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The moon climbed into its zenith shrivelling its shadows to their feet until they were each treading in a pool of their own midnight. Together they sought the shelter of the forest, a phosphorescent network of branches that undulated to the lower slopes of the mountains, the dark canopy walled with impenetrable shadow. Nothing of what supported the misty haze of the topmost branches was discernible; only a winding facade of blackness. Here they would be hidden, and under the moon it became a place that conjured its own mysteries, a magic place where fears and dangers, loss and loneliness could never intrude. She pressed his arm and he responded by turning to look at her, staring into the light of her face. In a distance, separated by the patterns of darkness came the sounds of music, laughter and feasting; the rituals of pleasure they had abandoned just to be alone.
Their feet waved through the carpet of long dead leaves creating a sound that was like gentle applause. At the verge of an open hollow they paused, their heads and bodies a mosaic of black and silver. The dark folds of her drapery held the moonlight along its edges, the silver dew formed bright rings around and over them: two figures sculpted into the landscape, as if they had always been there waiting for this moment. They stood in silence, his hand holding hers, heads turned slowly to look at each other, eyes a camera of memory. Love, he had said, lived in the silence between two people.
Slowly, in an embrace of arms, they moved on down the shallow slope where, sparkling in the silver light, a small stream made is way cautiously into the hollow and murmured over a small waterfall. Their dark feet stirred its waters as they reached a smooth space beside the pool, a place for sharing and belonging; where embracing and kissing had the meaning of magic. Her dress rustled, an impatient sound; moonlight glimpsed white and the forest echoed back the quickened rhythm of their breathing. The few words they spoke were ancient words that instantly became dancing sounds echoed in the dark spaces between the trees.
He was standing a small distance from her; his feet spread slightly apart, hands moving and feeling. She was half turned from him and light reflected up from the pool lit her eyes, all of her that was visible to him in the poetry of possession. She was crying quietly, happily, small tears clinging to the cheeks. She slid down in a slow collapse to the grass in the hollow, a helpless heap that merged instantly into the darkness.
He stood over her, looking down, holding white luminous arms in his hands. Then it was his turn to descend, kneeling, extending himself forward and the darkness grew and expanded. There were other sounds: crushing grass and a restless movement that seemed to wave the moonlight into a tide of silver light. He was over her, then between her; he was lifting her, he was containing and enclosing her and, in moment full of both beauty and fear, her most secret world was filled and fulfilled. It was belonging and for her that was all she desired. She cried out and the sound returned to her as the cry of a wood creature, then faded into a song of long gasps and sighs.
The white virgin stones stood in silent awe. The woods, disturbed by a discovered breeze, made an anxious, nervous noise as the dark pile of luminous shadow in the centre of the hollow began to move rhythmically, mechanically, interpreting an emotion as old as the mountains that formed a border for the forest. For a moment the moon glowed red above her as she heralded her acceptance of his love. It took an eternity of seconds. Then it was over leaving only endlessly repeating echoes in the woods.
She let the stillness and the silence return, disturbed only by the sound and sighs of their breathing. The magic spell had been performed and the tangled glittering of the leafy roof rolled away, its furthermost reaches brought nearer by valleys and fissures that had been penetrated with long plunging arboreal fingers. The hollow was now a cup of bright light. Every blade of the grass seemed to her now to be of consequence, and the few scattered stones held an authority that made their solid, separate marks upon the mind - each one with its own unduplicated shape: each rising brightly from the semen of its own spilling.
Now there were other sounds. From the valley beyond the trees, beyond the cloak of darkness, would come the seekers with their brutal cries and bright swords. Where is the princess? Where is the king’s future bride? Where is the Captain of her guard?
Click! The yellow light broke the darkness, broke the spell. “You’re dreaming, muttering in your sleep again.”
“I am sorry darling, I should know better than to have fruit and cheese just before going to bed.”
“A good shafting is what you need. Come on. You always sleep well after a good shafting.”
“I do wish you wouldn’t use those coarse expressions. You know I don’t like them.”
“Ok, sorry, making love rather than fucking. Whatever. Anyway, let’s do it.”
“I’m not in the mood. Sorry.”
“Never are these days. Never even seem to think about being laid.”
I liked the sudden switch at the end. It was like some one bringing a hammer down, the sound of which breaks the stillness that preceded it. A first class story.
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