Virgulle’s Vestral 25

Saturday 30th July 2011

A meeting in the shadows

SOFT light breaks through yonder window. Or so I think. Have I slept? What are these rows of dark shapes, this plantation of stones?

I inhale slowly, pushing against the pain. The air tastes of age, of short grass and the still, flat mist of death. But I cannot have died – my injuries are too extravert, too sharp.

In a bent crawl, I drag my crumpled crisis towards the base of the tower and slouch, back against the wall. Unexpectedly, a voice squints round the corner.

“You really can fly, can chew? You are cool.”

A lean young man leans against the buttress, hair shading the brow, narrow in the neck, restless of limb.

“I am not cool. I am warm.”

“Nar. I don’t mean cool, I mean… cool. Like when you do sum hut… er… that your mates think is… fun, or ridge null. Like flying. Everyone wants to be able to, but nobody can. Sep chew. And that’s why you’re cool.”

He produces a torchlight, winking its beam at grass verges and standing stones. I roll on to my side, kneel and push against the wall with my left arm, levering myself upright, trying to ignore the claws biting muscle and rib.

“I am Virgulle of Rheta,” I pant. “And I am not good.”

“What? Not good at English?” He grunts a laugh, switches off the light. “Me knee the. Crap at it. Can’t write, can’t spell, don’t giver toss. Only thing I liked in English was that play, that row me own jewel yet.”

His talk is a river passing through a canyon, throwing itself over rocks. But most of what he says I can understand. The plaintive tone to his voice is candid, alluring.

“Used to come here every day. Make dens, tell go stories. That sort a thing. Won’t be the same when R M’s here.”

He pauses, stepping out of the shadows, rummaging in a jacket pocket.

“Want a pizza chocolate?”

“Thank you.”

He can be no more than sixteen summers. His eyes are dipped, distant; the thin cheeks blotched with maculae; the chin hairless; the chocolate succulent.

“Who is your name?”

“Tom.”

I have found what I had thought missing.

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