Monday, 13 September 2010


Just something I started writing in my early twenties and never finished. I was a little too under the influence of Nabokov at the time, to the extent that I was thinking I might even follow his work into postgraduate studies...

It all started when I met your family standing like gods on the croquet-ground, friends of my missing uncle. Your brutish father was trailing cigar smoke like a locomotive engine around the lawn, a casual, tanned Roman, his shirt-sleeves rolled. Your mother sunned her naked shoulders, equally tanned, her blonde hair tied back, flowing around the arches in a cerulean dress. Your sister and her French beau kept materialising between the trees along the gravel drive, he fixing his collar, she her hair while a mingling brother, aged no more than 12, pilfered drinks in the shade. Random guests were milling attendants, the smaller children swarming cherubs. All the while, you were out along the very distant fringe of the garden, away from all, quietly attempting to clasp your hands around sporadic butterflies that settled among the hedgerows. On the way through the shadowed hallway which had led me to that back garden, I had seen the jars lining a bookcase, each containing a specimen. Of course, I was to forget all this--your family, your house, that day on the croquet-ground (even my missing uncle who returned one stormy night demanding wine) until ten years later, a postgraduate in zoology.

Both waiting for the same professor, facing each other on either side of a sun-streaked hallway, saying nothing. I can imagine myself standing there, shirt tails hanging from beneath my moth-eaten jumper--trying not to stare, embarrassed--paying hardly any attention to the book from which I pretended to be reading. Looking up, then looking down, I caught sight of your knees. The undercarriage of your chair was tilting back as you leaned. It was this space you held hooped in the shadows beneath you that finally made me remember who you were...

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