Hairy House

Hairy House

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Kindle Book

As you may have noticed (!) I've not had much time for writing this blog recently. Though I asked Father Christmas for a few more hours in the day, there has been no sign of them as yet and I have so many projects on the go, I don't know which way to turn most of the time. 
However, one of the projects I've just finished is something I've been meaning to do for a while - putting up another collection of short stories on amazon Kindle. I am happier with the quality of these stories than I was with the last; many of them have won or been placed in competitions, or published in literary magazines though some of them are just there because I have a particular fondness for them myself! The first story in the collection is very imaginatively based on a true family story and many of the others deal with the treatment of women in some parts of the world. So if anyone wants a read, please look this book up, and by all means let me know what you think of it.
Enjoy!


www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01MV2C5ER/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1486563495&sr=1-7&keywords=The+Song+Maker

Monday, 31 October 2016

Happy Halloween!!



This is one from the archives that I just dug out and anglicised. Hope it gets you into the spirit!


Roadsend

I was really pissed off at first. The guy didn't even have a credit card on him, just a bit of cash - all of 70 quid - and his iPhone, of course. Spent most of an evening, patiently watching this table of blokes from the other side of the pub, as they got drunker and drunker, biding my time, because they were all the stockbroker/lawyer types, I thought it'd be worth it. Even when they started calling out to the girl behind the bar, I didn't say a thing and I don't like it when people talk to a Lady like that, I really don't. But I didn't want a fight. I'd been down on my luck for a while, needed more cash. Wasn't sure I was going to score this time, but, as I said, I was a bit desperate, and so I hung around, waiting and watching and then, at last, they decided to call it a day, most of them went off in a cab, quick like, out the pub and into the waiting car, so there wasn't much I could do, but then I realised that this one guy was still waiting for his, leaning up against the wall of the pub, smoking. I'd thought I was scoring a credit card at least, he looked the type. The only guy in the whole pub who didn't have a credit card and I picked him. Said he'd lost it that day.
Still, I had his iPhone and I hadn't got one of my own. I don't have a clue when it comes to modern technology. I can just about manage email and google, but I'm not even that great with Facebook, don't really get it, though I knew enough about stuff to know that the police would try and track it, so I switched it off and put it in the back of a drawer for a while.
Got it out for the first time this morning. It's been six months so I reckon that's enough time. They'll have given up on it by now, won't they? It was quite interesting, it had his Facebook stuff on there for anyone – or me, anyway! - to see. Made me feel a bit weird at first; there were all these pictures of him with his kids and his wife, or out with his mates. I didn't know he had kids - not that it would have made much difference anyway. It's not as if I didn't ask him nicely at first - I'm not an ogre, I always ask nicely to begin with, and if he'd just handed it all over, I'd probably have left it at that. But he didn't, so it got messy, and it was his fault.
And when I looked a bit more at the pictures I stopped feeling weird about it anyway. This guy had it coming to him really. He'd got all these photos of himself up, to show everybody what a rich git he was. Pictures of him on holiday in Thailand, sitting on an elephant with a a bunch of flowers round his neck, on holiday in New York with the statue of Liberty, standing in front of the Eiffel tower in Paris, the Leaning Tower in Spain, skiing in the snow, water skiing at some fancypants resort. Loads of pictures of him sitting in posh restaurants, eating posh nosh and drinking champagne; pictures of him in what must have been his house – this huge, pretentious place out in the country somewhere. And in all the pictures he looks like he's stepped straight out of a car ad - all ironed T shirts and levis and thick blonde hair, arms bulging with gym muscles. Huh. Those muscles might have looked good, but they didn't do much for him when he found himself up against me, did they! Well, that'll teach him. It did teach him, in fact. Life's not meant to be perfect, not like that.
But looking at those pictures of his house made me think. They were just pictures of his family at Christmas, but you know, there were all these iPods, and laptops and stuff just lying around. There'd be rich pickings in a place like that. You get some people who have their houses booby trapped to the gills, but then, out in the country, people often think they don't need to worry about stuff like that. I looked at his profile and saw that the stupid git had actually put the name of his village on Facebook as well, so I thought I might as well check it out, it wasn't that far away. I was still short of cash and didn't have much to do, so thought I'd come out tonight.
So that's where I'm heading now. I'm not planning on working exactly, I'll probably just cruise round the area and see what it looks like. It's a good idea to get to know a place before I start working in it anyway. It's handy you know, just in case I have to make a quick getaway. I wouldn't want to get lost with the cops behind me - drive up a dead end and find I couldn't get out again.
So it turns out he lived in this small village, all Ye Olde this and Ye Olde that, Holly Bush Lane, Ivy Corner. Cor blimey, it's really the sort of place that screams Bank Managers, or Rich Scurvy Lawyers at you. Some little cottages but a load of big houses as well, too posh for numbers, all with names, you know. It's hard to see in the dark, though there's a bright, full moon shining so I can just make out the name of this one yeah, this one's called Daisy Cottage, then there's, let's see, Ivy House next door and The Rectory next door to that. Ah, here's Copse Lodge – that looks like his place, though of course it's hard to see much with the moon behind the house and there's no lights on. Wonder if the wife and kids moved, or if they're in bed already, watching their big screen TVs or playing on their iPods or whatever it is that kids play on nowadays. Big front lawn, an old bird table, looks like some late flowers still blooming. Big, square, up and down Tudor sort of place, with the white walls and black wood bits all slanted across it, though I'd bet a fiver it's all fake. Probably quite a bit of it is fake around here.
Some of the houses have thatched roofs, with flowers and big hedges and it's all meant to look really countrified, but then they've got a bloody great jaguar sitting out the front. It's the sort of place where you know all the kids are probably off at private schools, all smarmy in their little smarmy uniforms, their iPods in their ears.
There's a pub and I can see lights, but there's not much noise. Not like the Red Lion back where I kip, which is all Nirvana thudding out, and puddles of beer and piss out the front, hookers and their guys hanging around, the hookers all eyes and tits, their guys all shadowed faces. This is all Ye Olde Flickering Fire and Candlelight and more food than drink, bet they don't even have a fruit machine.
Nah, I have a feeling that these places are probably all wired straight to the Police station, not sure it's worth me hanging around, it's too quiet for me.
I wind the windows down and all I can hear are the engine of my car and the wheels whispering along the road, the wind in the trees. There goes some bird, an owl or something maybe. It doesn't half pong though. There's a really strong whiff of manure in the air and something else – an old mossy, stoney smell, maybe it's the smell of rotting money. This place is beginning to give me the creeps actually. In one sense, you think you could mug someone out here and they could scream blue murder and nobody would hear, or come even if they did, because they wouldn't want to get caught up in anything that might get their clothes dirty. On the other hand, it's the sort of place where the head guy at Scotland Yard probably hangs out, probably sitting there in the pub with his wife and daughters, having a nice meal of Pasta-something-or-other and talking about Opera or their latest Hockey game or something. No, there's not much point in hanging around. Think I'll just go back, find a MacDonald's, if you get them in these parts. If I go now, I might catch that new show on telly.
That's the good thing about this iPhone of his. It's got a sat nav on it, so I can just follow that, don't need to go reading any maps or anything like that.
I put the address in and that little whirly thing goes round and round for a bit and then the Google Lady finds my house and starts talking to me, all robotic lah-de-dah.Drive down Main Street, turn left onto the Ablah-de-blah.” 
It's great, this sat nav, thing. Never had one before, but it means I can just drive along and think my own thoughts, look around a bit - not that I can see much now I'm out of the village, as it's pretty dark, in spite of the moon. There are no street lights round here, it's just little narrow roads and high hedges so I have to use my full beamers. Funny, I didn't think I came this way, but maybe this is a better route.
Bloody hell, the petrol light's just gone on. That probably gives me another twenty odd minutes before I run out. Took an hour to drive out here, I'll have to fill up before I get home, but I should be hitting Aylesbury soon, I reckon, or I think there were another couple of little towns that should have a petrol station.
Oh come on! Still, more little dark lanes, winding between higher and higher hedges, now there are are trees both sides, the trunks looming, gleaming like silver zombie bodies in the lights of the headlights – oh God, what am I doing, getting all poetic? And now the wind is picking up, sending leaves scuttling across the paths, slapping onto the windscreen, and it's getting darker, where's that bloody moon when you need it? Shit, I'm going to have to pull over, check the Sat Nav, see if it can take me to a petrol station instead.
For ****'s sake! I must have got it wrong, it wasn't even taking me home! Somewhere called Roadsend instead. Probably driven miles out of my way now. Okay, search for petrol stations, Thank god there's one just ten minutes drive away, should just about make it.
Staring down at the map, seeing the little blue ball that is me, is reassuring, though heaven knows why. I guess it's just good to know that someone knows where I am, even if it is just a bloody satellite somewhere up there, past the trees and the clouds, out in the blackness of the night. There's another little ball thing now, a grey one, showing up on the same road where my blue one sits. Unlike mine, it's moving though, coming closer up behind – what the bloody hell is it?
Better get going. Back onto the road, moving fast, put my foot down, come on little Sat nav Lady, get me to a petrol station, okay?
Continue on Dread Road for half a mile, then take a left at Sinking Street.”
God these roads have weird names. Still, I don't care just so long as I get to civilisation and a petrol station soon. Don't like the way it's getting darker. Really don't want to be stranded out here for the night. The moon's gone now, covered by thick clouds. It's getting much colder as well, hands feeling stiff on the windscreen. Times like this I wish I had the RAC or something, but I can't risk calling anyone like that. Should have paid my bloody road tax.
Take the next right onto Revenge Lane.”
Really don't like the names of these places, what happened to all those Holly Bush Lanes and Ivy Corners? That little grey dot on the sat nav is catching up with me, almost level, which is really weird as there are no lights behind me, can't see a bloomin' thing.
Ah, at least I can see something ahead now, great big stone gateposts rising up in front, looks more like the entrance to a grand property or a park or something. Can't be right, can it?
Continue straight ahead onto Roadsend.”
Oh for bloody bloody. The Sat nav's bloody reverted again.
A great gust of wind shakes the car, sending the leaves blustering through the air, and then, when they clear, the clouds have blown away and so I can see, all around me, the silver silhouettes of headstones, shining like iced teeth in the light of the moon.
It's a graveyard. I'm in a graveyard.
I hate graveyards at the best of times, but I really don't like this now on this cold, black night, with a moaning wind whipping dead leaves across the windscreen, and bollocks only knows where I am. The car's really struggling as well. I need to turn round get out of here, but the petrol light's winking on and off on and off, and, Bloody Hell, now the engine's groaning and now it's dying and that's it. Turn off the engine, turn it back on again but there's no sound.
I'm sweating now, in spite of the cold. Do I spend the night here, wait till it gets light?
There's a knocking on the window and my heart slams in my ribs, but it just looks like some bloke and I've got my knife. The window's jammed so I have to open the door.
"Good Evening. You look like you could do with some help.” It sounds like he's laughing, but I can't see his face, he's got a hoodie on. Who on earth would be out on a night like this – and in a graveyard?
"Too bloody right I could do with some help. Who the Bloody Hell, are you?” I can hear my voice shaking, though I'm trying my best to keep it still, so I get to my feet. My height is usually enough to intimidate people, but turns out he's just about as tall as me when he stands up straight. The wind is blowing sharp and I can feel ice in the air. It's started to rain and the air smells of damp earth, deep earth, rotting vegetation.
"Don't you recognise me, Kevin? We met a few months ago."
Kevin? Who the bloody hell is it? Where did I meet him? How does he know my name?
What with all the darkness and the rain, I can't make him out at all. And then the rain slows and the moon's back, shining down, right on the figure so that I can see it – so I can see the billowing cloak, the gleam of bone where its face should be and the grinning teeth of the jaw. And I see its eyes - eyes that are oddly familiar – eyes that I have seen recently on the internet, smiling up at me from various photographs; eyes that I saw in reality a few months before, begging for mercy from a bloody face. But now those eyes are cold and merciless as the wind that comes shrieking around me.
Then I see the bone of the figure's arms as it raises something in the air; and I see the glint of moonlight on a curving metal blade as it comes slicing down towards me and the gaping, hungry mouth of the fresh dug grave lying at my feet.

Friday, 24 June 2016

What Price Democracy?


Democracy is a beautiful word, liquid and crunchy at the same time, a river of fairness flowing over a pebbled creek bed of justice. It resonates with echoes of history, of age and wisdom; it is a word which conjures up beautiful old Greek men and women in their marble togas, debating in a temple of peace and prosperity.

An archaic view perhaps, but maybe one that is more fitting than the idea of millions of British people lining up at polling booths? For surely the concept of Democracy was born out of the idea of people having facts, time to debate them, to turn them over and look at them from every point of view?

In any other part of my life, I tend to ask for expert opinion. If I am ill, I take the advice of a qualified doctor over a group of friends who have no experience in the medical field, I would go to a solicitor on matters of law, to a plumber for trouble with our never ending sewage issues (though maybe the latter is something I need to rethink!) Sometimes, there may be things I could fix myself, but because I run a family and work etc etc, I do not have the time to do the necessary research, or gain the expertise, and I don't think I am unusual. And yet, I, along with 64 million others, have been asked to make a decision on an issue with massive legal, economic and environmental implications. 

I have done my best to research as best as I can, dipping into the quagmire of lies and arguments, counterarguments and vitriol, that the media of this country have drummed up, whilst the people who I believe should be the experts, the people who have the details and facts at their fingertips, have spent their time mud slinging and whining, pointing fingers and making wild claims that they are already, less than twenty four hours later, rejecting.

Now that the results are in, I feel heartbroken, devastated, terrified for the future of my children. I would love to shout and scream and blame all the people who have voted against my own beliefs, but at the same time, I know that they too will have been fighting their way through life, many of them too busy to do anything other than glance at the headlines of the Daily Mail. How many of us have the time, the energy or the wherewithal, to sift through the lies and hate? How many of us have the experience, the knowledge, to make decisions such as this, on the very little knowledge available to us?

I believe that Great Britain, and maybe even the world is a much darker place this morning and all for the sake of "Democracy"?

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Remembering Music

According to Facebook, my followers would like to hear from me...not sure that's true, or if I even have any followers.
Be that as it may, I have been thinking of a series of Rants that I intend to write, regarding music education,have just been trying to pluck up the courage/ find a minute in the day to write them. In the meantime, thought I might just witter on a bit about some thoughts I had last night, which could, possibly, be connected in some way.

So, last night I was Morris Dancing with Owlswick Morris in a pub in Whitchurch, a lovely old building called, rather originally for a Buckinghamshire pub, The Swan. Whitchurch is a gorgeous village only slightly marred by being carved in two by the A413. As in so much of England, the architecture ranges from lopsided cottages with pudding basin hair cuts, cuddled up to little houses made of flapjack coloured Cotswold stone, or medieval black and white timbered buildings with diamond pane windows. Church towers, turf covered graveyards, pubs with swinging signs, stags, swans, you get the picture. Last night was the last of May and a cold wind was blowing, slanting rain etc so there was no one but us dancers in the pub, dancing to ourselves. The musicians started up a tune - Beaux of London City, which is a tune I have danced to countless times, occasionally with Owlswick and, for a couple of years, with Windsor Morris, in Ales all over the south of England. And yet, as soon as I heard the music, blowing out into the wet, grey English evening, I was transported to a place and time where the air was hot and dry and smelled of dust and wide open spaces, eucalyptus trees. Behind the notes, I could hear echoes of the call to prayer, the hum of the pool pump, the confused chatter of parrots, laughter, the clink of tea mugs and cns of 7Up, I could feel the thump of teenage adrenalin in my veins, see the inky darkness beyond the floodlights in my parent's garden. Because, in spite of the fact that I have heard this tune played so often, in so many places, the first time I danced this dance, heard the music, was in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, when I was about fifteen.

It is the same with Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March. I have played it numerous times, most often in Best of British concerts, for instance, in Australia with the Queensland Pops Orchestra; I have sung along to it at the Albert Hall, standing squashed into the Arena with hundreds of other promenaders at The Last Night of the Proms. And yet, whenever I hear the opening flurry of notes, I am filled with the atmosphere of a gymanisum in Riyadh, heaving with drunken, homesick expats, all singing their little hearts out, to the backing of an out-of-tune concert band, in the nerve wracking days leading up to the first Gulf War. 
When I hear the first notes to How Great Thou Art, I see the dim flickering of candles on the altar of St Theresa's Church in Harper, Liberia, hear the deep, rich harmonies of many African voices, the crash and thunder of tropical storms and the swelling of the red earth as it is pounded by the rain. When I hear the Skye Boat Song, it is not a Scottish Loch that comes to mind, but the magical smell  of petrol, hot sand and wind and fish, salt water and sea weed that was the smell of Lake Shepherd, the Lagoon that lay in front of St Theresa's and the place where we had many a barricuda filled adventure in our days in Harper. 

I have heard it said that the sense of smell is that that is most closely linked with memory, but I wonder. If, after all these years, the very first notes of music can bring back such strong memories of every other sense, does that mean that music is a sense of its own? And, I know that in the past, music has often been used as a memory aid, in story telling, for eductional purposes - and I don't just mean music education here. But I feel that, in Western society, more and more, music is just used as a means of "entertainment" with a definitely small e. I know music is used wonderfully by many therapists, but is it not time to see how we may use music more effectively again, in every day education and life?
Anyway, just some preceding thoughts. Would love to hear of others experiences re music and memory, if anyone ever reads this blog after my long absence of writing...?


Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Sight

So it was International Women's day yesterday, a fact that I missed, due to having my head down every spare minute with a new project of mine. But here's a story I wrote a few years ago, to celebrate womanhood.
Enjoy! (or else!)


Sight

She was bored. Not that that made a change, of course. She'd been bored yesterday, and the day before that and the day before that. In fact, if she thought about it, she'd been bored for most of her existence.
Yes, the grass she sat on was soft and silky, caressing her skin; the sun on her face was warm and nourishing; the air was full of birdsong and the perfume of a thousand flowers. But the grass had been soft and silky yesterday, the sun had been warm and nourishing yesterday, there had been bird song and the perfume of a thousand flowers in the air, yesterday as well. And it had been the same the day before that and the day before that.
She wasn't hungry, but she put out a hand and felt the soft, furry plumpness of a ripe peach beneath her fingers. She pulled gently on it and it fell into her hand and she brought it up to her teeth and took a bite, enjoying the explosion of juice in her mouth. She tore the skin from the fruit in strips, sucking at the flesh, before taking tiny nibbles and swallowing. It took her about twenty minutes to eat the whole fruit down to the stone, another ten minutes or so to extract every last fibre from the stone itself. Then she sighed and lay back in the grass. She wondered where her husband was and what he was doing. Off picking berries somewhere, probably. Or bathing in the pool. There wasn't much else he could be doing.
In some ways it was quite nice to be by herself for a change. He had been particularly smug and self satisfied recently. She stretched out on the grass and wondered if she would be able to fall asleep. That was one good way of passing the time.
"Hello."
She sat up. What was that? Had she gone to sleep? She could have sworn she had heard a voice - a voice that wasn't that of her husband.
The voice came again. "Hello. How are you?"
It was a friendly voice, smooth and deep, deep enough to be male, but almost high enough to be female as well, coming from above her, so she knew that whoever it was, was not as tall as her husband. Who could it be? She hadn't thought that there was anybody else living here.
"Who are you?" Her heart was doing something funny, beating fast, thump, thump, thump, in her chest. Was she scared? She wasn't sure - she'd never been scared before. Maybe she was just excited.
"I am your friend."
"My friend? But I have no friends..."
Wouldn't you like one?”
She thought about it for a while. It had never occurred to her that she might be able to have a friend - other than her husband of course. She felt a warmness that had nothing to do with the sun, rise up in her chest, filling her up, and her mouth stretched into a wide, exultant smile. A friend. A Friend.
I think – I think I'd love a friend,” she responded at last.
Well then, you've got one.” There was a hint of laughter in the voice.
Really? Just like that?”
Really. Just like that.”
Oh thank you. It will be lovely to have a friend." She spoke the word slowly, luxuriating in it, rolling her tongue around it.
"Oh dear. I'm guessing you must get lonely sometimes."
"Well..." Not lonely so much, as her husband was there most of the time...but she knew him so well, and there wasn't much to talk about. "I don't really get lonely - but I do get a bit bored sometimes," she replied.
Her new friend chuckled. "I'm not surprised. I'd be bored if I were you. There's not much to do here all day is there?"
She shook her head. "We walk around and eat fruit and, well, we sit down sometimes as well and talk and sometimes my husband goes off like now, to bathe or pick berries or something and then I get to think and stuff...I don't know, what else could we be doing?"
There was a sigh, a hissing sigh. "You poor thing. You have no idea. There's so much more to life. So much more to life."
"Really?" Her heart had slowed after the initial shock, but now it started to beat a little faster again and the breath caught in her throat. "What else is there? Tell me - please tell me."
Again a sigh and then a small, thoughtful pause. "Well, for one thing, there's sight."
"Sight?"
"Yes, sight. Put your hands up to the hollows in your face on either side of your nose."
She did so, feeling the tender, soft swellings under her fingers.
"Those, my dear, are your eyes. If they were opened, then you would be able to see things. Not just feel them, not just hear them, not just taste them, but see them. You would be able to see the golden sunset of a peach, the blue of the sky, the glorious colours of the flowers, the green of the grass. You would be able to see me - the birds, your husband."
She frowned. "What do you mean, I would be able to see? What do you mean - see?"
Another pause and then the voice said: "There's only one way of finding out. Would you like me to tell you how?"
"Yes, please."
"Okay. Well, you'll have to get up and walk into the centre of the garden where there is a big tree."
"Oh yes, I know the one you mean - the Special one."
"That's right."
She got to her feet and walked in the direction of the special tree. She always knew where the tree was, because it smelled different to the others. She could tell her friend was coming with her as she could hear him rustling along beside her. She was surprised by how good it felt, to be walking along with a friend. She held her head high and smiled.
She knew she was at the tree when the scent was all but overpowering and she could feel the deep coolness of the shade it gave out.
"Okay," she turned to her friend. "Now what?"
"Now all you have to do is reach out and pluck a fruit from the tree and take a bite."
"Take a bite?" Now her heart really was thumping. "But we mustn't!"
"Really?" Suddenly, the voice was just a touch less friendly. There was a note - just a semiquaver of a note, but a note all the same - of boredom, and even, she thought, of contempt in it now. "Why not?"
"We have been told that we mustn't."
"Hmm." There was definitely contempt there now, and she felt a wash of cold disappointment steal over her. Not just disappointment, but a nameless fear, like a lump at the base of her throat, a dragging ache in her stomach. Her Friend said nothing for so long that she thought the silence might go on for ever and she couldn't bear it. She'd been so excited to have a friend and now it looked like she had blown it already. "It's the one tree in the garden that we're not meant to eat from," she said at last, unable to bear the silence any more.
When her Friend spoke again, there was a coldness in his voice."Well, suit yourself, I was only trying to help." Again, a short pause and the lump in her throat swelled so much, it hurt her.
"I guess I'll see you around."
"No! Don't go, please don't go." The words were out of her mouth before she could stop them.
"Why not? If you won't let me help you..."
She took a deep breath. "Look, I'm sorry, it's just...please, tell me - why should I eat the apple?"
"So that you can see," there was a tiny thread of warmth back in the voice again, and her heart swelled with hope. Even though the warmth was surely nothing more than impatience - anything was better than cold contempt. "I thought I had explained that well enough."
"You said it would help me see. But why is it so important to see?"
Another hissing sigh. "Oh dear, my poor sweet child. Put it this way. You can carry on life forever, as you are. Lying around, eating, drinking, bathing, picking berries. Nothing will ever change. It will be the same, day after day, after day for all eternity. But if you can see, it will add another dimension to your life. You will have knowledge."
"Then why has it been forbidden for us to eat this fruit?"
"I don't know. Maybe because you are too naive. Maybe He thinks he couldn't trust you to do the right thing if you could see.”
A hot flush rose in her cheeks then. "But that's not fair. I've never done anything to make Him think that. Of course I can be trusted!"
Yes, my dear, I'm sure you can. I trust you, you see, but there's probably only one way to prove you can be trusted. Take one of the fruit, go on. Just take one and have a little nibble. You don't have to eat the whole thing. That's probably what's forbidden anyway. I'm sure it wouldn't matter if you just had a little nibble.”
"You're really sure?"
"Absolutely."
Her heart was beating hard now and her head was whirling with so many thoughts she couldn't tell which was uppermost. Her fingers itched to reach out and pluck one of the fruit, but there was guilt there as well. Should she? Would there be big trouble? But her Friend obviously knew what he was talking about and if he thought it would be okay, then it must be. And if she refused, then what? Would her Friend go away? Would he never come back again? The thought made her feel so cold and desperate inside that she found her hand rising to the tree almost of its own accord.
"Go on, go on," her Friend hissed softly. "Just take one, just one small nibble. I promise you won't regret it.”
"Alright." She reached out, felt the leaves, dry and thin under her fingers and then a round, hard fruit. She fingered her way to the stem and gave a sharp tug and the fruit came away, falling so easily into her palm that she laughed with delight. She sniffed and was surprised that it didn't smell as strong as she had expected; a faint, but sweet smell. She opened her mouth and took a bite, her teeth breaking into the hard flesh. A delicate sweet flavour, just a little acid, filled her mouth. She chewed, then swallowed and then suddenly, she was bent over, she had dropped to the ground, her head was pounding and there was light filling her head – and her eyes were open. For the first time in her life, she was seeing things - light and colours and shapes and, above all, beauty such as she had never imagined. Without knowing it, she was on her feet again, racing around grabbing at a flower here, at a leaf there, bringing it right up to her eyes and staring at it, with wonder and awe. Then she gazed down at her hands, her feet and at her body, at the brown skin, the soft swelling of breasts and hips and muscles and the hard lines of her bones. And then she looked over to see her friend watching her and saw that he was completely different to her - long and thin and shiny, the same colour as the grass.
"You're different to me," she said.
"Yes, I am," he replied, and she could see he was about to say something else, but then he put his head on one side as if listening."Is that your husband returning?"
She listened as well and was rewarded by the sound of her husband's footsteps moving over the grass. Her heart leapt. Oh, to be able to show him this wondrous new gift! "Adam! Adam! " she called, and then she saw him, for the first time, striding towards her. He was tall, with strong, noble, handsome features and a thick shock of black hair; wide shoulders, a beautifully muscled chest and stomach and...well, well, so that's what it looked like was it...and long, straight, hairy legs. Hmm, not bad, she thought. Not bad at all."Adam, you have to meet my new Friend!"
His brow wrinkled. "Your new friend?"
"Yes -" She turned, but to her astonishment, there was no sign of her Friend anywhere. "Oh, he was here a minute ago...” She wondered where on earth he was, but she was so excited, she turned back to her husband. “Oh Adam, he showed me the most amazing thing! I can see - I can see!"
Adam's forehead wrinkled even further. "See? What do you mean?"
"I'll show you. Just take a bite from this fruit."
"But Eve! That's the forbidden fruit!"
"Oh yes, I know that, but Adam, you've got to try it!"
"Eve!" His voice had gone high and staccato with shock. "Eve! Please tell me you haven't eaten the fruit!"
"Only a nibble and it's the best thing I've ever done. oh Adam, you've got to try it!"
"But we mustn't!"
"Oh come on Adam, don't be such a goody goody. Just a nibble. You don't have to eat the whole thing. He never said we couldn't nibble on it!"
"But it's forbidden!"
"Oh for heavens sake, it's forbidden to eat the whole fruit, but just have a nibble. Go on, you can do it!"
Adam stood for a while, silent and she could see he was wavering. "Look, I've had a taste and the only thing that's happened to me is that I can see - which is the best thing that's ever happened to me!"
His mouth turned down at the corners and his shoulders drooped. "The best thing that's ever happened to you?"
She sighed. "Okay, the second best thing that's ever happened to me."
He smiled then and stood straighter.
"Come on, open wide."
He hesitated for just a moment longer and then opened his mouth and she pressed the apple to his teeth. He crunched and chewed and then swallowed. Eve watched, entranced. First he frowned, then his eyelids began to flicker and then at last they lifted, revealing beautiful dark brown eyes that were flecked with gold and fringed with dark lashes. Unlike her, Adam stood still, gazing around for what seemed like an age, his mouth hanging open with astonishment and awe. And then his eyes came to rest on her, running up and down her body, making her flush and feel embarrassed for the first time in his company.
"You're naked," he said.
"So are you."
He looked down at his own body then, at his hands and legs and stomach and..."Good grief!" He reached out to a tree and yanked a off leaf, placing it at his groin. "Eve, cover yourself!"
She cast her eyes heavenward, but even as she did so, there came a blinding light and a Voice, a deep and beloved voice, rang out into the garden. "Children, what have you been doing?"
They stared at each other, immobile with terror and guilt. "It was her fault," Adam began. "She made me do it..."
"I don't care whose fault it was. You both knew you weren't allowed to take fruit from that tree."
Eve stared around for her friend, but he was nowhere to be seen. Surely he should be here now, to explain it all? Where was he? She opened her mouth to call out, but then realised that she didn't even know what his name was.
"Children, you have disobeyed me and there will now be consequences."
"But..." They both spoke at once, but their words were drowned out by the sound of a rushing wind. It tore around them, whipping their hair around their faces, dark and harsh and terrifying, so that it was almost as though they were blind again.
Friend! Friend!” Eve screamed into the darkness, but all she heard was a hissing laugh that speared her heart with agony. The wind buffeted and pulled at the two humans so that they had to cling together to keep their balance, and then suddenly it was gone and so was the garden.
They were standing on an outcrop of bare rock, and before them was the World.
The voice spoke again, but this time it seemed to come from a great distance. "Okay, " it said. "You think you know best, so from now on, you're on your own." And then it was gone.
Adam fell to his knees in an orgy of weeping and wailing, banging his chest with his fists, his head on the ground, kicking his legs out in grief.
Eve stood with her arms wrapped around her chest, trying to contain the tearing pain in her heart. She lifted her head and looked out to the horizon – and paused.
She could see rain forests out there; jungles and deserts; an ocean that surely stretched to the edge of the world and high mountain peaks. She could see flocks of parrots, herds of deer, the flight of a butterfly.
She could see danger out there and hardship, hunger and disease. She could time which changed and muttered and ended.
Then she looked down at her handsome husband, with his broad shoulders, his hard muscled stomach and his fig leaf. Her heart still burned with grief, but she felt as though there was a tiny light growing in there as well.
She straightened her shoulders. "Come on Adam," she said. "There's a whole new world out there, and it's ours for the taking."