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The Warp

Stokke & Nell

We were at Stokke, Nell’s mother’s mellow and rambling red brick mansion in Wiltshire. We wandered out into misty woods and sat on a stone ornamental bridge, she in jeans, old and dirty, and a dark blue heavy sweater to which swathes of green paint had attached themselves. ‘We are Gods,’ she said, and we spent the morning embracing in the damp mud at the top of the ornamental bridge. The muddy stream oozed below us. Mist rose around us and the naked tops of the trees above us were grey. Nell talked of Italy, of sailing in the Mediterranean and ski-ing and falling hundreds of feet into snow drifts. ‘I think we’re Gods,’ said Nell again.

‘But maybe not the fauns and dryads of classical times.’

‘No, I think we’re water Gods of the Druid past.’

‘When I was young,’ she said, ‘I used to wear my skirts as high as I could to look like a boy.’ Her face is so clear, so without mark, so perfect. Her hair is the fringe of a Florentine page. When we parted she stood gazing without guile and put her hands upright together as if to pray.

‘I will be true to you,’ I said.

‘No,’ she said. ‘I don’t want that.’

‘Nor do I. I don’t want you to be faithful, but I can be true to you if I want to.’

She gazed at me and said, ‘All I ask is that I shall be - the best.’

‘You are the best.’

‘So are you. You’re the first. The first is always the best, isn’t it?’


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