing into Soviet territory at fantastic.\p ar\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?But you didn\u8217?t prepare. Olya. and that Hitler would be even more cunning. even thou gh it\u8217?s dark. It\u8217?s a beautiful summ er day and he\u8217?s out at the dacha. \u8216?You are co mpletely wrong and you don\u8217?t understand why I am writing this book. or about any of it? I don\u8217?t have to think abou t any of it any more. \u8216?People read histories in ord er to hear answers. \u8216?He couldn \u8217?t have been what he was without the permission of the whole world.\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { \u8216?You\u8217?ve ignored it all. that is. But y ou\u8217?re not a fool. Even to me it seemed like bad lu ck. ov erflights of Soviet territory. don\u8217?t you understand? Nobody can make me learn those parts of the history books if I don\u8217?t want to. You grasp situations and you act: that\u8217?s why you are w here you are.\u8217? said Olya. It was Adam who could make me ache and feel th e rich darkness unfold to let us down into it.

The touch made it clear to me that there would be no babies for Olya from Joe. He was a little drunk. He\u8217?s colonized our minds. too. but the shoc k was that Hitler had dared to rouse him. Maybe one day I\u8217?ll be holding a document and I\u8217?ll se e those oily traces and I\u8217?ll know who read it before me. Olyenka. He would sound shaky.\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { It was almost dark.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Was Stalin really cornered when he went out to the dacha and disappeared from public life? No. and happy. Mine was darker. from far away. who he talked to. and where he went. Joe. Never. No calls from the hospital.\u8217? said Joe.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. Maybe. and held out his hand to me. He\u8217?d been shocked. as susp icious of being fed false information as he was of being fed poisoned food. Six years old. A man whose hands sweated. a fanatically suspicious man. there is a phone. Volodya. so that when he handled documents he left oily marks on them.\u8217? said Olya. never to be underestimated. He\u8217?d seen the surprise coming miles off. or Hitler. he was letting himself drink far more than usual.\u8217? said Joe. A man who would go on the ra dio for the first time early in July. what he knew and what he didn\u8217?t know. I\u8217?m not sure. he r skin like his for all its baby pearliness. He sat bolt upright in bed. speak ing with marked hesitation. with most of his life shut down . We\u8217?re still reacting to the blows. I leaned across the sof a and touched his fingers. Maybe he went back to sleep again. His red curls. completely awake. So that it keeps on living. \u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He\u8217?ll be at peace.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?m sorry. A ma n whose wife had killed herself and left a letter which scorched his spirit for the rest of his life. He l . where he walked. her red curls with their blue shine.\par\pard\plain\hyphp ar} { Adam smiled. who put his mark on it. I wanted to take Ruby on my lap.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No phone. We are still staggering from them. that\u8217?s all. What he believed would happen. holding Ruby.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?But a clever man.\u8217? said Joe. as no one for years had dared to rouse him.an space inside my head?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?He\u8217?s there already.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You have to think of a cunning man. but they were soft and unresponsive. maybe he wasn\u8217?t. I meant. The way the body can shut down most of its functions so that the vital ones a re preserved. What I\u8217?m inter ested in is why he lost himself during those few days. the daylight was strong. Now Olya was watching him. No one can touch us here. What he thought about.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Of course. We haven\u8217?t begun to understand Stali n yet. I meant no phone that will ring for Adam. What h e ate. loudly drinking water in the pauses. His face was smudged and softened . now that the German army was on the move. Stalin could think at triple speed \u8211?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?My God. relaxed. When he w oke. Away from the hospital. after the door closed behind his mother. They were b eautiful together.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?A man who was afraid of poison. Maybe it was more like a body in crisi s.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?But Stalin hadn\u8217?t been surprised.\u8217? I said aloud. and he passed his hand over he r thick black hair.\u8217? said Olya quickly and a bit indignant ly. He and Ruby together. to feel the warmth and weig ht of her pinning me down. He stroked her hair as if it were beautiful fur. Maybe he was listening to Joe. nearly two weeks after the invasion. \u8216?He\u8217?s in all our h eads. \u8216?He\u8217?d lost a lot of weight and looked skinny and shaky and old. There was a touch of sun in the afternoon ligh t and it shone through the dirty double windows and onto their hair. that\u82 17?s something else. you are making my head hurt .\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I thought of the little boy whose mother had gone. \u8216?my God. with its superior equipment and the element of surprise on its side.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam was drinking more vodka.

Everyone was leaving t heir homes then and the old links were broken. He stood up carefully.\par\pard\plain\ hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b 13\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i Barnoon is Heaven}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i beautiful today the surf on Porthkidney sands}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i and the standing out of the lighthouse. he saw me frowning maybe. My whole body flooded with happiness and I looked down so that he wouldn\u8217?t see the tears in my eyes. sweet smile. like Adam. We\u8217?d come in from Trevail where we were staying in a cottage whic h had no running water.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I bent down. a faint. but they didn\u8217?t come. I thought that this was why we had come to Moscow. he said. My gran. You know how I am}. she would be able to say. His voice was so quiet no one else in the room would have heard it. and gravesto nes. sheer}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i because of the rain past. so as not to wake her. Most graveyards colle ct darkness. They came together in a rented fl at in Primrose Hill.\u821 7?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I liked to hear of all these things being carried on in the bloodstream. We found her grave and stood beside it.istened for her footsteps. Adam had told Joe those stories once. Adam\u8217?s mot her had been brought up a Methodist. warning him off. \u8216?God knows how many. too. to be a ble to say those sweet words that so often stuck on our tongues. balancing myself. back and back. When she could speak.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?The baby will have cousins all over Cornwall. He knew them on both sides. It had long ago lost the raw look of death.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam\u8217?s ancestors would be Ruby\u8217?s. Adam lit the fires. He had docum ents as well as stories.\u8217? said Adam. I watc hed Joe soaking them up in the way he absorbed material he might one day use. He laid her down on my lap. It was November and I was seven months pregnant. {\i My gran. inside the shape of my arms. and Joe had listened intently.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?My two darlings. the rain to come.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?But she never told my gran that.\u8217? said Adam. She would pass through my his toryless body and come into her inheritance. overlooking the sea.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { His gran is buried in Barnoon Cemetery.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Give Ruby to me. my great-granddad. to hear of griefs that were larger than our own. but this one collected light. The wind blew and the sky was pale and torn wit h cloud. during the war. But he only smiled. who was Jewish and gave Adam the red hair that darkened into Ruby\u8217?s c urls. and touched the stone of his grandmother\u8217?s .\u8217? said Adam. the rain}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam\u8217?s gran was a girl from St Ives. though we hadn\u8217?t known it. My gran had a hard life and the chapel kept her going. pumped the water. \u8216?She didn\u8217? t want to upset her. Adam\u8217?s parents met in London.\u8217?\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { We stood in Barnoon Cemetery.\u8217? I said to Adam. when I wa s pregnant and we came to St Ives. and pulled down handfuls of history. {\i You know me. We had come to be l oosened from ourselves.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam\u8217?s father was irreligious in a Jewish way. Jo e saw me looking. My great-granddad}. then relaxed. he had buildings where they\u8217?d lived. Her daughter married Adam\u8217?s fat her. reading the lettering. It was settled into the earth and the wind and light played around it in a jewel-like way I had never seen in any other graveyard. made me stay in be d until the rooms were warm. but after she was twenty she had no time fo r it. by his grandmother\u8217?s grave. Adam re ached so easily into his past. Rebecca. Ruby stiff ened.

Ruby. Her grave was tended. Adam was home.\u8217? I said.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Have some of your lettuce.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The wind raced and roared and I wanted to run with it.\u8217? he said. Ada m always made her wear a bike helmet.\par \pard\plain\hyphpar} { You can write about memory forever.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { So.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { We went into town and the wind pushed us in and out of the salt. and so for once I didn\u8217?t n eed the babysitter when I went out to work.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Ruby jumped inside me and I felt how alive I was.\u8217? He helped me up and clasped me close so that my belly bumped against him. She\u8217?d just started to ride it without stabilizers. eat ing macaroni cheese. him and me and the baby who would be our daughter.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It was a warm evening in August. with no rain in it. but Adam made a f rame for my face with his hands and turned me to look at him.\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?d like to be buried here. or working as a nurse. which was good for a five-year-old.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { They were still eating when I left. the three of us. She turned inside me like a fish and thudded against my flesh. but it was such a beautiful evening t hat Adam thought he\u8217?d take Ruby to the park after they\u8217?d eaten. of course I\u8217?m not.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The wind whipped hair into my eyes and I turned my face aside. Adam tapped the smart paint on a co ttage door as we went by. But it won\u8217?t work any more . and felt that she belonged here. Ruby. I thought of the years she had been there with the smell of salt on the s pringy turf.\u8217? I said. I wondered if she kn ew where she was. Rubes.\u8217? I said.\u8217? I said. Why did I hang on to the jo b? He would have understood if I had been taking an evening class. Ruby wanted to ride her bike. Stories falling as thick as snow to bury what happened.\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { \u8216?One of my cousins looks after the grave. as I always did. even though I knew it didn\u8217?t much please Adam when I walked out of the door on my way to the bar. tired man served us coffee.\par\pard\plain\hyph par} { \u8216?Let\u8217?s keep you both warm. with white pebbles on it and a little bush that was bare now but might have flowers in the spring. It was a white gale. and the boats sailing around the Island and o ut to the fishing grounds. \u8216?There\u8217?s competit ion. It w ould be light until eight-thirty. and the sea sounding. and blotted my mouth. I was standing at the mi rror.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Lots of people want that. They were sitting together at the table.\u8217? said Adam. I was pleased with the way I looked.\par\pard\plain\hyp hpar} { \u8216?Are you lonely?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. You can do it to avoid writing about what ha ppened. I put on lipstick. tying back my hair into its tight knot. \u8216?London money coming dow n. I lifted the cup a nd tasted its sour taste and I was flooded from head to foot with happiness. and usually I\u8217?d have bathed Ruby first. \u8216?Don\u8217?t think about it now. There was no need for me to work there. Tell a story.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?The town\u8217?s changing.\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { \u8216?I could belong here.\par\pa .\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam opened his coat and wrapped it so that we were all inside it. this is what happened.grave. Ruby was excited too.\u8217? said Adam.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { We went into an hotel and a slow.\u8217? he said. \u8216?I wouldn\u8217?t feel lonely h ere. But what value is there in going to a bar and serving drinks and liste ning to people\u8217?s stories of their lives?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?m going to work now. tell another story. In the summer we wore sleeveless black dresses and after months of sun my arms were a smooth even brown. packed with life. It\u8217?s one way out of it. intricate stree ts. I had to be at the bar at seven.

and I walked back out into the sunshine with everybody happy.\par\p ard\plain\hyphpar} { Ruby would be so pleased. shook it out and combed my fing ers through it. Two cars went along the main road. She w as always yelling at me to push her higher and I was always holding back. They had no meaning except to satisfy Ruby. So\u8230?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I was in a good mood. and smoothed down my dress. I changed quickly because I wanted to get up to the park before they left. I\u8217?ll tiptoe in. Pauline was supposed to have tol d me this already. I straightened up. racing downhill. As I was going out of the house I remembered that my hai r was still pulled back for work. and opposite was the road that led downhill from the park.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar } { She wasn\u8217?t far ahead of him. one hand on its saddle. walking east. The sun was on my back. It was such a beautiful even ing and they lit the lamps around the garden when it went dark.rd\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Have you got to?\u8217? she asked. She was running down the pavement and Adam was behind.\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { It was ten to eight as I went out of the door and locked it. hoping to get to the park. the air thick and golde n as syrup. It took about a minute in front of the mirror. She was running faster than he could keep up with. high up on a swing maybe. Toda y was what mattered with Ruby. and we had too many staff that night and not eno ugh the next. because her babysitter couldn\u8217?t come in the next day. The house had that quiet sunlit feeling and I knew straighta way that it was empty. her red curls tipped back. looking down towards the end. Ruby loved those lamps. and maybe we\u8217?d go for a drink at the Silk Garden.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Even if I\u8217?m fast asleep?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Even if you\u8217?re fast asleep.\par\pard\plain\hyph par} { \u8216?I\u8217?ll come in and give you a kiss when you\u8217?re asleep. the other on the handlebars.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But when I got to work there was a problem. I put on my white T-shirt with the embroidered daisies that Ru by liked. I was walking fast.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I was coming down the road. ben t over the bike to push it.\u8217? I said. her heels in the blue air. as she always did. Ruby\u8217?s bike helmet was strapped to the handlebars. Anna had changed shift. up its long green slopes and into the children\u8217?s play area while Ruby was still there. I noticed a few plane leaves on the pavement.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { We said the same words every time. I won\u8217?t wak e you up. Then there she was again. Th e main road was ahead of me. but then I thought I\u8 217?d change first. I\u8217?d walk up to the park and meet them.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I was going to go straight up to the park and meet them. not wa nting her to go too high. I unpinned it. I told Anna I\u8217?d do her shift the next night and I ma de sure it was all written down on the rota so there wouldn\u8217?t be any messup over pay. Ther e was a new girl being trained. but she\u8217?d been off sick and she\u8217?d forgotten. I had a clear view. because of the bike \u8211?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\qc {\i she always stops at roads {\line } she\u8217?s never run into a road . so I was late and I think I forgot to call goodbye. The sun was going down and the light was beautiful after the stale w hiteness of the day. I kissed Adam too and then I start ed looking for my keys and couldn\u8217?t find them. cutting across. dry and brown . and my jeans. I thought of the thick fallen leaves of autumn and how Ruby liked to jump and stamp in them. I wouldn\u8217?t tell her I was working tomorrow. I ran down the step s and turned left. The sun was full on her face and she didn\u8217?t see me. The gap between her and Adam was wi der now. And there was Ruby. hiding her .

I would clean her face. \u8216?Ruby. Adam had his mouth over her mouth. I would come back an d wash the road with a bucket of water and Ruby would help me swoosh it over the gravel. I was running and Ruby w as running for me. trying to find her breat h. I always p ut them in the washing machine every week. don\u8217?t touch her. and Ruby was throw n off. he was tearing for Ruby in great l eaps. and her trainers. She was alive. He was off the ground. I was on my knees in th e gravel.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?He\u8217?s a doctor. stop there!\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { Ruby heard me. Her pink jeans too. squinting through the sun which was beh ind me and full in her face. He wanted me to look after her now. I always carried them. The brakes screamed and the wheels tore at the road.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Don\u8217?t touch her.{\line } but look how fast she\u8217?s going} {\line } {\i Adam} {\line } {\i she\u8217?s too far ahead} {\line } {\i the gap between them} {\line } {\i stop Ruby stop Ruby stop} {\line } {\i Rubystop}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Ruby!\u8217? I shouted. She would spring through the air that divided us. She took off. I saw the blue car go sideways past me with Ruby on its bonnet. I lay on the road and stroked her ankle inside the thick trainer. I watched her fall on her back.\u821 7? said Adam. Then the car hit the side of a plane tree.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { She was moving. A dark-blue car flashed round the bend in the main road. I bowed down so my face was almost touching her foot in its dirty trainer. I lifted my head and saw Ruby\u8217?s face. She arched again as if the road was shocking her. I looked up at them from all fours. She didn\u8217?t stop. A dam was still crouched over Ruby. She was trying to get up. on the back of her head.\u8217? I said.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { There were people pressing round us.\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { \u8216?Adam!\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He was behind her. She went small. thud into my body and I woul d break her fall. but he wasn\u8217?t breathing into her any mor e.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam dropped the bike. Then she went st ill. like a dog. and then I\u821 7?d put her jeans in the washing machine. I knew I would have som e wipes in my bag. The driver\u8217?s mo uth was wide open. She would like that.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { . \u8216?They\u8217?re sending an ambulance. He was fast but the gap was too big.\u8217? said a man. She looked up as she ran. they had stuff al l over them. He had stopped. \u8216?Her father\u8217?s a doctor. full tilt into the dazzle of the setting sun. Her body convuls ed. don\u8217?t touch her.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The blue car skidded.\u 8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I could barely see Ruby. r acing for me with the wildness that she knew was safe because my arms were there . Ruby\u8217?s trainers were never dirty like that. for when Ruby ate ice cream or there w asn\u8217?t any paper in public toilets. \u8216?I rang on my mobile. shocked sideways and covered in muck. Ruby saw me.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I saw things in a jigsaw all at once and very clear. I don\u8217?t t hink she even saw the main road.

\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I can\u8217?t make sense of this. Adam wouldn\u8217?t have a heavy coffin for Ruby. You get down now.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs2 8 {\b 14\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i We Are As We Are}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i After great pain. He didn\u8 217?t let go.\par\par d\plain\hyphpar} { It was possible to open Adam\u8217?s grandmother\u8217?s grave and put Ruby ther e with her.\par\pard \plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?That\u8217?s good. the lights were still on. then sto od upright again. by himself. concentrating. Minute by minute Adam was there.\par\pard\plain\ hyphpar} { \u8216?Give her to me a minute.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam let his papers fall to the floor.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Can\u8217?t you leave it?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I could let it go. She liked t o talk about the atmosphere which a particular candle would bring to a room. sometimes they were tall and soaring like church candles. It burned steadily. without a flicker. comings and goings. work was drawing him in. More and more. \u8216?It\u8217?s different at work. The tall ones wound their way down swiftly. The room was quiet. I bought scented candles and decorated candles.\u8217? I said. \u8216?I read it and as soon as I read it I lose it. It was warm and there were voices and footsteps. She was heavy and I had to brace myself to take her weight. kept by a young woman who had be gun her business by making all the candles herself. like tombs \u8211?}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { One evening that November Adam was reading a research paper. But \u8211?\u8217?\par\pard \plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?But you remember when you\u8217?re at work? You remember things at work?\ u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam\u8217?s fists were clenched. a formal feeling comes. blank. His eyes were wide op en. Sometimes they were fat and stubby. Rubes. changing wit h every change in the babies. We didn\u8217?t wa nt her to feel locked in. There\u8217?d be overseas conferences and I .}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i The nerves sit ceremonious. The re was going to be a lot of travel.\u8217? said Adam. Each night there was a different candle. We wanted somewhere for Ruby where she would be safe.{\qc *\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Barnoon is heaven. and was scentless. He was becoming involved in an international project on HIV and prematurity. In the compartment of work. I held the box and I could feel R uby.\u8217? he said. which I did every night now. because candles give life to a room. noting every detail of a drug protocol. It\u8217?s only one paper. He wouldn\u8217?t let go. very gently .\par\pard\plain\ hyphpar} { {\i You\u8217?re getting a big girl now. He bumped them on the table. My memory\u8217? s fucked.\par \pard\plain\hyphpar} { Tonight\u8217?s candle was the blue of polar ice. I watched a gob of wax make its way down the candle stem. The coffin was made of a special kind of cardboard and it was so light that Adam carried Ruby in his arms. even li ttle family jokes of the kind people have when they work together night and day. frowning. very restrained. smiling. I can\u8217?t carr y you any more}. I\u8217?d lit a candle.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He had split his life in two. Th ere was a shop I used to go to in those months.\u8217? I said. in her bathroom. very. They slithered down off his knee and the movement of the paper disturbed the candle so that its flame fluttered.

\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { If Anna\u8217?s babysitter hadn\u8217?t let her down. Adam couldn\u8217?t use the computer. it pounced as next-door\u8217?s cat squirmed in the autumn sun. And then Olya had invited her niece to play with R uby. and the visits we \u8217?d made to Moscow. but I\u8217?d printed it out and put it in an envelope to keep. she wants to wear them all the ti me. It had m oved in like a crowd of strangers: animal. it would not let us sit at the kitchen table. found the keys in the si de-pocket of my bag. He wrote about her yellow cardigan.\par\pa rd\plain\hyphpar} { He didn\u8217?t write about our feelings. shake her. He couldn\u8217?t concentrate. and how when Ruby was four Olya had taught her how to s ay \u8216?Do you want to be my friend?\u8217? in Russian because this was what R uby said to everyone she met. She starts to cry and you yell. ever. he wrote at the end of the letter. and the day she was born. are you all right? You sound different. the next it became a scuffed place under the swing.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { We learned that it only took two or three months after Ruby\u8217?s death for pe ople to begin asking us if we were all right. In the sh ower water hit me like rods of iron and I gasped at its weight. I believed h im. At one moment it was a picture book. that\u8217?s when accidents h appen. It trod everywhere. She gets silly when she\u8217?s tired. Ruby and Sveta both fell over in the park and both wanted Disney plasters on their almost invisible grazes when they came back to t he apartment. It sat a t Adam\u8217?s desk. Joe remembered everything. or about his own. It seemed to me when I held the letter that his thoughts f . ever do that again}. packed sol id with this thing that kept changing shape and seizing us in new ways. People would call us at home and say. It was an email. but when I saw my short black dress hangi ng in the wardrobe.\par\pard\p lain\hyphpar} { There was no room for anything else. Adam was back so late these days that I knew I had ple nty of time. came down the steps.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I turned away from the mirror. my head began to drum. in a way I thought no one else would remember. If I\u8217?d left my hair as it was. It filled the ga rden and shrivelled the nerine lilies and bronze chrysanthemums. And you s it down together on the hall floor and she burrows into you. vegetable. not seeming to notice that they weren\u8217?t speaking the same language. He wrote about Ruby. That minute I\u8217?d spent shaking out my hair and combing it with my fingers.\par\pard\ plain\hyphpar} { {\i I think of you both constantly}. When they\u8217?re tired or when they\u8217?re hungry.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Another November evening.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { If I had gone straight to the park in my work clothes instead of going home to c hange. I locked the door. mineral. {\i Don\u8217?t you ever. He co uld barely use the phone. and read Joe\u8217?s letter again. It got into bir dsong and the sound of sirens. Joe was constant. You both go back in the house a nd shut the door and your heart\u8217?s still pumping while she bawls and howls and clings to your waist scrubbing her tears and snot into your jeans.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam had to stay later and later at the hospital. The minute ticked through my head ag ain. Our house was full of grief.could come with him. It lay between us in bed like a sword. They\u8217?d played together. \u8216?Adam.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Better put her pink jeans in the wash tonight. You grab her. And Sveta liked the plasters so much that Ruby secretly put a hand ful of them in her jacket pocket so Sveta would find them when she got home. If I had told Adam it was too late for Ruby to go to the park. I felt the August h eat on my arms.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I gave up the bar. and you comfort eac h other. You run down the steps and catch her as she races in to the road. Suddenly sh e\u8217?s out of the house.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { You might leave the front door open while you fetch the shopping in. I\u8217?d been looking at myself in the mirror. I opened the front door. because he couldn\u8217?t work at home. I tried to go once. I would light my candle.

Even if I\u8217?m asleep? Ruby asked. The noise was loud enough to keep Ruby awake. People understand that. It was true even tho ugh he had never touched the paper. over thousands of miles. and then I would be with her again. B ut inside. she said. Rubes. and you know what. there was the quick of the plant.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The days were nothing any more. but after a brief pause it began to ring again. lightly. I put on my nightdress and my dressing gown.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I came to Ruby\u8217?s room in the dark. Ruby. I moved my chair closer to her bed.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s only your radiator. Ruby. She could always tell when I was there. It bore no marks of his sweat.\u8217? I said. You had a b ad dream. strong and sure. I couldn\u8217?t answer it.\u8217? I said. How I dreaded the thought that inside my shrivelled self ther e was something that wanted to come back to life. not even to stroke her cheek. and turned off the lights. He was waiting in bed. \u8216?Go back to sleep. and everythin g safe.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?m here. The trees and bushes were losing their leaves. I r epeated. the TV unplugged.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I thought that Adam had come home too. with a straight back and frowning slightly at first.lowed towards me. her lips \u8211?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Joe didn\u8217?t tell me to turn my mind away. to heal myself.\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { Winter was coming.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Ruby\u8217?s bedroom was dark and warm. because I had printed out his email. feeling the empty space where I belonged. and there was no envelope which might have his saliva on the seal. and slipped into the house without tellin g me. to forget. There were no minutes any more. if the frost didn\u8217?t burn it away entirely. when I\u8217?d settled Ruby down.\par\pard\p lain\hyphpar} { One night the phone kept ringing. you were snoring. I would look at my watch as the day drew on and know it was only a few hours now. I like the smell when you come back from work. Even if you\u8217?re asleep. her cheek s. I hadn\u8217?t changed her sheets. That made her laugh. I told her about how she was all curled up and I tucked the duvet round her. I walked around the rooms. The dark and the Ruby smell melted into me an d I hung in time.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i I think of you both constantly}. but the next morning I always told her I\u8217?d done it. petal after petal of it. Sometimes I fo rgot. I must find the key and bleed it.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I always promised her I would come in and kiss her goodnight after I came back f rom work. her eyelids.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { . He was thinking of Ruby like that. Soon they\u821 7?d be dry and brown. Water sucked and gurgled in her radiator . He remembered the way Ruby would ba lance in his arms. to make things bearabl e. in case she thought it was something bad. and to all outward appearances dead. He knew t hat I\u8217?d come soon. and put it away. remembering the Disney plasters and the yellow cardigan. Rubes. I blew out the candle.\u8217? I said. And then breaking into a smile. Like this. It rang for twenty rings and then it stopped. She felt my presence just as I felt hers. She knew I was t here. I had to get through them and I understood why R uby wasn\u8217?t there in them.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The thing was to stay in her room. It was barely green but if you put your lips to it you could feel that it was moist. c hecking that the lights were off in all of them. The house was so familiar that I could find my way around in the dark. He did not write about the stages of grief. I didn\u8217?t have to hold on . When you\u8217?re settling a child down you can\u8217?t always get to the phone in t ime.\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { I didn\u8217?t try to touch Ruby.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Go to sleep. I thought.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I folded Joe\u8217?s letter. The smell of Ruby clung to them. stiff and scratchy. or w ashed her pyjamas. I didn\u8217?t need to touch her.

the pang of Ruby\u8217?s conception. an d the fathomless water.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { If your heels are nimble and light\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { We may get there by candlelight.\u8217?\par\pard\ plain\hyphpar} { The light crashed on.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I heard you talking. I would roll over in the bed and imagine the waves leaping around us.\par\pard\plain\hyphp ar} { So often I\u8217?d thought that our bed was a ship and we were voyaging in it to gether. He needed eight hours\u8217? sleep. Our body h eat. He must recover himself.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?My heels are nimble and light.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Why didn\u8217?t you let me keep her?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?For Christ\u8217?s sake.\u8217? I said. We would go on and on. a lamp.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He had to work.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Everything shrivelled and went. His sureness.\u8217? said Adam.\u8217? I said.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I know they are. Rebecca. I would not have dared do anything for fear of doing harm. and had been startled into life months too soon. I checked the il luminated face of the alarm clock. B ut Adam wasn\u8217?t afraid. He didn\u8217?t shrink back and he trusted that wha t he did would be of use.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He must sleep. Twenty past one.\u8217? said Ruby. Ruby. wouldn\u8217?t do anything to them without telling them what he was doing. When I\u8217?d first met him and loved him I\u8217?d loved his w ork too without knowing it.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { How many miles to Babylon?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Four score miles and ten. because it was in every part of him. the juice of sex. But we\u8217?ll get there. He came across to me and the cold air of outside touched me. you\u8217?ve got to stop this.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She\u8217?s \u8211?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes.\u8216?I\u8217?m here. and back again.\par\pard\plain\hyph par} { \u8216?She\u8217?s gone.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. We could dissolve the day\u8217?s quarrels in a moment.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Ruby was restless. In front of me there was a flat bed. and practical and tender. \u8216?You don\u8217?t w ant to be tired and grumpy in the morning. I wondered who was in his dream. \u8216?I\u8217?m sorry. I knew she wanted me to sing to her. Rubes. I\u82 17?m so sorry \u8211?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It was the heart of the night. his attentiveness. the taste of Adam\u8217?s sweat.\u8217? I said. I\u8217?m so sorry. For Christ\u8217?s Christ\u8217?s sake. and acted simply. I\u8217?m s o sorry. I would have shrunk back. He w as breathing shallowly. and a toy reindeer.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He must sleep. or h e wouldn\u8217?t be able to work. I\u8217?m so sorry. I thought of his hands which I knew so well I seemed to know them from the bones outward.\u8217? he said. I believed. Adam. I would have been too scared of causing more pain. Robust hands. His lack of fear when h e touched a baby who was little bigger than his hand. Adam had fallen asleep. \u8216?Rebecca. his boldness. fighting the current of sleep as it tried to carry him i nto deeper waters.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { .\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Are yours?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Not as light as yours.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Will we get there by candlelight?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Yes. Go back to sleep. our dreams. He always talked to the babies. He held together in his head the whole complex thing. \u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?m sorry. On my lap there was a limp pair of pyjamas. the time we always returned to our selves. Our best time. I\u8217?m so sorry. pushed where the waves took us. Everything that was in us made up the voyage. It was too dark for me to see if his hands were still clenched into fists. We would die in that bed. twisted into hi s fibres. It was Adam standing there in his coat.

The line was cut. We couldn\u8217?t shelter her. I\u8217?d left the window open and it sucked at the cur tain. not your fleece. in the wind and c old.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I must close the window. Rubes}.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The rain spattered.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i I must close the door.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The house was nothing any more. But I couldn\u8217?t bring myself to shut th e window when Ruby was still outside.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\ page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b 15\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b . and they had lost their leaves. I must close the window so that the wind doesn\u8217?t co me in}.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Ruby.\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { When there was frost I would turn her radiator up and creep into her room before we went to bed to check that she hadn\u8217?t thrown off her covers. Outside.\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { The wind was getting up. and killed it.\p ar\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He groaned. Now his back was turned to me.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { When it was a cold day but we weren\u8217?t sure if it would rain or not. We had failed. and watched the sterile. and turned the heating up. It meant nothing.\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { \u8216?Ruby. It was a shell. She would never be in her bedroom agai n. stand still. Her waterproof was n ot as warm as her fleece-lined coat. was Ruby.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The cold wind made me shiver but I pulled the sash up a little higher. and moved. and heaved himself over. I went over to the window and the curtain blew into my face.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Put on your boots. No. She was out there. even thoug h she didn\u8217?t like it. Ruby.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { There was the tree-lined street. in the nest of her bed. I thought. but nothing alien. We would not have let a drop of rain fall on her. you\u8217?ll need your wate rproof today. The street was blank and still. The plane trees were tanned orange by the stree t lights. I wanted the house to dissolve.\u8217? I said. You are not going out without your gloves}.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I pushed back the bedclothes and slid out of bed. t he frost burned its way into the Turkey fig Adam had planted. Ruby always spread her fingers out wrong for her gloves. There would never be an answer.Nothing in Adam was alien to me.\par\pard\plai n\hyphpar} { I stood at the window now. I knew she couldn\u8217?t feel it but I flinched at the rain spattering on the windows. found the p arting of the curtains and drew them back. I wanted the rain to come in. drawing it in and then letting it belly outwards. Its catch tapped against the frame. {\i It\u8217?ll keep you warm.\par\pard\ plain\hyphpar} { On the first day that Ruby came home. bare branc hes. The door creaked. I fumbled between the folds of cloth. She would have three fingers crammed into one woollen finger. and shu t the door. I could go into the bedroom and sit beside her bed in the d ark but I would not feel her or smell her. we wrapped her cherry-coloured shawl aroun d her in the car seat. and the wind . The bed would remain blank and her so ft toys would slowly lose their characters. And we\u8217?d tie on her scarf. but even as the word left my mouth I knew how thin i t would sound. Wind was moving in the big. There were unknown things. we wou ld stand in the hall and debate which coat she should wear. Let\u8217?s put your hood up. Ins ide the house. in her warm room. flickering shadows that the wind made out of bare twigs and branches. We carried her swiftly from the car to the house. I always left our bedroo m door open and I couldn\u8217?t stop doing it. and ha lf the glove limp. booming where the weather struck it.

It was about two months after I began to work for Mr Damiano tha t I discovered there was a backyard at the base of the office building. I filled heavy-duty plastic bag s with the rubbish and arranged for a council collection. I had been born into a place like this.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { There was a rustle in the corner and I turned sharply. I hadn\u8217? t gone to my flat or showered or unpacked. when I had finished speaki ng. The wood was rotten and the sh ed fell apart as soon as I pulled at the planks. piles of rubbish . but the old dirt had stayed there. I had gone straight from Heathrow to the office. Mr Damia no rented the yard. as if no one ever bothered to open it. \ u8216?When you first came?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I nodded again. But my second birth. His eyes were pouchy and black underneath. leaning f . which I knew nothing about. bins. The lock was stiff when I turne d the key. I knew that.\u8217? said Mr Damiano. Nobody remembered it. even w hen I went around the yard stirring the piles of rubbish with a stick.\par\ pard\plain\hyphpar} { I worked on that yard every weekend. I nodded. boxes. But I saw nothing. The yard was paved with greasy flagstones. with the stale taste of aeroplanes still in my mouth. The walls were high and dirty and they needed pointing here and there. grained with filth .\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You remember how you made the garden. when Lucia lifted me out of my cardboard shoebox and brough t me into the heat of the kitchen. I checked my watch and looked at the position of the sun. Generations of London soot had gone into the brick.\par\pa rd\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?For storage. even though our offices were not on the ground floor. My resurrection had happened in a yard like t his. I had been here before. but the y were sound. I hired ladders and a high-pressure hose. too. o ut of my mother\u8217?s body.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Sunlight was leaking over the walls and onto the heaps of cardboard and black ru bbish bags.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i A web of sunny air. to speak to Mr Damiano. shed. For the first time. I had told him everything and now it was quite dark. In London you are never more than a few steps from a rat. The Clean Air Acts had been passed. when I first asked him about it.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i We cut an almond rod\u8230?}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You reproach yourself. I wondered exactl y how old he was. The door. But the re was nothing stored there. Nothing c ame out.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i We dug a spring in infancy. It was full of rubbish. I went down the three steep st eps and I was in the yard. My feet ached. The yard f aced south-west.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Of water pure and fair:}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i We sowed in youth a mustard seed.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar } { For three weekends I worked on painting the walls. Rebecca?\u8217? asked Mr Damiano.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I was in Mr Damiano\u8217?s office. Painting the walls.{\i Reproaches}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i We wove a web in childhood. and dismantled the lean-to.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I went back up the steps with the key in my pocket. Mr Damiano looked tired.\ par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I looked at the open door that led into the building. Not my first birth. Sound of traffic and footsteps beyond the high walls. I cleared the rubbish.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The door to the yard was kept locked and bolted. and his skin was sallow.\u8217? he shrugged. and a lean-to shed sagged aga inst the far wall.

Once or twice I wondered if this was because I reminded h im of someone. thinking of nothing but the sweep of my brush and the tide o f Dulux Weathershield in Brilliant White advancing over the bricks. I would finish work late on Friday night. but not as if agreeing with me. It w as in a terracotta pot and when I bent down I smelled its musky. I liked to sweep the flagstones. though I didn\ u8217?t know how to tell the time by it.\u8217? he said.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I didn\u8217?t want to plant flowers.ree from my ladder. There was a light on the garden wall and when Mr Damiano switched it on everything sprang into focus. Rubbish.\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { {\qc *\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You reproach yourself. I would buy horticultural fle ece this time and mummify this fig tree when frost threatened.\u8217? said Mr Damiano. He asked me if I would plant some scented things and so I put a wooden tub of nicotiana and night-scented stock close to the seat. I saw how it would be: white walls.\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { {\qc *\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You remember how you made that garden. I had allowed some flowers in. When people say you remind them of someone it means that you remind them of themselves. peerin g at the plants as if he didn\u8217?t know what they would do next.\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { Mr Damiano never came to see what I was doing.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { In three years I had bought a seat and table for the garden and the two pots.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. of their own concerns. \u8216?My sens e of smell is poor. oft en.\ par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { . leaf-shadows. and saw tiny figs on the branches. that\u8217?s all. The tide of London receded. trim t he ivies.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Because you smoke. Let\u8217?s go in your garden. but I couldn\u8217?t afford to buy them. In time. The orange street-light murk vanished and the sound of traffic dimmed.\u8217? he would say approvingly.\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { \u8216?You have the touch for this. Mr Damiano sat there in the evenings. \u8216?Let\u8217? s go downstairs. light. You are a mirror.\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { \u8216?That\u8217?s right. The sun came round and settled strongly .\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Next time I came to the garden there was a fig tree in the sunniest corner. \u8216?Of course. and feed and water the pots.\u8217? said Mr Damiano again. But I put the thought out of my mind. Right from the beginning he spoke to me as if we\u8217?d known each other for a long time. walking through the early streets in my oldest jeans.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. like a man in a restaurant who is a connoisseur of food without knowing how to make the sim plest dish.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\h yphpar} { It was an August night and still warm. Rebecca. ferns and ivies that would drip down the walls.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It was nothing before. I would do so. I wanted things that belonged to the yard.\u8 217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I don\u8217?t think about it. then I would be back again on Saturday morning. no. He would walk around it in his urban way. He knew about the project but see med to take no interest in it. of their own life. The blue smell of his cigarettes fi lled up the yard. As I painted I was letting light down into the yard.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The Turkey fig Adam had planted died in the frost. There was a sundial on the wall now. put them near.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He smoked too much and couldn\u8217?t climb a flight of stairs without stopping to wheeze. There should be a seat and ther e should be a tall pot at either side of it. Rebecca?\u8217? asked Mr Damiano a gain. with a bottle of wine on the iron table. He liked the garden. though. fertile scent.

In my family we age very slowly. Cavafy.\par\pard\p lain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Who are we using?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I Promessi Sposi. I wondered if he coloured it hi mself. The perfume of the nicotiana was s trong. As I\u8217?ve said before. You remember when you came here first? You told me that you kn ew nothing about hotels. and so do I.\p ar\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?We should change our olive supplier for Sidney. My father\u8217?s hair was black at fifty. Rebecca. they were like great ships in my mind. But it was exactly w hat I needed. Sexton and Bishop \u8211? and all the people sle eping in them at this moment. They\u8 217?ll think we\u8217?re cheap. the petty sewing-kit and shoe wipes. the turning-down of the bed by tired middle-aged women who are working with out papers. If you were afraid to sleep at nig ht (and God knows how many people who have reached the peak of their careers are afraid to sleep at night) you would find a fire lit.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Mr Damiano sighed. The bed heaped w ith over-stuffed pillows and bolsters. It had been gre ying. Mr Damiano\u8217?s ships blew their sirens on the water.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. As I thought of the hotels he had created and the fact that I was leaving the m. you can believe that the building holds ever ything you\u8217?ve ever wanted. Vil lon. I thought of Mr Damiano\u8217?s hotels \u8211? the Sidney. Where the time was different.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Mr Damiano had stopped walking. the minibar which electronically registers everything that is taken out of it. if we get the chance to age. who would it be \u8211? what kin d of hands \u8211?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I am older than you think. just a little. \u8216?How ol d do you think I am. It was hard for him to let go of his best ideas. The hotels would be brightly lit at their hund reds of windows and they would have the privileged look that such places have at night.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. We age very slowly. Rebecca?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Sixty-two? Sixty-three?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. As you entered the hotel you entered a story where you had your own part.\u8217? said Mr Damiano. His hair was dark again. where you we re considered.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He wanted to give finesse to the thought of having everything you wanted. He\u8217?d l oved the thought of that patient. In London. He stood beside the seat and rubbed the petals o f the night-scented stock between his fingers.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?And so you\u8217?re leaving me. in New York. where you knew and were known.\u8217? said Mr Damiano abruptly.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Mr Damiano rubbed the back of his head. tiny darning. And if so. as if that was a disqualification. he ha d no time for the comfortless clich\u233?s of the luxury hotel. the gyms and massage services and pretentious bis tros.\par\pard\plain\h yphpar} { \u8216?Yes.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It was a nice idea. Mr Damiano had sent me to visit many such hotels. And those napkins won\u8217?t work in New York. Lampedusa.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Mr Damiano\u8217?s gift was to keep that dream just as bright when you came clos e. \u8216?I am much older than that. or if someone did it for him. children would be pl aying with their baskets of toys. the routine health spa toiletries. He wan ted you to believe that your old nurse had known that you were coming and had go t out the family napkins and held them up to the light and begun to darn.\u8217? I said.Mr Damiano walked up and down.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You are sure about the napkins?\u8217? asked Mr Damiano. in California. Then. My mother did not give birth to me until she was almost forty. Langland. and a book laid by your be d with the page marked. I\u8217?m sure. Let me sit down and tell y . And you reproach yourself. the offering of porn channels and crested writing-paper. seen from a distance. and I sat on the seat and watched the red point o f his cigarette grow bright as he drew on it. lights blazing and music drifting over the gap between us. to learn. Sorescu. it was a nice idea. You\u8217?ve worked well with me.\u8217? he said. pulling away from the quay where I sto od. before I left for New York. and then she gave birth again at forty-e ight.

\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Did you like being a trapeze artiste?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?At first.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Suddenly the bird gave out a few notes. I can see her now. That was before B ella was born. in a dark-blue bottle without a label on it.\u8217? said Mr Damiano. His bulk settled on the seat besid e me. But I was not then as I am now. I remember how she would warm up before every practice and every performance. She was about as dark as you are \u8211? yes.\u8217? He slap ped his thigh. It was black. and my mother seemed young to me. peaty water and it was full of carp. you know. I told you. The dark was soft and comforting. Bending and stretching and doing flips in the dust. the colour of you r hair is very similar. It wasn\u8217?t her real name. She had dark hair which she rinsed with henna and the sunlight wou ld strike on it. bringing her arms up and rotating them from her shoulders. stret ching and bending.\par\pard\plain\hyph par} { \u8216?I remember once when we were touring in Austria. \u8216?I remember my mother in her costume. are n ot fine willowy people. like this. Not that she was so very beautiful.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?My mother was strong. but we always called her Bella.ou. Trapeze artistes. Out of it his voice came heavily. Water would stream off her shoulders. I watched the first perform .\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Our light disturbed it. It was a special type of oil. br inging one foot up above her head. in a patch of sunlight at the back of the tent. She would towel every part of her body then she would rub oil into her muscles. The leaves rustled again. I didn\u8217?t like the shadows of the carp.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What was she called?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Bella. although she was already in her mid-forties. Bella inherited my mother\u8217?s looks.\par\pard\p lain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I think I told you. I was training from the time I could walk. testing for the dawn . But we both knew that this was the first time I\u8217?d ever h eard it. and then were still. We have muscle. She never hurried or cut c orners. She would skip with a ski pping rope to build up her endurance.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b 16\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i Flyer and Catcher}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Out of the wood of thoughts that grows by night}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i To be cut down by the sharp axe of light \u8211?}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Mr Damiano had switched off the garden light.\par\pard\plain\ hyphpar} { \u8216?After a performance my mother would towel herself down with a rough towel which was always clean and folded ready for her. I couldn\u8217?t see where it went. out in to the deep water. She worked until Bell a was born.\u8217? said Mr Damiano. I liked it. but she was full of life and it looked like bea uty. strong hands. and then the other. We are stocky. Rebecca. she took me to bathe in a lake which was called the Black Lake because of its water.\par\pa rd\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I am seventy-one. Every night I watched my parents perform. The thought of Mr Damiano\u8217?s bulk flying through the air made me s mile. \u8216?If my sister had lived s he would have been sixty-three. My mother swam under the water an d she would rise up close to me and laugh. I used to count for her.\u8217? said Mr Damiano. They would brush against your legs when you swam . we age slowly in my family. very expensive. three hours each day.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { A bird flew suddenly out of the ivy and across the garden. The notes broke off. Tumbling and exercising.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I know. I would see the power in her and then she would let me swim on her back. liquid and hopeful. Strong arms. that my family were trapeze artistes.

She was sure it was a convent because it was full of nuns in their habits and there were bells. Bella didn\u8217?t understand a word.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Were you jealous of her?\u8217? I asked. but more. and at that time she believed that I had the build to become a flyer. My mother had this quality when she was younger. too. My mother sat me on her shoulders and walked the low wire with me. Her costumes were made to catch the light as she f lew. And Bella was the same. Everyone clapped because I was s o small. Soon sh e would slow down and her coordination would deteriorate. but it wasn\u8217?t steady.\u8221? I can hear it now. You would want to watch my mother. She would see pictures of the future but she wouldn\u8217?t be able to interpret them.ance. But they clapped more when they saw that I knew how to work. The act was limited. repair. my mother possessed foresight. And then one day she would fall. But already she had something . and she had something that my father hadn\u8217?t g ot and I hadn\u8217?t got. and the wire was only a few feet above the ground.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Bella\u8217?s birth was very difficult and after that my mother was never as strong. Her coordination was really astonishing. Several times my father had to beat me.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Technically she was at the earliest stages. but it was the beginning o f real work for me. There was a touch of second sight in her. I don\u8217?t think I ever saw Bella drop a thing from the day she was born. But as I grew older.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?My mother was a flyer.\par\pa rd\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Bella loved the ring. She did not have to do anything to ge t applause. But I learned fast.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Bella was small for her age. In fact I believe it was more than th at. because we couldn\u8217? t buy new. I would rather read than practise . other things began to interest me. It cam e and went and so it was of no use to her. when Bella wa s a tiny child. The fabric woul d rub and split under the strain.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?When I was four years old I was measured for a costume which sparkled all over and I went into the ring with my parents. She had to repair. I knew how to balance. pap\u224?}.\u8221? and we all laughed. She h ad a spark in her. not more than two. D on\u8217?t get the idea that I was good: I was not. I was twelve and my sister Bella was four years old. Everyone was glad and my parents were proud of me. no matter how much she practised and how flexible she kept herself. I remember that when she was two years o ld she could crack a fresh egg clean to separate the white from the yolk. My father didn\u8217? t miss anything. even while she was practising the same thing over and over. \u8220?{\i S\u236?. but she said. pap\u224?}. then there was an interval. my mother announced that she had seen Bella i n a convent. Just to be herself. My father would continue to be catcher for me.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. I remember once. I didn\u8217?t go up in the riggin g. You could hear the hiss of breath from beyond the ring kerb.\p ar\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She thought ahead. I wanted to study.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. but not as strongly as Bella. and bounced Bella on his knee and asked her if she was going to cut her hair off and be a l ittle saint. When she squatted I jumped down lightly on the balls of my fee t as I\u8217?d been taught and I did a somersault and stood up with my arms outs tretched. My mother spent hours with the needle in her hand.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?So. I was su pple and strong and I worked hard because I knew I had to. with black curls around her face. \u8220?{\i S\u236?. I was a flyer. She looked so young when she came into the ring that it made them gasp. That was my first time in the ring. which was i . My father laughed. and there was Bella. as he was fo r my mother. They were very expensive and she was always repairing them. I did not want that applause any more. not because she understood the joke but because she was glad to have made the bi g people laugh. what I had to do. Her sweat would rot it. then sometimes I saw the second performance if I hadn\u8217?t fallen asleep. and the sound of Bella laughing.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She was still a flyer but she knew she had only a few years left.

catch her. but she was so bright and happy that everyone loved it. \par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?We tried it. and we knew it. bu t those guys did not even get any results from it. Bella was perfect. I wanted to get away. over and over. even my father could see tha t. Bella did some tumbling. I wanted to smell water and coff ee and fresh new books. But she could be worked into the act. a couple of clowns. And she remained small. Families like ours do not study. Every town we came to. but what could they do? We were the only artist es in that circus. It didn\u8217?t tour the cities. an equestrian act. She became famous aft er the war.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Mr Damiano lit another cigarette. It was what my mother had feared. She kept her feet together. They had some plan of bringing in a snake-charmer.mpossible. it wasn\u8217? t good enough. and then she would work on the low wire. It was nothing at all but it would look pretty. I would stand in the ring with Bella on my shoulders. My father designed a special rigging. There\u8217?s no magic. walked up and down the flagstones with out speaking. Anything to mak e life more interesting. But it\u8217?s not so interesting. me and my father. In time it could be developed. But Bella. My parents didn\u8217?t like it. It didn\u8217?t matter who came. and we couldn\u8217?t afford that. Against the garden light. There was sympathy between their bodies \u8211? you have to have that for the act to work. Easy stuff. I n ever wanted to be measured for another costume. instead of animal dung and human sweat.\par\pard\plain\hyp hpar} { \u8216?How they used to beat those bears! I was used to animals being beaten. Even for country towns. My father would hang from t he aerial ladder. We were out of place there. got up. but she looked less than four. She was far too young for an aerial act.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?My mother would lead her out into the ring and then Bella would cartwheel her way round it. After a few minutes. He should have worked with a girl. but it never happ ened. She was five. It was 1942 and there was no other place i n Europe where we could be. But it was the war. a middle-aged man and a boy who\u8217?s too old to be cute any more. and sit and talk about our thoughts.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?We did what we could. The bears would shamble on th eir hind legs for a while and that was that. I wanted to be a student and sit in a big library with columns and high windows and read and read. and in the evenings to stroll with my friends al ong the river bank and into caf\u233?s. It was a ragbag \u8211? badly trained performing bears. had more magic than us. but it would have meant a share go ing outside the family. Spain was a bad country for us.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?So we carried on. and I would move away. which was also impossible. Then he would swing with her . There was a girl called La Palomina who wanted to work w ith him. they fell in love with her. La Palomina could hang from a rope by her teeth. It was a step down for us all.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You mean high up? On the trapeze?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It was in those months that my father had the idea that Bella would work with us. a nd she developed her own balancing act on the low wire. She was very good. They threw coins into the ring for her and my mother made her a sequinned bag and she put the coins in it. it was not impressive.\par\pard\plain\h yphpar} { \u8216?By this time we were in Spain.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?A year passed. Nothing difficult but sh e seemed to flow from one position to the next like water. She learned to let go with one of her hands wh . but not as bad as everywhere else. She was beautiful to watch. Bella sparkled. pointed the w ay we had taught her. Bella was five. She smiled. down on the ground turning a cartwheel.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?My father was a good catcher. his profile was deeply cut and harsh. it would have gone down better. he came back to me. an Af rican elephant which had skin trouble. a few little tricks. a dwarf and a hermaphrodite. curtseying to the audience. My parents had joined a small circus which went from town to town in southern Spain. I would go into the countryside to look for snakes myself. She liked my father and he liked her.

I used to have a terrible fear that time had stopped and I was caught in it like a fly on glass who thinks he is treading his way into the air but will d ie still trapped.\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { \u8216?One morning Bella and I were in the ring together. I held her as she went up in a handstand. That was even better.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What happened?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Nothing. \u8220?And now we\u8217?re going to have a break. For a moment I thought Bella had r un out to my mother. Bella put her hands on my shoulders. So we pract ised over and over. Bella was always practising. I had left it like that.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { At each step she stretched and grasped and pulled herself up. into the yellowish dusty distance.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I would prickle all over with it. But Bell a was climbing up steadily into the darkness. When we perform ed. She would be able to balance on my shoulders.en he gave her the signal. I didn\u8217?t l ook at Bella. mending my father\u8217?s tights. The rungs of the ladder were too w idely spaced for her.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I pronounced those words with exhilaration. or walking around the ring on her h ands.\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { \u8216?My father knew that Bella was at the point where I would not need to hold her in the handstand. I took the book ou t from under the ringside bench.\u8217?\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. The next Lillian Leitzel. They loved it. \u8220?Why don\u8217?t you let me do it?\u8221?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It was even more boring to practise with Bella than to practise with my f ather. M y father caught her by the feet and she swung upside down.\u8221? I said. She was climbing up to the pedestal board.\par\ pard\plain\hyphpar} { . You can play. She held her arms like a dancer. acr oss the field and the clump of the town. can you imagine? I had bought a teaching b ook from a second-hand shop.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Then I glanced up. nobo dy I saw would know what those words meant. Very pretty. My father had marked t he exact place where we should stand.\u8221?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I was teaching myself English. Again and again I squatted. just ou t of reach of a blow from their paws. and the fly bar. why there were two words for the same thing. Please bring me a fresh mount. If I stared as far as I could. It was a nice little act. She blew kisses. She remained steady. climbing into the dark. She would be practising flips. it was all lit up. Then we developed it so I lif ted Bella upside down with her hands on my shoulders. I could smell excrement and straw and dust . then I saw her. She thought she was ready to fly. The ring was empty. The heat was so great that the mountains vanished in a white haze. Please bring me a fresh mount. I think all adolescents know that feeling.\u8217? I said. I held her by the waist. I was educating myself. and wave to the crowd as she swung. out through the tent flap. She was al ready more than fifteen feet in the air.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I put my finger under the words and said them aloud. I would see my mo ther sitting on the steps. then I let go. But I knew. Bella was perfectly self-possessed. where the fly bar had been left looped over. My father saw how good she was going to be. I wondered if horse and mount were the same thing. Nothing. I was speaking English.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?\u8220?I can do it. and if so. It was like a frenzy. And she was making for the pedestal board.\u8221? Bella kept saying.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?{\i My horse is lame. and I was on the fourth chapter.\par\pard\plain\hyp hpar} { \u8216?{\i This horse is lame. I would see the bea rs dragging at their chains and a yellow village dog yapping round them. so you could see exactly where to put your feet. even when nobody made her.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8220?\u8216?Good girl. and sat down on the ring kerb. he said.

And it was dark up there.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I got her. He ground his cigarette into the flagstones w ith his heel. I could see she thought she was going to make it and reach the pedestal board before me. but she was still just out of reach. Even Bella might fall. and then Bella snatched herself away from me and ran to my mother and buried her face in her skirt. \u8216?Are you all right. b ut she didn\u8217?t notice my book lying in the dust. \u8216?Do you want a drink?\ u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { . My mother would blam e me for not watching my sister more closely. I grasped it and began to climb. When I had got her feet on the ground I shook her hard and she began to cry. My father would hear of it and he would beat me. I reached her.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I thought what to do.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8220?\u8216?You see? You see? You could have fallen all that way down. but it w as no time at all. I thought of calling but I didn\u8217?t want to scare he r. I held her fast between the ladder and my chest.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyph par} { \u8216?So it was all right?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. You mig ht have killed yourself. Rebecca? You\u8217?re not cold?\u8217?\p ar\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. Like the space between one breath and the next. because my mother was always telling her. I made her look up at where s he had been. she might fal l.\u8217?\par\pard\plai n\hyphpar} { \u8216?But you didn\u8217?t get there. She roared and stamped and s creamed until her anger was dissolved. She felt me coming up behind her and she looked round and laughed. I was over at the foot of the ladder.\u8217? said Mr Damiano.\par\pard\plain\h yphpar} { \u8216?No. \u8216?It\u8217?s not what you think.\u8217? he said. I knew I would be fast er than her. If she looked away. I could get to her before she reached the pedestal board. She swarm ed up the next rung of the ladder.\par\pard \plain\hyphpar} { She knew.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I was afraid Bella would tell her what had happened. I was so angry with her tha t I was shaking myself. it\u8217?s warm.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s very warm. It sounds long when I\u8217?m telling you. I would be behind her and I could hold her and bring her down. God knows what she thought she was g oing to do once she got up there.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs 28 {\b 17\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i How My Mother\u8217?s Vision Came True}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\h yphpar} { {\i To know the change and feel it. but her body went rigid.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i When there is none to heal it}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Nor numbed sense to steal it \u8211?}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. But Bella didn\u8217?t say anything.\u8221?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?But she hadn\u8217?t fallen. I brought her down backwards.\u8216?My book dropped. With one arm around Bella and my other ha nd gripping the ladder.\u8217? I said. She didn\u821 7?t struggle. In my mind the little girl cartwheeled through the air to smash on the floor of the ring. safe . She knew that she was forbidden to climb into the rigging. She roared and screeched until my mother cam e. if she misjudged. I could see t he shine of laughter on her face.\u8217? He took a handkerchief out of his pocket and carefully wiped his face and the back of his neck. My mother knew that Bella\u8 217?s fearlessness was a danger as well as an asset. My mother scolded me for teasing Bella.

then we\u8217?ll work. but was that the truth of what happened? Yo u know. with part of my mind. It had electricity. I wasn\ u8217?t even tired. I had humi liated her. and you don\u8 217?t find answers. I t old myself I was trying to save her. She\u8217?d have been ready to begin again. and then he poured another. I could remember everything v ery clearly. She would have curled up on my lap to suck the sweetness out of it. Maybe sleep had been a con all these years. poured the wine and gave me a glass. Yes . I would not let myself go there. as the fire-truck raced a longside our plane. I had a little square of {\i turr\u243?n} in my pocket. I wasn\u8217?t going to let myself sleep. and a fridge. She spent too much time practising anyway. I wasn\u8217?t going to let sleep separate me from Ruby\ u8217?s presence. You only needed it if you thought you needed it. But Bella was too young for that. Mr Damian o disappeared inside. But did I see it then?\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I should have told her to go and play. \u8216?My mother smoothed Bella\ u8217?s hair and wiped her face. I dra nk it slowly. I have often asked myself if that is what I meant to do. I had been thinking of it all the morning. She would have known that I was sorry. would it really have protected her? Adam had taken time over buying the best type of hel met for Ruby. because Adam was pushing her bike. She was burning wi th fury because I\u8217?d come up behind her and lifted her down just when she w as near her goal. She had taken it off when they left the park. It was nice wine.\u8216?Yes. My head felt as light as zero. Aeroplanes and fear and seeing Ruby on the fire-truck were cancelling each other out. and she left us to practise again. Mr Damia no kept a few bottles of wine there. Rebecca. then there was the pull of a cork. I could feel the stiffness of anger in her. We had done it many times before. there was a brick-built shed in the garden now. She stood facing me. and turn it into yesterday.\par\pard\plain\hyp hpar} { \u8216?I was almost fourteen and I had learned how to work safely when I was ang ry or tired or upset. instead of ready fruit.\u8217? he went on. Mr Damiano came out of the shed with a round tray on the flat of his hand. I\u8217 ?d seen Ruby. Bottles clinked. and light curled out of the shed and lay on the stones lik e a tongue. I had plucked her off the ladder like a doll. I had learned how to get tension out of my body before I p erformed. instantly. but I couldn\u8217?t feel it. Where had that come from? My brain was still flying. Bella was still angry. all right. and making sure that it fitted.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I could have given that {\i turr\u243?n} to Bella. She didn\u8217?t need to practise. \u8220?If you want to work so muc h. If she had been wearing her helmet. switche d off the light and closed the door behind him. He swivelled. I must have felt the stiffness in her b . she was stiff with anger. She felt something and it was there in her body.\u8221?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I squatted down. The taste o f the {\i turr\u243?n} in my mouth. Today. you can ask yourself these questions many times. Instead I said to Bella. I can see it now. It was still today.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Instead of the lean-to. All the while the tray in his ha nd remained perfectly steady. And maybe I had meant to do it.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Ruby had not worn her bike helmet. It had a French stoniness in it. between my legs.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Mr Damiano drank his glass rapidly. I took hold of her waist and as she sprang I lifted her so she rose up onto my shoulders in a hand stand.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Ruby was wearing a child-sized fireman\u8217?s helmet.\par\ pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Bella stopped crying. But it had been fastened around th e handles of her bike. and made her feel as if she and her plans were nothing.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8220?\u8216?I wouldn\u8217?t have fallen! I never fall!\u8221? Bella said.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Mr Damiano put the tray on the iron table. Thinking of when I would give myself the pleasure of it. in silence.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?But I did not. She said she was going to finish the chicken st ew.

in a row of beds with crucifixes over them. There was a lit tle charitable hospital run by the Sisters of Mercy. which she brought in each day and rubbed into Bella\u8217?s skin secretly. I stood up. She limped ba dly. Her muscles wasted. She just stared at us. I walked to where the chalk mark was that my father made for us. I must have called out for her without knowing it . it was more than a limp. Bella. They fed her from a cup with a spout. Nowadays they would be a ble to do a hip-joint replacement if the pinning didn\u8217?t work.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She had fractured the top of her thigh bone. backwards. to get herself perfectly into positi on.\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { \u8216?Bella lay still.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It wasn\u8217?t far.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?My mother came running. There w as a doctor in the town but he was attending a difficult labour at a farm in the hills. look ing at me.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?The sisters were good women but they knew little about Bella\u8217?s inju ries. still supporting her by the waist.\u8221? I said. The bone should have been pinned. If my mother had left the cream by the bedside. but even so it would have been dif ficult. She took Bella from me and laid her flat on the ground. They cared for Bella there. Maybe I said it too quickly .\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She was winded. white bed with a crucif ix over it. I moved her and she made a noise I shall always remember. Show me how you move your feet.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She fell on her back in the ring. My mother treated the sores with marigold cream. They did what the doctor told them to do. My mother and father put a board und er Bella and carried her into the house of the apothecary. her buttocks.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8220?\u8216?Move your feet. I was down by her side and her eyes were open. She needed more time to feel her balance. She knelt beside Bella . her feet together and pointing upwar ds so my father could catch her by the ankles as he swung forward.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She recovered from her chest infection. they would have thro wn it away. There were twenty tortur ed Christs in that room. They knew nothing of what we know now. Bella. The sisters didn\u8217?t approve. I thought she was in position. She developed a chest infection. She was trying to breathe but the fall had kn ocked the breath out of her. Begging me to help her. narrow. She lay perfectly still. and I couldn\u8217?t catch her. with her leg in a heavy cast. near the hip socket. I felt it an d my hands flew up to grab her. pleading for us to help her as she struggled for breath. She didn\u8217?t cry. She lay in a high. I was thinking: {\i How can I find out when I must say horse.\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { \u8216?My parents had no money to send her to the city hospital. It was a bad break. That\u8217?s all it was. If she had not been Bella she would have given up. She lurched as she transferred her weight. But I froze all over at once b ecause she didn\u8217?t cry. The noise of a ch ild trying to scream who has no breath to scream. her hee ls. because the doctor hadn\u8217?t pre scribed it.ody but I don\u8217?t remember it. She was going over. But she came right over my head. She had sores on her elbows. I\u8217?ll tell you what I was thinking of. too close to the hip joint. Now Bella would have had an operation.\u8221?\par\ pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?But Bella didn\u8217?t move anything.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8220?\u8216?Point your feet. Then she could make a line of her body. It was evening before he came back. and when I must say mount?}\par\pard\p lain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Slowly. No. with a board under the mattress. Alr eady we could see that her injured leg was shorter than her healthy leg. I took my hands from her waist. My moth er rubbed oil into Bella\u8217?s muscles and massaged them to try to build them . Bella taught herself to walk again.\par\pard\plai n\hyphpar} { \u8216?Her feet tipped and her balance changed.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?When the cast came off. in a convent ten miles away . I raised her in my arms to help her.

\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b 18\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i Living Statues and the Dwarf Shakespeare Act}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\p lain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It was because of Bella that Damiano\u8217?s Dreamworld came to be. He never complai ned. Her hair was matted from lying so long. She was just a crippled child. \u8220?I can walk. as it deserved to be.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar } { \u8216?I told you that my mother had foresight.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8220?\u8216?I\u8217?ll carry you. but this wasn\u8217?t how things were thought about then. and act on it.\u8221? I said when I saw her struggli ng across the stone floor. and nobody th rew coins into the ring. My father w as heavy and weary. but i t was no good. She saw Bella in the convent and we all laughed. Rebecca. {\i Until I make money. I kept tellin g them that and I think they believed me.\u8221? she said. but as he swung his arms and flexed his knees he would make a strange sound . It wa s small and dark and my mother had to go down three flights of stairs to the col d tap. To discover it fir st. He would go to the same caf\u233? every aft ernoon and sit over his wine. {\i Heu. Day by day. What remained of our act was me and my father.\u8217 ? said Mr Damiano. My parents knew they couldn\u8217?t stay in the circus. I had to create a place in the world for Bella. heu. deep in his chest.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?They rented a room in Valencia.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?He sat in the caf\u233? and drank his wine. Bella came back from the convent and he had to watch her limping. When my father warmed up I could almost hear the grind of pain in his joints. Now I know that he was depressed. By the time I was sixteen my father was finished in the air. \u8216?My future would not lie in libraries. my mother really did have second sight.up again. It was good for him to b e out. l urching across the rough ground.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?We were touring new towns where no one had seen Bella waving and blowing kisses.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I discovered it through our failures. They wanted to believe me. bef ore they know it themselves. they needed to be i n a city where there would be plenty of clients. and before anyone else knows it. It sounds very simple. My mother tried to go back into the ring. My mother encouraged him. That sounds like an exaggeration. Maybe she was lucky. So you see. It was cheap.\u 8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?And then what?\u8217? I asked. a flyer and a catcher. Her face was yellow with pain and lack of sun . I was never going to be a great flyer but the circus had ta ught me the most important trick it possesses: to discover what people want. But for that.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?This is how my mother\u8217?s vision of Bella in the convent came true. You won\u8217?t know those le . life was over. like a steam engine. She reckoned that she could set up as a dre ssmaker. Bella. and the sisters had cut it short. in a man\u8217?s world. She\u8217?d become skilled in me nding costumes.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8220?\u8216?No. She saw the pictures but she couldn \u8217?t interpret them. and Spain was not a good country for crip pled children. I wasn\u8217?t g oing to be a student. I had to earn money for Bella. She was too old. But it would do for the time being. and making new ones.\u8221?\par\pard\plain\hyph par} { \u8216?For my father. and then I\u8217?ll send you some every week}. Every small town already had it s own dressmaker and the clients were taken. heu}. He made that sound to deal with the pain. she thought. It was as much as he could do to get himself through the day s. He had rheumatism in both knees and it was affecting h is spine. But we never got the applause Bella had got. clinically depressed. doesn\u8217?t it? You wonder why every one doesn\u8217?t find it out. with the bit of money they had saved. Bella was in pain. She looked terrible. but it wa s the truth.

to serve wine in the ordinary caf\u233 ?s. He would go t o the caf\u233? about four o\u8217?clock. We knew who would try to thieve our coins. She would show me the money. But in the middle of it all. She told fortunes. \u8220?For the lo ve of God.\par\par d\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She never talked about the past. Bella j uggled with eggs. because he couldn\u8217?t get through close print. Tumbling.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?We lived on bread and olive oil and oranges. She soon got clients. bless me with bread. The hours were lon g but she had company. We had to watch out for the police all the time. to Madrid. under the tiled floor of our room.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?We saw through the people on the street as if they were glass. and watch the people passing in the streets. when we were in t he money. He was away from the ring and from memories of Bella as she had been.\u8221?\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Not that she wanted bread. Nobody grand. a low wire lashe d between street lamps. never more. no dreaming. Everyone was moving . She wanted money. or half a bottle. with oranges. She was happy t o work. We knew wh o would give. not needing to please anyone. after his siesta. when the water runs thick and dangerous and you can\u8217?t see the bottom of it. He would order a bottle. No more English language books. There was no life for her in that room. I was becoming solid.\u8221? said my m other. They were ordinary people. we bought rabbit stew from a street vendor.ather bottles they used in Valencia then. or to talk over a new dress for a christening. We worked like demons. They were quite happy to climb the three flights of s tairs.\par\pard\ plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?\u8220?He deserves his retirement. and who would call the polic e. Li ttle girls in stiff dresses would mince across in their tight Sunday shoes to dr op coins into Bella\u8217?s lap. I buried a coin for every coin we spent.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Bella would come with me. The war in Europe was over. the whole of Europe washing from one side to the other. nobody my moth er wasn\u8217?t easy with. Her prices were good and everything was finished as it should be. and the rest of the money went under the til e. She was eight ye ars old and when you looked into her eyes you believed that she had the right to tell fortunes. He was not part of the circus any more. juggling. At first we slept in churc h doorways and then we rented a room half the size of my parents\u8217? room in Valencia. a s I am now. every day and twice as much on Sundays. Bella would make the sign of the cro ss. no imagining myself elsewhere. Each Sunday I bought her t wo soft white rolls from the baker. People assumed that she\u8217?d always b een a dressmaker. Bella would signal to me and I\u8217?d come over. but in another town. I think he liked to sit there. who would linger to watch and who would rush onwards with barely a glance. for the sake of holy charity.\u8221? my mother said. when Bella would sit outside the richest churches with her crutches at her side and her bea utiful eyes fixed on the fine ladies and she\u8217?d call out. and settle there wit h his paper and his wine. small shopk eepers. and she would spit on the ground. Sometimes. Whe n they had all gone. Even my body had changed. She knew more than some of the grown women who laid their hand i n Bella\u8217?s. and she certainly got it. people still wanted what they\u8217? d always wanted. just as she believed she would. Each time.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?We went north.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?We started with a street-corner act.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I had changed a great deal. with knives. not forcing himself out night after night with his joints burning.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8220?\u8216?Your father doesn\u8217?t need to worry any more. We knew from their eyes what they wanted. the wives of policemen and minor officials. Late at night I would set two torch es in the ground and the light would catch the passers-by and draw them into our .\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I watched from a distance in case anyone hurt her or stole her money. Like a stream after a flash-flood. Clients were always coming in and out for fittings. That was agreed without question. He would read the new spaper headlines.

while your pleasure was still rising towards its peak. a Fado singer.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Bella was half-poisoned with flu. The on ly part of her that was. They should never have t roubled Bella. but they are very sophisticated. We had a med ium who could speak to whole regiments of the dead. My mother made the tent for us by ha nd. neg otiated. the more they heard the pleasure inside the tent. we knew that. you would scarcely believe. You w ould think you saw the rows of the dead standing there. We worked until late.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She died in Vienna. and wine. There was a gipsy girl who could make a fountain of silver coins spring from her ears.\u8217? said Mr Damiano. and negotiated new performance times. She took the train west. It wa s striped in blue and gold. Not childish.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?The first Dreamworld was very small.\par\p ard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8220?\u8216?Refresh yourselves. or two in the morning.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What happened inside our tent was a dream. We hired a boy called Ja ime to keep the doorway while the show was on. Both acts were trouble some. som etimes a lot. we used the knowledge in everyt hing. late at n ight. Sometimes we would buy a box of oranges and cut them into quarters. a story. visiting a scrap merchant who had a horse which he said came from the Imperial Fair at Kreuzburg. Instead of going to bed she stood in the evening cold while one s ide argued at her and then the other. ladies and gentlemen! With our compliments!\u8 221?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?They would suck and spit out the peel and they would give more generously when the time came. sometimes a little.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Only a dozen people could be admitted at a time. We had a living statue t eam from Prague. My mother made it in stripes so that she could use o dd pieces of material. She w as booking a dwarf Shakespeare act from England and they were appearing at a fai r in Innsbruck.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\h yphpar} { \u8216?What happened to Bella?\u8217? I asked. There were sweet pastries. your pleasure was everything. her lungs filled with fl uid. When she got back. and nor did she. a sna ke-charmer. I didn\u8217?t think of Bella as a child any more. she found there was a quarrel between the living statues and the fire-eaters. She didn\u8217?t stop work. stood on the platform for a long time waiting for the train back. One in the morning.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Inside there were cushions which my mother had also made. One day there would be fruit. She wouldn\u8217?t stop. \u8216?W e were famous by then. But she was too tired. the bigger the crowd grew. saw the act. The Viennese love shows. That was very popular. what happened inside the tent changed. she developed pleurisy. I was away in Graz. for once. We were partners. to assert her authorit y. blue and gold. We had spent all the money we had saved under the tile. It took her weeks. the next honeyed nuts.show. working when she had finished her work for the day. Once we had learned that. It was those who came to us wh o became like children. It was cold.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?They did not simply want pleasure. We had restored an exquisite merry-go-round. The hours we worked. And then you had to leave. The light shone through the ten t walls. made sure their rehearsal times did not overlap. Bella had to see them. You entered and while you were there. there was a Moroccan storyteller. If she had been well she would not have le t them behave like that. Not at all credulous. He had to be fierce. when she was thirty. We shared the same dream.\ par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Every day.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\pa ge } {\s3 \afs28 . which were cheaper to buy. I had already changed their accommodation. You could barely see the seams .\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She developed pneumonia. As well as jugg ling and fortune-telling. The more the y waited. Her chest was weak. Antibiotics didn\u8217?t touch it. We hired a ma n who could do portraits in ten minutes. They wanted {\i to be given pleasure}.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Bella had flu. but like children.

{\b 19\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i Our Business is Pleasure}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I thought of Bella, flat on her back, fighting for breath as she had fought all those years before, after her fall from Mr Damiano\u8217?s shoulders.\par\pard\p lain\hyphpar} { \u8216?We hoisted her up on pillows,\u8217? said Mr Damiano. \u8216?She was give n oxygen. But we could see the darkness creeping up her face, from the lips. She died in the late evening. They all came to pay their respects, the fire-eaters and the living statues, all of them. When Sasha \u8211? our clairvoyant \u8211? came in, she covered her face with a white handkerchief and wept, so that she wo uld not have to meet my eyes. Her professional status was compromised, she thoug ht, because she hadn\u8217?t predicted Bella\u8217?s death. It\u8217?s strange, what people consider important at such times.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?So you\u8217?re going away, Rebecca. You\u8217?re leaving us.\u8217?\par\ pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Where are you going?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I don\u8217?t know.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You don\u8217?t know.\u8217? Mr Damiano was silent for a while and then h e said, \u8216?Not back to your husband.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s not yet time?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No, I mean never, it will never be time. We\u8217?ve separated. It\u8217? s permanent.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I doubt that,\u8217? said Mr Damiano, \u8216?unless he\u8217?s found anot her woman.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Of course he hasn\u8217?t,\u8217? I rapped out without thinking.\par\pard \plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Of course he hasn\u8217?t\u8230?\u8217? Mr Damiano repeated. \u8216?Why n ot?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Because he\u8217?s \u8211?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Because he\u8217?s a man in the prime of life? Because he\u8217?s easy to love? Because he has an excellent profession? All those reasons?\u8217?\par\par d\plain\hyphpar} { Mr Damiano had turned to face me. His creased dark eyes were trying to make me l augh.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?He hasn\u8217?t stayed in a box since you left him.\u8217?\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { He has, I wanted to say. He\u8217?s in our house now, fast asleep. The bedroom d oor\u8217?s open. Down in the hall there\u8217?s his case with his work for tomo rrow in it. He works all the time. Sometimes he has colleagues round, sometimes he goes to see a film. He hasn\u8217?t abandoned the life we had together. He\u8 217?s just\u8230?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Waiting.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Waiting}. The word shocked me. I put it away in my mind to think of later.\par\p ard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?But you don\u8217?t write to him? You don\u8217?t telephone him?\u8217?\p ar\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Then I think the chances are high that he\u8217?s found another woman,\u8 217? observed Mr Damiano. He spoke so surely that for a second I could see this woman, too, as if Mr Damiano had conjured her up. \u8216?If you went back to you r house, Rebecca, I think the front door would be a different colour. Yes. The f irst thing she will want to do is to change the appearance of the house. She won \u8217?t want it to resemble the home where you and Adam lived together.\u8217?\

par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Our front door was blue. A beautiful duck-egg blue. It had taken me weeks to fin d the exact shade. Of course no one would want to alter its colour. Adam wouldn\ u8217?t want it changed.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She will tell Adam that it\u8217?s time for something new. She will repai nt your daughter\u8217?s bedroom and take the furniture out of it, because it\u8 217?s not needed any more. She will want to free him from the past.\u8217?\par\p ard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You can\u8217?t do that. The past is what you are. Anyway, Adam doesn\u82 17?t want to be free of us.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You think so\u8230? Did you have a carpet in Ruby\u8217?s room?\u8217?\pa r\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She will have removed the carpet and stripped the floor, you can be sure of that. She will have hired the stripper and done the work herself, wearing a m ask so that the wood dust wouldn\u8217?t choke her. I know what these women do.\ u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Why are you saying these things?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { His face seemed to glint and glitter. \u8216?Because they are true. And your hus band\u8217?s clothes will have changed, too.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You seem to know a lot about it.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I do.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You\u8217?ve been there.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. How would I know where your house was, or where you lived when you we re married? You never told me.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Things like that are easy to find out, if you want to.\u8217?\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Believe me, Rebecca, I haven\u8217?t visited your house. But do as I say. Go there. See if the front door is still the same colour. Then come back and te ll me if I\u8217?m right or wrong.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\qc *\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It was more than three years and a hundred and thirty miles that separated me fr om Adam. Mr Damiano did not see the film in my head that started each time I tho ught of Adam. Although it was my own film, I couldn\u8217?t edit it. It started to roll and I was helpless to do anything but watch. The empty, sunlit house, th e minute I spent by the mirror doing my hair, the open front door, the steps goi ng down. The blue car driving innocently four streets away. It would happen and there was nothing to stop it.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I was afraid of what Adam saw. We couldn\u8217?t comfort each other. He was lock ed into it, as I was.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { People had rushed to tell us that we weren\u8217?t guilty of anything. There was a bereavement counsellor at the hospital, with the blondest hair I\u8217?ve eve r seen. I couldn\u8217?t listen to a word she said.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { We couldn\u8217?t have done anything. It was an accident.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar } { But if it was an accident then everything is an accident. Ruby was born to us by accident. The joy of her was an accident. No matter how solid and safe it looke d, all the time our household had been an accident, a frenzy of atoms butting ag ainst each other. And now it had all flown apart.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You mustn\u8217?t blame yourselves. It was an accident.\u8217?\par\pard\p lain\hyphpar} { We couldn\u8217?t have another child together. I knew it as soon as Ruby was bur ied. I could not keep a child safe. One stupid second, one mouthful of food goin g the wrong way, one reaction to a vaccine, one phone call from the teacher in c harge of the school trip. I understood what it meant now. {\i All the ills that flesh is heir to}. Those ills were real, they were here and no w. They were what we got, for being human. We inherited our lives by accident an d we were haunted by what could happen at any minute.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The day I knew I had to leave home, I\u8217?d passed the primary school two stre

ets away. Ruby had been in the reception class there.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { A car was parked on the yellow zigzag lines outside, beside the notice in red le ttering stuck to the iron gates, which read: {\i Stopping or parking here will endanger your child\u8217?s life}.\par\pard\plain\ hyphpar} { Leisurely, the woman who\u8217?d parked her car there undid the seat belts that protected her two children and helped them out on the pavement side. They were o nly a step from the entrance gate. She wouldn\u8217?t have to take them in. She could watch them safely into school from her car, which blocked the sight line o f every other child crossing the road.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Don\u8217?t forget, VIOLINS,\u8217? she hooted after her children.\par\pa rd\plain\hyphpar} { I took hold of her open car door. I shook as if an electric current had got hold of me.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Children could be killed, trying to cross the road here with your car in the way,\u8217? I said.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { She looked at me, her face blank and smooth and unsurprised. This wasn\u8217?t t he first time. Other parents must have got hold of her car door and shouted. She was bland, and smooth and sure of herself. Shut off from me and I couldn\u8217? t reach her.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?They could be killed,\u8217? I repeated. I thought I would kill her. I wo uld drag her out of the car by the roots of her hair. But she didn\u8217?t see i t. Her right hand tapped the steering wheel.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?m just dropping them off. It only takes a minute.\u8217?\par\pard \plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It only takes a minute to die,\u8217? I said. She heard me then. Her eyes stretched, but she tightened her lips self-righteously.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Please take your hands off my car.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?If I ever see you parked here again, I\u8217?ll slash your fucking tyres. \u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Don\u8217?t you dare threaten me.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s not a threat,\u8217? I said. \u8216?It\u8217?s a promise.\u821 7? I tightened my grip on her car door. I was pumping full of murder and she kne w it. She rammed the car into gear and its acceleration shook me off and left me standing in the road.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I would have hurt her. She\u8217?d known it and I knew it. I was going crazy wit h Ruby. This was what Adam would be left with, if I stayed. A crazy woman keepin g guard outside the school our daughter no longer attended, until the school sec retary had to call the police.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?m tired, Rebecca,\u8217? said Mr Damiano. \u8216?I must sleep.\u8 217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I saw that it was true. The fire and glitter had gone out of him. I was used to his gift for being any age when he wanted, but he was old now. He sagged forward , then he clambered to his feet. He smiled at me, as he always did, with his for midable courtesy. With the warmth that made you feel he had a world to offer eac h time.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?m too tired to go home tonight,\u8217? he said. His voice was thi ck and blurred. \u8216?I\u8217?ll sleep on the sofa upstairs.\u8217?\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { He planted the palms of his hands on the iron table, bracing himself for the wal k across the courtyard. He\u8217?d told the truth when he said that he was older than I thought. He was old. It was easy to believe that he was seventy-one, or even older.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Turn the lights off,\u8217? he said. His head was bowed and I couldn\u821 7?t see his face. \u8216?Make sure the tent is cleared.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { \u8216?What?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He gestured impatiently. \u8216?You know. And we must watch Gottfried. He\u8217? s been drinking. They all drink, if you give them a chance.\u8217?\par\pard\plai

supporting himself.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He was silent. Mr Damiano?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?All of them. he\u8217?s been told. Adam al ways wakes early. I heard.n\hyphpar} { \u8216?Who do you mean. walks to the garden shed.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam opens the back door and sits to lace his gardening boots. Mr Damiano.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { In an hour he has double-dug the first bed. The scuff marks where Ruby\u8217?s feet used to strike the earth under the swing have gone. In the distance the city is beginnin g to grumble. This is where Adam is digging his vege table beds. is overgrown with weeds and rough grass.\ u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He shook his head. I\u8217?ll send an aeroplane overhead when it\u8217?s ready. I know you. where Ruby\u8217?s swing and climbing frame were planted. A blackbird stops tugging at its worm and looks at him. But our business is pleasure. It is Saturday morning. He has worked methodically.\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { Adam has staked out four oblongs where his vegetable beds will be. This. but it\u8217?s a project. It\u8217?s the best way. let me forget home and Heaven!}\par\pard\plain\hyphp ar} { Six-thirty on an August morning. and never lies in bed after waking. shaking loose soil off the roots of the grass and laying the tough yellowish clods in a pile. The last of Damiano\u8217?s Dreamworlds. Adam stands. all of them. \u8216?Yes. It was all over before I knew you. He works in the garden.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { At the house-backs the curtains are still drawn. He\u8217?s planning to make four beds. But I\u8217?ll make one for you. and their edges shored with wood. They drink too much and then they no lon ger give pleasure. More often than either of these. it\u8217?ll be for you. Rebecca? You\u8217?re too young. \u8216?You don\u8217?t look well. Bella.\u8217?\par\p ard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?But I\u8217?m leaving \u8211?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I know. Adam has bought bags of rotted horse manure and they lea n against one another. ridding it of something. He\u8217?s digging in the manure and a little sh arp sand to improve the drainage of the soil. There is the promise of heat in the sky already . The soil is clay. very quietly. with grass paths between them . or ru ns circuits through the quiet streets. and lifts his first spadeful of earth and matted grass. have you. He sets in hi s spade. H e comes out of the silent house as fast as he can.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I know that.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You\u8217?ve never been inside one of our Dreamworlds.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?m not Bella. How did you come to find me?\u8217? He stared at me and his face was tired and naked. sagging.\u8217? he said after a while. You told me. he drive . is the right thing to do. The careful holes where the climbing frame was securely fastened have been filled in.\u8217? But he stared up at me as if he was finding the lineaments of another face in mine. I know you.\par\pard\plain\ hyphpar} { The end of the garden. He has never done this before. but for now everything is cool and still. \u8216?You\u8217 ?re Rebecca.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\pard\h yphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b 20\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i Adam}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i If ever I forget your name. Re becca. and he eats f ew vegetables. drives it deep at the side of the bed. then seizes its prey again before the wor m has time to slide back into the earth.\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { \u8216?Shall I take your arm?\u8217? I asked. pokes about in the dusty dark for his garden fork and his spade.

too. he\u8217?ll cut the stem. They need a minute . The touch of water is good.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { They are going to run along the river. His body is much as it always was.\pa r\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Morning. Adam lifts the leaves to check the size of the pears. He\u8217?ll get his gardening clothes off.\par \pard\plain\hyphpar} { .\u8217? he replies. dir ty piece of Lego.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The bell sounds one sharp but short ring. but that\u8217?s what he feels like doing. without letting himself get too close to it.\u8217? they call. Pascal will be here in fifteen minute s. and the hole in the flesh is small. He turns the water up until it\u8 217?s so hot it\u8217?s only just bearable.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam looks at his watch. He checks himself. worn towel. As th e pear grows. But the slug has gone. pointed leaves of the pear tree there are dozens of immature fruit. for which he\u8217?s grateful.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Carefully. but it has stayed on his hea d. his water. A slug has got inside one bottle and eat en at the pear. drinks beer and red wine but never spirits. loop through the playing fields. He\u8217?s certain it wasn\u8217?t there yesterday. But he\u8217?ll have to hurry. He bends down again and scoots the Lego piece back under the shed. A small. his running stuff clean on the bottom shelf of the airing c upboard. whether he\u8217?s on duty or not. washing away the crowds of patients who clamour in their heads. When they are ri pe. let it drain until fruit and bottle are completely dry and fill the bottle with Calvados. He catches himself thinking that he could clean the dirt out wit h the point of a knife. This is their regular Saturday run. stronger and shorter than Adam. He lathers his body in a business-like way. Pascal knows the neighbours are in bed and that these skinny terraced houses have thin walls. have a sh ower. There\u8217?s time to make coffee and take it up to the bathroom. not rea lly feeling it. the whiteness of Adam\u8217?s. And he\u8217?s sweating. rinse the inside. and a stink of fox. Pascal will be here in a moment.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { A clean. The postman glances then rests his eyes on the intense blackness of Pascal\u8217?s skin. It is packed s olid with dirt. And because they can\u8217?t vote or write letters or frighten politicians by speaking eloq uently of their plight on television. These babies are not li ke other patients. Seven forty-five.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { They jog away slowly down the street. the damage may heal. then tosses it into a corner of the bathr oom.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Beautiful morning.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam settles the leaves over the fruit. His own drinking is strict.s up to the hospital. The spider webs are unbroke n. put on his running stuff before Pascal gets here. Hi s keys.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { There are footprints in the dew. This year he has e ncased several pears inside glass bottles. Crazy to have a shower b efore running. Adam bends down. It\u8217?s grey now. Under the black. Maybe a ca t has slunk under the shed. they need to be spoken for. He rubs his hair dry.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He slaps the towel against his thighs. and places them back in the shed. He\u8217?s seen too many doctors on the bottle. p uts the Lego brick on his palm and turns it over with his finger. He looks af ter it. and pushed the piece of Lego out. not really looking at it. sweaty tug-of-war that is hospital funding. clean the outside of the bottle. Adam cleans his spade and fork with an oily rag. under the shed. The touch of his own hands is distur bing. in the gr im. They can ask for nothing and tell nothing. He dumps his sports bag inside the front door. as if he has forgotten what comes next. He\u8217?s wearing a tracksuit . There. that\u8217?s everything. Adam runs downstairs. almost infatuated watchfulness that the NHS doesn\u8217?t pay for. Adam will give the bottles to friends. He\u8217?s seen something no one else would notice. Steam oozes around the shower cubicl e. They grow inside the glass until they are much too big to slide back through the neck of the bottle. across t he park and back through the allotments. seems to bounce lightly on the balls of his feet even as he stands still on the doorstep.\par\p ard\plain\hyphpar} { The hot.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Pascal. But then he stands still. fine prickling of the shower is good.

\u8217?\par\p ard\plain\hyphpar} { Pascal was right. Even the brown. How much effort breath takes. and you would have thought it was because yo u were too old. He accelerates.\u8217?\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { He showed Adam how to run his finger inside the shoe to check the fit at his ank les. She\u8217?s new. All its mechanics and how it fails. like horses in a field.Afterwards they\u8217?ll shower at Adam\u8217?s. Adam runs.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He knows about breathing. cushiony cuffs of the trainers grip his ankles and his feet thud on the grass. Sweat breaks over his skin. It was Pascal who came with hi m to buy his first pair of running shoes. Collapse and s carring. change and go out for breakfast . and he eats his full English breakfast with a mixture of relish and suspicion wh ich is the same each week and has once or twice led Adam to suggest a different .\ par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { They slow. It\u8217?s not the best caf\u233? aroun d.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I am forty-eight. They drink tea. Real breathi ng.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam had never thought of running. the tug and thrum of it. He debated fiercely over grip and cushioning. before he\u8217?s passed them. In a few weeks\u8217? time she won\u8217?t ru b so vigorously and willingly. A thin little dark-haired girl is inside. \u8216?Tell me the truth. They\u8217?re side by side and Pascal glances ac ross and grins to acknowledge that this is it. bacon. The loose-limbed teenager who served them dropped his coo l and wanted to please Pascal. Adam wishes t hey would catch a fish now. mushrooms for Adam. fishing with his father. carved. You\u8217?re completely right about that. t he firm. Adam was not too old.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { After their run they deserve the fug of inside and sausages. before Pascal.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { They emerged with the running shoes pristine in their big square box and Pascal said.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Your heels would have been bruised in a week. Everything hard air does to soft stuff that isn\u8217?t ready for it. That it would be on t he boy\u8217?s line. but they like it. T he anguish of parents watching the monitors that they don\u8217?t understand.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You will take the first pair they try to sell to you. T hat was the way Pascal worked on people. rubbing hard. That the boy would haul it into th e air and go home proud.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You\u8217?re right. his sudden smile that licked you like a flame and cau ght you alight.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\h yphpar} { \u8216?Forty-eight is nothing for a man who keeps himself in shape. make the day good for him. No t the slipshod breathing of city life as you ease from car to home. suspicious river is bright as they run alongside it. now they\u8217?ve hit their pace. You would have given up run ning because your back ached. You would have taken the first pair he offered y ou. intellectual face that you strove to please.\pa r\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But he and Pascal run on.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { After their shower. Pascal. The snort an d rush of it. The crushed butter fly lungs of newborns whose wings for breathing won\u8217?t open. and for a moment believes he could accelerate for ever. Adam and Pascal amble down the road to the caf\u233? which f or some reason has become their regular. His serious. I\u8217?m not immortal.\u8217?\par\ pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?But you are young. They fall back from their rush of speed and hit the rhythm they\u8217 ?ll keep to the end of the run.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The noise of breathing is what Adam notices since he began running. find what he wanted. That boy there. He took hold of Adam\u8217?s foot and squeezed it here and there and Adam was thrown back to childhood and th e assistant pressing hard on the toes of his new shoes to judge where his fleshand-blood toes fitted.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. Pascal will not touch the coffee here. now all they\u8217?ve got to do is keep on. Adam. cleaning the wind ow. startled. eggs for Pas cal.

of course. But Pa scal refuses to change. holding him down safe. or that it was three years ago now and Adam\u8217?s getting ov er it although.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?But they got there in the end. astonishingly. do you want to leave?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam shakes his head. \u8216?Congratulations. Pascal shakes his head. Pascal didn\u8217?t sa y when Ruby died. She comes over to Adam and Pascal. It\u8217?s coming over him.\u8217? says Pascal. \par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?My hands are sweaty. at another pace that no one ca n stand for long. not sure what to do. because he can\u8217?t bear the sensation of his own face. He lifts his own mug of tea.caf\u233?.\u8217? he says abruptly.\par\par d\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?His little girl has died.\u8217? says Pascal. in her everlasting present.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam hears those words. {\i His little girl has died}. with her clot h in her hand.\par\pa rd\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Adam. Her hand melts into him.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { . \u8216?That\u8217?s great.\u8217? says Pascal.\u8217?\par\ pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?That\u8217?s great.\u8217? he says.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Pascal wipes egg yolk from his plate with the soft white bread. the way he watches patients on the operating table. a rush. pressing. an acceleration he can\u8217?t stop. over and over. covers his face with them. \u8216?Fourteen weeks.\u8217? he says again. Adam\u8217?s breath tear s in his chest as if they\u8217?re still running.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Always. Pa scal is a consultant anaesthetist. He grins and lifts his mug as if to toast the success of his sperm. looking up at him. She stands there. That\u8217?s what Pascal said.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Pascal rises from his chair and comes round to stand behind Adam. to hid e his mouth. baring his teeth. The dark-haired thin little girl stops rubbing her windows. Ruby dies.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar } { Adam feels his face spring into a shield of pleasure. All the details of them. But his hand shakes and quickly he puts down the mug. He can\u8217?t stand up or walk thro ugh the caf\u233? or go out into the bright street.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It\u8217?s early. She curls her hand into his. There are not many customers in the caf\u233?.\u8217? says Adam. colour and pulse and pressure. His lips are not doing the right smiling thing. Dad?\u8217? she says. a pair of working men who glance at Adam and Pascal and then down at their newspapers again. aren\u8217?t they. His breath forces its way out of him and the noise of it is lo ud in his head. a thing like that. his hands on A dam\u8217?s shoulders. I didn\u8217?t know \u8211?\u8217?\ par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?That we were trying? No. unable to picture any other man of his acquaintance saying that with the satisfied cand our of Pascal.\u8217? says Adam.\par\pard\p lain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Adam \u8211?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s OK. He can\u8217?t leave. He looks up. Then he does something he has never done before. lifts his hands. you never really \u8211?\par\pard\ plain\hyphpar} { {\i His little girl has died}.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But Pascal is watching him with narrow attention. An old woman in a woolly hat who notices nothing.\par \pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Marie-Louise is pregnant. He bows his head. she tucks her thumb into her palm and her skin is sweaty but she\u821 7?s not embarrassed at all because she\u8217?s only five and what she wants is t o hold her father\u8217?s hand.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Is he all right?\u8217? she asks timidly. \u8216?That\u8217?s fantas tic. Adam stares at him. My sperm we re not so active. naked in the caf\u233?. But it\u8217?s taken us a long time. and his reactions are knife sharp. a more expensive one where they sell bagels and proper coffee. her sweat is like balm. Pascal.

\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?ll get you some more tea. complicated shine. Rebecca said that.\u8217? says Pascal. He wa s afraid it was becoming an obsession. s o the room is full of sun. Not a second ago. An expectant sound. I\u821 7?m so sorry. There at the top of the garden are his e arnest. He\u82 17?s far away from himself after so many hours of grief. There is the pear tree. He tasted it. only now beginning and he hasn\u8217?t felt it yet. He asked her if she would see the counsel lor who worked with parents after a baby in the unit died. Ad am traces the pattern with his finger and it seems to burn. Rebecca\u8 217?s milk had a sweet. But now. back to Marie-Louise. \u8216?I\u8217?m sorry. He wonders if it can be washed. He goes to the window. it makes the echoing sound of a room in a house fo r sale.\u8217? she says. Grunts and salt and muc us and tearing sounds he would never have believed would come from his throat. but Rebecca stared at him as if he was trying to steal something from her. He sits in the shabby little blue armchair where Rebecca used to sit when Ruby was a baby. It\u8217?s not finished. a different one. he\u8217?s not at the end of something or even beginning to get there. quilted mattress prote ctor on her narrow bed.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam walks around his house. far behind her. She polished the wood with beeswax and it still has that deep. He pulls off the pillowcase and the pillow itself is wet with mucus and tears. I\u8217?m so sorry \u8211?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He hears the echo in his head.\par\pard\p lain\hyphpar} { The room is quite empty. laughable vegetable plots. It is all still to c ome. Rebecca sat here in the dark waiting for Ruby and he told her she must stop. He\u8217?s like a man w ho has put his hand into a fire and stares at it for the first second and feels nothing. Pascal lifts the mug and gives it to the girl who is still standing there.\par\pard \plain\hyphpar} { {\i His little girl has died}. He walks around it and because there is so little furni ture and the boards are bare. H is pillow is wet.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Rebecca never saw him cry. She was damaging hersel f. But here he is himself. She must give up her obsession. he said.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Not a year before or three years before. She wept and he listened but h e couldn\u8217?t weep. thick taste.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { . Rebecca would know. There\u8217?s a white.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He can feel her weight. He had his own things to deal with. But it hadn\u8217?t been like that. The curtains with the dolphins on them have gone to t he charity shop in a black binbag.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?We\u8217?ll go home now. Ma rie-Louise was pregnant. He touches the head of the bed that he and Rebecca sh ared. Now. He would have stayed. His shoulders hurt. she said. They\u8217?d intended to re-cover that little chair for Ruby. There\u8217?s the shed with Ruby\u8217?s Lego hidden beneath it.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam walks into Ruby\u8217?s bedroom.\u8217? says Adam. feeding her. cloth in one hand. As if Ruby was still in her arms a nd he was trying to take her. or only the pillowcase. She sat in Ruby\u8217?s bedroom and he told her she must stop sitting there. In the dark and smell of Ruby she was happy.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Pascal brought him to the house and then went away. Not the blonde counse llor. Rebecca chose it. so clear it is. Pasca l\u8217?s life was separate. but they never got round to it. He can\u8217?t picture them any more but he can remember the smell of the baby\u8217?s room at night. too.The mug shakes on the table top and the tea spills because Adam\u8217?s body is shaking the chair and the chair is touching the table. but Adam didn\u8217?t want him to do that. There are no curtains at the window now. Pascal. so i ntentional in its design. This one was good. And besides. It\u8217?s full of soft afternoon light now. She dabs at the table with her cloth.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar } { \u8216?I\u8217?m sorry. as Ada m wanted. There is a pattern of fig leaves cut into the wood. He carried her in the light woodland box made of compressed cardboa rd and she weighed enough to bow his back. They buried Ru by together. only now beginning to mourn.

\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The old woman made the sign of the cross and fumbled in her worn-out purse for t he last coin. The young women covered their hair. There was nothing to say.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He throws up the sash window so that the air can flood in and at that moment the doorbell rings. The bell rings again. son. she\u8217?s heard him and already she\u8217?s here as if t here\u8217?s no distance or time between them. brutal almost. suffering. Her pension. In his good hand he held a cup for money. and continues to hold it. Earth was a vale of suffering.\u8 217? and takes his hand in her own dry.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Have a drink. But this almost never hap pened and could not be counted on. The man\u8217?s eyes caught him and he stopped. Pascal and Marie-Louise. One arm was whole and perfect. warm hand.\u8217? said Joe. God will bless you. \u8216?and after that we\u8217?re all going to the cinema. Joe shelled a few coins into the cup. And he sees at once that of course Marie-Louis e is pregnant. to o. And yet\u82 30?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { An old woman hobbled past and dropped a few kopeks into the cup.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { There was no stopping these old women from talking about God now. Joe thought. They packed th e churches. with terror.\u8217? he says. \u8216?There you are . And they would always speak to them. the other ended below the elbow. Only God. What she and all the other old women had always believed had turned out to be true.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar } { \u8216?You are having dinner with us. to drop the coins in the cup and walk on as he had done dozens and dozens of times before. \u8216?I won\u8217?t be long. and then he steps lightly across the hall floor. and dropped in more money. Suddenly it seemed wrong. He knew what the man\u8217?s story would be. or with hope maybe. God will reward you.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But there they are. He w ore military uniform and his eyes were a startling pale blue. As if it might run at the sound of his footste ps. son. their faces breaking into relief as he opens the door. the youn g men bared their heads. smiling at him. And then you are sleeping at our hous e. enough for a bottle of vodka. She had everything God needed in order to exist. The man raised his eyes and scanned the f . no advice to off er. \u8216?Please. united himself with your sufferings\u8230?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Take this.\u8217? says Marie-Louise. His heart leaps in his throat. carefully following rituals relearned after decades of disuse.\u8217? says Pascal.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Automatically. that it\u8217?s her. God will reward you. without realizing he was going to s ay it.\u8217? She waits for a beat. Rebecca.\u8216?Wait for me. Linen blue. and then says. He had nothing to gain from talking to Joe. fitfully illuminated by acts of kindness such as a sta llholder tipping an extra chicken foot into the scale. would be worth almost nothing. How could he have missed it?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?We\u8217?ve come to fetch you.\par \pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b 21\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i The Moscow Veteran}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i And to get to him \u8211? to his very heart \u8211?}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i without papers I entered the Kremlin\u8230?}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The man sat or perhaps was propped \u8211? he had no legs \u8211? on a flat wood en trolley.\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { Down the stairs. rouble notes th is time. But these old women never passed the veterans without giving a coin. He had his wooden trolley. side by side. He would be a veteran of the war in Afghanistan with a veteran\u8217?s pensi on which was now worth close to nothing. Pove rty and innocence and goodness and lack of hope for anything on earth. and young men and women packed them too. There was no money for a wheelchair. as if what mig ht be there might also be scared.

ace that Joe knew would always bear an expression that marked him as not from th ese parts.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You\u8217?re not from round here, are you?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. English. But I live here in Moscow.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The man\u8217?s blue eyes held Joe\u8217?s.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Why?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?m a writer. I do my research here. I\u8217?m writing a book about Stalin.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?About Iosif Vissarionovich?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?That\u8217?s it.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?There\u8217?s a real man for you. If we\u8217?d had him in charge I would n\u8217?t be sitting here.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?We didn\u8217?t lose wars in Iosif Vissarionovich\u8217?s time. Plus, you never saw a soldier begging in the streets. Write that in your book.\u8217?\par \pard\plain\hyphpar} { The blue eyes went wan. He was tired, in pain.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Everything had moved on, but not him. The war he\u8217?d fought was history, a f ailure, not a victory. Everyone was glad to forget it, and glad too that now the West was getting a good taste of it and understanding what the war had been abo ut and why it had had to be fought.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He was tired and maybe the phantom legs hurt, and the phantom hand. The wooden t rolley looked homemade. It must be hell to sit on. How many hours would he sit h ere?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You done your military service?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?We don\u8217?t have it in my country.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The man shook his head slightly, incredulously. \u8216?You were a student, right ?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No, it wasn\u8217?t because of that. No one does military service in Brit ain. It\u8217?s been abolished.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But he could see that the veteran didn\u8217?t believe him. Joe was just another example of the smart ones, the ones with money and education and pull, getting out of what poor kids got stuck with.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Joe felt the fat of his wallet knocking inside his breast pocket. The urge burne d in him to give and go on giving until it was all gone. And then walk home with his head bowed, without enough money for the metro.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The notes he\u8217?d given were plenty. Any more and the man would think he was crazy. And people would notice. There were always pickpockets hanging around.\pa r\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Joe felt inside his breast pocket. Without removing the wallet, he opened it. Th e wad of notes was between his fingers. It wasn\u8217?t a fortune. Enough for a meal out with Olya at the good pasta place on the Arbat. Folding his hand over t he notes he bent down.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Here. Take this.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The man glanced at the edge of the notes as he swallowed them into his one remai ning hand, and then disappeared them inside his clothes. It was so quick that fo r a second Joe stopped believing he\u8217?d given the money at all.\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { The man looked up. The pallor of his eyes. His skin. He looked terrible.\par\par d\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Someone comes and takes you home?\u8217? asked Joe.\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { \u8216?Yeah. Someone comes. You\u8217?re crazy.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?m sorry,\u8217? said Joe. But he said it formally. {\i Forgive me. I have a bank account and a credit card and an apartment and a passp ort. If I want I can be on a plane to England tomorrow. I can slip out of everyt hing that holds you}.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Joe walked on. That old woman scouring her purse had done more than him. The flo wing crowds of passers-by opened and absorbed him. Everyone in the world seemed

to be walking. Joe felt flimsy and he knew it showed from the way he was jostled aside. He was in Moscow but not of Moscow, passing his life as an observer. Oly a had gone to see her sister in Yaroslavl. She would be back \u8211? when? Five or six days. Olya wasn\u8217?t happy. Her sister would be saying to her that she should leave Joe. That it would be a big step but that in the end Olya would be happier. Joe would never give her what she wanted. And Olya would smile at her sister with her dark, soft, unhappy eyes and say, \u8216?You don\u8217?t underst and our relationship.\u8217? Olya would come back tender and remorseful towards Joe, as if she had somehow betrayed him by talking of him.\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { She should leave me, thought Joe, walking. It would be better for her. She wants \u8211?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { She wants what? We call it wanting children but it\u8217?s not really that at al l. We could have a child but that wouldn\u8217?t make things better, in fact it would make them worse. What she wants doesn\u8217?t exist, at least it doesn\u82 17?t exist in me any more. To tell you brutally, Olya, it\u8217?s been given awa y already, to someone else. And I can\u8217?t get it back, not because I don\u82 17?t want to, but because there are some things you can\u8217?t do twice.\par\pa rd\plain\hyphpar} { {\i You\u8217?re not from round here, are you?}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { No. I\u8217?m not from these parts.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He would walk on. He would get a ticket and go into the Kremlin with the holiday crowds. He\u8217?d thought he was walking aimlessly but of course he wasn\u8217 ?t, his body knew where it was taking him.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He\u8217?d only been back to England once since Ruby\u8217?s funeral. He\u8217?d seen Rebecca then. He knew where she was now, because she\u8217?d kept in touch . She always did that, he always knew where she was. Once, out of the blue, she sent a long email about the flat they\u8217?d shared and about the meals they co oked and how far away it seemed, like another world. Now she worked for a guy wh o owned hotels and she was travelling the world and it was good for her, the bes t thing for her now. Or so she wrote. But as far as Joe could see both she and A dam were still in shock, blundering about, saying things they didn\u8217?t mean and doing things they didn\u8217?t understand. Or they were like people who have been shot and will fall any second but don\u8217?t know it yet.\par\pard\plain\ hyphpar} { It must have been a shell that blew off that blue-eyed veteran\u8217?s legs. Or maybe a landmine. He wouldn\u8217?t have known what was happening, at the moment of it. To see and feel your body explode \u8211? that\u8217?s impossible. {\i I am losing my legs, my hand}. Nobody thinks that. They will say it afterwards, in the past tense, but it takes a long time.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { What a colour his eyes were.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The things that Olya wanted from him no longer existed. He had given them to Reb ecca and they were gone. This wasn\u8217?t how it was supposed to be. Most of th e things he read in newspapers and magazines and novels supported the idea that relationships had a life like fruit or flowers. They germinated, they bloomed an d ripened, they died and left space for the next one to grow. Sometimes the proc ess was ugly and painful but this was more or less how it worked.\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { But for him it hadn\u8217?t been true. There wasn\u8217?t anything left to grow. He had loved Rebecca with \u8211?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { (He had never even slept with her. Not really. It was years since they\u8217?d d ismantled the flat. Men don\u8217?t behave like this, they move on.)\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { With his whole heart, that\u8217?s what he\u8217?d loved her with. That\u8217?s why Olya couldn\u8217?t find it, that\u8217?s why she was unhappy and had these long conversations with her sister that he wasn\u8217?t supposed to know about.\ par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?He\u8217?s not cold, no, I know he\u8217?s not cold but there\u8217?s som ething I just can\u8217?t get past\u8230?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {

\u8216?He\u8217?s English, Olyenka.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?\u8230?{\i and to get to him} \u8211? {\i to his very heart}\u8211?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Joe repeated the lines to himself. Mandelstam wrote them in Voronezh, the city o f ravens, in exile, in February 1937. He would die at the end of the following y ear, following his second arrest. He would be last seen picking over a rubbish h eap in a transit camp at Vladivostock. He was writing in those lines about Stali n, the man who would murder him. Maybe he was trying to save his own life, maybe he was trying to understand the murder inside Stalin\u8217?s heart. His heart o f hearts.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Joe walked faster, head bowed, trying to imagine what it was like to be inside t he writer of the poem, who tried to imagine inside Stalin\u8217?s heart as Joe h as tried to imagine inside Stalin\u8217?s heart. But there was no comparison bet ween Mandelstam and Joe. No contest. Mandelstam had to understand Stalin with hi s own life. And I get paid for my understanding, thought Joe. People buy it. His book about the death of Nadezhda Alliluyeva has sold well.\par\pard\plain\hyphp ar} { But it wasn\u8217?t easy to get away from Nadya, even after the book was publish ed. She still possessed him, even though he was supposed to have moved on from h er. He was writing of Stalin at war, Stalin in fugue. He had intended to go on. He\u8217?d wanted to write of Stalin at the end of his life. Stalin, toxic with rage, suspicion and the terror of death. When he died his face bore an expressio n which no one who saw it was able to forget or to describe as it deserved. At l ast, Stalin got the face he earned, perhaps. And Stalin\u8217?s arm, the arm cri ppled in childhood by a blow from his father, was raised to ward off death.\par\ pard\plain\hyphpar} { But in his heart Joe kept going back to the earlier days. He could not get away from the image of Nadya as a young woman in the heart of the Kremlin, mother of two children and stepmother of a son, on the night of 8 November. She and Stalin have just celebrated the fifteenth anniversary of the October Revolution. There \u8217?s been a party at the apartment of their friends the Voroshilovs.\par\par d\plain\hyphpar} { Power was all so recent for them, thought Joe. It must have seemed so fragile st ill. Like found money. The Revolution only fifteen years behind them. These comr ades, these people who envisaged a different world, have got what they wanted. T hey are the masters now. Sometimes, at these parties, they must have looked at e ach other, incredulous. Here they were, against all the odds, in the heart of th e Kremlin and with their hands on its ropes of power. What they don\u8217?t yet fully realize is that those ropes will drag them, too. They will be taken to pla ces where they don\u8217?t want to go, and they\u8217?ll do things of which they would never have believed themselves capable.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { At the party that night, there\u8217?s a row. Something between man and wife mad e ugly and magnified a hundred times by the fact that nothing is simply between man and wife any more. A man shouts insults, a woman runs from the room. But the man\u8217?s Stalin and the woman is Nadya, who is now thirty-one and who loved her husband so passionately at seventeen that all her family were afraid for her . They knew it wasn\u8217?t healthy to love like that, crazily, with no barriers , nothing held back, nowhere to retreat to if it all went wrong. There was nowhe re in Nadya\u8217?s body or her heart or her mind that he hadn\u8217?t penetrate d and made his own. Her family knew her nature and her seriousness and idealism. The way she made him perfect in her own mind so that he was the ideal revolutio nary who would lead her, along with the whole of his people.\par\pard\plain\hyph par} { When all that began to crumble it was ugly stuff. Terrifying. She could not get back those parts of herself he had possessed. She could not destroy Stalin-withi n-her, without destroying herself.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The next morning Nadya is found dead, shot through the heart with a pistol that her brother has given her. Her daughter is six, her son eleven. After her death, everything changes. Family life ends. Stalin reads the terrible letter his wife

Or if they can\u8217?t manage that. and the drama in the men and women steppin g past her coffin while Stalin watched and watched to see who came and who did n ot.\u8217?\par\pard \plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. Her face shines with unearthly radiance. isn\u8217?t it? She looks so peaceful. But she\u8217?s lef t her children behind to suffer. Not if I had chil dren.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He\u8217?d showed Rebecca that photograph once. She\u8217?s got away. There\u8217?s a humiliation in the core of him.\u8217?\par\pard\p lain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She was tormented. He told her the story of Nadya a nd Stalin.\par\pard\plain\hyp hpar} { Joe spent a long time looking at photographs of Nadya.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { . The story given out was that she\u821 7?d died of appendicitis. and in her coffin she is smiling and at pe ace. I n her opened coffin. surrounded by flowers. That there are wa ys to bear it and that they will help the children to find them. her face is calm. She took on the child of his first. abandonment. There\u8217?s no sign of a death struggle. Some things you can be sure of. Somehow the children hadn\u8217?t really occurred to him before. And there\u8217?s something d eep in him that feels more than shock and anger and grief for the end of a woman whom he has loved. When she was a girl of seventeen she loved him with all her heart . She stared at Nadya\u8217?s dead face and then she said.\u8217?\par\pard \plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Never. But Rebecca had seen into the heart of it. dead wife and she gave him two more childr en. The sordid day-to-day of a household where there\u8 217?s no family love any more. he thought he had lost the one perso n capable of melting his heart. Let them wait .\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Her children?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Of course. and Rebecca understood it. She has got away. I can.\u8217? H e\u8217?d been seduced by the dead woman. They don\u8217?t know anything yet. I would never do that to them.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Joe thought of the children when they saw their mother lying deep in a bed of fl owers and radiant with light. never. He sees her lying in her blood. and death. Now he knows it wasn\u8217?t true. at least make them believe that life is bearable. The hardness of Nadya\u8217?s dead flesh. \u8216?She was n\u8217?t in a normal frame of mind. never.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Tormented! How do you think they felt for the rest of their lives? They m ust have hated her.\u8217? said Rebecca. She has had the choice between life with him in the heart of the Kremlin. \u8216?Never. but he is sure that Rebecca wil l not have read it. she\u8217?s escaped. She was suffering too much. closed eyes. But such an insult must be avenged. even about yourself. but that photograph didn\u8217? t bore her.\u8217? Rebecca said.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What\u8217?s that?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?To make their children believe that life is good.has left for him. But now she prefers death to him. and they wrote back to thank him. \u8216?But it\u8217?s all wrong.\u8217? he defended Nadya. Joe\u8217?s work often bored Rebecca. When his first wife died. I would never leave them. She really does look like someone sleeping. She\u8217?d failed in the most important thing parents have to do. Her eyelids lie pe acefully over her smooth. or of the inner torment which must have thrashed through her before she wrote that fin al letter and picked up the pistol. When the book was published he sent a copy to Reb ecca and Adam.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You can\u8217?t be sure of that. She has chosen death. she has insulted him and then escaped. her mouth is slightly parted.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. \u8216?Probably you\u8217?re right.\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { He wants revenge. searching their grains. the pure li nes of her face are clear-cut.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She couldn\u8217?t help herself. Because Nad ya was beautiful and he responded to her story and the final glamour of the flow ers and shadows which surrounded her.\u8217? said Joe slowly. They\u8217?ll find out. Anger. I would never kill myself if I had children.

They made Joe feel like a Methodist at Lourdes. He put what he had noticed into the poems. in a flood of trivia that stopped all conversation. They loved the way he wrote Nadya\u8217?s story. The architec ture was intended to dwarf them. Her adoptive father h ad died of bowel cancer. A choir of priests in training sang their he arts out to raise money for restoration funds. The y wrote letters to say so.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He was in the Kremlin now. to tell Joe the truth about himself. Only money. a bit in awe and a bit cautious. Or at least i t was empty for him. waited in the inmost heart of the i nmost heart. But he hadn\u8217?t asked her. to her I a m like some kitchen implement that\u8217?s strange to her and she knows it must have a use but she hasn\u8217?t discovered it yet. the dazzle of it all and the squat brutality under all that beauty.\ par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He was in the heart of it now. No broad-cheeked Georgian. Stalin\u8217?s fingers were ex ceptionally sweaty. For three years he\u8217?d left her alone. Rebecca went to see her four or five times a year. inside its brilliance of gold and white. They were waiting eagerly for his next book. and they knew it.\u8217? J oe had answered. Her hair was brushed off h er face. Joe looked around at the gold.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He thought: {\i I can\u8217?t write about these people any more}.\u8217? he\u8217?d said. and they\u8217?d laughed. staring. But things had changed and he did not need them. His readers believed he\u8217 ?d illuminated it for them. any more than Mandelstam had had. In the days when they shared a flat Joe had offered to go wit h her. He thought of Stalin training for the priesthood in his youth. She\u8217?s like tha t. and her mouth had tr embled for the first time. Crowds of Russian tourists walked purposefully past him.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He had made Stalin come alive for them? My God.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { . and Rebecca always took a large bag of them. ripe Caribbean bananas. and her adoptive mother had osteoarthritis and lived in a home in Whitstable. Ordinary people swirled about. Mandelstam mad e that mistake in his poems.\par \pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Come and visit me in Moscow. He was not going to pay for knowledge with his life. human things. You know. no Minotaur with glistening blac k hair and moustache and high.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He thought of Rebecca. sharp little black suit and a pink linen shirt. What a monstrous thing to do. Joe had wondered if her adoptive parents b elieved that life was good. Years of research and writing wouldn\u 8217?t do it. if it were possible. He could no t bear people to notice things like that about him. And he\u8217?d just let her carry on. knowing that s he\u8217?d left Adam. They made greasy marks on the papers he handled.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She\u8217?d start thinking I was going to marry you. coming full circle.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He was no closer to solving the mystery of Stalin. She had looked awful in some indefinable way that seemed to lodge in he r eyes and mouth.After that conversation with Rebecca. She\u8217?d talked endlessly about her employer.\par\pard \plain\hyphpar} { There was music in the Kremlin now. She wa s particularly fond of small. He had no pe rmit or papers. w ith an air of holiday devotion. They said that he had made Stalin come alive for them . He was not a poet. strong men who once again believed that the church was a route to stability and advancement. where she\u8217?d come to his hotel late and wearing an unfami liar. but the heart was empty. Young. the white domes. He turned slowly through 360 degrees.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?\u8230? {\i and to get to him} \u8211? {\i to his very heart} \u8211?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { By now Joe knew it wasn\u8217?t possible. but Rebecca had said no. supple boots. They\u8217?d written and telephoned and once he\u8217?d se en her in London.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar } { \u8216?Probably it\u8217?s essential in the cuisine of another country. spinning. She\u8217?s always trying to find a purpose for me. for the entrance ticket. keeping close to the walls. all right. and believed that he could hea r the wheel spinning. Joe.

Of desire. \u8216?I\u8217?m afraid of aeroplanes. forgive us. and could be ar its weight without being crushed.\par\pard \plain\hyphpar} { He thought of the way Rebecca\u8217?s mouth trembled when she said she was afrai d. to speak of ever yday things. No. I don\u8217?t have to stay here. or you\u8217?re not afraid. He thought of how he would go to her. I fell asleep easily. with the city and all its lights slung out below our windows.\p ar\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s a symbol. first in English and then in Russian. So much of i . how many times did that happen? I\u8217?ve forgotten. in the days when we\u8217?d sit after our supper and pour one glass after another down our throats. I preferred to look it up by myself.\u8217? she\u8217?d said.\u8217?\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { \u8216?Of what?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Of happiness. \u8216?Where is this golden fleece that\u8217?s so wonderful?\u8217 ?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Don\u8217?t you know the story?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Of course I do. I know that I have to do i t. without mixing it up with happiness and desire.\ par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Well. no. where are you.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?But you travel all the time for your work. I\u8217?ve been locked into this story for long enough. He got into my big bed beside me and wrapped his arms around me tight and lulled me with things we never said or remembered in daylight. he thought.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He didn\u8217?t argue. thought Joe. later. Just hazy. that\u8217?s not right. then?\u8217? I asked when Joe had declaimed this poem once too often. where is it.\u8217? sang the choir over and over.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s to do with ways of being afraid.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Either you\u8217?re afraid of flying.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I\u8217?ll leave. Not drun k. It wasn\u8217?t possible to believe that it had never existe d. I can go anywher e I want to go. The golden fleece is a symbol.\p ar\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Looking back. You\u8217?ve just been telling me about it.\par\pa rd\plain\hyphpar} { I\u8217?ll leave.\u8216?I don\u8217?t think so. Lord. but it was possible to believe that the present was equal to it.\u8217? she\u8217?d said at la st. I never liked the sound of that language in his mouth until I heard him use it in Russia.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\ par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b 22\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i Golden Fleece}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Golden fleece. as the trainee priests raised their voices again a nd the sound rose in a pure jet towards the roof. I t was one of the nights I woke and had a nightmare and yelled out and he woke up straightaway in spite of the wine we\u8217?d drunk. For an instant the oppression of the past lifted. but not yet. He laughed and stretched and yawned and agreed with me. golden fleece?}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { This is one of the poems Joe was always telling me.\u8217?\ par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { And she\u8217?d looked at him as if he\u8217?d revealed such innocence that it w as a gulf she couldn\u8217?t even call across. for God\u8217?s sake. He did what he always did.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?That\u8217?s for work. That\u8217?s different.\u8217?\par\pard\plai n\hyphpar} { \u8216?Well. Why can\u8217?t they just search for the thin g for itself? A golden fleece is nice enough to have.\u8217? I said a bit too quickly. If I didn\u8217?t know t hen Joe would immediately tell me.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Forgive us.

I would never have been able to imagine such a past for him. That would lead to bad dreams. He\u8217?d given his lif e to me. and be gan to write. The woman called Elena who wa s his personal assistant before me spent a month inducting me into his service.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Can it be true that Adam\u8217?s changed the colour of the front door?\par\pard\ plain\hyphpar} { I left Mr Damiano sleeping. I\u8217?ve been remembering a lot of thing s since I\u8217?ve been on my own.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I wished I\u8217?d known Bella. I wondere d if I could loosen the tie without him feeling it. a ll that history. That was how all his employees saw him. just a little. But I think she was there for a purpose. Maybe it wasn\u8217?t Ruby on the runway. Anyone would. bu t I believed it. I stood and watched over him and thought of everything he\u8217?d told me in the garden. She\u8217?d have liked his h otels. Maybe he\u8217?d been only an average flye r but then barely anybody is a flyer at all. then I tucked it in around his feet. I have to do some other things first. I opened the cupboard and found a blanket and laid it over him. Everything he kept about him was good.}\par\pard\plain\h yphpar} { {\i I\u8217?m going to see if Adam has changed the colour of his front door. Before tonight I would have thought he wouldn\u8217?t like me watching him when he was like this. maybe because there was no one else to receive it. All those stories. I bent over him and very gen tly I managed to loosen the knot. the way he looked so old all at once. every word of it. Otherwise I would still be with y ou in twenty years\u8217? time. You didn\u8217?t say that. Someth ing troubled his dream as a fly troubles a horse and he twitched and then was st ill. with all his power ali ve in him.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Dear Mr Damiano.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He was fast asleep.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i It is three in the morning and you are having a sleep. I thought. I didn\u8217?t like the thought of him sleeping with something tight around his throat. But I\u8217?ll be back. I liked the sound of her. He was still wearing his suit. It was an old-man sound. I could see Bella\u8217?s accident just as he had made me see it. He\u8217?d worried me.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He lay on his side with his knees drawn up. A man like him could only come out of a past no one in his present could guess at. They\u8217?d done well. Beautiful soft fleecy blankets. The two of them had st uck together. quite heavily. He wanted to be seen in his prime. to the in ner office where he would sleep on his couch sometimes. She\u8217?d have seen the point of everything he did.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i With love from}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Rebecca}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { . although I expect you thou ght it. as if it was the performance of a mystery. He hadn\u8217?t put anything over hi mself even though there were blankets in the cupboard which he kept for such occ asions. he hadn\u8217?t even taken off his tie. He looked more cherished. But I had to. Maybe it was all my imagination.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I sat down at the little desk in the inner office.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i I\u8217?ve dealt with the outstanding emails.\par\pard\plain\hyph par} { He snored.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He looked better so. and his breath rattled in his throat. I wish I had not told you so suddenly that I was leaving. took a sheet of paper.t went out of my head when Adam came. thinking of the first Dreamworl d they\u8217?d created when Bella was only a child. I gave him a while to settle. then I went upstairs after him. He was lying on his side and he was snoring.

Elena shortlisted for me yesterday. He sou nded twenty years younger than he\u8217?d been the night before.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I\u8217?d only been asleep for a couple of hours.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What day is it?\u8217? I said suddenly. the long day and the night and everything that had happened came up and hit m e and I was on the bed. I had seen him as an old man.\par\pard\plain\ hyphpar} { \u8216?Rebecca. but I felt as if I\u8217?d bee n deep in dreams for a hundred years. I packed clothes.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar } { \u8216?Mr Damiano.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Mr Damiano made an impatient sound.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s Friday.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It had been Wednesday when I got back from New York.\u8217? \par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He had his power back. Or maybe not wrong. We\u8217?d talked one day about people who cr am the word love on the end of emails to acquaintances whom they don\u8217?t lov e in the least.He would know what that signified. but seeing only one way in which the kaleidoscope of . acceptable hypocrisy. I thought of setting out without s leep and I was sure I could do it. I was sure of that.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The sound of the phone pulled me out of a sweet sleep.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?m sorry. as if asking himself when I would ever get t he point.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { \u8216?But I told you. to the Sidney. I saw two candidates for your job yesterday evening. Wednesd ay night.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What time is it?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Did I wake you?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Give me a minute. It was light by the time I left. Mr Damiano said it was just normal. or undressed. The streets were pale and quiet and cleaners were unlocking the out er doors of offices. Sun was flooding onto the bed. I needed to wake up.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He smiled and raised his eyebrows. I was wrong. with no time to pull the covers over me o r take off my shoes. I want you to come to my house. The night before last. bowed over and heavy. not far from the o ffice.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. but while I was waiting for the kettle to boi l.\u8217? I corrected myself. It was Mr Damiano. Rebecca. I thought you unde rstood that. flat. What time is it?\u8217?\par\pard\ plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Nine-twenty. while Mr Damiano continued to sleep. I hadn\u8217?t closed the b linds. Marina will start work for me on Monday. I am flying to N ew York tomorrow morning.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I don\u8217?t mean that. then it always means love?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { \u8216?Always. Can you come now?\u8217?\par\par d\plain\hyphpar} { I sat up and blinked. Going there was only the first step.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I showered for a long time. but I made it true ov er the next few hours.\u8217? I heard the smile in his voice.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?So if you write love. but not that different. I said I wouldn\u8217?t write it. \u8216?You\u8217?re not awake yet. The time was different. Things are not going well there. I can\u8217?t keep on working for you. it means love. falling. from a pool of contacts she maintains. last night when we were talking in the garden \u8211?\u8217?\ par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Not last night. I went to the studio apartment I rented. That is all under way.\par\pard\plain\hyp hpar} { It wasn\u8217?t true that I\u8217?d dealt with the emails.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No \u8211?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I shouldn\u8217?t have let you go like that.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?At the time. it\u8217?s OK.

white. on the runway. and this was the dirty heart of London.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The house was everything I hadn\u8217?t expected.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I was ready. It l ooked like the tent of a travelling merchant.\u8217? he said to me. I had enough money to keep paying the rent for a few months. there were piles of cushions and low divans. It was a long time since it had beat like that. He was dressed i n one of those pale linen summer suits that English men can\u8217?t wear. He was upright and smiling. He was later and earlier in the office than anyone. until I saw her again. dull restaurant almost every day.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I knew so many separate things about Mr Damiano. He opened the door to me. in Rome or Alicante or Berlin. with a broad strong face. How was that possible? But it felt good as I showered again and put on my jeans and a white T-shirt. the walls were covered wit h fine. More housekeepers. He liked to go over to Ireland. \u8216?I am not happy with the way we left each other. trees stood about in the corners of rooms. as if something frightening or wonderful was ab out to happen. I\u8217?d never seen a day like it for g listen and dazzle. I walked to the window and the light dazzl ed me and prickled my eyes. But his smile was r eal. to show myself and him that my job was over and the little black suits were tucked away in a cupboard.Mr Damiano could settle.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Play is the best thing human beings do. knit up on the chance of a horse\u8217?s hooves beating on the tu rf. it seemed. chill pocket where I h ad hidden since I left my home.\u8217? Mr Damiano explained. It loo ked fine on him. quiet street. It had an old iro n bell-pull and when I pulled it down I heard the sound in the heart of the hous e. I had been calm f or so long now. He loved horses. his skill was wonderful.\par\pard\plain\hyp hpar} { It struck me that he had layer upon layer of lives.\pa r\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I had been asleep for twenty-six hours. and then there were the blankets in the cupboard and the couch wher e he often slept. smiling. Even if it was only an illusion. I already knew where he lived. strong voice. I thought. There was a myth in the company that he had no home. so I could leave my possessions there. I would clean it before I lef t. {\i More Rebeccas}. Nothing had brought tears to my eyes since I\u8217?d sat in Ruby \u8217?s bedroom and found the scent of her still there.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Angela is my housekeeper. My heart beat and I felt afraid.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It was a narrow.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { A woman I had never seen before brought in the coffee. quite different. It was play and he loved play. It was a thought that chilled me. to the races at Leopar dstown and Punchestown. What would it be like elsewhere? There was dust all over the apartment.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He gave me the address.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He no longer placed bets. It surprised me when she spoke in English. I could not hide in the stiff. he said. and we said goodbye. My heart beat hard. like treasure. Nothing. thou gh I\u8217?d never been there. but I still wasn\u8217?t sure h ow they joined together.\par\pard\plain\hy . He still ate at that small. The sun fell everywhere. white house in a narrow. He loved the business of it. and then Mr Damiano\u8217?s tread. There was the bright sky and the trees shaking their electric green leaves in the morning wind and the rush of London and I was not separate from it any more. I didn\u 8217?t know where this would lead me.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Sit down.\u8217? came his full. Beautiful rugs criss-crossed e ach other. We\u8217?ll have coffee. and she looked about fifty. There w as no better food in London. She was dressed in black. but there were not many of them. My working cl othes already had the look of garments which could gladly go to a charity shop a nd be picked up more or less as a bargain by people who more or less wanted them . Everything I needed for now would go into one bag . No one in the office had been there. I thought. silky Turkish carpets.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Come to my house now. I would be rid of all of it. Maybe there were other house s. and once told me that he used to bet h eavily and that he\u8217?d bought a share in a small Italian restaurant with his winnings. the thousands of lives. hum an and animal.

\u8217? said Mr Damiano. and I see that the worst thing that can hap pen to you has happened to you. and Angela was one of those women with a face that could lighten with her mood and a fine body under that dull dress. Suddenly her voice rose in protest but I still couldn\u8217?t understand . But then he gathered himself and shook off his age.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { After we\u8217?d drunk our coffee and eaten the biscuits.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Eat one of Angela\u8217?s almond biscuits. But I am not a na tive speaker and so I have to say it like this. They got out of the same bed this morning.phpar} { Angela served the coffee and went out. Maybe I did think it last night.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You take it with you wherever you go.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. Her voice was strong. but true. Rebecca. just for a while \u8211?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You mean the night before last \u8211?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. What you are now is the woman that Ruby\u8217?s death has made. But you have renewed yourself. They are so far-fetched that they must be true.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Aha! You found the right word.\u8217? I said. Wha t I want to say is.\par\pard\pla .\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. Anyone can see it. I am not explaining this right. They are excellent.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?But I\u8217?ve left with no notice \u8211? I\u8217?ve made things difficu lt for you. This business was not built by sitting in an office in London. Angela has to explain the stories to me. as I should have done. For a moment he looked dra ined and old.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. I think. That\u8217?s good. I thought.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He paused. It\u8217?s there. Rebecca.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She has a good voice. Rebecca.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?We go to Covent Garden together.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\ hyphpar} { I drank my coffee. But maybe you renew it.\u8221?\u8217?\par\pard\plai n\hyphpar} { \u8216?I don\u8217?t think that today. It was very peaceful here and I noticed that my hand holding the cup was perfectly steady. and that you saw Ruby in the fire-truck. That is the word I wanted to find for you. you take it with you. I couldn\u8217?t hear the words.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. look. All the doors of the house were left open and soon we heard her begin to sing. So. You\u8217?re laughing at me. I heard his voice and Angela\u8217?s from the kitchen. Because I don\u8217?t know when a horse should be a horse and when it is a mount. not sweet. I was too tire d to think of you properly. I intend to give y ou something. She was si nging \u8216?Blue Moon\u8217?. as he\u8217?d done in the garden. You are leaving my employment .\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { They sleep together. working. I will say it in my way and you will understand me. You think. The volume rose and fell.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Because you had come to a decision. I a sked you because I wasn\u8217?t satisfied with the way we parted. \u8220?Of course he is an old man. Rebecca. he rose and went out.\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { \u8216?I look at your face. It ha s made its mark on you and the mark will never come off. She must have be en moving around. after what you told me about your aeroplane. He should behave like one. I have been beha ving like an old man. And then I \u8217?ll show you what I have for you.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You slept well. My horse has turned into a mount. Rebecca! That\u8217?s because you are a na tive speaker.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I haven\u8217?t asked you here to make you change your mind. They were not speaking English. and I have been very happy with the work you\u8217?ve done. There was that feeling about them. You have made me see that I should go to New York. that\u8217?s enou gh. And with that \u8211? well. There was a film of sweat on his forehead. with words that aren\u8217?t qui te right.

silky stuff. \u8216?Of course you will.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b 23\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i The Deep Blue Sea}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i We dip our heads in the deep blue sea}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i The deep blue sea the deep blue sea}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i We dip our heads in the deep blue sea}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i On the last day of September}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Dearest Rebecca.\u8217? I said.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I stroked the cloth. and how Bella had told fortunes. Blue and gold. the colour of his hair had a certain deadness which made me know for sure that Mr Damiano tinted his hair. He was not mine after all. And your excellent wo rk for me.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { . my Mr Damiano.\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { It\u8217?s not possible to listen to a couple talking privately in another room without a pang of some kind.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Her voice was quieter now. in Angela\u 8217?s language. not moving. flat.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He slapped his hands together. waiting to come in. As he reached to open the door for me.\u8217? said Mr Damiano. We held each other. Put it in your bag. singing and clattering plates . different pieces of fabric sewn together int o one\u8230? I had it. Mr Damiano looked at me expectantly. T his close. It was made of strong. while Angela sang in the kitchen. A panel of blue and a panel of gold were stitched together.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It was time to go. And if you lose it. I reache d for him. It folded almost t o nothing. corner to corner. I thought of the queues outside the first Dreamworld.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Your mother sewed it. And then the door opened and I was gone .\u8217 ?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Of course you can take it. and feel how light it weighs.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Open it.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I folded the cloth carefully.in\hyphpar} { Well. if I give it to you. to mark the time we\u8217?ve spent together.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyp hpar} { The parcel was tied with string. He was coming back. His warmth and smell enveloped me.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Mr Damiano shrugged expansively. Angela remained in the kitchen.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I can\u8217?t take it from you. The piece of cloth was about a yard square . They\u8217?d resolved whatever it was.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I unfolded the cloth. I felt the weight and bulk of him for the first time. He had another name. \u8216?It\u8217?s the tent of your f irst Dreamworld. \u8216?I knew you would remember! It\u8217?s for you. locked tog ether. and see if you can tell me what it is. Take it with you. But I didn\u8217?t need to say to myself what the p ang was. Mr Damiano came into the hall. I unw rapped it carefully and there was a folded piece of cloth.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He held out a small. The paper was old and fragile. the shock of hi s body after so much of his mind and voice.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?ll keep it for ever. Take it. Rebecca. He was right. It has barely fa ded. It had been tied up a long time ago and the kno ts were difficult. but I picked them loose. never mind. You\u8217?ve kept it all this time. It doesn\u8217?t take up much space.\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { \u8216?Take it out. My mother chose material which was tough and would survive use. brown-paper parcel.\u8217? I said.

It was always Nad ya who interested me. {\i Dearest Rebecca}. They went to war. both of them. even after I\u8217?d finished the book about her. as if the story was there all the ti me. I see her alone i n a room which she has painted herself. I sat in the internet caf\u233? and read it through on ce. starting up the engines. My father flew and my grandfather flew and I know almost nothing abou t what they did and what drove them. but I don\u8217?t know anything about it. It\u8217?s just a st ory. I\u8217?ve begun a new book. Children who feared him and men who danced for him like bears. I watch the way she moves and hear the s ong she hums under her breath. I\u8217?d taken it for granted.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { All you know about your mother is that she gave birth to you. too. She must have come up against the situation before. I could see it. I try to see him alone in a room. St Ives had an internet caf\u233? now. A stain. He wa s a flyer. and then again. my mother says. isn\u8217?t it? The mark Stalin makes on the world is so great. Strange. The town was so much changed from the days when Adam and I first came. but now I wondered.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Dearest Rebecca. I can\u8217?t remember him at all. Joe\u8217?s endearments had made me feel that I had a place in t he world.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He had always begun with those words when he wrote to me. A face that was ali ve with love for him.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I can think of the things that may have run through his mind when he was in the dacha.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { No more Stalin. Right from the beginning. eating or sleeping or whistling a tune he li kes. but now it\u8217?s shut like a stone. it\u8217?s of a differ ent kind. They\u 8217?ve cut me off from the whole chain of my ancestors. I\u8217?ve never written anything like it before. waiting for me to notice it. Rebecca. It\u8217?s been strangely easy to write. but which of course he will read. a blow. Everywhere. close to the airport. feel it.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { There\u8217?s a small museum of aviation here at Victoria. One of the chara cters might be my grandfather. We\u8217?ll never get rid of it. You were angry with me f or trying to reinterpret your story. A woman running out of a room. Rebecca. I\u8217?m finished with that. a cry. I recall your exact words: \ u8216?It\u8217?s not only that I don\u8217?t know my mother or my father. All I know about m y father is what my mother has told me. on your first ante-natal visit? You couldn\u8217?t give her any of the de tails she needed. I couldn\ u8217?t let go of her. a mark that spreads like a greasy fingerprint o n papers in an archive.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I couldn\u8217?t stop thinking about Nadezhda Alliluyeva and her death.It was an email from Joe. But I cannot imagine myself into that room where he is alone. You were right. and every time I fail. you said. It\u8217?s the effect he has on other people that matters .\u8217?\par\pard\plain\h . one in each generation. That\u8217?s how my story started. if it is history. I walked around those aeroplanes and imagine d men inside. I\u8217?ve come to the end of trying. I can rehearse everything he did and everything he was. when you saw the horror of how she left her children. She was very tactful about it. An argument. and it\u8217?s killed the book I was trying to write. I think it\u8217?s for yo u. about your family medical history.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Do you remember telling me about how the midwife sat down with a long form to fi ll in. \u8216?He\u8217?d had enough of all that.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I am on Vancouver Island now. I don\u8217?t know if I\u8217?ll ever publish it.\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { You told me a long time ago that story was all you had.\u8217? my mother said. people who don \u8217?t know who they are or where they come from. the differences be tween places were being smoothed out. He never went to reunions. And yet as a subject he is barren. When there was a programme about t he war he wouldn\u8217?t watch it. A wound smelli ng of blood that has already congealed. and it comes out dead on the page. I\u8217?ll never get to t he end of that book about Stalin\u8217?s fugue. But now I have. maybe even trying to change the way you loo ked at it. but this time it\u821 7?s not going to be history \u8211? or. and a letter lying on the floor which he knows he should not read.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He would never talk about it. not him. And there\u8217?s a woman.

It\u8217?s not finished yet. but I can\u8217?t do that.\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { I\u8217?m writing about the people who have been there all the time.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Mikey touched my arm. He\u8217?s our guide. right by the edge. Don\u8217?t sheer off. I saw a grizzly bear. Your features rise up from the swamp of the past. or even deliberately. No one was going to wrestle that shoebox out of your arms. maybe money and property. There\u8217?s a g rizzly.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I\u8217?m not being completely honest. and no book. where i t churned through the rocks. objects. I was thinking about what you said. They may possess papers. though I wouldn\u8217?t have known it w as a grizzly. \u8216?Didn\u8217?t expect to see him here. Mikey said. The river roare d through the gully.\u8217? said Mikey.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I looked down.yphpar} { I felt for you then. Olya was right. All I\u8217?m asking you to do is to be my reader. and t hat the most important thing you haven\u8217?t got about your family are their s tories. On the other side of the river. though I may not have shown it. But in thinking it over. He spoke quietly. They can\u8217?t do it by mistake. And you wouldn\u8217?t believe how fast I\u82 17?m writing. a ny more than you do. I\u8217?m no t being honest at all. We\u8217?d camped the night before. The bear was easy to see. the way you do sometime s. It was your story and it was all you had and yo u were going to cling on to it. the woman I told you about.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?He\u8217?s hunting salmon.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { So I thought I would give you another story. she\u8217?s a lone now. the mitochondrial DNA. But they don\u8217?t possess the lives of the past. either. with our guide.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { You\u8217?ve got all the information inside you that everyone else has got: the genetic map. I want to look at the features of i t. All those years of struggle and research and drafts. and now I\u8217?m going to write this one in a matter of months. but soon she won\u8217?t be \u8211?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { So I am not going to write any more about Stalin. isn\ u8217?t it? Lucky I\u8217?m not with you so I can\u8217?t see you slap me down w ith a look. I\u8217?ve come to see t hat it isn\u8217?t true. There was a slippery path. It\u8217?s presumptuous of me. I\ u8217?m writing about you. No one can cut you off from the chain of your ancestry. I should have written Volodya\u8217?s story. It would be the hardes t thing in the world to do. Enough ra in to bury you standing. That\u8217?s why you got so angry when I suggested that there was anothe r way to interpret your shoebox. I want to hear the words that will come out of Florence\u8217?s lips. In fact. I can feel it. waiting. She\u8217?s called Florence. I knew that he wanted to draw my attenti on to something without alerting the others. and me. but when it is I\u8217?ll email you to find out where you are.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Nobody really knows their ancestors.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But they may possess stories. We were on one side of a gorge. Did you know that you can\u8217?t leave a trace of food in a tent in bear country? You have to seal it in boxes and hang it in trees well away fr om the camp.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Look down by the water.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { If you don\u8217?t want it.\ par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Don\u8217?t take fright. and a steep drop to the river below.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Yesterday. you don\u8217?t even have to read it. just like everyone\u8217?s. my dearest Rebecca. At least. even if they\u8217?re living beside the gra veyard where their great-great-grandparents are buried. the one who\u8217?s in the room alone. Rebecca.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I could tell that although Mikey took a certain detached satisfaction in the pre . It seemed to be playing with the water. an d then I\u8217?ll come and give it to you. You don\u8217?t want my pit y. I\u8217?m not writing this story entirely for you. or in the house which th eir family built and lived in for generations. any more than I want yours. They have close to six feet of rain a year there. How co uld I? I\u8217?m also writing it for myself. I want to see my grandfather\u8217?s lips move. Rebecca.

Everyone has the same expression during t he anointing process. to find out how their happiness works. footrests. It\u8217?s gol den now. maybe a son-in-law who keeps staring at gaps in the canvas walls that surround him. Even happy. with people like me watching. They build their canv as walls well. And I could see why. Rebecca.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But as we went on it occurred to me that we weren\u8217?t walking into safety. spades. The famil ies and children left weeks ago.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Fine. the daughter of the camp. Tomorrow. Applying and reapplying the sun cream to every inch of the flesh. cool boxes. sun cr eam. parents. which is themselves. here I am sitting in a pool of electric ligh t. I\u8217?m drinking whiskey and I\u8217?m about to start writing again. newspapers. Rebecca. and even the students have to go now. The baby\u82 17?s tent is set in the shade with a bouncy cradle outside it.\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { Wetsuits. innocent look to it.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But he was at a distance. buckets. They\u8217?re very genial but they know what they want. and words are the kind of bears I hunt.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The sun cream takes up hours. The light\u8217?s changed too. The place was full and there were more back packers barging in the doorway. None of his senses registered us through the roar of t he water. I can sense them. Behind th e shoulders. fishing nets. young girls with the ir boyfriends. barbecues. blankets.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?How\u8217?re you doing?\u8217? he asked. cushions a nd mats on the sand and then another comes up with rolls of windbreak under each arm.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Mikey didn\u8217?t mention the presence of the grizzly to anyone else in our gro up. even if I can\u8217?t yet see them. debating wind direction and maximum exposure to sun. but with fresh air. no more bears. Running after the two-year-old with a sun-cream sp ray. people will be permitted to let their dogs run on the beaches again. unless it\u8217?s your job to do so. Porthmeor has a washed. in single file.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { And now it\u8217?s September. You know me . ice cream.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I can walk freely. surfboards. The thirtieth of September.\par\par d\plain\hyphpar} { So here I am. We were si mply walking into the territory of being less close to a grizzly bear. It wasn\u8217?t like that.\par\pard\plain\h yphpar} { They want to turn outside into inside. rather than white.\p ar\pard\plain\hyphpar} { You know how they say that you are never more than three yards from a rat. We walked on through the wet. P hew. There wer e pretty much bound to be bears within calling distance all the way we walked. Too much trade for one pair of hands. I want to watch from the very first mo ment. baby gym. that\u8217?s a relief.sence of the grizzly. when the first member of the family dumps an armload of chairs. to be exact. I\u8217?m in the territory of bears.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { There\u8217?s a young girl.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But in some of the camps everybody looks content. and a big smooth stone for hammering in the poles. because a young guy who was wiping the ta bles smiled back at me. Family camps: children. The bear had climbed down his side of the gorge. with my iBook burning blue. as if they\u8217?re slowly falling in love with themselves. in th e city? And yet you rarely see one. grandparents. I\u8217?m an indoor man by nature. He could most certainly climb up again. as if he plans a break-out. smell them. They don\u8217?t want t o lie in the naked air of the beach.\par\pard\p lain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Do you need any help here?\u8217? I asked. an inflatable dinosaur. with the boyfriend who\u82 . To be exact. on nipples and footsoles. where there would have been a hundred camps set up on the san d in August. They are all around m e. he wasn\u8217?t in the usual sense of the words pleased to see him. Serious and dreamy.\u8217? I glanced round. I want to get clos e. on ours.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { With love.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Joe\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I must have been smiling as I read it.

All of us would hold hands and make a long chain which wound through the arch as we sang. She thought I could look into her future as if it we re rolling out on a TV screen. He\u8217?s skinny and gawky and she\u8217?s beau tiful.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { She looked at me. rolls over and shoves her backwards into the sand. Not w hen you\u8217?re grown-up. The silk is fragile and I\u8217?ve spread it out of the sun.\par\ pard\plain\hyphpar} { We dip our heads in the deep blue sea\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The deep blue sea the deep blue sea\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { We dip our heads in the deep blue sea\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { On the last day of SeptemBER\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I have a job. but you won\u8217?t. that didn\u8217?t spread out and grow. helping him fill in a wordsearch.\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { I am beginning to think of what Ruby lost. I didn\u8217?t see it. She jumps up and starts pegging wet swimming co stumes onto a line that runs across the top of a windbreak. she asked m e with false casualness. I have a room with what are called sea glimpses . My adoptive mother had told me the story of the Moors murders when I was eight years old. Much later.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { (I have to imagine this. But as soon as he feels her hands on his flesh he twitches . and she didn\u8217?t like it. Every time I wake there\u8217?s the noise of wind and sea.\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { The captain said it would never never do\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Never never do never never do\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The captain said it would never never do\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { On the last day of SeptemBER\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { As we sang the last word we would jerk our arms down hard and if you were the gi rl who was making the arch you would brace yourself against the wall in case you were pulled off your feet. It\u8217?s the thirtieth of September now.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I told her she could stay living at home for as long as she wanted. They were safe from my eyes insi de their camp. frowning.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I sleep lightly. The girl\u8217?s left with her hands full of sun cream and sand.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The camps are gone. She fills her palm with cream and approaches him from behind where he\u82 17?s lying face down. The fragment of his first Dreamworld.)\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { She\u8217?s so perfect and he\u8217?s so imperfect and yet she\u8217?s the one w ho\u8217?s trying to please him.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?If I was living in another house.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { .\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The games we played were full of mystery. \u8216?Can kidnappers make children live away from thei r houses?\u8217? I told her that they could not. But she doesn\u8217?t seem to care. like dolls\u8217? pegs. You think you will now. in cas e it fades. man nor woman. when she was in her bath.17?s come on holiday with them. It\u8217?s inside that they\u8217?re ba d. Ruby. The last day of S eptember. She used to talk about what she wou ld do when she grew up. you wouldn\u8217?t be able to make my d inner. The grandma screams with la ughter. \u8216?But y ou won\u8217?t want to. at primary school. She did it to make me careful. Next moment.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You can\u8217?t trust anyone. not our mothers and fathers. One girl (it w as only the girls who played) would make an arch with her arm. and a sour-smelling en-suite. she\u8217?s kneeling beside her boyfri end. But it was us playing them. They were like adult conversations we\ u8217?d overheard. We used to play a game to that song.\u8217? she said. Her life. She uses little red plastic pegs. There\u8217?s a pretty oak chest on which I\u821 7?ve spread the piece of silk that Mr Damiano gave me. where you can\u8217?t see. her outstretched hand braced against the rough stone playground wall. The life Ruby didn\u8217?t have. Gull s walk on the roof at night and their big claws scrape the tiles. for a few more weeks. The caf\u233? has had a wonderful season and I\u8217?ve done well with tips. \u8216?They come up to you all smiles and sweeties. She\u8217?d realized that people left their parents to f ind homes of their own.

I\u8217?ve been uneasy ever since they were let go on their own. I\u8217?ve got my swimsuit on under my dress. watching me. I try to t hink less of this. He used to swim like that when we went to . ab out fifty.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?ve been to the Tate. My view is Ruby\u8217?s. They have heard her voice. so they\u8217?re extra respectful. From here. not taking offence. away from us. twenty yards from me. Two daughters with her. Well she mig ht watch them. within sight. the shore is a foreign land. playing w here the waves break. I think of the space of years Ruby missed. and there\u8217? s no wind. Joe swims ahead of me with the st rong breaststroke I\u8217?d forgotten.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\qc *\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { We are in the deep blue sea now.\par\par d\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Oh \u8211? have you?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I haven\u8217?t visited Ruby\u8217?s grave yet. Only it\u8217 ?s a church where they\u8217?re not members. or maybe it\u8217?s a daughter a nd a daughter-in-law.\par \pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?But by the time you got down to them \u8211?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { She sees what I see: the vastness of sand between us and the children. The bad people who would seize me.\u8217? she says. standing where I was lying. I go back to my towel.My head was loaded with terror each time she sent me to the shop for bread. as I come up to him.\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { I did not terrorize Ruby. A matriarch. and strides towards the sea. She filled me with terror. T he space between her and the children narrows. I walk along the top of the graveyard every m orning. Her grandchildren. They t urn and leap and splash their way towards their Viking grandmother.\u8217? he says. staring out at the sea. Big jaw. The children are knee-deep. A big burly woman.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I think for a long time each day of the life that Ruby lost.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Maybe you\u8217?re right. I was determined she would live in the sunlight.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I daresay.\u8217? she says.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The woman keeps standing up. I get up and walk over to the big woman. She has the face of a Viking. My a doptive mother chastened me with the thought of what could happen if I stepped o ut of line.\u8217? I say.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?The sea can be dangerous here \u8211? you\u8217?ll get a big wave suddenl y. It is behind me. The sun is warm. ju st stating the fact. and there\u8217?s Joe. I t\u8217?s the north of my compass.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I am clenching my arms around my knees. shielding his eyes. not caring now w hat she thinks. I\u8217?ve been watching the expression on people\u8217?s faces as t hey come out. on my way to work. And they\u8217?re very young\u8230?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?m keeping an eye on them. A son who has hammered in the windbreak with skill and pre cision. The houses she wou ld have inhabited. my longing for the feel of her and the smell and touch of her. maybe thigh-deep \u8211? the w ater\u8217?s swirling around them \u8211?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?If they were mine I\u8217?d be down there. don\ u8217?t they. We\u8217?ve waded out into the loudness of the waves. Before I know that I\u8217?m going to do it. I think less of my grief.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { There\u8217?s one family group left. The cars that would run me over.\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { My heart steadies itself. People don\u8217?t know what this sea is like. I might swim. Rebecca? Like people coming out of a church service. They look as if they\u8217?ve had a bit of good done to them. And n ow I am alive. stern blue eyes. shielding her eyes to watch the four little childre n playing at the water\u8217?s edge. The teachers who would tell me of f.\ u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s good for the town. But she doesn\u8217?t get angry. presumably.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I sit on my mat with a towel spread on it. and Ruby is not.

He has so much to of fer.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Joe has grown broader. It\u8217?s hard to judge distances when you\u8217?r e floating.\u8217? says Joe.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { . And then it dived. Joe looks happy today. keeping his wet black head in sight. Rebecca. bu t you do damage. I\u8217?ll live there for a while.\par\pard\p lain\hyphpar} { I hang. They would turn the lighting d own to try and create an atmosphere.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I swim slowly. More intelligent t han a dog. mayb e a year. My arms are colder than the rest of me. So talented. like a dog. even at the end of the season. his thighs thicker. and hopeful. maybe. adults-only night. You and Adam must come out and visit. as if Joe\u8217?s a n ew person whom I\u8217?m seeing for the first time. He has succeede d in what he set out to do. \u8216?I don\u8217?t think so. I turn on my back and float. Joe glances at me.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { There\u8217?s a small plane overhead. There \u8217?s talk of him presenting a TV history series.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Are you staying?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?He may have changed the colour of his front door. he says . He\u8217?s smiling as he treads water. resting before I swim back to shore. more ful ly muscled. We rub our bodies down and put on clothes.the Baths on Thursday nights.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What makes you so sure?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You\u8217?d be a fool not to. I noticed it as he walked into the sea. He\u8217?s been going hiking every weekend out on Vancouver Island. but I keep on combing my hair. and rises in a stream of bubbles. He dives and comes up shaking drops of water from his hair.\u8217? says Joe beside me. I could reach up and touch it with a wet finger. He\u8217?s swimming properly . He\u8217?s so clever.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { We climb out of the water and now it\u8217?s the air that seems cold.\u8217? He looks me full in the f ace. He may not want me ther e. I know why that is. \u8216?It was this close.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Did you touch it?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Of course not. I\u8217?m going back to that cabin.\par\pard\plain\hyph par} { \u8216?I saw a seal. because you don\u8217?t know the power you\u8217?ve go t. I need to get on with my writing.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?The trouble is that you think nothing of yourself. But the water\u8 217?s cold.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I am well.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But what hangs between us is that I have never wanted it. and swimming three times a week. It\u8217?s true.\u8217? says Joe. or pretends to do so.\par\pard\plain\ hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s wonderful here. I could yield now. not meeting the glance. It\u8217?s not very high. and it tires me. Maybe his life wi ll be as he wants it to be. Everyone reads his book.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?The cabin with the bears?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?That\u8217?s the one. I look at him and realize t hat he would be good on TV. and the br eeze chill on my skin.\u8217?\par\pard\p lain\hyphpar} { But Joe\u8217?s not tired. ne ither on earth nor in heaven. I think. Six months. His chest is more muscled. It\u8217?ll be g oing to the Scillies.\u8217? I say. dipping his head down in the water and lifting it to breathe. Why didn\u8217?t you tell me?\u8217?\par\pard\ plain\hyphpar} { We swim back side by side. deeper. He dives again. You\u8217?re tired. suspended. And his swimming is surely better than I remember it. Rebecca.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar } { \u8216?You look well. but they couldn\u8217?t change the smell of chlorine or the after-echo of a hundred school galas trapped under the glass-an diron roof. his body is firmer. let\u8217?s go back. I won\u8217?t swim f ar. It looked at me.

they glow with pleasure. I wanted to ask you. They lived in Huddersfield.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You like it there.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I do. There\u8217?s something about Lisa and Ramzi and little Amina that has stayed in his mind. because all Ramzi\u8217?s cousins were at the school as well. They hadn\u8217?t been abl e to accept her. I\u8217?m content in my cabin. My neighbour says she\u8217?s got cubs off in the woods. her brown eyes were set in stains of shadow. It\u8217?s not finished. They\u8217?d gone to the sa me comprehensive. But she\u8217?s all right as long as you don\u8217?t scare her. Well. Rebecca. \u8216?It got too difficult.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { We are clothed.\u8217? They came down south and both got jobs. where she and Ramzi had both been brought up.\u8217? he says. Th en. but not his. He said the words as if they were true. I thought it was going to be a short story but it \u8217?ll make a novel. in words that didn\u8217?t seem t o contain a judgement. and he\u8217?d sent them a copy of the Polaroid photograph which was taken a few minutes after her birth. Rebecca. Her family had visited. and sent photographs. It was too difficult. excited voices.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It\u8217?s like the slow release of a vice on my heart. Now. but she\u8217?d never spoken to them. A pink balloon bounces from the door-knocker. you\u8217?re so busy and \u8211?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I was glad to be asked.\u8217? says Adam. She\u8217?d seen Ramzi\u8217?s parents at school parents\u8217 ? evenings. None of them had come to the wedding. \u8216?Here you are. and then Ramzi said maybe we shouldn \u8217?t. Her hair is brushed back into a ponytail. From inside there comes a crush of happy.\u8217? she says. my father\u8217?s gener ation.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?ve printed the story off for you. She\u8217?d written letters to Ramzi\ u8217?s mother. They had to be careful. All I\u8217?ll say is that I love what you are in my life. along with the bears. I like it more than I would ever have believed possible.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Have you seen a bear at the cabin yet?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. but when they were sixteen they started going out together. Lis a talked to him one night about Ramzi\u8217?s family. side by side and eating chocolate. You\u8217?re not getting any declar ation from me.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Can I read the rest when it\u8217?s done?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?If you like. The story\u8217?s taken on a life of its own.\p ar\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?m so glad you could come. A black bear comes most evenings now. dressed in a yellow shirt and cream trousers. It\u8217?s true. That was the way Lisa put it.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You\u8217?ve got no call to be sorry. and that I no longer need to feel the guilt I have always felt towards him. It\u8217 ?s Lisa who comes to the door. But this is the part I wrote with you in mind.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b 24\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i The Birthday Party}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam touches the doorbell and it rings smartly. but in different parts of the town. But they hadn\u8217?t sent a card back or . \u8216?We weren\u8217? t sure \u8211? I mean. I hold his words in my m ind. That\u8217?s why I need to get back and work on it. Ramzi had phoned to tell them of Amina\u82 17?s birth. The rest won\ u8217?t be like that.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Lisa and Ramzi didn\u8217?t remember when they\u8217?d first met. don\u8217?t think it. not going out exactly. \par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { In the end they had to leave. It goes on to the next generation. Joe gets a wad of paper out o f his backpack. and she looks years younger than the woma n who sat night after night beside the incubator that contained her daughter.\u8216?I\u8217?m sorry. to think of later in the hope that they\u8217?re true.

Lisa must have told her friends that he was c oming. She settles him into an empty chair next to Amina.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Only now I feel I couldn\u8217?t ever bear to leave her. when they finally took their babies home. not for an hour. on their mot hers\u8217? laps or crawling round the floor. crisps. get herself promoted. A still baby. we\u8217?re not going to go backwards now .\p ar\pard\plain\hyphpar} { They all seem to know who Adam is. a baby who knew how to conserve her energy. cakes. fee ding bottles. But what Ramzi wanted was to do a degree in engineer ing.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I know I shouldn\u8217?t be angry with them. no. His eyes note the child.anything. dummies. as he did w ith all his patients. what this drug\u8217?s going to do is fight the infection in your lungs. when he finishes his shift. Ramzi\u8217?s coming in at ten.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?m sure they don\u8217?t feel that. How young they all are. biscuits. And that mak es me so\u8230? well. \u8216?She i s their granddaughter. Ramzi\u8217?s borrowed a camcorder and he\u8217?s filming them having their tea. angry. She sits in her highchair at the head of the table which has been placed in the centre of the room.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Come on inside. and brings him a glass of lemonade.\par\ pard\plain\hyphpar} { And there\u8217?s Amina. for example.\u8217?\par\p ard\plain\hyphpar} { Ramzi worked in a call centre. Som e parents found it very hard to cope. wipes. It would happen.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It was over many weeks that he learned all this. he was a supervisor and they thought highly of him. The fathers look even younger than the mothers. the typical translucency of a child born at twenty-seven weeks. If she doesn\u8217?t come on all right \u8211? well. By the window a boy in jeans and T-shirt jogs a grizzling newborn infant.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Amina\u8217?s responding well to the antibiotics. He\u8217?d felt that they were in it together . She\u8217?d had a lot of problems but he\u8217?d always had a hunch that Amina would make it. \u8216?Relieved. There are the hollows at her temples. but some stayed in your mind more than others. Ramzi was doing well. as Lisa had done before Amina was born. They were only twenty-two.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Lisa shrugged her thin shoulders. Amina. they won\u8217?t know about that. They would share the care of Amina whilst Ramzi stu died. \u 8216?Once we get this infection under control \u8211?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyph par} { \u8216?Yes. They don\u8217?t know she\u8217?s alive. You\u8217?re off the CPAP. It \u8217?s for Amina I\u8217?m angry. He talked her through it. tissues. they can\u8217?t help it. She would go back to work. The closeness of the unit was a strange thing. She knew that he was trying to help her.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Now. There was a cha nce of management training. There are five other babies. Bunches of pink balloons hang from the walls and the table is heaped with sandwiches. Not the way they should. They didn\u8217?t feel safe without a nurse within call. it wasn\u8217?t as crude as that. One dad is showing Ramzi a function on the camcor der. in a pink ruffled dress with her scant hair tied up in a matching ribbon. Be cause then they\u8217?ll be able to pretend that she never existed.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Nobody outside neonatology understood the amount of character there was in his p atients. not properly.\u8217? went on Adam.\u8217? But she whispers it. \u8217? said Lisa. Amina. Lisa said. They weren\u 8217?t forgotten. It seemed so personal and yet in an odd way it wasn\u8217?t. either. Her wrists are so n . They\u8217?d longed for it and counted down to it and yet it frightened them onc e it came. He\u8217?ll see the difference.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He follows Lisa down the flat\u8217?s narrow corridor into the living room.\u8217? says Adam. Maybe they\u8217?ll even be \ u8211?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I shouldn\u8217?t say it. She look s better than she did this morning.

\u8217? he says. removes the cheese slice inside it. Amina. Ramzi takes the lens off his daughter and films around the whole t able. It keeps us sane. isn\u8217?t it. \u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { They draw the curtains and switch off all the lights.\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { \u8216?Now we can say that.\u8217? says Adam.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?We\u8217?ll have the cake soon. Lisa sees him look at them. She\u8217?s only nine months.\u8217? says Ramzi. \u8216?Any time you get t ired of her.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar } { \u8216?Ooh.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Ramzi. lets his breath escape slowly.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Thank you.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I have to keep remembering she\u8217?s not really one at all. She ho ists her big square boy onto her hip and touches Amina\u8217?s cheek gently with a finger.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Ramzi bought them for me. And here\u8217 ?s Lisa coming through the kitchen door with the cake held high. fastidiously opens a sandwich.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The other babies are much bigger than Amina.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { There are no grandparents here. get the camcorder ready.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She\u8217?s a little princess.\par\pard\plain\hyph par} { \u8216?More or less. or stand holding a tabl e leg.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She\u8217?s done so well.\u8217? She looks fragile but he knows how tough s he really is. Amina leans forward. then at the door she has bitten into the bread. Lisa.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Here\u8217?s Ramzi with the camcorder.arrow that he wonders where they found the gold bracelets that clasp them. I\u8217?m going to get the you-know-what. did you make it yourself?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s lovely. you send her down to me. \u821 6?We started off meeting once a week. On the table there\u8217?s a bunch of pink and cream roses. \u8216?But she\u8217?s got a t hing about opening up things if they\u8217?re closed.\u8217? says Lisa. when she\ u8217?s older.\u8217? says Mel. We can tell her.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Amina is still regarding her bread.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Is it all right if I take some film of you with Amina? For her. lingering on each child. \u8216?They\u8217?re ge tting tired.\u8217? she says.\u8217? said Adam.\u8217? The baby stares int ently at her mother. she holds it out to Adam. Lisa. its one candle alight. Carefully. but I think the mum deserves someth ing. Ross?\u8217? calls Mel.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Scrupulously. taking it. with immaculate timing. They\u8217?ve got a scent as well. Nobody over twenty-five. \u8216?She\u8217?s beautiful.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You hear that.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Of course. The babies stare uncompreh endingly.\u8217?\par\p ard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Everybody gets presents for the baby. he guesses. but it\u8217?s more now.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { . Suddenly. One of them makes a staggering run from the hands of his mother to the ha nds of his father.\u8217? he says. One starts to cry but is quickly silenced with a dummy.\u8217? says the girl who seems to be the mother of the newb orn baby as well as another who can\u8217?t be more than fourteen months. that\u8217?s the doctor who took care of you whe n you were born. \u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Ramzi puffs out his cheeks. As he watches. and eats the bread. M el?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Most days. she sets it on the table before Amina.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She likes cheese really. really.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?They\u8217?re all my friends from the baby group.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She\u8217?s doing fine. except him. They crawl.\u8217? says Lisa.\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She\u8217?s sitting up well.\u8217? says Lisa.

For the first time.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. Amina. the parents learning how to give birthdays to their children. rises again. Amina.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The candle blows out. and Ruby. And before he knows he\u 8217?s going to do it. Ross\u8217?ll film it.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s not really a holiday.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?We\u8217?ll take Amina one day.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You need your holidays.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { They glance at each other.\par\pard\p lain\hyphpar} { \u8216?dear AmINa\u8230?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Now.\u8216?Where\u8217?d you get the teddy bears?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Tesco\u8217?s. You\u8217?re the birthday girl.\par\pard\plain\hyphp ar} { \u8216?They say it will. One.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?ve never been.\u8217? says Ramzi. I\u8217?m getting a train down to Cornwa ll tonight. Things were bad after our little girl died.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Go for it.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The knife goes down clean into the pink and white icing. we\u8217?re going to blow out your candle. The curtains are drawn back. \u8216?It\u8217?s your cake.\u8217? says Lisa.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Are you going back to the hospital?\u8217? asks Ramzi. into the lens. The fa ther holds the knife and guides Amina\u8217?s hand.\u8217? \par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { And then. three\u8230?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The candle falters.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Show your mum how it\u8217?s done.\par\pard\plai n\hyphpar} { \u8216?She\u8217?s been away for a while. Ross?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { And there they are.\u8217? says Lisa.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I hope this weather stays for you.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Make a wish.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Nice place to come from.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It\u8217?s just a shade of expression in Lisa\u8217?s face but he knows she has been told. H e is twenty-two but he is a man. \u8220?Why do we live in Huddersfield when there\u8217?s places like Cornwall?\u8221? She wasn\u8217?t best pleased. maybe. Lisa. down there. Ramzi. we appreciate it.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { They come to the door to see Adam off. with truth. Amina. hush. Father and daughter look the same way. Big breath.\u8217? says Adam.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?When we got back from our holiday.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It was a pleasure. I asked my mum. He has Amina in hi s arms. I\u8217?m taking some leave.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { . \u8216?They sell them in packets.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You cut the cake with her. Someone in the unit has talked about Rebecca. And now they are the gro wn-ups. he adds some truth of his own. Lisa makes a little sound of sympathy.\u8217? says Lisa. Adam thinks as he sings. won\u8217?t you. t wo. standing there with his baby girl in his arms.\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { \u8216?Happy Birthday\u8230?\u8217? begins one voice. Lisa?\u8217? says Ra mzi. don\u8217?t we.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?So we\u8217?re going to spend some time together. It\u8217?s where my family comes from. Lisa bends by her daughter. Amina. I\u8217?m going down to Cornwall to see my wife.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Thanks for coming. since they were childre n themselves with their own birthday cakes and candles. \u8216?I went there once when I was a kid. curled up and drowsing.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The baby\u8217?s eyes shine dark in the glow of the flame. and then they are all sing ing.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { They say nothing. Suddenly he has authority.

And struggled through the dirty. and the pensioners who have no money themselves give him what they can. I\u8217?ve told yo u some of the reasons already.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Olya and I are finished. both of them. and what I\u8217?ve written I\u8217?ve written. it wouldn\u8217?t have come to this. \u8216?You know. It wasn\u8217?t my war. no clout.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i He was a young man whose name I don\u8217?t know. dripping white?}\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { {\i Have you seen the blank sides closing in and felt that you were choking. as it is for us. an d an innocent as well. look at where we were a year ag o.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i I enclose the story so far.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i . I was very angry with you then. Most of the action takes place in 1917 \u8211? the p rologue a little later.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i He lost his legs.}\par\par d\plain\hyphpar} { {\i He told me that if Stalin was still alive.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?ll come and tell you. I\u8217?ve had enough of messing her about. I could write about Na dya. no connections. \par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b PART TWO\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i Boomdiara}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \~\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Have you left the ground in murkiness. Rebecca. Imagine it. They would have won the war. wasn\u8217?t I?}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i But it wasn\u8217?t Olya who stopped me writing about Stalin. It\u8217?s really over this time. I\u8217?m not ashamed of it . I cannot get to the heart of what that man w as. no college place. He was a veteran of one of Russia\u8217?s many wars. Just a boy with blue eyes a nd no education. because there isn\u8217?t the money.\u8217? says Lisa to Adam. He\u8217?d been conscripted because he couldn\u8217?t get out of it. I mean. Iosif Vissarionovich wouldn\u8217?t have left veter ans to rot in the street. I\u8217?m ready to acknowledge now that messin g Olya about is exactly what I was doing. grey}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i and soaking. but I can\u8217?t go any farther.\u8217? says Adam. begging.\u8216?I hope it goes well. but there\u8217?s one more that I haven\u8217?t t old you. All right.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i No pull. if it cou ld be the same for you. You told me once that I ought to leave Olya if I wasn\u8217?t going to give her what she wanted.}\par\pa rd\plain\hyphpar} { {\i And then leapt into a land of blazing light\u8230?}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Dearest Rebecca. He can\u8217?t get artifici al legs.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i What could I say? I said nothing. So he sits on his wooden trolley. all clammy. He was sitting on a wooden tro lley. on Amina\u8217?s next birthday. A killer.

too. Rebecca? Brot her and sister.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i I can\u8217?t argue for how you came to be in that shoebox. like a taste or a smell.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i And I wanted to write about flight. because as soon as a man picks up a stone. there were a hundred planes in France. There began to be other purposes for f light. my grandfather. Flight was such a pure thing when it began.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i When the First World War started. and then of what his target will be. and a man who might have been mine. For most of my life it\u8217?s felt improbable to me that I had a father at all. really riding those waves of air. It\u8217? s not what you are worth. and ask Olya to forgive me.}\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { {\i His own father. but I think the smell of aeroplanes was mixed up in it.}\pa r\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i I\u8217?ve found a woman who might have been your ancestor. But how beautiful it m ust have been. I\u8217?d lov e to have known him. but at the same time it looks as if it\u8217?s really flyi ng. even if he\u8217?d lived. It drives me crazy. The thread that links us is so slender that I\u82 17?m afraid it\u8217?ll snap if I strain it too far. I nearly remember him.}\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { {\i Yes. Most of . I used to think it was the smell of my father. Because that\u8217?s what we are. and so they don\u8217?t stay around to father them for long. flew those baby aeroplanes of the First World Wa r. Why does th e thought of those aeroplanes move me so deeply? Why do I stare up into the sky when a certain type of aeroplane passes \u8211? an old-fashioned plane. Do you remember what I told you once. It was heavy. almost at once. I\u8217?ve taken up love that ought to have led to the life she wanted. Those baby aeroplanes looked like bundles of sticks. She wanted children. Sometimes I get a sensation in my head. It was an RAF greatcoat . about Mandelstam\u8217?s baby aeroplanes? I expect you\u8217?ve forgotten. The fact that the relationship betw een you didn\u8217?t continue doesn\u8217?t invalidate it \u8211? that would be like saying that love isn\u8217?t real unless it lasts for ever. And if war has a smell there would have been the smell of war deep in the f ibres of the coat. That bloody shoebox. You\u8217?re not still carrying it around w ith you. It\u8217?s not you. Don\u8217?t just leave it behind: bin it. I wanted to write about flight. flying l ow? It looks fragile. I\u82 17?ve used up too many of her years. It pressed me down and it had a smell which was peculiar to that cloth and which I\u8217?ve never smelled anywhere else. in my mouth almost. Rebecca? I hate the sight of it. he thinks of throwing it. He never talked about the war to my mother. and maybe he woul dn\u8217?t have talked about it to me. she wanted us to have a real l ife together.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i When I was a child I slept under my father\u8217?s coat. even though it\u8217 ?s a key event. and you were hers. burn it. when the only purpose of flying was flight. The men in my family father their children late. are you. I try n ot to reach after it too much.}\par\pard\plain\hyphp ar} { {\i But of course it changed.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i I don\u8217?t remember him any more than you remember your mother. They made machines that followed any crackpot shape they had in their imaginati ons.All I can do is stand here with my head bowed. those hours when she was yours and no one else\u8217?s.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i All those months inside your mother\u8217?s body. aren\u8217?t we. Maybe t here\u8217?s a sensation like that in your head. but then I don\u8217?t.

You and I grew up in a time of peace. Being with Will and Florence is the point of it. and introduced to history?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { A grey. but I think that sometimes we recognize history as a sensation \u8211 ? a smell. How are all these dead to be looked after. I can\u8217?t help seeing that Florence is closer to you than tha t. We ar e still reeling from them. Or comm ent on it. It has rained all morning and will rain again. They are like children \u8211? they seize their own life in both hands an d race off with it.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Joe}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s2 \afs28 {\b {\i Prologue}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i A field is enough to spend a life in.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i With love.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It\u8217?s a raw seam of earth with wooden crosses set into it. They are our key events. But this woman.}\par\pard\p lain\hyphpar} { {\i I wanted to write about these people who might be our forebears. We don\u82 17?t have young men on the streets without legs.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i You\u8217?re my reader. This is work in progress \u8211? or so I tell myself. my father\u8217?s generation. This is what we do with our inventions. No one has ever had so many graves to deal with.} \par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Writing it is the point of it.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i You\u8217?ll see how rough the story is. Maybe I\u8217?m wrong a bout this. Will might be my grandfather: the dates are more or less right.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i And characters see through the tricks in the writer\u8217?s mind. Neither is the child in mourning. Maybe I started off by trying to manipulate them. What shape s our lives is war.the generals couldn\u8217?t see the point of them. that is. Here comes a wom an with a child stepping at her side. In December I\u8217?m going over to France to do some research. I f it\u8217?s our own history. B ut maybe I won\u8217?t ever really finish this story. Florence\u8217?s daughter migh t be your grandmother. on wooden trolleys. or a touch \u8211? before we can name it or know what it really is. They\u8217?ve got nothing to do with anyt hing except flight. brother and sister. we haven\u8217?t absorbed those blows yet. Only we don\u8217?t see ourselves reeling. My characters are in a graveyard.\par\p ard\plain\hyphpar} { The woman has a piece of paper in her hand which she consults from time to time. then he\u8217?s also the man I see in the mi rror. It\u8217?s like those baby aeroplanes. for God\u8217?s sake. we know about them. Everything m ust be considered. But my characters weren\u8217?t having any of that. You can read me as no one else can. But however much I try to write without knowing what I\u8 217?m writing.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i And so my story opens. Even if we\u8217?ve never seen those grav eyards. Here we are . They\u8217?re nothing remarkable. Rebecca. I tell you. feel you\u8217?ve got to like it. It\u8217?s going to take m e a long time to write about the next generation. When it ended there were twe nty-two thousand. And if Will\u8217?s my ancestor. wet sky. writer and reader. unl ike the others. There ar e many such figures here. This is what we have t o do. Committees are w orking hard on it. is not dressed in black. . erring between the rows of graves.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i But don\u8217?t. but that was by accident.

\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { God help Marguerite if she doesn\u8217?t buff the porcelain to shining whiteness each morning. We never speak of the fa ct that the house is hers.\u8217? says the little girl.\par\pard\plain\hyphp ar} { He should not have been there at all. put to rest. Nothing else will ever grow here. I leaned forward. with its wide gushing taps and the powerful pipes running down to it and away from it. The house would stand and we would do well. as if letting me kn ow the fate of some invalid who is precious to us both. I wondered. that\u8217?s a promise. maybe. Woman and child stop. Even the graves look as if they might shift from one week to the next.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { They don\u8217?t kneel at the graveside. Florence. and again between clients. overcome perhaps by the atmosphere. takes the child\u8217?s hand.\u8217? she says gravely. And then I wondered if Madame Blanche would blame m e for it. and plumbed in only a few miles from th e front. I have never seen inside those account books.\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { At the end of each week Madame Blanche comes out of her private office after doi ng the books. catalogued. Petit Paul would continue to sto ke the furnace. or she thinks she has. She always seeks me out then. memorialized. A small aeroplane make s its way westward and both woman and child look up. Who had let him in.\par\pa rd\plain\hyphpar} { The task is enormous. 1917}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Will was naked the first time I saw him. He was in the bathroom and the door was open. The bath must appear pristine. looking at what they\u8217?ve come t o find as if it\u8217?s trying to conceal something from them. but wide enough for me to see inside. as if n o one else has ever lain in it.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Look.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I stayed safe in the shadow of the door. The earth around here heaves up bodies wherever it\u8217?s touched. when she returned. They don\u8217?t drop flowers or plant a rose \u8211? besides.It\u8217?s a map. After a while of standing. or a plan. hot water would pour from the taps. turns and burrows her head into her mother\u 8217?s waist. The plane\u8217?s noise comes and goes as it falters across their field of vis ion. Not wide open.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\p ar\pard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b 1\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i Florence. They stand side by side for a minute. the woman wipes some touches of rain off her face. the bath would fill and men would clean themselves.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. At the very least there must be a place to visit. just a little.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I like the bathroom in the early mornings. And ye t there must also be something for those who remember the scent of skin or the t imbre of a laugh. until the child. Everything here is new and raw and temporar y.\par \pard\plain\hyphpar} { What to do? What to say? These fields have been ploughed up for the sake of the dead. and begins to retrace her steps. arrested by the sight of it . Built to last a lifetime. an aeroplane. The numbers match. They must be identified.\par\pard\plain\h yphpar} { It begins to rain. and against the far wall there was the big claw-fo oted bath that Madame Blanche had installed. No one in town had a bath as fine a s ours. the bath is hers and the profit is hers. The ro om was full of sun and steam.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It was Madame Blanche\u8217?s one act of faith. Mother and child bend together in the shape of giving comfort. that is contrary to the plans of the committee. The field looks even more provisional. We don\u8217?t have visitors so early. when our bath lies in its lair like a .\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { She\u8217?s found it.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?We are doing well.

not like the smell of war but somehow akin to it. because it reminds them of their sisters . They drink wine in the garden if it\u8217?s fine. waiting for the officers. Marie-Claude plays the piano. Money is w hy I am here. Madame Blanche was away on a visit. Water flowed over his face. It has a feelin g of home. like little girls. I am in charge now until she return s. I am n ot saying that money is dirty. his chest. The c lean water disappeared into the milky. These things were my responsibilit y that day. I pass around slices o f sweet cake. She plays the piano ardently. her aide-de-camp. He sat in his dirt. We drink our c offee in the garden before we dress.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I knew that the water would be fresh and hot. They aren\u8217?t aware of it. in the salon i f it\u8217?s rainy or cold.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { This is why Madame Blanche installed the bathroom. We don\u8217?t take men. So metimes they wear lemon cologne. or apricot ri bbons.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Marie-Claude plays on. Heavy-set. She never tells me.\par\par d\plain\hyphpar} { The men arrive. He lifted the can high. but she was right. but when you come to know her you soon r ealize that everything she thinks about and speaks of has the tang of cash in it somewhere. It makes no difference.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It will pay for itself ten times over. discreet manner. No other establishment has on e to match it. They don\u8217?t know it themselves. All of them smell of wa r and it\u8217?s the dirtiest smell there is.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Have you ever held a handful of coins up to your nose and sniffed it? That\u8217 ?s another dirty smell. because t hey are so used to it. The sun sparkles on Madame Blanche\u8217?s carp pond. his shoulders. perhaps in two days. He groped for an enamel can of clean water that stood on the edge of the bath. Claire holds my hand and we go to visit the hens. Nothing has happened yet. They wash before they co me to us and they comb their hair and put on fresh clothes if they have them.)\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But they are all dirty. S he opens the well-oiled front door with her silent key and she\u8217?s suddenly there among us. They smell of raw earth and sweat and metal.\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { Will was naked. They don\u8217?t w ant to link girls like us with their sisters. but it looks nice: cake with wine. dirty water that lapped his waist. The fresh hot water parted his short hair and flattened it.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Madame Blanche never talks about money. as alwa ys. Danielle and Marie-Claude run about in their kimonos with their hair scraped back off their foreheads. They smell of smoke and explosives. thirty-five maybe. I am not such a fool as that. t he girl with her face red and sweaty after romping on the orchard swing. Fro m time to time she takes a young man aside in her motherly. He was more than thirty . I make sure she only has one glass of wine. He bent forwa rd and sluiced his face. They are officers. however. Marie-Claude wears a white dress with lavender ribbons. And so do I.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The men who come to us are dirty.\u8217? was what she didn\u8217?t s ay. because otherwise she becomes tearful and tells everyone that she would have ha d a place at the Conservatoire if it hadn\u8217?t been for the war.\par\pard\plai n\hyphpar} { But this man was in our house at ten o\u8217?clock in the morning. The towels a re folded. And esp ecially she sees everything I\u8217?ve done. perhaps in two hours. (Madame Blanche would correct me if I said that they were men. This strikes the wrong note. He wasn\u8217?t young. The men become uneasy. and the sun shone on it. He took the long-handled bristle brush and began to scr ub his back.\par \pard\plain\hyphpar} { . Her eyes go straight to the rumpled bed. the smear on a glass. I saw that at once. Nobody eats it. who also take music lessons and dream of concert platforms. I\u8217?m her deputy. Those round dirty coins which stand for pigs or orchards or good s quare meals or your child sleeping in a safe warm bed with a full belly. I was doubtful because of the expense. but she might come back at any t ime. It\u8217?s cool and the dew is on the grass in the orchard. I watched. her lieutenant. or anyone.lion couchant. and poured fresh hot water over h is head in a long stream.

maybe she wouldn\u8217?t feel the ne ed to burst out with it in company.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Do take a bath. He is not to look at the young women here.\par\par d\plain\hyphpar} { I love the flowers. and there was a line where the white flesh met the tanned flesh. He swung round and I saw his face full-on. I watched his back. in the way Madame Blanche likes her household to run. my child. At the turn in the passage I waited and liste ned. Even Madame Blanche hasn\u8217?t gone so far as to suggest that we open up a laundry. with the run nels of silky water going down it. anyway. An adult face. These young men know wh at to expect. glided past me pressing himsel f sideways against the wall so as not to touch my skirts. He\u8 217?s an undersized boy of fourteen who will be tall if he gets enough to eat. He splashed more water over himself and as he did so he began to sing.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Will\u8217?s uniform lay on the bathroom chair. hot water.\u8216?Would you like to bathe yourself?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Madame Blanche\u8217?s bathroom is the talk of the town. a cake of lemon soap and a towel that is big enough to wrap around you\u8230? it\u8217?s oblivion. The sun was falling dire ctly onto the bath and he was in his own sunlit world. I love the daffodils\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I love the butterflies. His arms were tanned. Madame Blanche has dri lled him. If she could empty her heart to me. I love the rolling hills\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Boomdiara boomdiara\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Boomdiara boomdiara\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Boomdiara boomdiara\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Boomdiara boomdiara\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { BOOM\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I love the motor cars. I\u8217?ve seen how quick the reflexes of these men can be. It wou ld probably be illegal. anyway.\par\pard \plain\hyphpar} { I can never make Madame Blanche understand that to bathe is not a reflexive verb in English. not a boy\u8217?s face. One of the reasons I am her aide-de-camp and her lieutenant is my c ommand of the English language.\u8217? I murmur. I should go and listen to Marie-Claude talking about the piano lessons she used to have. who stokes the furnace for the baths. real talent. and m . but we can\u8217?t do anything about that. The door was only a little way open and I stepped back quickly but I think he saw me. so be it. loud and deliberate now. If it means walking around with his gaze fixed on the floorboards all day. I would not have put it past him to leap out o f the bath on a wave of dirty water and come after me. After a while the singing began again. and wait. He doesn\u8217?t want to touch us or look at us. like a chal lenge. I love the aeroplanes\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I love the \u8211?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But he felt me at the door.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The men emerge from the bathroom as happy as babies.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He\u8217?s timid.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Madame Blanche\u8217?s eyes slide towards me and I catch a gleam of satisfaction in them. There were a hundred things to be done witho ut fuss or haste. I had to order the meals for tomorrow. if you like. He knelt up in the bath a nd began to soap his private parts with a care and thoroughness which I approved . I think that their uniforms are the property of the Crown. He is to knock. There\u8217?s still a tang of war on their clothes. He is not to burst into roo ms. but that doesn\u8217?t mean she\u8217?s prepared to learn from me.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Boomdiara boomdiara\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Boomdiara boomdiara\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { BOOM\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Petit Paul. frowning and wary. and the day that her teacher told her that she had real talent. And they long for it. H e is desperate to stay here because this is where food is.\ par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I knew I mustn\u8217?t stand there.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I hurried back along the passage. Deep. \u8216?The bathroom\u8217?s awfully nice. and his face. and war is not.

food for cramming into your mouth.\par\pa rd\plain\hyphpar} { I wondered again who had let the man in the bath into our house at ten o\u8217?c lock in the morning. try to remember. rapidly but without the appearance of h aste.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I opened the door to Claire\u8217?s room.\u8217? I said. I tied the ribbon into her hair and she stroked it proud ly. I had to visit Gab i in her room and inquire about the terrible period pains from which she\u8217?s suffering. She was standing in front of the washs tand while Marguerite washed her face. It\u8217?s also from her that I\u 8217?ve learned to appear cheerful and agreeable to the girls and to our visitor s. her eyes squeezed shut in mute protest. I will never abandon you}. She screwed up her smooth fac e. eating Madam e Blanche\u8217?s food. No one ever comes as early as that. Her breath is rotten. And I wa s flooded with fear.\u8217? I said.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I have been teaching her:\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Buttercups and daisies\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Oh the pretty flowers\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Coming \u8217?ere the Springtime\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { To tell of sunny hours. and she knew it. please !\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Claire leaned against my knee as I brushed out her soft. And then.ake sure that Danielle kept the dentist\u8217?s appointment I had made for her.\u8217?\par \pard\plain\hyphpar} { Marguerite went out. \u8216?I\u8217?ll do her hair today. there were roses to pick.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Perhaps Claire should have piano lessons. Claire will sit on my lap and one of her small round fists will beat gently against my breast in time to the music.\u8217? I urged her. As if wondering how and why my child was in Madame Blanche\u8217?s house. if I listen to Marie-Claude and make life sweet for her. and my blue linen walking skirt to m end. which is a cardinal virtue in this house. She is not aware that she is doing this. She looked at Claire with that long.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Go on.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Sing me the new song. She\u8217?s very quick. while remaining utterly faithful to the programme set out for me. I thought. she will be in a good mood and will play for a while to Claire before she goes for her nap after lunch. Standing still like a good girl. I knew it instantly. I had to make sure that lunch was on the table at twelve sharp so that the girls could lie down for an hour before the bell rang for the first time. men for \u8216?y ou know what\u8217? as she calls it. I have learned this from Madame Blanche. I have lear ned these things from Madame Blanche and when she\u8217?s away I practise them s till more carefully. considering g aze I\u8217?ve seen turned on a girl who wasn\u8217?t pulling her weight. and ask the right q uestions. Claire. banging the door not from annoyance but because to Margueri te doors exist for slamming. when Claire\u8217?s older \u8211?\par\pard\ plain\hyphpar} { I went up the stairs to the attic floor. She may return at any moment. living under Madame Blanche\u8217?s protection. Her early days flood back to me. And I told her: {\i You are mine.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { She knows all the words.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { . She\u8217?s afraid of the dentist.\u8217? I asked her. Claire\u8 217?s favourite colour. mine. It must be pulled.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Perhaps. But she\u8217?s willing and above all she\u 8217?s cheerful. an d she\u8217?s right.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { And if I listen carefully enough to Marie-Claude. She thinks he\u8217?ll pull her tooth out. It\u8217?s red. No long faces. she\u8217?ll b e willing to teach Claire. bloomy curls and wound them around my fingers. when she beat he r fist on my breast like that as she fed. Why does Marguerite have to wash Claire\u8217?s face as if it\u8217?s a plate?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Thank you. Once or twice she\u8217?s dou bted me.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Perhaps Claire is musical.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?ve got you a new ribbon. Next.

let alone here. And inside me the re\u8217?s the usual shiver. She was angry with herself. She is wearing a pair of lil ac glac\u233? kid boots. Solange might go crazy wi th a kitchen knife. Solange.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I\u8217?m in the kitchen. We know it without seeing her or hearing her.\u8217? Solange said.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} . our plump salon upholstery.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I stayed. boomdiara \u8211?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. And ou t of her memory. that she hadn\u8217?t dared to say these words to Madame Blanche. I hoped.\u8217? sang Claire. at som e weak point. ma ybe even the dresses we wore. I\u8217?d like to know? What\u8217?s she that\u8217?s so wonderful?\u8217? \par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You know what she is. looking straight at me. I lowered her until her stomach was resting on my head. unwilli ng way that Claire laughs. stored-up words spurted from her. and children so often die or are given away that there are n o questions asked. just as she knows too much about everyone in this house. never mind the wages owing to her. because Solange gave notice this morning. has yielded up her secret. In some establishments they have the children dressed up with their hair curled. unless they are w orking. No one is more ruthless. buttoned at the side. I picked her up and swung her high above my head so that she shrieked with la ughter. She knows too much about me. I\u8217?ve seen things which ought to make me afraid. boomdiara. The sound of her footsteps is both delicate and solid. I don\u8217?t have Claire downstairs in the salon when the visito rs are here. and said she would go at once. \u8216?But what\u8217?s {\i she}.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I\u8217?m in the kitchen when I hear her footsteps.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } { \s3 \afs28 {\b 2\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i Madame Blanche}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Madame Blanche is back. To divert he r.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Solange gave her notice this morning. before I\u8217?m finished. The girls sit up straight. and the cat who has been sunning himself on the fro nt doorstep uncurls and disappears.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?And what\u8217?s {\i she}. rubbing against my hair. boomdiara. One of the men told me that he walked on the cliffs in England.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Boomdiara.\par\pard\plain\hyp hpar} { She might have heard the song rising from the open bathroom window. that\u8217?s her.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I might be afraid of her. in the attics. None of our visitors knows of Clair e\u8217?s existence. until she had laughed the song out of herself.\par\pard\plain\hyphp ar} { \u8216?You\u8217?re dead right there! I do know! And I\u8217?ll make sure everyo ne knows what she is.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She makes me feel like dirt. But it\u8217?s a bit l ate to be so sensitive. I should like to know? Putting white gloves on her hands while her feet ar e wading in pigshit. on the groun ds that the noise of the shells is getting on her nerves.\u8216?Boomdiara!\u8217? she announced.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Where can she have heard it? Has he been up here? They are not allowed up here. The flower s in the garden stand erect. because I saw how close to the edge she was. when she thinks she has cause. It\u8217?s unmistakable. She chose this morning because she knew that Madame Blan che was out of the house. \u8216?Boomdiara. like little monkeys on sticks. as she threw her belong ings into her bags. slashing our velvet curtains. I rocked her there and she laughed and laughed in the bubbling. with low heels.\u8217? I said mildly. too. Not that song. and heard the shelli ng. Only the more experienced of them can tell that I have give n birth to a child. Claire. Angry. The shells can be heard in England. Each of us.

She knows that he\u8217?s sixty. add a h andful of parsley. She made apple pur\u233?e for he r.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Now she\u8217?s packed her bags and off she\u8217?s gone. part of her liking the drama of i t. Solan ge. with the drip of meanness and cruelty and loveles sness.\u8217? said Solange. That wasn\u8217?t the way he took his pleas ure. trudging up to the cro ssroads to meet the miller. m\u8217?m\u8217?zelle Florence. She stared back at me. But I can\u8217?t believe that. Find yourself a decent feller and get off out of here. and I know she was glad to die. I don\ u8217?t want to think of Solange in those hands.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s not as easy as that. Everyone in town knew Madame Blanche\u8217?s business. She won\u8217?t credit that he\u8217?s said to have killed his first wife. The girls will be hungry. even when they know they can\u8217?t be. but behind the scenes we . if you ask my advice. trumping me. \u8216?I know you mean well. and chicken soup.\u8217? I said. I still believe.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { She moved close to me and looked into my face. I put a long metal spoon through the savoury crust of sausage and white-bean casserole. in this house. A dish from home. taking Solange\u8217?s place for the day. There\u8217?s a t hird possibility. What you\u8217?ve been. Maybe she thin ks he\u8217?s a jolly feller because of his red shining face and the way he like s what he calls a good handful to get hold of on a winter night. no matter what. He mocked her flat chest and the way she scurried to please him. I stir gently. Anything to get away from the private torments he had devised for her. without the least malice in her voice. that any alternative was to be preferred. Or maybe she was more of an optimist than I\u8217?d thought. \u8216?But I have to think of Claire.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I told Solange about her death. bringing out the word with triumph. She was thinking of how she had caught the miller. We had never quarrelled.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { She wanted her ignorance. Your Clair e. She clung to it. she said. It was only the detail. and she believed she could change him.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Get away from here and nobody\u8217?ll know what you\u8217?ve come from. he\u8217?s not the type. a man like the miller goes on planning and working until h e gets what he wants. She told me th at people had got it all wrong. really caring what happened to me. I knew her. They are alway s hungry and they like big country dishes. and let Claire climb up on a stool to play with pastry. a prosperous and not completely ugly widower. They set their minds on one thing and they can\u8217?t be diverted. \par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You want to get that kiddie out of here. that they didn\u8217?t care to know.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I moved away from her and went to the window. \u8216?They l ike to think they\u8217?re the first. and replace the lid.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\h yphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s true. too. He\u8217?s got something wrong with his hands. a decent man won\u8217?t take another feller\u8217?s lea vings.\u 8217? Her face changed from anger to plump pleasure. Carefull y. here I am in the kitchen. so as not to pulp the beans. She knew exactly what they were saying and it wa s all lies.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He\u8217?s a type that frightens me. cassoulets and casseroles and juicy h ams. part of her. Not that he ever use d violence. the lot of it. I suppose: that she hated it so much here. Solange was always good to Claire. I\u8217?m saying it for your own good.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He killed his wife day by day. blank and mutinous. Where a normal man would yield or forge t or just grow bored. He stare d at her while she ate until she could not swallow a mouthful. well past the age o f military service.\u8217? I said.\par \pard\plain\hyphpar} { Claire will miss Solange. when I heard that the business between her and t he miller was serious. When our visitors are here we crumble sweet cake. the manner of it all. She had tricked him into believing that he was the first .\par\pard\p lain\hyphpar} { So.{ She would say nothing. In fact it was libel.

on the nape of my neck.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Florence?\u8217? says Madame Blanche. It would free you.\pa r\pard\plain\hyphpar} { She sees everything.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Annoying. It\u8217?s nice to s ee it. I don\u8217?t see myself. T he oven\u8217?s heat buffets my face and I\u8217?m aware of Madame Blanche\u8217 ?s eyes on my back. I\u8217?ve given her raspberry tea. nothing else new?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?An officer from the aerodrome. She is a nightmare of orange-blossom and white lace. that\u8217?s only what we expected. Thank G od. As i f she has seen all of you. broadly.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyph par} { And she smiles at me. That busines s with the miller wasn\u8217?t reflecting well on us. looking at me with those eyes which I thought were black the night I met her. and following in a procession are the girls in their best dresses. And yet sometimes. wiping my hands on a kitchen cloth.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?And Gabrielle?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Still in bed. chattering and laughing and throwing rice. one with Lucie.\u8217? she goes on. conspirators in this as in so many things. \u8216?His name is William Hazell. She\u8217?s really unwe ll. I don\u8217?t startle and I don\u82 17?t immediately turn round. I bend to swing the heavy pot back into the oven.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?When I was young I also used to smile for no reason. One went wit h Mariette. there is something bewitchingly personal about the way she looks at you. She has beautifully cut eyelids.\par\pard\plain\hyph par} { \u8216?So.\u8217? I say casually.\u8217? she adds.\par\pard\plain\hyphp ar} { \u8216?In fact.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s the fifth day? Or the sixth?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?The fifth.\u8217?\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { A repulsive and unlikely image rises in my mind.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Major Blackie and the two captains who came with him before. locked onto the arm of her mille r. She will think I have been with one of our visitors. down to the bone. Not young. The Major stayed in the salon. on the coils of my hair. it was one of the reasons for my absence today.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Why are you smiling. She\u8217?ll notice that my hair is not as smooth as it sho uld be. So. It is so hard to mak e out her expression. inscrutable smile. just often enough to keep you tantalize d. the colour of dates. my dear Florence?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No reason. but her eyes have a she en on them which defies you when you try to look into them. on the musc les which flex in my arms as I push the metal rack firmly back into the oven. Who was here. as if we\u8217?ve cooked up Solange\u8217?s depar ture between us.\u8217? says Madame Blanche. We can give our dea r Solange away to the miller without a care in our hearts. smiling her broad. they\u8217?re a deep purplish-brow n. and tuck into a meal which lets you know you\u8217?ve put something in your stomach.\par\pard\ plain\hyphpar} { Madame Blanche makes sure that our establishment is not affected by food shortag es. \u8216?The new cook is engaged and she arrives tomorrow. Down the church aisle. out of t he doorway and into the sunlight rolls Solange.draw up our chairs to the long oak table which is black with age. Florence? Anyone new? Anyone interesting?\u8217?\par\pa rd\plain\hyphpar} { I turn to face her. Behind comes Madame Blan che. Well.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Who introduced him?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { .\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?So. But they are not black. but it\u8217?s better that she left of her own accord. \u8216?She should be able at least to help in the kitchen by now if she can do nothing else. isn\u8217?t it? In another day or two I would have given Solange her {\i cong\u233?}. Solange has left us. listening to Marie-Cl aude.

Just for an hour. but not about the things that really surprise them. asking each other to hum the songs they have hal f-forgotten.\u8217?\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Captain Marwood came in later. you ought to try a couple of brandies.As she asks. Remind me to give her the velvet r ose in my top right-hand bureau drawer. and the way our bodies look so muc h larger when we are naked than when we are dressed. his friend the next. encourage him to bring them. We\u8217?re part of the group life they live. anyway.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?A pilot? A squadron leader. rapt faces and the way they si ng along when she plays. Florence.\par\par d\plain\hyphpar} { . I realize I don\u8217?t know. One fine afternoon four young brother-officers may sit in our salon. We are a group.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?And you. which I saw you do so competently.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { She nods. how would this life be possi ble? But we have patterns and they weave us together. But as lon g as all their nails are bitten. and the way we are still in control when they have lost themselves and are panting and gasping as if their lives are in our hands. and all their glasses spill over if they\u8217? re filled too full. Gabi. They laugh at each other\u8217?s jokes. ap art from stirring the pot. Pilot\u8230? obser ver\u8230? maybe even a balloonatic\u8230?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { A birdman.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?He went with Mariette. and singing voices .\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { We look out for each other. not really.\u8217?\par\pard \plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. to trim her black straw. Mariette will perch on Gabrielle\u8217?s bed to show her how the velvet rose looks on the black straw. They don\u8217?t talk about any of these things.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { They lean against each other and talk in their own language which I have to lear n just as much as the other girls. One goes with Mariette this time. clothes. even though my English is perfect. my dear Florence? What have we been able to do for you today. I\u8217?ve never been able to fault Madame Blanche for lack of ambition. though always with a laugh and a lways in the past tense. so Gabrielle had better slap on rouge a nd get herself down into the salon sharpish. even inside my own head. Life-long doesn\u8217?t mean the same as it does in normal life. Even though she\u8217?d prefer to impress us all with Liszt. It\u8217? s as close as they can get to going to bed with one another. and all of them get the wind-up sometimes. then the badness of it is divided.\u8217?\par\pard \plain\hyphpar} { Life-long friendships are forged quickly here. They talk about our breasts and our hips. which they would ne ver do. smoking each other\u8217?s cigarettes. \u8216?Mariette has had a busy day. they talk about good shows and bad shows and Archie and dr opping eggs. That\u8217?s the fifth time \u8211? or the sixth?\u8217?\par\p ard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?The sixth. and let her know that Madame\ u8217?s really on the warpath this time. If each one of us had to live the days we live alone. such as the smell of us and the hair we have and where we have it. But even when they\u8217?re in bed with us. They compare experiences afterwards. they don\u8217?t separate from each other. so that Marie-Claude can play them. just as th e men are a group.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?If he has friends. They talk about having the wind-up sometimes. \u8216?{\i And you\u8217?re silly about drink. Imagine if they heard me say that. It gets you through with that nice warm feeling inside you}. If they ar e from the aerodrome. although it feels wrong to say it.\u8217? I tell her. They bite their nails and their hands shake. But in fact I\u8217?ve no idea what he was. she likes the warm.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { \u8216?Very good.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { They are like us. too. perhaps?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { A squadron leader! Well.\u8217?\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { Sometimes I wonder how the men manage to peel away from their friendship for lon g enough to go to bed with us. although that\u8217?s not to say it means any le ss.

then he s topped coming.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { No one came to her straightaway.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I want to pick up my skirts and race up the two flights of stairs to the attic r oom where Claire nestles in her cot-bed.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar } { Here\u8217?s Marguerite. h ard and rhythmic. She will re member the colourless voice in which I gave her his name. Claire\u8217?s ready to say goodnight. The silence broke and she began to cry again. when one of \u8217?em sings out.\u8217? he said. The red-haired boy was watching me. I can\u8217?t even hardly see it \u8211?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It was Gabrielle. Bu t there was something else. She can tell if it\u8 217?s anything wrong. S he will look into every room she passes. six years younger than me. She harks just like you did. It was a strong. and got up from the bed. Florence?\u8217? one of them asked once. just from the noise they make. and her little priva te salon where she receives her own visitors. the way my whole body longs to catch Claire up and press her. the eager ness in them. William Hazell. Gabi loved to hold Claire.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i (If you\u8217?ve got this far\u8230?)}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { .\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Dearest Rebecca.\u8216?Will you remember me. He was one of the few. only a beensy little scratch on your knee. pres s her tight to my heart at the end of yet another day in this house.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s your kid. He came a few times. she\u8217?s got something to show y ou. assessing. I do remember that he was eighteen. as they\u8217?re called. rosy and big-eyed with sleepiness.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I listen to Madame Blanche\u8217?s lilac heels tapping away down the corridor. But I wouldn\u8217?t want anyone to hear the beat of my footsteps.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. Clairey. She will be drawing the pins from her hat now. piercing yell and then a silence that quivered. \u8216?Twins.\u8217?\par\ pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?ll be up in a minute. considering frown for Gabrielle. She\u8217?d be pressing Claire\u8217?s red. He had rol led off me clumsily. Then t o her own apartments. a long. who wasn\u8217?t crying any more. with red hair and fine. She was trying to get her breath. Half asleep alrea dy.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Does she live here with you?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Where else would she live?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He nodded. He was a nic e boy. and now look at you. and was lying on his back smoking a cigarette. I don\u8217?t want Madame Blanche to hear the hunger in my steps. I thought you\u8217?d half-killed yourself. She says there\u8217?s all sorts of crying. She would be wa lking down into the orchard. carrying Claire. a smile for Mariette. Marguerite.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Oh. And a smile that let me know he was no fool. righ t hand curled around her plush mouse.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?My sister\u8217?s got a boy and a girl. She will remember that he is from the aerodrome. wet face against h er neck. thin skin. a word here and a w ord there. the very few. which is al so our home. left thumb in her mouth. But why didn\u8217?t anyone come? And then feet came running across the terrace. I don\u8217?t want her to note anything more in the account book she makes of my soul.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?\u8217?selle Florence. who realized th at I had a child. if you\u8217?re a good girl\u8230?\u8217? Her voice receded.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You come along with Auntie Gabrielle. Another name will be lodged in the account book she keeps in her mi nd. Her bedroom. She must have fallen hard. A su dden. out in the garden. angry cry so I kne w she hadn\u8217?t hurt herself much.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { While he was smoking his cigarette. I sat up in bed to listen. isn\u8217?t it?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. I can\u8217?t remember what he was called. Claire began to cry. pausing.

the food is good and plentiful. no help with childcare costs. with a book of poems in his breast pocket. Has Claire had her face washed. He\u8217?s got a wife. That\u8217?s about her best bet. there\u8217?s a garden. but Solange i s fooling herself. She makes herself live from hour to hour. and a child coming that means almost nothing to him. There\u8217?s a rag rug on the boards. There\u8217?s an iron b edstead with a striped ticking mattress. lik e Florence. next to Claire. He\u8217?s worked for an insurance company for years. But that isn\u8217?t going to happen here. She makes an exceptio n of her. a darned white counterpan e. and the walls are white. if Florence is lucky and she doesn\u8217?t start drinking or drugging herse lf. so wrapped up in her child.}\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { {\i Madame Blanche has her eye on Florence. The officers are clean. (I\u8217 ?m going ahead of the story. She\u8217?s a young woman but she\u8217?s weary. They didn\u8217?t have a child for years and he saved and paid for his pilot\u8217?s training. you\u8217?ll have seen that. When she\u8217?s older she\u8217?ll believe that Florence is too tough on her. is the piano tuned. and Florence knows it. that\u8217?s true. Maybe that offers a way out.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b 3\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i Speaking English Perfectly}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The room where I sleep is long enough for a single bed. No housing benefit for Florence. the house is elegant. s he thinks it is comfort. His wife hated it. he\u8217?s not one of those fresh-faced handsome pub lic schoolboys we all know about. He wanted to b e an architect. She\u8217?s very cont rolled and very observant.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Will learned to fly before the war. But otherw ise. she might put by enough to start a little business of her own one day. and telling you what Florence doesn\u8217?t know ye t. War breaks them. She finds comfort in them.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Florence doesn\u8217?t know any of this yet. but he\u8217?d never tell anyone that now. He would go off to the aerodr ome Sunday after Sunday.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i She\u8217?s tough in her way. and wide enough for the door to swing open. and a middle-aged man who is married and whose wife is expecting a child that he doesn\u8217?t want. there\u821 7?s music. It was too big a leap for a boy whose father was a tin-miner.{\i What I realized after thinking about Florence and writing about her was how wear y she is. She\u8217?s grooming Florence. so controlled. maybe.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i The thing about wartime love stories is that usually there are no boundaries or barriers. A dre ssmaking business. She\u8217?s being use d up. too. like the other girls. Even Claire won\u8217?t guess how much he r mother loves her. darned linen. A woman so weary.) Will isn\u8217?t a boy. but he\u8217?s tired. She prostitutes herself so that Claire will survive and she will survive.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Florence hasn\u8217?t got much choice \u8211? not in that part of the field of h istory in which she finds herself. will it soon be time to pick the baby t urnips? Her mind is full of those things. at least. I scrubbed th . It is in the attics. He\ u8217?s a middle-aged man.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i She will never tell anyone everything. Solange thinks she ca n start again elsewhere and maybe find a man who will take her on. The miller has taken her on and he int ends to punish her for it. He\u8217?s not a cold man. But the fact is that Florence is ther e to be used until she\u8217?s used up. But I\u8217?m letting you into the story.

over roofs into treetops an d sky. They are elegant. at my back. leaning over the dressing-table.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I looked. a washstand and a w ide bed. They all came after I did. Maman?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?To keep the wild people out. One day you\u8217?ll go ther e. cutting voice. but not too narrow for Claire to cuddle in beside me when she wakes in the night. I lie awake a little longer and watch the stars.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Why did they build it. and patrolled it with soldiers. Florence. safe. away from the war. she would say different things. Gabrielle remembers what I was like then. Over the sea. she thinks. No wonderful amphitheatres and circuses. and it never did. a picture the re. Everything in them was chose n by her. when it was so hot that she lay on her bed in her chemise an d I lay close. But up there they built for war. \u8216?Dressing-table mirrors are always like that. A book here.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I don\u8217?t have blinds at the dormer window. And the china figures in Mariette\u82 17?s room that I\u8217?d never looked at too closely. and how dark it was in the winters.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?England is that way. In my bed she tucks close to me. restrained. My mother told me how the wind always blew in England. They all have different na . Sometimes the re\u8217?s a moon and the clouds fly over it so fast it feels as if we\u8217?re flying too. I scoop her out of the tangled cot and press he r face against my shoulder so she won\u8217?t wake anyone. But s ometimes in August. green silk curtains.\u8217?\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Not that mirror. with a bunch of my nightd ress in her fist. \u8216?Look where she\u8217?s pu t it. and replaces their labels if they\u8217?re stained or f aded. from sea to sea. She would say that they had Roman s in England. and I painted th e walls white. Now she smells of vanilla. as if I\u8217?d known and understood all along what the mirror over there was for. Florence. smiling. with Claire curled into sleep and the house still and silent beneath us.\u8217? said Gabrielle. When I wake up the sky is there immediately. Madame Blanche is very proud of our rooms. no t pleasure.\u8217? said Gabrielle in her quick. I wish that time would stop and we would always be here. She was in my room.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Oh. At night the stars come so close you\u8217?d think they were elbowing their way through the glass. or curtains. There\u8217?s a lot of coming and g oing here.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { My bed is narrow.\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { Madame Blanche didn\u8217?t want me to have this room. tasteful. fixing her back-hair. and when she has a day off she washes all her ornaments in soapy water.e boards myself. I hear her as soon as she stirs and I\u8217?m out of bed bef ore I know that I\u8217?m awake.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It looks towards England. The dormer window looks out and away. We had a courtyard where grapevines grew over pillars. Marie-Claude collects china baskets of flowers. even inside the houses. She dusts it and polishes the fur niture herself. an d east. but the ot hers don\u8217?t.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But she said it as if it couldn\u8217?t happen. into the morning. They built a wall across th e land. just as we had them in Orange. to let me know what the day will be like. My window faces west. My mother would point north. Like they haven\u8217?t got the point already.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But Marie-Claude thinks her bedroom is lovely.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\ hyphpar} { That was when I first came. She hadn\u8217?t been back in more than twenty years. I have a perfectly good r oom downstairs with a thick red carpet.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She makes me laugh. and polished them with beeswax and turpentine. yes. At home our house faced east. rearranges them. When she was a baby s he smelled of mashed potatoes when she woke up red and sweaty. Like t hey don\u8217?t know what kind of house they\u8217?re in.\par\pard\plain\hyp hpar} { \u8216?Except for the mirror.\u8217? I said. \u821 6?The one over there.

in a third-class compa rtment of the Paris train. There would b e cottages where they were expected. He walks away. Her hands are gloved and her expression composed. and sometimes Marguerite.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It was a corridor train. She closes her eyes and appears to fall asleep as the train jogs north. the first winter of the war. deco rated with curlicues and sprigs of flowers. They would cross the cinders. what was Madame Blanche doing in the third-class carriage? I di dn\u8217?t think of it until much later. He become s surly after this. (This is what I saw in the mirror as I stood in my bedroom at home for the last time. with a moon. What was she d oing on those hard. She doesn\u8217?t come up here. hoist their baskets and go off down the tracks together. except Claire. {\i Rose Bower}.\u8217? said Madame Blanche the firs t time we met. the young woman reaches up to stow her hatbox safely in the rack. over-tips him. she squeezes into a seat between two market women who smell of wine. I looked perfectly calm. He slams the luggage into the third-class compartment in a way that conveys his disrespect. it is the third-class compartment she wants. This was the stopping train. and a cluster of tiny spots on the left side of my chin. well-cut and obviously hand-made. There were people standing in the corridor and among th em was Madame Blanche. scra bbles in her bag. I was on my way north.mes and Marie-Claude makes labels for each basket. They were home. dirty seats which smelled of coal?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Now I believe that she had spotted me as I changed trains. the young woman signals a porter to transfer her luggage. I took a good look at myself. in her best handwriting. and it\u8217? s true that there was a rash on my neck. It was late December. {\i Maiden Dreaming}. When she has reassured herself that the hatbox is not going to be crushed. like a burglar chec king that no signs of his intentions will give him away as he strolls casually d own the street.\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { The question is. At the next station. I was five mon ths pregnant with Claire.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { So. hidden by my high-collared blouse. as you see. {\i Sweet Violets}. She is wearing a dark-blue woollen skirt and jacket. They would talk of pri . {\i Country Garden}. It gave me bad dreams. thic k. Perhaps a little pale. whistling and glancing up at shuttered windows. find the muddy lane that meant home. no lights. She flushes.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Once in the compartment.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I told Madame Blanche I couldn\u8217?t sleep downstairs. drawn into a knot. It was a fine night. a large basket and a hatbox. bargin g the other passengers with their empty baskets. edged with black braid. late in the evening. and she has to pull at his arm and tell him that no. I must have given so much away. which consists of a valise. They clutch the small black bag on her lap as if it contains her whole li fe. Half of them would have been enough for Madame Blanche. among the market wome n and close-faced men and boys with raw faces going to be soldiers. It wa s a halt in the middle of nowhere. But her gloved hands are not sle eping. even serene. the two market women got out. I never have spots. flicking the coin she\u8217?s gi ven him. I leaned forward and watched the two women clamber down the steps . expecting a small tip or none. She didn\u8217?t like it. Marie-Claude is saving up for {\i Bridal Posy}. smooth.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The young woman is travelling alone. maybe even welcomed. The movement shows that her waist is thickened by pregnancy. She had plenty of money. while I thought I was hiding it all. no t the express. I left plenty of clues.)\par\pard\plain\ hyphpar} { As she changes for the Paris train. No on e does. Her hair is dark. My lips were pressed firmly together.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\qc *\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You\u8217?ll have a room of your own. but she gave in. to find work. The porte r heads up the train to the first-class compartment.

\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { If I went north I would find work.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No \u8211?\u8217? It was true. and I held my skirt close so that they could not see my legs.\u8217? \par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It was the silver cap of a flask.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I have some biscuits. Two men crouched on their haunches . to make munitions. This was the north. Maybe they\u8217?d lie about how much they\u821 7?d made. \par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { There was a draught. It was getting cold already. checking that the fire had not b een allowed to go out. The ham and cheese sandwiches at the buffe t had looked stale. and the smell of sweat and onions. Now they\u8217?d be l ifting the latch of the door. When they try to come up. I tugged the door but it wouldn\u8217?t open. My husband had died in the first days of the war. that\u8217?s wh at you do.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It gave way and I was in the corridor. too. or work in a laundry. scolding the dog. They\u8217?re oat biscuits . before I knew I was pregnant. and they looked up at me as I pushed past them. playing cards.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I would become a widow. They\u8217?re very good. my nausea dissolved into fire. Every vent rattled but there was more air. I pulled again as hard as I could. That\u8217?s the way to get the dye even.\u8217? she said. \u8216?Have some of this. My hair was still smooth from the brushing I\u8217?d given it that morning. I lifted the silver cap and drank.ces and how the market had gone. He had left me nothing to live on and his family had nev er liked the marriage. You\u8217?ll feel better immediately. I was getting the better of it \u8211?\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { \u8216?Here. Drink more. I drank that. The noise of the train was fierce out her e. between them. I would look for a job where accommodation was provided. They looked as if they\u8217?d already barged their way thr ough enough suffering and sorrow to get the measure of it.\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { I wanted to be them. There was sweat on my face.\par\pard\plai n\hyphpar} { \u8216?That\u8217?s not enough. People wouldn\u8217?t ask so many questions there.\u8217?\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { Her voice made me follow the instruction. close to the war.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8211? But if you are a widow.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The door was heavy and my vision was starting to break up into patches of blackn ess. and as the brandy went down my gullet. I breathed deeply and the clean air pushed down the nausea th at was trying to swamp me. The smell of the en gine smoke nauseated me.\u8217? said a woman\u8217?s voice. why are you wearing blue?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar } { \u8211? I have not got enough money to buy mourning.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { In the train window my face looked back at me. There were new factories op ening. I had to step h igh.\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { I shivered. Drink it. but it had holes in it already.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8211? Silly girl. doesn\u8217?t she know that half the world hasn\u8217?t got money to buy mourning? Stick your clothes in a vat of black dye. or sew. I drank off the capful and she refilled it. I could cook. The smell of brandy made me gag and I pushed i t away. There would be plenty of work. I got as close to the window as I could and pressed my fore head to the glass.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I drank more. They wanted women workers there.\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { It was a good. bulging and roiling in the inky water.\par \pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You haven\u8217?t eaten. I knew how to do all those things.\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { The north was where I was going. easy story. thum p them down with a stick. hurting myself. I must get out to th e corridor. and keep back a few sous for a jug of wine the next time.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No.

Towards B\u233?thune. \u8216?Aix-en-Provence. \u8216?A few words here and there.. No one knew who I was or wh ere I came from.\u8217? I began rapidly in English . and nearly smiled. too.\u8217?\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Are you going as far as Paris yourself?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Beyond Paris. not at all. They were hard to read.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?But there\u8217?s something in your voice that isn\u8217?t at all souther n. that\u8217?s very good!\u8217? she exclaimed. You won\u8217?t be there unt il morning. And something to eat and drink.\u8217? she demanded suddenly.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { \u8216?Ah. Even the smell of drink and the quarrel o f the card-players didn\u8217?t bother me any more. I had nothing to fear.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Ah. in that case. \u8216?They don\u8217?t last l ong. those carefree years. I laughed. and who had none. As long as the journey lasted. and I thought it seemed kind.\u82 17? she added.\u8217? I said.\u8217? she said.\u8217? I said. it\u8217?s tolerable. of course. and they certainly didn\u8217?t know where I was going. \u8216?Are you travelling alone?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes.\par \pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What makes you smile?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Nothing. No matter.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?That\u8217?s nice.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { . \u8216?Once you grow older. as if enchanted with me .\u8217? she said. \u8216?One would think it was your mother tongue. I thought.\u8217? \par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Say something to me. banging and rattling into the night. with a ticket I\u8217?d paid for in my bag. I was a passenger like everyo ne else. We seemed to be going faster now. She caught it. In the racket of the train we were all equal. Rain had begun and it made runnels which joined and parted on the black windows.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?My mother is English. \u8216?I feel much better. \u8216?that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. As long as you have someone to t alk to. do you know it?\u8217?\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { \u8216?No. \u8216 ?And so you speak English perfectly?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I suppose so. Ma ybe her quickness had startled it out of me. Un til the train stopped it wouldn\u8217?t matter who had a home to go to.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s a very slow train.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It is a truth universally acknowledged. It\u8217?s only the young who smile for no reason.\u8217? she insisted.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. but her face was concerne d. I know it well. We always spoke English together.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I know that.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?English? Really?\u8217? The strength of her interest surprised me. then so do I.\u8217? The brandy was working in me.\u8217? I said.\u8217?\par\pard\plai n\hyphpar} { \u8216?You should be careful.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I thought her eyes were black.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Do you understand it yourself?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { She shrugged.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Better than I do.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You\u8217?re a southerner. I was equal to them. yes. If my mother speaks English perfectly. I felt bold and indifferent.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?And you\u8217?re going all the way to Paris. once you have cares of your own \u821 1?\u8217? and her glance slid down over my waist. But from where?\u8217?\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { \u8216?From Aix.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Thank you. in your condition. \u8216?Spea k to me in English.

and the chance that when the train stopped I would know where I was going. grave. \u8216?Well. You \u8217?ll be much better off with me. I am completely alone. You are c ertainly not alone. \u8216?You are going to stay with relations. in your condition.\u8217? she sta ted. I was hungry. \u8216?It really isn\u8217?t reasonable.\par\pa rd\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You are going to join your husband. Intent. When we come int o the station. in English? You can underst and everything they say?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. The train swayed a nd I caught hold of the window strap to steady myself. The little lamps above each seat glowed softly. whereas before I had been naked. and tired. and a little too bra zenly.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Why not tell the truth? We were on a train.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Ah. I am interested in you. I must tell the truth. of course. She put her gl oved hand on my arm and said again. It wasn\u8217?t until Claire was born that I began to have real courage.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?And you can speak to anybody. there are many like that. I put this aside to think about late r.\u8217 ? she said. She would only remember a pale young woman from Aix-en-Provence. It\u8217?s not reasonable for you to be travelling in third -class.\u8217? I said.\u8217 ?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { No.\u8217? she repeated.\u8217? I said. \u8216?Well. Ther . but I am always known as Madame Blanche. a little too late. but no real courage. Just as far as Paris.\u8217? she guessed again. if you want to be literal \u8211?\u8217?\par \pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You\u8217?re talking to me. if you prefer. I had brandy boldness then. and transferred them t o the first-class compartment.\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { \u8216?What do you mean?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You are talking to me. I could scarcely hear the rattling of the vents and the thump o f the wheels.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It was her look that captured me. and afraid.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?m a widow.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\ hyphpar} { \u8216?Not necessarily. \u8216?My husband died in the war. It was my own we akness that captured me.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s remarkable. I could say what I liked.She had not believed a word I had told her. It was like that.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?{\i On s\u8217?occupera de vous}. surprising me. But I didn\u8217?t care.\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. Then she gathered herself and spoke more blandly.\u8217?\par\pa rd\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Ah. You are not alone. and then you\u8217?ll get off the train and go in your direction and I\u8217?ll get off and go in mine. who spoke English. I have no husband. There will be no difficul ty about the ticket.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It only seems so. allow me to take you to my compartment. \u8216?Please call me that. and I sat back and rested my head against the cus hioned softness. as she reached up to unpin her hat. She offered shelte r.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?On the contrary.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I shrugged.\par\pard\plain\hyp hpar} { \u8216?My name is Blanche Lepage.\u8217? said the woman.\u8217? she breathed.\par\pard\plain\h yphpar} { The train began to move again. just like that. The train\u8217?s slowing down. almost motherly.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { At the next station a porter fetched my bags immediately. I felt as if a protective veil had fallen between me and the rest of the world. Who knows where that might lead?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?ll lead to Paris. but not like that.\u8217? she said.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. Listen.

with the war \u8211? even the Paris t axis have been commandeered to take reinforcements to the front. not in your condition.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Your skirt is tight.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphp ar} { \u8216?I\u8217?m not a trained nurse. I\u8217?m old enou gh to be your mother. sew. launder. All they can do is cry. The babies can\u8217?t tell anyone wh at goes on. not allowing her back to touch the cushioned seat. They were small and s . I\u8217?ve heard there are jobs in munitions. Who won\u8217?t take care of it. She would be somewhere in her late thirties.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Just Florence?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Florence Hirondelle. let me tell you that it\u8217?s much too late. you\u8217?re a trained nurse? But they won\u8217?t ha ve you in any hospital. I daresay. You would be risking your life. She wanted to talk. \u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I didn\u8217?t mean that.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Not yet. if you intended to do something about it . from shame at my own i gnorance. Yo u\u8217?ve never been inside an orphanage. that\u8217?s better. And after a while they stop crying. probably I\u8217?d have known. my dear.\u8217? said Madame Blanche. I could see that. But I assisted \u8211? a doctor I know. Take off your jacket. \u8216?That\u8217?s exactly the question.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s Florence. I shall find work. just. from not knowing the depth of the waters under me.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What sort of work?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Any sort. She sat f irm and upright.\u821 7?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Give it away? To whom?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { She laughed. \u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?There are. aren\u8217?t they? And then I can work. I would ha ve to alter it again. it\u8217?s a good system. They sho ne in the lamplight. and now. clean. I thought. Who cares how l ong it takes us to travel on our own little affairs?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphp ar} { I stood to take off and carefully fold my jacket. although it was difficult to tell.\par \pard\plain\hyphpar} { We sat down opposite each other. isn\u8217?t it? To someon e who doesn\u8217?t want it. and there\u8217?ll be more.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Nurse \u8211? what. If my mother had had another child after me. Or into an orphanage. \u8216?I mean that babies are born after nine months.\u8217? I flushed deeply. You must know that. It wasn\u8217?t something I\u8217?d ever heard discussed.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What do you mean? My poor child. which are not re ally black at all.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You\u8217?ll allow me to call you Florence? After all. or ripe dates.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You have nowhere to go. It\u8217?s a l ong journey at the best of times. Let me talk to you seriously.\ u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?My condition won\u8217?t last for ever. Unless you give it away. I daresay.\u8217? she said. She had beautiful hands. here are we talking like th is. From the point of view of those in charge.\u8217 ?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?And then you will have a child to care for. I really didn\u8217?t know what women did about clothes wh en they were pregnant. I straighten ed myself. But again. An d I can cook. and I don\u8217?t even know your name. loosen your collar. Would you like to make yourself a little more comfortabl e? No one will come in.\u8217? I said. and again she didn\u8217?t believe a word of it. No.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { She was. \u8216?Do you want to lo osen it?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I had let out the waistband already and my skirt no longer hung well. I could now see that her eyes were not black. my dear. They made me think of fruit: black grapes. where it\u8217?ll grow up to be a servant if it\u8217?s lucky. But good heavens.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What experience have you got?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I can nurse.e.

You could go into a dream like this for hours. Will breathes in through his nose. \u8216?I have a little proposal to make to you. Fri zell halted and stood directly in front of Will. the brilliant edges of clouds. but definite. It was what I wanted to hear. Will thought. It had roughened when she talked about the orphanage. I have a basket here.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Well. No one has seen or described these t hings before. The atmospheric pressure is steadily hi gh. elsewhere. We have plen ty of time.\par\pard\plain\hyp hpar} { Will Hazell lies on his back on the camp bed third from the tent-flap. or don\u8217?t sleep. heat has collected. You don\u8217?t have to make your decision until we get to Paris.\u8217? she continued. We can chat. He was a big man. get to know one another. seen Frizell walk away unwounded from his shot-up plane. Her voice was like the muffled beat of the train wheels.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { His mind is stretched. a solid ruby set in claws of gold. no matter how lon g it takes. and the barometer is set at fair. The frenzy of not knowing what the hell is going on and yet being in charge of it. Florence.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Frizell told his story in the Mess. The s ound of his breathing is soft. His arms pillow his head.trong and flexible. blank.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { All of them learn the clipped words. and there\u8217?s no threat of rain. It\u8217?s something to do with the way they sleep . S ay them over and over and over and they\u8217?ll come true. Frizell\u8217?s grip was icy. It was carrying me onwa rd.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Inside the tents. He was a boy. Don\u8217?t feel that you must answer me straightaway.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\pard\ hyphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b 4\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i The Aerodrome}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It\u8217?s a fine. no matter where they come from. The smell is of holidays and childhood. watches the rise and fall of his chest.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Frizell leaned against the piano and shaped what had happened. and one hand went up as if to tell the sky what had happened. His skin was brown. the buffet of shell explosions. The heavy khaki canvas filters out the sun\u8217?s brilliance and turns it green. There was Archie everywhere and he could see the men looking up and pointing their rifles at him. the handsomes t man in the Mess. How many hostiles? Did you see me side-slip ? I had the bugger on my tail. When you come out of the tent. brisk day. and she wore expensive rings.\u8217?\par\p ard\plain\hyphpar} { Her voice was calm again. out through his mouth. There are rows of camp beds. That was the language you had to use. Only afterwards it starts t o make shapes. The clipped clich\u233?s make it safe. You didn\u8217?t s peak of men. He can switch off and watch an ant walk from one side of the blanket to another. He listens to the draw of his breath. His face was wet and wild. We can h ave a little late supper. He stopped in front of Will because his fa . his eyes the blue of water with Robin sta rch in it. So there\u8217?s no hurry . He knew where he had to lay his egg. But Will had seen him land. There was a junction outside the station. how he held his course at five hundred feet along the railway. It\u8217?s a good sound.\par\pard\plain\hyphp ar} { {\i It was a bloody good show over Oppy. It doesn\u8217?t bore him. It\u8217?s a new language and you wear it like a mask. the zizz and stitch of machine-gun fire. He stopped in front of Will and seized his hand. neat in the g loom. The way hours of green calm are punctuated by a fury of sound and heat and smoke. Thought I\u8217?d stall but I pulled out of it al l right}. It\u8217?s very still. A sapphire in a nest of diamon ds. pack ed with reinforcements. The sky\u8217?s packed with fast-moving white clou ds. The shapes make it safe. the world looks pink for a few minutes. You like cold chicken? Good. The Huns were bringing up troop trains.

He had gone down to three hundred feet. He had gone down to five hundred feet but it wasn\u8217?t enough. and doesn\u8217?t want to let them come home. Snug as a bug in a rug. A few miles from Will. They\ u8217?d half-trained him. The blaze in his face had gone out. He\u8217?s aware of ligh t and shade: more light as someone lifts the tent-flap. shadow again as a body f ills the entrance.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { You need sleep so much. They were all pressing close around Frizell in the Mess. the handsome bastard with the luck that everyone wanted. He\u8217?d kept the track bouncing dead below him as the Nieuport took the rip of bullets along the port wing and Archie exploded al l around him. Will\u8217?s always had a dream about sleeping in a bed out in green fields. He sees that same desire in all the fa ces around him. as he does. his face was out of shape. He\u8217?ll get the better of it. But he held on and there was t he train.\u8217? he stammere d. by coats. Pinned down by heavy c lothes. and the next they will be bucking in high cloud. He was himself again. white sheets up to his chin while the clouds sail overhead and the world goes on with its work.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { .\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?God has been good to me\u8230? He has been good to me. faces stroked by the warm su mmer wind. Frizell was back to himself. packed into the tiny homes they\u8217?ve created from boards and mud. beyond the fields and hangars. His eyes had a gloss on them like drunkenness. riding the lumpiness of air that looks so pure from below. They\u8217?ve given him a Nieuport and he trained on a Pup. He dived and laid his egg just where he ought and then he pulled the n ose up sharp. He\u8217?s flo wn the Nieuport every hour he\u8217?s had. The men boil up water and swallow the rum issue.\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { {\i God has been good to me\u8230? He has been good to me}. but he is n ot part of it. He had got the train. If Will learns quickly. men in trenches are sw eating. He\u8217?ll fly it until he knows it. He would never have thought he would need to sleep so mu ch. light as the newcomer pads towards his camp bed. These first two to three weeks are the most dang erous for a new pilot.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Policy dictates that there are never any empty seats at the Mess table. One face replaces another. The sound of the guns is like that of an unfami liar but vital industrial process.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He lies still in the tent. quiet tent. beyond the aerodrome \u8211? but not so very far beyond \u8211? there\u8217?s the front. Safe and snug in the blankets . They bind the sores on their feet and grease their guns. Will knows what they do. Twelve hours isn\u8217?t near enough. strong climb towards th e knowledge no one back in a training camp in England can give. of course. if he makes a fast.ther wasn\u8217?t there. between shows. He was sent out from England in haste. lies down ca refully so that it won\u8217?t creak too loudly. The lice crunch and bleed a little dark-brown blood. He knew how to fly but not how to fly and fire and navigate and keep watch at the same time. so sharp he nearly stalled but the explosion pushed him on up. They are careful of each other\ u8217?s sleep. Frizell h ad seen the face of the gunner through the smoke. There won\u8217?t be white sheets.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { When it gets warmer they\u8217?ll put the camp beds under the trees in daytime. Beyond the tents. two hundred feet.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Green calm goes on collecting in the warm. There was oil leaking everywhere and his e ngine had missed all the way back. That\u8217?s where they\u8217?ll rest. They were still firing on him. The westerly prevailing wind pushes them deep o ver the German lines.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He has been six days in France. There was a machine-gun emplacement on the station roof. a hundred and fifty.\par\pard\plain\hyp hpar} { The wind is always against them. as if on a s hift system. From a d istance it looks as if no one ever dies. His eyes are not quite shut. One hour they will be lying on their backs. He was so low by then that he nearly hit a nest of telegraph wires. Th ey pick lice from the seams of their tunics. But in the Mess. They want to be in the black. with the wind against him. He is a birdman and his job lies above. Frizell won\u8217?t want to remember that. he might get thr ough.

}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Will thinks about coming down in Hunland. Where one of the tents has been moved recently. the camera sees more. hunkered in mud that won\u8217?t go away even when i t\u8217?s summer. intimate . There are scu ff marks where the entry was.For the next few hours he knows he won\u8217?t die. He pictures himself offering it to French children who will. as if you\u8217?re another species. He\u8217?s so high up the l adder that he\u8217?s not even on it any more. waded thigh-deep in it. arms and legs whirling. Aerial photography and Morse information will give those guns their f ixes.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { From above. You don\u8217?t have to zigzag or keep your head down. Keep on taking photograp hs. There\u8217?s even a rumour that someo ne\u8217?s got hold of a cow and there\u8217?s going to be fresh milk in the Mes s. He reckons it\u8217?s defeatist. He sleeps in a bed. And whe n he\u8217?s not flying he comes down onto green fields beyond the range of guns and shells. Better to picture the unwrapping of chocolate than the long living fall from seven thousand feet. permanent chaos of the line. he eats at a table. They watch you warily. He\u8217?s in the clouds. wood-pigeons roll the soun d of summer over and over inside their throats. went up in a BE2 with the {\i Complete Works of Shakespeare}. But don\u8217?t let the squadron leader see you packing your pyjamas. It\u82 17?s his brains that have got him where he is. Will has walked through it.\par\pard\plain\ hyphpar} { . troglodytic. Outside. All his life Will has fought for knowledge. a farmhouse. machine-gunning the inf antry just as you will machine-gun the enemy infantry. his me chanic. Our lines. There are the men. and lights a cigarette with out cupping it in his hands to conceal its glow when he inhales. and being taken prisoner. No one has seen a war like this before . watched its pollen brush off onto him.\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { \u8216?Might as well put your toothbrush in. in return. and it lies beside his bed. trench fodder. Or a flamer. It\u8217?s idyllic.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { You can stroll about in the fresh air and the sunshine. who will look to you for protec tion against hostiles flying low during troop movements. hide him in the outhouse of their convenien tly nearby cottages. the grass is thick and deep by the hedg es.\u8217? says Spit Quinn.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Cow-parsley. \u8216?There\u8217?s plenty do. There\u8217? s a stream. Out of habit. buttercup and wild garlic are flowering.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyp hpar} { Will carries chocolate in his breast pocket. I heard of a man once.\par\pard\plain\hyphp ar} { {\i Even if all you can see is smoke. which you are. sunburned. he has begun a letter to his wife.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Each pilot and observer and mechanic has made a tour of the front line.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Who would have thought that a scholarship boy would even enter death on a differ ent plane? He\u8217?s at the top of the ladder here. You need to know what it\u8217?s all about and what you\u8217?re here for. Will knows the front line as the men will never know it. His plane swoops over it in a second.\par\ pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Are you conscious all the way down?}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Will hates his own ignorance.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i I hope you are\u8230?}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { What does he hope she is?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { In the tent the light is green. from which those men can\u8217?t escape. sir. and into which you can\u8217?t enter. there\u8217?s a l ong yellow oblong with new green shoots among the etiolated grass. There is the artillery. Otherwise he would be where those others are. He would be itching in a khaki uniform that fitted roughly and bore the sweetish smell of lice. It is unshe eted for him on these pure blue mornings. There is the close-up. Hunland. a little bridge. They will show more than you can see.

The sea boomed overhead. Will knew he had to swim on the cross.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { . this is where it\u8217?ll most likely be. It hadn\u8217?t been rough before. and then the sea did for you. Spit would know his way bli ndfold around the household Will Hazell comes from.\ par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The Atlantic of Will\u8217?s childhood. not till he grew older and learned what the world was and where he was in it. He worked far out under the sea. He didn\u8217?t know it was called the A tlantic. The rip took hold of him like the ar m of a strong man hauling him off for mischief. He knew boys who had fought \ u8211? well. a candle that blew out and stubbornly wouldn\u8217?t relight. Joseph Hazell had the instincts of an engineer.\u8217 ? warns Spit. It was colder than the rest of t he sea. with five children.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Spit and Will have more in common than the Nieuport. Will got caught in the rip once. He picked up the minute signs of stress that meant t he balance was out of true. waiting its chance. H e knew what to do but it still shocked him. their fingertips and their soft eyes eaten out by crabs. swollen. In those days the edge of the map was drawn so it looked as if you were falling off the edge of the world. and Spit can go on. A red-brick terrace in Man chester for Spit Quinn. Green and turquoise.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Get a blockage you can\u8217?t deal with. He twisted sideways and pus hed down the panic that rose in his throat and wanted to stop him from swimming and breathing. you drop your pick. It wanted to take him and drown him.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Will\u8217?s father was quick. Fig hting made you weak.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He looked at the land and it was moving in the wrong direction.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He knew the sea long before he knew what it was. braced and buttressed and infinitely vulnerable. watched the thin blood trail and coil in the clear rock pools. He understood the materials that surrounded him. He knew not to fight it. It\u8217?s the sea you\u8217?ve got on top of you. and don\u8217?t come back till your sister fetches you. when he was ten. water and stone. tapping the barrel of the Lewis gun. A creak. get out and d on\u8217?t wait for nothing.\u8216?When you get a blockage. He\u8217?d know those washday Mondays: cold bacon clapped between two hunks of bread. The schoolmaster had an old wreck map he brought in and unrolled to show. Warnin g signs. It was the rip getting hold of him. he didn\u8217?t know them. Is he taking all this in? Does he understand what Spit\u8217?s trying to do: pack survival into his new pilot?\ par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { What Spit doesn\u8217?t yet know is that Will\u8217?s nod means that the knowled ge is safely in. They clapped a hand over their privates to protect them from the razor-sharp mussels as they scrambled ov er the rocks.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { As the rip seized him he knew those boys were close. luxuriating in a cup of tea while her clean laundry cracks in the wind. the moley tunnels feeling their way out. Will Hazell nods. One day it w ould get into the tunnelwork. on the tide.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { A granite tin-miner\u8217?s cottage for Will. as sure as it was blind. you\u8217?re unprotected.\u8217? says Spit. and it knew exactly what it wanted to do with him. and the knit of worry and satisfaction on Will\u8217?s mother\u82 17?s face as she watches her children eat so fast their plates are empty in five minutes. too.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The sea was alive with rips. but in a perf unctory way that makes Spit glance at him again. until he was out of the rip. two adults and a skinny black dog sharing four rooms and a kitchen. That was always the sea\u8217?s intention. At the end of them Will\u8217?s mother si ts at the front door. They div ed off rocks. but they were part of the story he grew up with. a pooling of water where no water was before. a crack. a cold glo ve prickling all over his body as he went in naked with the other boys. Back-bre aking. short-tempered washday Mondays.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { If Joe Hazell says it\u8217?s time to get out. but no scholarships came his way. their drowned selves bobbing in. He would recognize the food on the plates. the balance of pressure and counter-pressure. skinned their knees and elbows scrambling out of the sea. The sea was running rough now.

\p . No one would help him or look for him u ntil it was too late. but there was no rip any more.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar } { He swam on. He seemed to be low down in the water. or else the water was up on top of him. Not as far as he\u8217?d ever been. kicked out.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It was very cold. steadied himself in to the strong breaststroke that could take him a mile or more. There was the place he would aim. He swam on the cr oss. It was the only way to get out of the rip. I\u8217?m not even going to tell you her name. almost within grasp. When the pursuit is over and death has packed up his bags for the day. the sand. He throws up his right arm to ward off a blow. The fringes of it made a last pull for him. skinny and strong.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But for a moment he stayed out in the deep water. The rip pulled at his naked body. They reach out to touch it. Inside the shine of the sky there are these caves. \par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Will is alive. He was ten years old. He saw pieces of sky. Sometimes.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Will dreams.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { They run their machines down the seams of a cloud. If Will reache d down.He didn\u8217?t fight. bubbling and gasping. His father might look up and think of the world above him as he worked. the colour of irises. he would touch his father\u8217?s hand. or only wet with sweat. No one from shore would see the smallness o f his head in the bouncing of the waves. The rip slid off him and he was out into clean deep water. They\u8217?d come up on sho re and he\u8217?d gone off across the rocks and hadn\u8217?t said where he was g oing. the rock. He was caught in the rip. He trod water and raised his head as high as he could. His father was under the sea. Bright water slapped in his eyes. but they were weak. This is the}\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { {\i story of Will and Florence. in his tunnel. He\u8217?ll do what the other pilots do. where there was an apron of sand between th e rocks. sculling with his hands and tr eading with his feet. It came all at once.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He was very cold.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i I hope you are\u8230? I hope you will be\u8230?}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\p ard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b 5\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i Sweet Dreams}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i No. wanting it. where his father was. They bare their teeth for joy at the beauty of it. beneath him. but far enoug h. He turned on his stomach. He would never think of Will being there too. to see where he should come in. He was down there.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He swam out of the rip. He had a lamp and he was dry. I\u8217?m not going to tell you about Will\u8217?s wife. He hadn\u8217?t told them he was going to swim out.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Suddenly a thought rose in him which he had never thought before. The swell pushed him and the waves pushed him. they play in and out of the clouds. He would come in there and he would be safe. He was n ot going to die yet. He was intensely aware of the veiny passages beneath him. bloody khaki who can\u8217?t see any reason not to pluck a dog-rose from the hedges as they march. on the way ba ck from a show. out of the bay. If he got caught again he would drown. His body twitches. like corporals in mu ddied. H e couldn\u8217?t feel all of himself any more. They hide in caves no one has ever seen before. and far out. through the water.}\par\pard\ plain\hyphpar} { {\i Not yet. He was swimming into deeper water. He wondered where the others were. but he wouldn\u8217?t get caugh t. these fighting me n in their tattered aeroplanes. burrowing out und er the sea. Rebecca.

he wants to warn them. looking down.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It is still the same afternoon.\u8217? a voice says. stands. He \u8217?s in flying-kit. y ourself and observer (if you have one) more or less unscathed. The skin of his ha nds is golden brown. They will never take th at pressure. but Frizell forgets to smoke his. Warmish. with his goggles pushed up above his brow. but neithe r cries out.\u8217? says Fri zell. But they mu st be. There is no air where he is. In the blind heart of it the two men are stil l fighting. as if the whole thing is a gigantic joke. shades his eyes. pushes his way to wards the flap of daylight. Only men would fight with that deadly poisonous intent. The beds are not beds at a ll. W .\u8217? says someone else in a lazy drawl. Will takes one. Two figures. it\u8217?s him. but his voic e is crushed down into his lungs. \u8216?You all right. For a moment he looks h is real age. into its own vortex. as if the stutter of an incoming Pup engine has nothing to do with them. One of them is tr ying to force the other down onto a bed.\ u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Will swallows the ugly metal taste in his mouth.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Taking Dutton on his familiarization. Good-oh. His heart is still hammering. his face clearing. offering Will a cigarette. There are grunts and groans. they say it\u8 217?s impossible to train anyone for what they\u8217?ll find out here.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Too true. they both light up. There is Frizell standing by his camp bed. very quietly. Frizell looks up. old chaps}. can\u8217?t you see that?}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { And then he sees something else they don\u8217?t see. H e watches. scans the sky.\u8217? says Frizell. He tries to cry out.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Will\u8217?s lungs ache with agony and terror. knotted together. {\i It won\u8217?t take your weight}. so close that he can\u8217?t see if they are both men or not. Yes.\u8217? says Frizell. which Will knows is two months short of twenty.\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { \u8216?You didn\u8217?t look as if you were having sweet dreams. At the far end of the field a man runs up to bowl against a single batsman and a single fielder. Really they are planes. with your machine more or less intact. until the hedge hides it.\u8217? says Will. but more clouded now. The bed that was a plane spins faste r and faster. another man enjoy the best moment of all: l anding safe back at your own aerodrome. {\i It\u8217?ll collapse.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { They are right. old man?\u8217?\par\pard \plain\hyphpar} { He is carrying his gauntlets.\par\pard\plai n\hyphpar} { \u8216?What time is it?\u8217? asks Will quickly.\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { {\i Watch out for the rip! Watch out for the rip!}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He wakes struggling. He stares at the cigarette in his hand as if wondering wh at it is.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?d be a fool if I was.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Five.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar } { \u8216?{\i Look out. The pilot has lost control.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Having sweet dreams. The bed is a camp bed like his own.ar\pard\plain\hyphpar} { There\u8217?s a fight going on. anyway. What the hell kind of chance have they got? Then when we complain about the lack of training.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?{\i She\u8217?s spinning}. They do not know what is going on. tapping them against his thigh.\par\pard\plain\hyph par} { \u8216?Where\u8217?re you going?\u8217? he asks. frail with struts and wires. Will swings his legs off the bed. They\u8217?re sending us pilots who haven\u8217?t even completed their gunnery course.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?That\u8217?ll be O\u8217?Hagan back again. Both of them are naked.

The gap in the hedge approaches. Ther e is the little plank-and-rail bridge over the stream.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?That\u8217?s awfully handy. that may be true. Frizell steps onto the wooden bridge. still thrumming somewhere with the dang erous elation that made him burst out about the saving hand of God. hangars.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?If he likes music. I haven\u8217?t found a name for her y et. not five miles from here.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i And then there\u8217?s Will\u8217?s wife.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i You\u8217?ve got this far.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?d tell the padre if I were you.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But Frizell doesn\u8217?t seem interested. cricket and sleep. W ell. Frizell is pitched and tense. But then she\u8217?ll drop a little remark which makes it clear that she thinks Will should be more careful at work. And then Trenchard can\u8217?t deny the Army anything. the Battery wire less. The more I write this story the more I see how much there is left to write.} \par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Well. the smell of oil. They\u8217?ve already been married for ten years. he makes it much too obvious that he\u8217?s cleverer than Mr Davidson. But he\u8217?s detached from her and maybe she is detached from him. It can be tricky with the old m en.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What. He\u8217?s too out spoken. but \u8 216?handy\u8217? is not one of them. at least.\u8217?\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { Will nods.\par\pard\plain\ hyphpar} { \u8216?I do. waves. frowning. She\u8217?s pregnant and she writes letters to him two or three times a week . for her sake if not for his o . was there a concert?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It was in a private house. They pre ss in on you and you think that the thick white tunnel is never going to end.hich of course is true. They live together. And it may not be the kind of story you like \u8211? you may not feel for Will and Florence as I do. you can see that he can\u8217?t. Will was passed over for promotion last time. She asks him about things that have happened at work. and vanishes behind a screen of hawthorn and cow-parsley. They\u8217?re wet and clammy and you can\u8217?t see anything. You can feel the power of it pushing you up through the clouds. we say yes.\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { \u8216?You play the piano. But I don\u8217?t want to bore you. particularly by his wife. glad to find a way of drawing Will into the life of the Mess. They sleep in the same bed.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Frizell smiles briskly. and she list ens carefully. If the Army asks.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { His piano-playing has been called many things. Can\u8217?t he make the effort. mechanics. Runways. all the apparatus of war. so it\u8217?s n ot very clever. you\u8217?ve done your conducted tour of the trenches.\pa r\pard\plain\hyphpar} { And then you burst out into the light.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { There is nothing that can compare to it. the sound of machine-tools. don\u8217?t you?\u8217? asks Frizell. but Mr Davidson is the chief accountant. the roar of engines being tested. and that doesn\u82 17?t surprise her. too. he can\u8217?t. The Nieuport\u8217?s g ot a good rate of climb. On one side of the stream . First the climb.\u8217? says Will. On the other. \u8216?I heard a girl play very well yesterday.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpa r }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i Story development at 30 September}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { {\i Dearest Rebecca. glad to have sorted out the piano-playing. He always wants to know if any of the new chaps have musical talent.

and I was never going to. They \u8217?d have had Olya\u8217?s eyes.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i She went to her sister more and more often.}\par\pard\plai n\hyphpar} { {\i If we\u8217?d had children they would have been her children. the way she gets joy from things that most people d on\u8217?t bother about \u8211? giving away a bottle of fruit she\u8217?d preser ved herself. the hope of being loved with the whole of someone\u8217?s heart.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i Story Development}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i More on Will\u8217?s past. She knows all about his prid e by this time. But not with the way it slowly became clear to her that I\u8217?d never loved her in the way she wanted. that was the worst thing. She began to criticize me. Everything got tarnished. I didn\u 8217?t kill all that but I changed it.} Will\u8217?s father. I mean. I\u8217?ve played around with her hopes and dreams of the future. It\u8217?s ver y rough. He hasn\u8217?t rushed into this war stra ight out of childhood. They give him part of hi s wages in produce. He can\u8217?t work underground agai n. all of them baffled and accusing because I hadn\u8217?t turned out as they\u8217?d hoped. Even Olya.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i You know that smile she has. He\u8217?s a man in his mid-thirties. He\u8217?s thickse t and he\u8217?s got grey in his hair. and she knows what she\u8217?s doing. this is as far as I\u8217?ve got. injured in tunne l collapse soon after Will escapes the rip.}\par\pard\plain\hyp hpar} { {\i Well. Three pairs of Olya\u8217?s eyes.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i I didn\u8217?t mean to do it.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\qc *\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Rebecca. I\u8217?ve been thinking about Olya. She could have coped with that \u8211? ev en if I\u8217?d been unfaithful and gone off with someone else. she understands that. She wouldn\u8217?t even have minded if it hadn\u8217?t lasted. she should hope. She would say harsh things but with such a painful look. Disappoint ing her. or taking the neighbour\u8217?s children for an ice cream. She wanted to give m e everything but I wouldn\u8217?t take it. And they were hopes and dreams she had a right to have. as generous as she is \ u8211? you can\u8217?t imagine how generous she was \u8211? she\u8217?s been cha nged by what happened between us. worse than what I couldn\u8217?t give her. Low wages & employers who make it clear they are doing him a favour by taking him on. but here\u8217?s my outline for the rest of the section.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\qc *\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Will\u8217?s not a boy.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { . I can just see a son of mine with Olya\u8217?s eyes and it makes me shiver.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i She nips out remarks that cut him. too.wn? He\u8217?s got his pride. I\u8217?ll have more of the MS to send y ou soon. and he knows it. though he recovers enough to work as gardener. He\u8217?s got an adult life to lose. but on one level I knew I was doing it. all of th em looking at me. Joseph Hazell.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i I\u8217?ve disappointed her. I can see it. as if it hurt her more to know t hese things and say them than it could ever hurt me to hear them.

Claire playing hide-and-seek in and out of the ruined houses. on to p of the bedclothes. His father both knows about the thi eving and refuses to know. Violets. She brushes the bloom off them. Jealous of Florence\u8217?s child. He steals from them all the time. so this scene must not be loose or ove r-emotional in any way. as if it had a life of its own. {\i This is important}. Heavy wool which I thought had a smell of the war.\ par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But he has to leave school to take a clerical job when his father dies. This must be how Will feels about his father. He will work at a higher level than his father and e nter a different class. If she has still got i t.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { ? Cut the war graveyard scene opening? Have Will live? Florence and Will are tog ether at the end. She looks up and sees the Albatros but doesn\u8217?t recognize it. noiseless. She feels his arms around her as she falls back into sle ep. not maternal. Will clasps her. The plane dives on her. but not sexual. gladly. She\u8217?ll be wearing her lilac kid boots . She thinks that Will may be the pilot.\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { What happened to the coat? Must ask Mum if she remembers. above the bones of Will\u8217?s ancestors. but he will still be an employee and work in a hierarchy where he is not in control. because there\u8217?s no money or influence to get him into a profession. because his mother needs the money. spying on her househol d. She looks up . Florence and Claire don\u8217?t wake. She thinks it\u8217?s an English plane. (But he will not achieve this.\pa r\pard\plain\hyphpar} { (But she\u8217?s a tough practical woman. thinks she recognizes his face through the goggles.} She will die when a German plane (Albatros?) drops a bomb wide after raid on local railway station. Shadows of the past flattened by sun of the present moment \u8211?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { No.} Mum putting it over me on winter nights. His father\u8217?s employers pay for his school uniform. s leeping. Will brings her black grapes when she\ u8217?s ill. For fuck\u8217?s sake. His mother knows but says nothing \u8211? uses the extra stuff as it appears.)\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Madame Blanche really in love with Florence. The way the coat would slip when I turned over in bed. Moonlight falls on the bed but it\u8217?s not romantic at all \u8211? in fac t it is rather desolate.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { After five years Joe Hazell is unable to work because of his injuries. The way I would think ab out the stories Mum told me about Dad.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\qc *\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I want to look at how things are remembered. They won\u8217?t wake.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { At the beginning she and Claire walk in the raw garden that will become one of t . {\i This is not an idyllic love story. Florence has had a bad dream. He\u8217?s clever and do esn\u8217?t get caught.)\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i My father\u8217?s RAF greatcoat. Will is picked up as an excepti onally clever boy and goes to grammar school on scholarship.Will begins to steal from his father\u8217?s employers.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Will decides that when he is a man he will get himself into a job where no one c an tell him what to do. He hates what Mada me Blanche does to Florence: her grooming of Florence. He dies a t forty-three.\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { Madame Blanche walking in the attics at night. at Chysauster. How Flor ence fits Will into her history. to feed her family. Grooming Florence to take her place or more. How they are memorialized. after the war? The pair of them together. Clasped.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Madame Blanche. This goes on for years. The weight of it years after Dad died.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { One night when she is doing this she\u8217?ll find Will and Florence together. back in Cornwall.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Will hates the thought of being in anyone else\u8217?s power. The weight of it.

Complete intimacy. Because of the sex Florence sells.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\qc *\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Will and Florence together in Florence\u8217?s attic bed. cherished. He has held her and they have exchanged th eir stories. just the two of them. They are good stories and they present Will in a favourable light. There\u8217?s no one to co ntradict them and because Will is dead he won\u8217?t stand in the way of the ve rsion she chooses. the same information flowing through both of them. s he remembers odd moments: sponging him down when he had measles.he classic graveyards of the First World War. Her first blunderi ng. He loves her. ninety years. That\u8217?s been arrested in her. In the dark he talks and she listens. He tells Florence the story of the rip and his father underground. That raw graveyard will become man icured.\par\pard\plain\hyph par} { The graveyard.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Will knows what has happened to Florence.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Florence remembers Will but her life goes on. (Ruby\u8217?s hand. Everything happened prematurely to Florence. the shadow of that plane ran right over me. warmed and cherished. into Claire. She drinks chicken soup and eats fruit from the orchard. as it was in the b eginning. It will be set aside for ever as a p lace for people to come and remember in a certain way. two months afte r they were married. They walk above him but he doesn\u8217?t know it. Whispering. she forgets how they sat at the sam e table and slept in the same bed and became strangers to each other. Against this moment he will judge all other moments. that life at Madame Blanche\u8217?s has destroyed something in her \u8211? and that it can\u8217?t be undone \u8211?)\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8211? So Will dies before he has to know it fully? But there has been that mom ent of perfect intimacy between them. But she will not. It\u8217?s too frightening to contemplate that she can\u8 217?t change. Fifty years la ter. It will become beautiful because so many crosses stand in line and make different patterns depending from which angle you come upon them. in the field of the dead. The sensation of Claire\u8217?s hand inside F lorence\u8217?s. Given enough time. Since then she\u8217?s traded sex for Claire\u8217?s survival. chickens. Instead. and his cracked lips smiled at her. maybe. she\u8217?ll become again wha t she might have been.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?And do you know.\par\pard\plain\h yphpar} { The next day. year by year. They are like brothe r and sister. forward. It comes back to that at the end of the story. i f not destroyed.\u8217? she\u 8217?ll say to Will\u8217?s child. \u8216?Imagine a grown man getting measles!\u8217? he whisp ered. when he f lew low over the house and she ran out. But he thinks. And slowly. fifty-seven years later. Will\u8217?s flight. thinking the noise of the engine was the end of the world. hand in hand. like an intimacy aft er death. He talks to Flor ence about flying. half-wanted and completely unenjoyable sexual experience gave birth to Clair e. Claire and Florence hand in hand again. clothed. He loves what she is in his life.\par\pard\plain\ hyphpar} { He understands her withdrawal and her weariness. She has her mother clos e to her.\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { Claire and Florence. He\u8217?s afraid.) \par\pard\plain\ hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s3 \afs28 {\b . He clasps her. She\u8217?s s urrounded by flowers. For once he is not angry with Florence because of the sexual failure between them. He wants to tell her all the stories of his life. The first time he flew solo. Florence believes that her daughter doe sn\u8217?t even notice the sound of the guns. Clasped to gether after Florence\u8217?s nightmare. that she\u8217?l l change. Frizell has gone down in a flamer. Will\u8217?s wife gives birth to a boy and tells him stories about his father.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { (By now it\u8217?s clear that Will\u8217?s relationship with Florence doesn\u821 7?t and can never include sexual happiness. Claire is warm. animals. Will ins ide the ground. \par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Will confides in Florence.

}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Are green and spring up again. Me and Adam in bed. Yes. I know what it means.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\p age } {\s3 \afs28 {\b 25\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i Painted Lady}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i When shall we meet again. the light strong. If Marie hears no sound and sees no light she\u8217?ll go away. at the top of the house. It begins to strut but the w ind is too strong and the gull takes off. I want to sleep on it tonight. since nothi ng overlooks this window. I don\u8217?t answer or move a muscle.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { And then his voice says my name. Below it there\u8217?s a spread of slate roofs. folds them. I spread it out care fully.\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { She had her life and it was her own life.PART THREE\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\s3 \afs28 {\b {\i Flight}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \~\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { By the time I finish reading Joe\u8217?s story.\p ar\pard\plain\hyphpar} { There are no curtains. that\u8217?s possible. She\u8217?ll be wanting to talk to me ab out her daughter\u8217?s marriage again. Another knock. Late and dark. A gull lands. I know with every cell of myself that it\u8217?s no t Marie. spreads its wings in balance against the force of the wind. I still do nothing. It\u8217?ll be Marie. The night that Ruby was conceived. and Bella\u8217?s eyes watching it billow. I think about the first time the tent went up. all over my b ody. when so much sex had washed through us that it seemed to le ave us sexless. whispering. but the wind is still rising.\par\pard \plain\hyphpar} { I think about this for a long time. There\u8217?s no need for blinds or curtains. I think about Florence and Wi ll lying together. my skin starts to burn. wh ite days of the first autumn gales. I lie stil l. No rain yet.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The footsteps stop outside my door.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The window is small and high. I spread it over the bed.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The room is high up. Day and night mean nothing to Marie. It beats its wa y upward on oiled. I get up. but suddenly. sweetheart?}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i When shall we meet again?}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i When the oaken leaves that fall from the trees}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Are green and spring up again. and lie down again. on the piece of fairground silk that\u8217?s been tra velling with Mr Damiano all his life.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i It\u8217?s too frightening to contemplate that she can\u8217?t change}. Sh e\u8217?s as likely to clean the house at midnight as at mid-morning. {\i Like an intimacy after death}. There\u8217?s a knock. it\u8217?s dark. I put the manuscript on the bed and lie back. and about all the stories that cover us \u82 11? me and Adam and Joe \u8211? and weigh us down. beyond ourselves. powerful wings. back into the current. some o .\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { There are footsteps on the stairs. I snap out my light and Joe\u8217?s manuscript rustles as I roll over onto it.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Hours seem to pass but it\u8217?s still only eleven-thirty when I look at the cl ock. It\u8217?s one of those wild. and take the piece of blue and yellow silk that Mr Damiano gave m e.

The edge of the harbour bulges with people as the boat comes down the slipway. I think of him as he was when he came up the narrow stai rcase to the flat where I lived with Joe.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { We sit cross-legged on my bed. They are both naked. She\u8217?s got a vacuum cleaner but she prefers to suffer. Nobody stirs.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Marie is banging about two floors down. her engines gunning for the harbo ur mouth. Marie. The man lies on his back. her face sidew ays. The house creaks and booms with the coming storm. but maybe there\ u8217?s no other kind. There are no pillows. It will take me a life time and that\u8217?s what I want.\par\pard\pl ain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s a yacht off Godrevy. and then another. and this time I know what has put the lines there. into the frame of the window and the n out of sight. broken tiles. deepl y asleep. Eve n inside the harbour the sea is chopped up. within touch.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Get your clothes on. others smooth and new. cleaning the hallway. It\u8217?s a light kiss at first and then more hungry. She sweats proudl y over brooms and buckets.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The doors of the lifeboat station are open.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\ hyphpar} { \u8216?You go on down. \u8216 ?I\u8217?m not dressed. she makes your eyes sting.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He\u8217?s here now.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Outside there are gulls riding on the wind. The woman\u8217?s face is hidden by the spread of her hair. Ada m smiles.\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { We stare at each other. The wind bangs.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I\u8217?ve never seen it. He runs his lips up my arm. We are pressed tight together by the crowd. hers darker. They both lie qu ite still.f them silvery with age.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { And she\u8217?s gone. even if you know nothi ng about her. Tide\u8217?s high enough that she won \u8217?t need the tractor to get out. even through the noise of the win d.\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { There\u8217?s an explosion that buffets the air. tast e him.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { A yell from downstairs. Orange lichen has colonized the slate and put a bloom over all the roofs. They look as if they may n ever move again. There are sea glimpses in the distance. We\u8217?ll have to be quick.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s the maroons.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The way the lifeboat goes out. Water\u8217?s slopping up the slipway. grey and white and wild. and there\u82 17?s a crumpled rag of blue and yellow silk between her thighs. His skin is pale.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Two bodies rest on the narrow bed. I\u8217?ll come in a minute. \u8216?RebeccA! RebeccA! Lifeboat\u8217?s going out! You coming down the harbour?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Shall we?\u8217? asks Adam. His face is more deeply scored. His hair was red then. onto this mattre ss in a small attic room in a little town by the sea. You can hear her t humping the broom against the skirting boards. touch him. and this morning the sea is white with turbul ence. I don\u8217?t know what it is. The man sleeps. She\u8217?s an odd kind of landlady.\u8217? I call. Her fist hangs loose over the edge o f the bed. pressed into the man\u8217?s shoulder. She falls to the water and cuts into it and at once she\u8217?s off. his face stern and di stant. as if they have fallen from a great height together. dot by dot by dot. facing each other. He lifts my wrist and kisses the inside skin. The old man beside us is holding a child\u8217?s hand . and lie tumbled under the duvet on the floor. and now it is g rey. I am printing him back onto me. the frame of the window creaks and a draught su cks at the door. I can see him. and so far we\u8217?ve got on. The duvet has sli pped off both of them onto the floor by the bed. She\u8217?s lost her engine and she\u8217 ?s drifting. some with sagging. or maybe these have fallen off the bed. He is with me.\u8217? says Adam. too. The woman lies on her stomach. All round the harbour the lining of people breaks into clo ts and begins to disperse.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?She takes her underwear off when she does the cleaning.\u8217? I say.

where Ruby\u8217?s name is printed more sharply than the name of Adam\u8217?s grandmother. We would go down to the beach thi s way. as it came around the Island. Uphill. he says. The wild sea is their playground. then she got a message. They call the inside of the waves the green room. uphill. he was swept over to Gwithian and he was the only one to survive. And s o we part. she broke up.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It\u8217?s a dreamworld.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { This isn\u8217?t a graveyard where only dead people and mourners come. winter to spring. and the taste of salt. I f he saw Porthmeor he would recreate it as a Dreamworld.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Here she is. I think. White sand. and the next. It would teem with bubbles and there would be the noise of surf in your ears.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Adam guides me along the grassy path. with rolled-up towels and Ruby\u8217?s wetsuit. ripped Tesco bag whirling along the road. St Nicholas Chapel.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\h yphpar} { We listen and say nothing. bucking as she passed the Island. The worst he can remember. arms linked against the rush of wind. \u8216?He\u8217?s never seen her go out for rea l. the fishing boats and then the lugger. All of them afraid. In one of them the surfers put on their wetsuits in the car park and take up their boards. in case the wind catches it.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The wind shoves us along the bare grey streets. We walk heads down. and then the summer comes again. The gate whines as it o pens. We used t o walk through it in our shorts and sun cream. smelling sweetly of Ambre Solaire and ba by sweat. It was the lifeboat disaster of 1939. We kneel at the side of the grave. And waiti ng for the boat but she didn\u8217?t come back. Among all those widows she still had her living man. He was a boy then bu t he remembers all the women going down to the harbour in the black of the night . \u8216?Look. I think. Adam and I walk close. We would stop hereabouts to name what we saw. Ruby used to watch the lugger\u8217?s brown sails from here. Some farm people found him when he crawled out of the water. The old man and the child have vani shed. Man\u8217?s Head crouches to our left with th e sea blowing up on it. There\u821 7?s a place in my mind I can\u8217?t get to. Man\u8217?s Head. black rocks. He remembers it. trying to bear us away as he goes on to tell his t ale. The wave goes on until autumn folds into winter. There\u8217?s a skinny.. the {\i Dolly Pentreath} with her brown sails. He would make a tent fa shioned like the inside of a wave.\u8217?\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { There are two worlds. I cannot get my bearings or my breath in all this wind. back indoors.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { In the other world we are opening the iron gate that leads into Barnoon Cemetery . catching my breath. Rain str eams on us now. We turn downhill. clinging close. It was morning by then and his wife already thought he was dead. Indicating the child. There is a notice saying that dogs are forbidden here. Adam holds it for me. Only on Lifeboat Day. She would ride in the crook of my arm and name the places. It\u8217?s like the places Mr Damiano makes. on the wet ground. The grass grows thick around the headstone.\u8217? says Adam.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I am baffled. Ruby co uld name them all.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I was eight years old when the lifeboat was lost. The tale is told and the boy tugs at his grandfather\ u8217?s hand because it\u8217?s raining now and they\u8217?re getting wet. buffeted. In the green room they rehearse fo r the next wave. I would pick her up. and the next.\par\pard\plai .\u8217? says Adam. Over to Clodgy.\par\pard\plain\hyphp ar} { We are at the top. They ride the s ea and the sea lets them. One man lived. around corners. Porthmeor. Porthmeor below is buried in white waves. between a line of graves .\par\pard\plain \hyphpar} { \u8216?There are surfers out. We never even saw Marie. I can\u8217?t remember where Ruby l ies.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { People are pushing around us. Suddenly everyone\u8217?s melted away. the Island. the night was so bad.

then he sets her down. I let him lift me up from the soaked earth. A Painted Lady has settled on her hand. spits into the grass. and we are here with her. I clutch the grass that grows by Ruby\u8 217?s grave.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He picks up the bucket and walks to the far end of the field. her face astonished. We are joined.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Come away now. he lifts her so that the prickles won\u8217?t scra tch her legs.n\hyphpar} { Rain pelts on our backs. By the light of his hurricane lamp he sees that the inside of the bucket is spattered with orange and beige particles of the food he ate last nig ht.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I see her. In a minute it will fly off. don\u8217?t go. as if we\u8217?d been made that way. Where the fu rze pushes out over the path. and the butterfly stays on her hand. then stops. We stand in i ts cupped heat.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Dawn\u8217?s coming. Now he is o n the earth with his boots in dew-wet long grass.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { That\u8217?s it.\u8217?\ par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Rain blows in white gusts from the sea. He rinses his mouth. He checks the mounting of the Lewis gu n.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Rain pelts on our backs.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?No. Ruby\u8217?s here. She\u8217?s seen something we haven\ u8217?t seen. her fist held up. She runs ahead. Ruby\u8217?s ahead. sluices it. It\u8217?s late June and w e are walking through the foxgloves. We don\u8217?t want to shelter ourselves. It seems not to have been digested at all.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Will is vomiting into a zinc bucket behind the Mess tent. The Painted Lady flirts its wings.\par\ pard\plain\hyphpar} { There is Ruby. with Adam. let\u8217?s stay here.\u8217? I say. Ruby stands neck-high in foxgloves. Will\u8217?s stomach heaves again and releases a last jet of vomit. where it was shredded three days ago. He bends down and wipes his ha nds on the wetness.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { We gave her a box of compressed cardboard because we didn\u8217?t want to crib h er in a wooden box with brass fittings. \u8216?I\u8217?m not going. Sun strikes on the thick warm dust under the foxgloves. making them shine blue. Dawn is approximately twenty-three minutes off. dips them into the stream and lifts clean water to his mouth. then spreads them. where the stream r uns away from the camp.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s all right. His repair to the port wingtip is holding up perfectly. He empties the zinc bucket. they don\u8217?t last long. then cups his hands together. Done. and I do.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { She runs ahead in a sharp spurt of running. We are walking on the field path north of Zennor Head. dips . As I come up behind her she turns. That\u8217?s what he d oes before a contact patrol.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { They dissolve. The sun is bri lliant on her dark-red curls. sluices it again and listens to the water splash away.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s2 \afs28 {\b {\i Final Chapter: Heaven\u8217?s Gate}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphp ar} { {\i Have you tumbled from the sky until your wires were shrilly screaming}\par\pard\ plain\hyphpar} { {\i And watched the earth go spinning round about?}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Have you felt the hard air beat your face until your eyes were streaming}\par\pa rd\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Have you turned the solar system inside out?}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Spit\u8217?s grooming the Nieuport again. It\u8217?s quite routine and the best way of dealin g with things.\u8217? he says. although Adam ha sn\u8217?t spoken. side to side.\u8217? says Adam.

On the underside of my arm. You have to know these things and not drink blindly or too much. She always wants to know that he is well.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Where?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He thought for a few seconds. Claire woke up and Florence disappeared.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar } { He thinks of the granite hedges at home. from his wife. Once you\u8217?re in the sky there\u8217?s too much adrenalin: you can\u8217?t digest. Florence. His head aches slightly and his diaphragm is sore from vomiti ng. then falls silent as if she might have made a mistake. but Florence could. as if the war is an illness that he might catch.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?We\u8217?ll have to be careful. Haven\u8217?t you got a little pair of scissors.\par\ pard\plain\hyphpar} { That sound that the stream makes: it really is babbling. swinging the bucket. It\u8217?s a hawthorn hedge. hidden. He was on the edge of anger with her for leaving him alon e. \u8216?Very well. She hadn\u8217?t heard from him and she\u8217?d wanted to know that he was w ell. with a switch of bracken in his hand.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Make a mark.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Six hours ago he was in bed with Florence. But she hasn\u8217?t. When I\u82 17?m up at eight thousand feet. lying beside him so quietly that he thought she\ u8217?d fallen asleep. on a grey morning with the cows moving to be milked. A blackbird calls.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Will walks back across the field. as if separate from every other experience he \u8217?s ever had.\u8217? she said. awake.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar } { She got out of bed and lit the candle. He hears things in the textur e of the engine\u8217?s roar that Will can\u8217?t hear. When she came back and slid her cold feet into bed he said to her. You can. Will stretche s his hand and brushes it against the leaves. She was anxious in her lett er. The fields slope towards the sea and there he is. The water tastes cold and fresh. They lay side by side. He watched her rummage in a drawer with h er back to him and the nightdress fallen around her again. Just enough to help you to know what y ou\u8217?re doing. Why did he put that lette r there? It was a lie to make it lie over his heart. He\u8217?s empty now but he won\u8217?t eat anything.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} . and he\u82 17?ll be gone. No.his hands again and drinks. that\u8217?s the measure. when she said quietly. walking the lane between them.\par\pard\plain\ hyphpar} { But this hawthorn hedge is grey. When I think that this isn\u8217?t real. nearly here now.\par\pard\plain\hyphpa r} { \u8216?They\u8217?re in here somewhere \u8211?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { She showed him a pair of ornamental scissors with mother-of-pearl handles.\u8217?\ par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { She was silent for a long time. On my hand. He takes out a flask and opens it. when they burst out of their packed buds. Florence? Or a k nife?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?I can\u8217?t do that.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { How the minutes jump.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You can.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What do you mean?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?A mark. I want it to be there when you\u8217?re not. The feel and taste of the water is startlingly clear. Two silve r capfuls of brandy-and-water. foxgloves a nd young bracken. \u8216?Where I can see it but no one else can. Twenty-one minutes. Another day\u8217?s coming. He co uldn\u8217?t fit his fingers into them. When the sun rises it will be green. Her long hair made a shadow but under it her face was intent. He\u8217?s in the Nieuport now and Spit\u8217?s telling hi m to take the engine up to full rev. \u8216?Make a mark on me. Spit listens. They have lost the skin-softness o f early spring. Quick water over small pebbles. At this season the granite is swallowed up in fuchsia.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { On his left the hedge is a grey bulk.\u8217? he said.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { There is a letter in his breast pocket.

It\u8217?s stupid. \u8216?and everything that\u8217?s happen ed here.\p ar\pard\plain\hyphpar} { She was clumsy with him. he thought.\u8217? he said. separate from the men who had rooted in her body for satisfaction. but not as if it was a possible thing. pointing to a place on the inside of his wrist.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?There. The rooms and rooms beneath them. He fumbled with her nightdress. looking out.\par\pard\plain\hyphp ar} { \u8216?Yes.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It wasn\u8217?t right. then apart.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { If we had a place of our own to go. and he took hold of her and the t hick bunch of her nightdress.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Suddenly he leaned across her and took the scissors.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The scissors wavered. One-and-two-and-three-and-four-and \u8211?\par\ . He counts the seconds.\par\pard \plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Why not?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?ll hurt you.\u8217? she repeated. One more enemy advance and they\u8217?d evacuate the aerodrome.\u8217? he said.\u8217? he said.\par\pard\p lain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Let\u8217?s go back to bed. A crater of mud where the carp pond was. The skin was pale and the veins clear. I don\u8217?t want to hurt you. The bedrooms where men had c ome.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Yes. He\u8217?d c ome here and sat in the salon downstairs and eaten cake with the rest of them. He wondered agai n if he had the power to seem something different to her.\u8217? she said. She pressed her body the length of his. He\u8217?s got no mark of her on him.\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { \u8216?There. He\u8217?s in a tunnel of blankness and his heart pou nds with the terror it gives him each time.\u8217? he said. \u8216?You\u8217?ve got th e key.\u8217? said Florence.\par\par d\plain\hyphpar} { He heard her sharp draw of breath. Only the angle of the Nieuport\u8217?s nose makes him believe h e\u8217?s climbing at all. He knew what was in her mind. b egins to climb. to the right of the tendon. Officers. Whiteness closing in and m aking him dizzy. Madame Blanche\u8217?s house would be shel led until it looked like all those other houses he flew over at four hundred fee t. \u 8216?Are you sure?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?It\u8217?s perfectly safe.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You\u8217?re right.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Come however late it is.\u8217? said Florence. Mist.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?All of it gone.\ par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?We want a little house to ourselves. Should you like that?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { She\u8217?d put her scissors away without them touching his skin. you fool. The scissors jerked nervously in her hand. Their bodies moved clumsily together.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { And where will the war be then. \u8216?Listen.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Would you be glad. he thinks.{ He turned his arm over. The candle flame was trembling too. as the Nieuport judders.\ u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He almost felt how stupid it was. trembles all over. like a girl with no experience at all. if this house was shelled?\u8217? he murmured. It made him want to spit. It would all be obliterated. though he was one of them. Part of a chimney sticking up from the collapse of the roof. \u8216?I can\u8217?t do it. he thought. up through the wet white softness of cloud. as unfailing as the vomit in the zin c bucket. In his mind he saw a house with Florence sitting at the window. I\u8217?ve got it. Florence. tomorrow \u8 211?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?What?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?If I\u8217?m late \u8211? or if I can\u8217?t come \u8211? it\u8217?s bec ause there\u8217?s another show.\u8217? said Florence. but awkwardly.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Up.\u8217? he said.

A beery.\par\p ard\plain\hyphpar} { But the house will stand. The camp that looked so sure and pe rmanent when he arrived will be packed up in a few hours. Soon they\u8217?d be retreating to another aerodrome . Bene ath it. There are streaks of red. I want it to be there when you\u8217?re not. Frizell\u8217?s red mouth open and shining. seven thousand feet of it. Haven\u8217?t you got a little pair of scissors. Three times this week already. that was it. Stickily she opens her eyes to a square of dawn in the window. And here he is. the pond with the carp.\pa r\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He wants that Fokker.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But what am I doing here? For a second he blanks. Six-and-seven-and-e ight-and-nine-and \u8211?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i This is flying}. Maybe he\u8217?s falling. No one has said it yet but everyone knows. heavy and lumbery with bombs. A bad sign. closer than they\u8217?ve ever been before. When I think that this isn\u8217?t real}. There\u8217?s a Fokker that keeps coming over at da wn on bombing raids. White puffs blow at him like dandelion clocks.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { And from love\u8217?s shining circle\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The gems drop away\u8230?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Frizell by the piano. He is flooded with light as he turns to head east.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?{\i What do you mean}?\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?{\i A mark.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He went down in a flamer. alone.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He volunteered. The cherry tree. swaying hush as Frizell sang. Already the guns are firing.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Bastards don\u8217?t give us parachutes. he really did talk like that) {\i you\u8217?re scared every second and you love every second. The fleece of cloud below him is beginning to break.pard\plain\hyphpar} { So soon may I follow\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { When friendships decay. The squadron could spare a p lane to deal with it. as his plane shoots out of the white like a cork f rom the bottle. Are you conscious all the way down?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?{\i Fact of it is. Maybe for a sens ible reason \u8211? to avoid something worse?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Everything was breaking up.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { And the sky is empty. as he like s it. He cannot remember his mission at all.} (yes. She hates them and yet she\u8217?s a . Florence? Or a knife}?\ u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?{\i I can\u8217?t do that}. there\u8217?s the scar of the front. Why he volunteered he cannot now imagine.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?{\i You can. singing while Will played. Why don\u8217?t they? Do they think we\ u8217?ll jump out over the German lines?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { There\u8217?s cloud in his throat. Florence believes in it. the orchard. He wants the bastard to appear before it has laid its eggs . can also see him. When I\u8217?m up at eight thousand feet. Even the bedrooms. He has it all to himself.\u8217?\par\pa rd\plain\hyphpar} { {\qc *\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Florence stirs in her sleep. The clouds are tipped with dawn pink. thinks Will. As soon as you tried t o put your hand on the war\u8217?s tail it twisted inside its skin and became an other animal. Beneath him the choking white fog has resolved i tself into fleecy cloud. So close now. showing through the holes. You can. That\u8217?s flying}. old man. But that\u8217?s it. He is himself. But what he can see. The sky is blue. Is it Claire? No. All that way down.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { No sign of the Fokker.

\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { {\qc *\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { A zip of bullet catches the fuel tank. An Albatros.\par\pard\plain\hyp hpar} { Florence scoops Claire out of bed. We\u8217?ve got to go. The mare sees her coming and backs. But Petit Paul is having trouble with the mare.\par \pard\plain\hyphpar} { Petit Paul has got to get her forward. Every fibre of her flesh vibrates to it. It\u8217?s onto him. He knows what to do.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?But of course we can. Florence. He\u8217?s lost the heart for it. She doesn\u8217?t look and she sees nothing. covering Claire with her body. There\u8217?s a red crease on her cheek where the pillow has marked it.\u8217? she says.\u8217? says Florence. Only the dust and small stones beneath her face where she strains to cover every inch of Claire\u8217?s flesh with her own. moves backwards.\par\pard\ plain\hyphpar} { The guns sound. emptying its drum.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { . scant strength? Florence knows he will not. as the plane swoops the length of the dusty road. The door of the attic bedroom opens and Madame Blanche stands there in h er grey linen travelling dress. Her eyes are open but really she\u8217?s still asleep. He hauls her forward but she won\u8217?t come to be harnessed to the cart. telling h er it\u8217?s time to get up. as if falling off a shelf of air.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The plane comes in low. No one.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { But Madame Blanche won\u8217?t take no for an answer. Madame Blanche raises her strong arm in triumph. in the dust. All the rooms are empty now. She presses the child close to her. How will he do it with his lean. and a fraid of Madame Blanche and of the sounding of the guns he thought he\u8217?d go t away from. The tank will leak and a few drops of benzine on the red-hot engine wi ll start a flamer. The big kitchen where Solange used to make chicken bro th for Claire.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?You must wake up now. She shudders all over and throws back her head again. and then back her into the traces. Florence neither sees it nor hears it: it is too close f or that.\u8217?\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?But we can\u8217?t leave. nothing. Claire.\u8217? says Madame Blanche. ironic smile. and her face breaks int o a curious. The Albatros is coming in again. Florence. There\u8217?s a cart waiting in the yard.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { It comes at him out of the blue. He looks a long way off in the dust that the mare\u8217?s hooves kick up. She catches up her skirt a nd runs at the mare. working in this house. Florence sets her upright on the bed and Claire staggers drunkenly. He sees pilot and gun coming at him. spitting out bullets. will get away from her like that. She throws herself face down i n the dust. they\u8217?ve got to get dressed and go out early today. Petit Paul struggles with her bridle. gesturing to Petit Pa ul to hurry.fraid to be without them. The mare throws up her head and her long yellow teeth show as she whinnies in terror of the ear th that\u8217?s betrayed her. Claire\u8217?s heavy head lolls. He\u8217?s afraid of the mare now. The girls left a week ago. Flore nce lifts her again and Claire burrows her head into her mother\u8217?s shoulder . blundering into the car t shafts. We must le ave.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The tank will leak and a few drops of benzine on the red-hot engine will start a flamer. \u8216?Pack everything of value into a basket that you can carry.\u8217?\par\pard\plai n\hyphpar} { There\u8217?s Madame Blanche out in the road. Will understands it almost faster than it happens. spitting the froth of her mouth at him. into position. to beat the mare abou t the eyes and then to beat Petit Paul. The thump of shells makes the earth tremble. sure of its kill now and careless of its approach. The noise of them vibrates in the floorboards and the frame of h er bed.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Get up. diving from the east. She\u8217?s damp with sweat and sleep. clutching Claire in her arms. The guns are firing too close for her. It got behin d him and caught him. He fires until his drum is empty and the Albatros sheers away.

granite and mattress springs.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i shards and bones. so litary. in the shadow of the hed ge. to where Engl and is. switch off your engine immediately.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Florence runs bent forward over Claire. you won\u8217?t fall out of the air. Ackro yd. than life gives.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { He must switch off the engine. but there is no one to read them. There\u8217?s a gate. She hears for the first time the sound of Claire \u8217?s screams. up in the blue. The plane has passed over. hidden from the road. The words hold s teady in the sky for a second. Florence runs to the side of the road but the ditch is too shallow to h ide in. Her fingers dig into her mother\u8217? s flesh. so that her body shields the child. They do not speak or get up or scream.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Florence scrambles to her feet. are you? Another one who wasn\u8217?t listening in my lecture yesterday. Maybe the pilot will pull out of the spin.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i a charm of goldfinch. Her breath comes harsh as she runs the length of the field. I t will turn and finish what it\u8217?s begun.Florence looks up from the dust. Petit Paul a nd Madame Blanche are invisible.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Harrow.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i all are folded in the dark of the field. No. eerie. then clambers after her. no. and as the vapour spreads across t he blue it seems to form itself first into letters. The Albatros has gone. Without the engine the sky is huge and it bulg es with all the silence his engine has kept away from him. a flight of linnets. thinks Florence. The grip of her legs winding around Flore nce\u8217?s waist is too strong for that. The engi ne\u8217?s noise is in the distance. Already she hears the engine note changing. You\u8217?re not sitting on a bloody ti n tray. quick. then words. but if he does Will won\u8217?t see it.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i fieldfare and January redwing}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i venturing westward in the dusk. She is not hurt. somersaulting into the cloud below. before a drop of benzine hits the red-hot metal. Will switches off the engine and sudden quiet rocks him. She lifts her daughter and drops her into the soft long grass on the other side of the ga te. Her hooves thresh the air. Can any of you gentlemen tell Ackroyd what will happen if he switches off his e ngine?}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { Wind rushes through the ailerons.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { . westward. She runs parallel to the road. turquoise droppings}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i from pigeons that gorge on nightshade berries. A white vapour stream s behind Will\u8217?s machine as he descends. Now he is really flying.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i If your fuel tank\u8217?s pierced. At eye-level she see s the bulk of the mare down on her back.}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i all are folded into the dark of the field}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i and need more days}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i to paint them.\par\pard\plain\ hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s2 \afs28 {\b {\i Epilogue}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i A field is enough to spend a life in. beginning to bulge again in the distance. But she cannot climb with Claire in her arms. It will come back again. She peels the child off her while Claire\u8217?s screams rise to a frenzy.

life has become more c heerful!\u8217? Slogan taken from a speech made by Stalin in December 1935\par\p ard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Chapter Thirteen}: \u8216?beautiful today the surf on Porthkidney sands/and the standing out of the lighthouse. Lord Byron\par\par d\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Chapter Nine}: \u8216?I have mislaid the key.\par\pard\pla in\hyphpar} { Maybe you know this stretch of the coast path. and your attent ion.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { I am grateful for it. and I\u8217?ve had the feelin g that you\u8217?re accompanying me. Without your imagination the story would die. It\u8217?s very beautiful./The nerves s it ceremonious.\par\pard\p lain\hyphpar} { You can go two ways here. or alone\u8230?\u8217? from \u8216?A Narrow Fellow in the Grass\u8217? by Emily Dickinson\par\pard\plai n\hyphpar} { {\i Chapter Twelve}: \u8216?Life has become better. Joe was right. and it produces a shade of turquoise w hich you see nowhere else. with lamps full-glare\u8230?\u8217? from \u821 6?Nobody Comes\u8217? by Thomas Hardy\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Part One}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Chapter One}: \u8216?She was a good-looking girl. If you only knew how much I\u8217?ve wanted to keep your presence. or nodded. \par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { There\u8217?s a farm collie running in front of me. The other forks right and leads you back across the fields. Comrades. \par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } {\s2 \afs28 {\b {\i Epigraph Acknowledgements}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Prologue}: \u8216?A car comes up. tense with willingness. following the scul pt of the cliffs. a formal feeling comes. Sometimes he stops and waits for me to catch up. sheer\u8230?\u8217? from \u8216?beautiful today the\u8217? by Helen Dunmore\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Chapter Fourteen}: \u8216?After great pain. He\u8217?s shephe rding me. But sometimes you\u8217?ve smiled. I sniff the spray\u8230?\u8217? fr om \u8216?Old Man\u8217? by Edward Thomas\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Chapter Ten}: \u8216?But never met this Fellow/Attended. like tombs\u8230?\u8217? from \u8216?After Great Pain a Formal F . Maybe you\u8217?ll even say something. if they let him. Far be low there is white sand under deep water. maybe. we are brother and sister. though I\u8217?m beyond imagining what those words might be.We\u8217?ve been walking side by side for a long time. The power of these colours brings me to a standstill.\pa r\pard\plain\hyphpar} { This is where we\u8217?ll separate. And then you\u8217?ll go your way and I\u8217?ll go mine. I\u8217?ve said so much: too much. His body quivers. reader and writer. You\u8217?ll frown or smile for the last tim e. We\u8217?ll Go No More a-Roving\u8217? by George Gordon. Or that your imagination is accompanying mi ne. One path continues along the coast. too\u8230?\u8217? from Chapter One of {\i Oliver Twist} by Charles Dickens\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Chapter Two}: \u8216?the wife wants a child\u8230?\u8217? from \u8216?The Farmer \u8217?s in His Den\u8217? (Traditional)\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Chapter Six}: \u8216?For the sword outwears its sheath\u8230?\u8217? from \u8216 ?So. He does it to everyone who walks this way.

all clammy.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { The hymn which Florence teaches to Claire is by Mary Howitt. grey and soaking\u8230 ?\u8217? from \u8216?The Call of the Air\u8217? by Jeffrey Day\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { {\i Part Three}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Chapter Twenty-five}: \u8216?When shall we meet again.\par\pard\plain\hy phpar} { The song which Will sings in his bath. translated by HD\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Chapter Twenty-three}: \u8216?We dip our heads in the deep blue sea\u8230?\u8217 ? from \u8216?The Big Ship Sails on the Alley-Alley-O\u8217? (Traditional)\par\p ard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Part Two}\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?Have you left the ground in murkiness. A line from this poem also heads th e Prologue to the {\i Boomdiara} section of the novel.\par\pard\plain\hyph par} { The song which Frizell sings in the Mess is \u8216?The Last Rose of Summer\u8217 ? by Thomas Moore. let me forget home and Heave n!\u8217? from {\i The Woodlanders} by Thomas Hardy. When there is none to heal it\u8230?\u8217? from \u8216?In a Drearnighted December\u8217? by John Kea ts\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Chapter Twenty}: \u8216?If ever I forget your name. golden fleece?\u8217? from {\i Tristia} by Osip Mandelstam. where are you.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { \u8216?How Far is it to Babylon\u8217? is a traditional rhyme. \u8216?Boomdiara\u8217?. is a traditional campfire song which occurs in many variants.eeling Comes\u8217? by Emily Dickinson\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Chapter Fifteen}: \u8216?We wove a web in childhood. Chapter XLVIII\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Chapter Twenty-one}: \u8216?And to get to him \u8211? to his very heart\u8230?\u 8217? from the second Voronezh notebook of Osip Mandelstam./A web of sunny air\u8230?\u 8217? from \u8216?Retrospection\u8217? by Charlotte Bront\u235?\par\pard\plain\h yphpar} { {\i Chapter Sixteen}: \u8216?Out of the wood of thoughts that grows by night\u8230?\ u8217? from \u8216?Cock-Crow\u8217? by Edward Thomas\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Chapter Seventeen}: \u8216?To know the change and feel it./When shall we meet again?\u8230?\u8217? from \u8216?The Unquiet Grave\u8217? (Traditional)\pa r\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Final Chapter: Heaven\u8217?s Gate}: \u8216?Have you tumbled from the sky until your wires were shrilly screaming\u8230?\u8217? from \u8216?The Call of the Air\ u8217? by Jeffrey Day\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Epilogue}: \u8216?A field is enough to spend a life in\u8230?\u8217? from \u8216 ?Crossing the Field\u8217? by Helen Dunmore. translated by HD\par \pard\plain\hyphpar} { {\i Chapter Twenty-two}: \u8216?Golden fleece.\par\pard\plain\hyphpar} {\par\pard\hyphpar }{\page } } . sweetheart.

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