The glittering gaudy cloth of day is lifted, full of other paths and other people and other times, and where it lay and blinded her with offices, lunch, customers, and walking only to reach somewhere -- now the brightness is dispelled.

In dusk the way is clearer. Rose, tree, and stone awaken, drink in the murmuring dusklight; and some witchery of the heart sees new paths in narrow streets, to her own past and future, leads Jenny to where she belongs.

It's hard to work out. They don't tell their secret easily. The decisions are Jenny's: the love is hers, and his, the future together is theirs, and the witching murmuration of graceful Georgian buildings cannot lead an uncertain couple through the daylight details of a life and home together. A lot of it needs review in that sharp glare. But here amid the dusk world, this is why she stays in the narrow streets, feeding on those atmospheres and enchantments dearest to her from times when she felt most comfortable.

So. She knows she's going to stay with her family yet awhile in their new pub, the Green Dragon. That she decided on the first evening. Therefore she and Mike will not consummate their half discussed plans of getting a bigger flat together. This should not impact severely on their love; she knows this; she could even say it to him. But still. It is not a choice in his favour.

Now if she has already decided not to move in with him, what is left, what requires dusk wanderings and communion with the ancient solitary reign? How to explain to him? How to balance their time, to let sink in that part of her life belongs here with family, staff, customers, those friends of the hearth not of the heath?

There was a subtle difference between Mike in the Green Dragon, and Mike in the coffee shops, restaurants, theatres, his flat, where they conducted about half of their intimacy. She had noticed it, this difference, yet had not been able to find words or feelings to make any clearer in what or in whom it lay.

Now as Jenny walked, and considered what to say to him, she found that, pausing in the dusk, reaching into the air for support, the juice of answers trickled through her fingers.

Fuchsia. Nasturtium. Tortoiseshell.

Now here, down low, one single bloated fruit of a fuchsia, deepest purple bell straining to burst, where the flower had long fallen from it and all the plant's energy was rushing to feed the seed. As the myriad of rowan berries, sometime scarlet, now fading in the dusk, clustered above her head to grasp life from an indifferent soil and the kindness or greed of passing birds. These infra-animal cycles of life moved furiously from month to month, deep cousins of our own loves, but as you watched with your eyes, they were stillness itself. Only in the streets where you lived, day upon day, did their growths unfold to you like those of family and friends.

A short iron stairway up the side of a house, a little back door concealed from the street, and nasturtiums, sunflowers, ferns, and other fuchsias: beautiful Sophisticated Lady and that strange dark cultivar called Gartenmeister Bonstedt. Only near one's own home would you linger long enough to see these from a closed-off carpark, after business hours when there was no-one in the guarding offices to question you so far in, when all you wanted to see was nasturtiums. And a mother who could tell you names.

Cats uniquely live in the dusk whenever they walk, and only give in to the blindness of sun when they curl up into an ammonite and doze with their chin defencelessly upward. Such a tortoiseshell lay in the garden with the brimming fuchsia, but woke and stretched and greeted Jenny when she stood by its old brick fence. Cats usually know.

Jenny walked home, home, where Marina was serving in a golden glow, as it was getting darker: in one part of the sky were sunset-flamed clouds; in the other, stars.

< Earlier | Tales of the Green Dragon | Later >

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