Chapter One: Oh Mercy

Good Lord.  It’s been a while.  Thirteen days by my reckoning.  But, reader, I have news!  I have beheld many wonderful things.  Pure as the morning.  Angry, boisterous, and keen, as Wordsworth says.  All since the weekend.  And I wasn’t even drunk.

Today, and I utterly kid you not, a large bird-of-prey deposited a nearly-dead pheasant upon my windscreen whilst I was navigating a country road.  It arrived out of the sun.  Just a shadow, and a hint of movement at the very edge of my vision.

And then a THUMP.  Blood and feathers, and the June sun strobing through wings as it circled away.

The windscreen held.  Which is a good thing.  I am unsure if my insurance covers acts of extreme portent.

“a harbinger, you say. and how would you be spelling that?”

Well that was a fucking turn-up.  For the pheasant too, I imagine.

Talking of turn-ups, I can’t actually work-out where she came from.  I can’t recall a first message, or suddenly being struck by her profile.  No polite online mutual appreciation.  In fact the first thing I remember is annoyance.  Silly posh cow.

Anyway, it seems she can draw a laugh out of me like she’s twisting pliers.  She’s fucking funny. And just out of reach.  In short, she’s deadly.

We meet for a chat.  Rain puts paid to our polite picnic plans.  Chain pub puts paid to our polite staying out.  We go home.  Home puts paid to polite.

She cooks.  Casual expertise.  A practised hand.  She has this place at the top of her spine, between her shoulders.  It’s like there’s an invisible wire holding it high, and poised.  I want to reach out for it, brush her hair from it, and get very close.  The yearning starts to burn.

“You’ve got lovely eyes,” she says.  It totters out of her, in the middle of a different sentence.  Oh fuck.

In the morning we’re in the garden.  We have a couple of hours, and we’re building something.  There are a few odd pieces of wood that can be put together.  And she has a tentative plan.

She looks for someone to help.  The only guy I’ve bought with me seems to be an official from the Department of Whimsy.  He blathers.  He shakes, and is very earnest.  He talks shit.

Idiot.

I should have brought the rude and robust guy.  He’s much better in these situations.

My anxiety floats.  It will not shift. We’ve nailed something together.  It holds for the moment.  Maybe I should a bring a hammer.  I used to have one.  I know I’ve still got it; I’m sure it’s around somewhere.  I’ll get the robust guy to bring it with him.

This thing we’re making is going to hold soil.  Things can be planted in it.  Things might grow, if the net holds and the fat pigeon leaves it alone.  It’s not very pretty at the moment, and could quickly fall apart under the wrong pressure.  Fragile, and easily pulled up.

It’s done.  She smiles at me.  Lovely, still.  Claws in for the moment.  Like the hawk first regarding the pheasant.

Oh dig them in.  Please.  Carry me back to your nest.  Feed me to your children.

But I’m listening for the screech of brakes.  And the thump.  And for her to circle away.

And I’m suddenly aware that I’ve not got my seatbelt on.

x

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