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Virginia Woolf. A Room of One’s Own. Emancipation and writing fiction

A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf’s ‘A Room of One’s Own.’

Why in order to write fiction in 1920s a woman required £500 per annum and a room of their own.

‘A Room of One’s Own’ became interesting once it got going. For me it read too much like an extended ‘Thought for the day’ on BBC Radio 4.

It couldn’t have been read; there is too much circumlocution, this ‘inner conversation.’

Read ‘A Room of One’s Own’in one sitting, as I did today in less than four hours.

It is a stream of consciuoness, the kind of thing that can manifest itself into openly talking to yourself or a second inner or sometimes distinct self.

For now some quotes. I’m certain to use and develop these ideas somewhere though.

‘Women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.’

I liken Woolf to a fine antique box, carefully padded with foam and felt, in which there are a few gems, the value of which I do no appreciate. As for Hitler, I’m beginning to find account of his politicking as boring as the record of Bill Clinton’s rise to power. (I’m reading the Ian Kershaw biographies).

I find start to get to the kernel of her argument, hidden two-thirds of the way through ‘A Room of One’s Own.’

‘That serves to explain in part the necessity that woman so often are to men. And it serves to explain how restless they are under her criticism; how impossible it is for her to say to them this book is bad, this picture is feeble, or whatever it may be, without giving far more pain and rousing far more anger than a man would do who gave the same criticism. For if she begins to tell the truth, the figure in the looking-glass shrinks; his fitness for life is diminished’.

Here’s a quote to provoke!

‘How is he to go on giving judgment, civilising natives, making laws, writing books, dressing up and speechifying at banquets unless he can see himself at breakfast and at dinner at least twice the size he really is?’

This was written in the 1920s. I can hear the clack-clack of a typewriter, is it that? Or did she write it long-hand while looking out on her garden down the road from here at Rodmel? Her house in Rodmell is three miles down the road, I am often there, by the river, pondering her drowning in the River Ouse.

Women were only just beginning to shake off the shackles they had worn for centuries. The process is not yet complete, though the role of the ‘Alpha Female’ who has a career and babies while her HUSBAND looks after the children at home is becoming more prevalent.

‘The looking-glass vision is of supreme importance because it charges the vitality; it stimulates the nervous system. Take it away and man may die, like the drug fiend deprived of his cocaine.’

I like this image. How dependent men are on woman for their success and confidence. My father was like this. He needed his girlfriend/wife/mistress to adore him – to put him on a pedestal. As soon as he shamed himself (had an affair, got caught) he ditched his wife of the time to start afresh. He couldn’t live with partners who might perceive him as diminished (though he tolerated his children once we were adults, probably because we couldn’t help but love him however he behaved).

There’s more. I’ll keep these quotes together here for ease of reference; there uses are many.

‘Anything may happen when womanhood has ceased to be a protected occupation.’

In 25 years time I hope audiences look back on what Virginia Woolf had to say here. Perhaps there’s an excuse to look back at the last 75 years?

On writing fiction

This applies to anyone trying to write fiction. I will use this when, having had a novel or too published I start to lecture on the subject.

‘Fiction, imaginative work that is, is not dropped like a pebble on the ground, as science may be; fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.’

On mankind and their dominance of the arts. Why must men be superior? Would the world be a more peaceful and less competitive place if men stayed at home and raised the kids instead of waging war (corporate and international)?

‘For here again we come within range of that very interesting and obscure masculine complex which has had so much influence upon the woman’s movement; that deep-seated desire, not so much that she shall be inferior as that he shall be superior, which plants him wherever one looks, not only in front of the arts, but barring the way to politics too, even when the risk to himself seem infinitesimal and the suppliant humble and devoted.’

Why it doesn’t count unless you’re paid to do it:

‘Money dignifies what is frivolous if unpaid for.’

I like this.

I’ve written from a woman’s point of view before and should do so again.

‘A great mind is androgynous.’ Coleridge. ‘It is when this fusion takes place that the mind is fully fertilised and uses all its faculties.’

On writing. I apply this thinking to what I look for in a diary.

‘The whole of the mind must lie wide open if we are to get the sense that the writer is communicating his experience with perfect fullness.’

I go along this for ALL writing I admire. It is a criteria I try to apply to picking my ‘favorite diaries’ to read here.

‘So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only a few hours, nobody can say. But to sacrifice a hair of the head of your vision, a shade of its colour, in defence to some Headmaster with a measuring-rod up his sleeve, is the most abject treachery, and the sacrifice of wealth and chastity which used to be said to be the greatest of human disasters, a mere flea-bite in comparison.’

I’ll find a use for this too.

‘Intellectual freedom depends upon material things.’

If only I could earn enough to do this:

‘By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream.’

Be oneself .. think of things in themselves.

A little learning. Evelyn Waugh (1964)

HOLIDAY READING

A little learning. Evelyn Waugh (1964)

Not an e-book, but as soon as I wanted to take notes or share sentences I wish it had been.

(His less famous, though more successful popular novelist brother Alec Waugh writes a far more enjoyable satire of school-days at Shrewsbury ‘The Loom of Youth’. If I wrote about Sedbergh in the 1970s it wouldn’t be satire, it would be an act of war – my only revolution was to leave before Sixth Form at which time the bullied would have had to become the bully).

I bookmark by folding over the corners.

Although the pages were falling out I didn’t highlight or annotate the pages, though I could have pulled the pages out.

I make three notes:

Knox was known to open and oppose the same motion. The point he makes though is that ‘audiences greed for originality is the extraordinary distaste for the obvious.

NOTE REGARDING MOBILE LEARNING

(All would be downloaded as eBooks where they available. They go to the Kindle so that I can read or listen to the book on one device while taking notes onto the iPad. Is this when reading becomes a learning activity? When you take notes? Or simply when you annotate or highlight the text itself … if you dare do this to a printed book. Anyone shared highlights or notes they have made while or having read a common book? Like an asynchronous book club of the airwaves I guess).

‘You learn, in approaching any subject, to search at once for the point that is new, original, eccentric, not for the plain truth.‘ (Waugh, 1964: 129)

And a note left by a previous reader (my mother, who sent me this book a couple of weeks ago) that reads ‘pity’.

Against Waugh’s line ‘I abandoned my diary on the day I left school and have no source for the following years except inexact memory.’

I didn’t. 36 years later and several million words I wonder what I got myself trapped into.

Some keep saying they want me to stop blogging for a couple of years ‘to finish the book’. I have plenty to say on that too, though Steven Pressfield has the definitive response, ‘resistance’. I say ‘anything but,’ I will fill my life with ‘anything but’ that three-five hours a day of effort in front of a keypad or notepad.

Is memory exact?

My diary is an aide memoire, an impression of the moment that changes all the time.

REFERENCE

Waugh, A.E. (1964) A little learning.

I cannot see the value in hereditary he gives to the first chapter, in predetermining the way some turns out, physiologically or psychologically, surely upbringing has more to do with it? He also concentrates on the male professional line. Rather selective? And from our point of view ignorant and sexist?</p

We can’t help but think in metaphors; it’s what makes us human

It could be the subject of of PhD Thesis.

Metaphor is the essence of learning, of knowledge transfer, of transmitting ideas, of ideas themselves, of innovation and creativity.

Reading Sfard and various other authors/academics and philosophers … and a neuroscientist I draw my own conclusions in relation to learning in general and e-learning in particular.

The first image is from Gareth Morgan. The explanation of how metaphor is used, and potentially abused (or simply confused) is clear. ‘Man is a lion. He is a lion because he is brave.’

We permit poetic licence

We then move on to the idea of what I am calling (for want of a metaphor)

Stage 1 Learning, that necessary first step where the person learning needs to acquire ‘stuff,’ where knowledge is imparted or experienced.

This might be a lecture, a talk, a video, a book. Acquisition for me is not the metaphor, it is the description of what is occurring. I cannot see ‘acquisition.’ I can see someone at a supermarket check-out ‘acquiring’ goods, I can even visualise the ‘sausage machine’ concept/cartoon of information/knowledge being ground out of books and deposited in a person’s head.

Moving on to Stage 2 Learning (though it could be any stage 2 through to infinity) we have a tool of learning, ‘participation.’

Here, once again, I understand an adjective describing actual participation, as demonstrated in the John Seely Brown lecture, of students working together at a table (round of course), with those on the ‘periphery’ taking part tangentially while those in the middle are the primary ‘actors.’ THIS is learning in the Congo Rain Forest to get honey from the top of a tree, this is learning above the Arctic Circle to cut blow-holes to harpoon seals … this is how ‘man’ has always learned.  a) where’s the new thinking? b) is ‘participation’ a metaphor, or simple an adjective?

For me participation is the end of term play, the Christmas Panto, working on a student newspaper, blog or TV magazine show.

To use metaphor suggests improving communication of ideas and doing so in a persuasive and memorable way.

There are clichéd metaphors

They lose currency through over use. Educators appear to be stuck in a rut on this one, regurgitating old ideas.

REFERENCES

Brown, J.S., Collins.A., Duguid, P., (1989) Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning. Educational Researcher, Vol. 18, No. 1 (Jan. – Feb., 1989), pp. 32-42 American Educational Research Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1176008 . Accessed: 05/03/2011 13:10

Cox, R. (2006) Vicarious Learning and Case-based Teaching of Clinical Reasoning Skills (2004–2006) [online], http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk/ esrcinfocentre/ viewawardpage.aspx?awardnumber=RES-139-25-0127 [(last accessed 10 March 2011).

Sfard, A. (1998) ‘On two metaphors for learning and the dangers of choosing just one’, Educational Researcher, vol.27, no.2, pp.4–13; also available online at http://libezproxy.open.ac.uk/login?url=http://www.jstor.org/stable/1176193 (last accessed 10 December 2010).

Three ways to write and read

The Kindle arrived yesterday.

Though the picture of John Steinbeck may tempt me to read fiction so that all I’ve read is this – the first five chapters.

The A5 Daler Rowney sketchbook is 160gm cartridge paper

It ought to be used for drawing, not doing mind maps. Whatever comes to hand. I have always carried a sketch pad around with me. Mum would have prefered a set of soft pencils, I prefer a soft-tip drawing pen.

Media and Communications Technologies by Stephen Lax is the kind of thing I’d have on the Kindle now.

I read this last August and feel a need to do a quick re-read i.e. the introduction and conclusion. I have detailed notes somewhere which ought to help get me back into the subject too, notes taken the old way, handwritten goblets from the text or typed directly into a laptop then shared/stored in a blog or eportfolio (or both). The Kindle, on the Kindle or Kindle PC, allows you to do this with a highlighter tool that also collates the text you’re interested in (ditto notes which no longer need to be confined to the margins).

The stand I bought from Rymans in 1982.

It amuses me that my girlfriend of the time was critical of my spending this kind of money, yet here it is 28 years on, still serving me well. You see, it pays to buy well. I’d put Lacoste Polo shirts, Timberland pollar-necks and boots and Whitestuff ski jackets into the same bracket. The Minolta lenses I bought in 1989 in Hong Kong wich are now on a Sony digital body … what else?

Pens and watches I lose, so they may have survived but are in the hands of others.

My guitar a silver flute.

Some things were made to last.

Determined to get a piece of writing to an agent

I would be working on something new instead of packing something I’ve written already 😦 One piece, a synopsis & three chapters, every week ’til Christmas.

I’m already three weeks behind, but one piece has gone, so there’s a start.

Another will follow to day and others on Wednesday & Thursday I’m sure.

‘Dump’ goes out today, a puerile premise which has a shit of a character being ‘dumped’ back in time first 3 hours, then 3 days, then 3 weeks and so on ad infinitum … every time he does a dump, visits the lavatory, goes to the bathroom to do a No.2, a crap … (put your favourite word for it here).

‘Get Jack Back’ about a young nurse serving on the Front Line who impersonates a machine gunner in the First World War to relieve her brother has gone out.

Others this week must include:

‘Watersprites’ as such a huge part of my life has been spent writing, researching & filming it.

and another …

‘The Time Telescope’ or ‘Fortune Photobooths’ or even that ‘Driving Blind’ thing which has had me in its tentacles for a decade.

We will see.

Knowing me I’ll go and try to write something different.

Grayson Perry on Creativity

In this BBC Radio 4 broadcast Grayson Perry explored the myths and misconceptions of creativity.

What does it take?

Like all things, hard work and single-mindedness.

From my point of view I see myself as a Catherine Wheel that has been lit and fallen of its stand – I spit and twist, sending out ideas all over the place. Not the best way forward.

The Myths and Misconceptions were:

  • The Eureka Moment (Spoke to Terry Pratchet)
  • Anyone can do it (Spoke to Rose Tremain)
  • Drugs are good for you. (But not for Satre)
  • A bid mad
  • Britain’s got talent (Spoke to Hussein Shelian)
  • Creative Genius
  • Need to have suffered an early trauma (Ray Talis)

We are reminded the ‘creativity’ is a central part of the UK economy.

For 17 years I actively contributed to this. My wilderness years, the last eight, have resulted in very little output (if that means getting it out of the front door). I stack it. I’d prefer to see these ideas compost and die than give my ideas to the world.

It is essential that creativity has institutional underpinning.

How will this manifest itself with the cuts to arts funding now being proposed by the coalition government in the UK.

or is it necessary. Whilst education in the UK has its faults it nonetheless appears to favour and permit the individual so that talent can develop. This must be the state system, private schools are a sausage machine for exam results, they have to be given what parents are forking out.

‘Creativity is mistakes.’

Says Grayson Perry, he has this carved into concrete across the mezzanine floor of his studio. You try, you fail, you try again. I would like to suppose I haven’t tried hard enough to fix my failures (or what I perceive as failures). At time though I feel if I keep on trying I would eventually strip back a 90,000 novel to a few words.

Imaginative power is ‘looking, looking, looking’ to which Rose Tremain added, it is ‘listening, listening, listening.’

I’m a looker, so I don’t know how I’ve ended up writing.

You can never be fully relaxed on holiday.

I do, but sailing and skiing do occupy your head if you fall off cliffs and like to race dinghies. Moments of near-death are exhilarating, as those times the elements sweep you along.

I hate the computer as a writing tool, this facility to edit does me no favours. yet a writer Grayson interviews said the computer allowed him to write, that until then he had no way to start straight in with a few thoughts, some scenes (like episodes in a film), and assemble it all in a non-linear way.

I’ve worked so hard with programmes like Power Structure and Final Draft but somehow always tie myself in knots trying to add or remove a character or scene or changing the ending or beginning.

‘Letting go at the end – that’s as good as it will get.’ Says Rose Tremain.

A year of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and my last session was driving me to ‘finish something.’ I can, but there needs to be someone with a stick harrying me along, a reward at the end would help, reassuring words along the way too …

My notes here (a month or so after the broadcast) say something about ‘investigating in a way that is new and aiding their creativity by giving them love and boundaries.’

I would run with a lover, with the intensity of an unfulfilled affair. Something to make the heart race. I once spent a day drawing a girl I lusted for … she was happy to be naked for me. I compelled myself into a state of denial without able to control my arousal. It all went into the drawing, the excited, confident marks across the page.

What about the University of East Anglia Creative Writing Course?

I’ve locked at the details and would be applying for 2011. Don’t have the money. Anyone want to sponsor me? In return for a percentage of the royalties that would of course come about a year or two later?

Pretty please?

Or the MA in Fine Art at Sussex University?

‘A life’s work without any expectation of reward.’

My wife caught this line and said that was me. She should know, she’s not had much out of me these last eight years. The novels I promised to write were written, but are considerably short of an edit I would send out. I would need to shut myself away from everything for 12 weeks.

Do you have somewhere I could hide?

Exam conditions six to nine hours a day, seven days a week. Not any man made disturbance – nature I can tolerate, nature I love. A hermitage on Farnes island would do, a ski lodge up a mountain pre-Season. somewhere. An empty barn, drained swimming pool, decommissioned nuclear power station.

Impulsive ideas that I run with:

  • A chess set made out of branded bottles of water.
  • Every ski run in the Ski Resorts of Val d’Isere and Tignes reconstructed as transects showing their true length and fall.
  • A short film about watersprites living in a public swimming pool
  • Story ideas galore for TV series or film.
  • A 6ft canvass of Lewes Castle in the snow from a series of photographs that could have been taken 800 years ago.

‘When you are creating something you are drawing on so many parts of the brain.’

This was in response to someone with an MRI scan who claims to have identified creativity. It doesn’t work like that, indeed, the creative mind goes more slowly … it takes it times over these connections. It thinks, how else could it ever deliver anything original?

So when yo relax, you let go, that is when you have your great ideas. I resolved the ending to a story I haven’t touched for three years on a dog walk so long I found worried messages on the mobile phone I had left in the car. My mobile is rarely on.

‘The distressful bread of the day to day.’ Said Rose Tremain.

Did I get that right?

Grayson Perry talked about his Inner Shed.

I have my inner shed, what I need is a ‘room of my own.’ It’s hard to be creative perched on the end of the marital bed in a tiny room that is stacked to the ceiling with possessions that call for occupancy of a house twice the size.

A Thousand Books you must read before you die

1000 Books You Must Read Before You Die PART I

11 June 2009

These are books I’ve read, oh yeas, and ‘Lord of the Rings.’ Many I have read in the last couple of months, a good handful (the Science Fiction with the exception of H G Wells) I read as a young teen.

Most of these are on the Guardian’s 1000 Books you must read. I failed to read more than 300 pages of Proust, ‘Remembrance of Things Past’ having heard a recommendation for it from Sebastian Foulkes on Desert Island Discs. I also failed to get far with ‘Ulysses’ James Joyce … though I loved ‘Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man.’ David Waller, whose book ‘The Magnificent Mrs Tennant’ recently came out tried once again to help me through Ulysseus. He read English at Oxford so ought to know something about literature – David W I can read, and he should dare to write novels.

Brave New World
Aldous Huxley

One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich
Alexander Solzhenitsyn

The Time Traveller’s Wife
Audrey Niffenegger

All Quiet on the Western Front
Erich Maria Remarque

Silas Marner
George Elliot

My Family and other animals
Gerald Durrell

Tono Bungay
H G Wells

The Time Machine
H G Wells

The War of the Worlds
H G Wells

The Islands of Dr Moreau
H G Wells

Foundation
Isaac Asimov

Foundation & Empire
Isaac Asimov

Second Foundation
Isaac Asimov

The Portrait of the Man as an Artist
James Joyce

Harry Potter
JK Rowling

Slaughterhouse 5
Kurt Vonnegut

Sunset Song
Lewis Grassic Gibbon

The Curious incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Mark Haddon

Atomised
Mark Michel Houellebecq

The Naked & the Dead
Norman Mailer

Regeneration
Pat Barker

The Eye in the Door
Pat Barker

The Ghost Road
Pat Barker

Count Belisarius
Robert Graves

I, Claudius
Robert Graves

Stranger in a strange land
Robert Heinlein

Time Enough for Love
Robert Heinlein

Birdsong
Sebastian Faulks

The Mayor of Casterbridge
Thomas Hardy

How the dead live
Will Self

The Watersprites (Chapter Four)

The Watersprites

CHAPTER FOUR

“Nothing happened.” I said, eyebrows raised with bite for a bit of a verbal fight if this is what she wanted. “Nothing happened.” I repeated not wanting to spell it out that this ‘None of her business, nothing happened’ thing was how we’d got into this got out of the car and stomped off in a huff business in the first place.

“Look at you.”

“I Know. Durh. It was raining.”

“But you’re soaked through. Did you fall in a horse trough.”

“I fell over. In a ditch. It was full of water. Hardly surprising it was raining. Not very pleasant.”

Dad is on the phone. He is out of this. Not his problem Not a problem of his creation. He could have been phoning the police – letting them know I’d been found. I think he was, I had half an ear on this conversation.

“Aren’t you glad to see me? I might have been run over? Or kidnapped? Or worse?!”

“We were going to call the police.”

“Didn’t you.”

I knew from her lack of response that they had.

“You weren’t on t he road. You weren’t on the bus. I saw you get on the bus.”

“Not enough money. I left my bag in the car or hadn’t you noticed.”

“You always have that bag with you.”

“Not enough money.’ I said once more then repeated it ‘Not enough money.”

“I came looking for you.”

“Sure you did. I walked three miles along the A69 but you failed to picked me up – plenty tried but it wasn’t you.”

“I drove the road a dozen times.”

I had to get off the road. Man in white van pulling up to rescue damsel in distress … says his wife had suggested he wenet back. The wife? No sign of the wife. I wouldn’t have trusted the pair of them if they’d pulled up anyway. Never get into a car with a stranger you’ve always told me and thank god I didn’t. I might have been home hours before and then I would never had the most amazing experience of my life … “

This suggested too much and I wished I could back track, but it was too late. Her face said it all. She wanted to know more. I was not going to reveal all, of course so I had to come up with some plausible lie.

“Being alone. The sense that I was at last on my own …”
This did it.

“ I took a short cut, cross-country. Made right mess of my jacket pushing through the brambles.”

“Oh to hell with your school jacket.”

This from Mum was a double surprise a) swearing b) condoning the abuse of an expensive school jacket for the even more expense school that I’d been attending since YEAR 7.

We hug. At last we hug. Dad finishes his call and we hug. Helen hears the huggy sounds and gets away from the TV to join in. A good moment. A family moment. They’re be more of this i was sure. And mum cries. But dad doesn’t and neither does Helen. This wasn’t a super-flu fix, a big bond. It was acknowledgement of the break away that was imminent. Hay hay, I was getting ready to quit the nest.

“I’ll run you a bath.” Said Mum by way of an apology. Mum’s cure all – a bath. For some it is a cup of tea and a Wispa bar, for others it is taking the dog … or having a say over what you watch on TV.

For an evening’s escaped you may think that was enough but can you believe there was more to come.

“Can’t a girl have a comforting hug and soak on her own these days?’

There was a tap at the window – right next to the bath. This face appeared, squished against the glass, as comical as Mr Bean and just a s ridiculous. It was Freya, Herschn’s sister – the mad one, the thin one … I freaked. Who wouldn’t. Naked in a bath, up to the chin in Radox bubbles then a face presses itself against the bathroom window. I suppose I would have had it been Herschn. How Freya had climbed up there I don’t know, or tracked me to this room – was it my sent, were there more of them around the garden? It was a sash window that took some effort to release. Freya clambered in. You’d expect someone doing this to step over the bath but she got in it. AS if it was the bath she was interested in and not me. She giggled at the bubbles and sighed at the warmth of the water. I drew my feet up to my chest, partly to cover my boobs, and to protect myself. I wasn’t used to sharing a bath.

“Lovely,’ she said, in the waterspritey, fruity, wet way of theirs. A bit Gaelic or Welsh, I don’t know which.

“Is this where you sleep?” She asked.

“No. This is a bath. My bath. I’m getting washed. I’d prefer to be on my own. What do you want?”

Freya looked puzzled by this question. She understood the question but appeared to have forgotten her mission. Then she reached into her bag (not in he bath, covered in bubbles), and took out my Casio Scientific Calculator

I had the tap end. I never liked the tap end, control of the hot water or not, you can’t relax with the taps in your back and its hard to behave in a responsible fashion when it is you who gets the benefit of any hot water that is released.

Freya had no desire to leave. I guess she had followed Herschn here. Where was he? Looking through the window?

I got out of the bath.

Which prompter Freya to do a log roll. Now a log roll in a swimming pool is one thing, but in a bath it is like a carwash. It’s a lateral twist. This is what Freya did, she rolled and twisted her limbs lashing up the bubbles until they topped the bath and began to spill out onto the shag-pile carpet.

I would have told her to stop but it was too fascinating to behold. She twisted like an eel. The knock on the door had her stop in an instance.

“Yes?” I said, immediately sitting down on top of the loo seat to help with the lie I was about to tell.

“I’m on the loo, don’t come in.”

I had to say that otherwise she that is the Mother would have come banging right int. She did that, Mum, especially when she had something important to say, she’d come right in while I was in the bath, her excuse being the cup of tea she had brought me. She’d come right in and sit next to me on the loo seat while I was in the bath.

Not tonight she wasn’t. If she was feeling guilty and wanted to apologise it could wait. It would have to wait. I had a fishperson, water numphy creature in the bath.

“I’ll leave it here then.” She said.

I wondered about that. I went up to the door and listened for her going off. She did go off and there was a mug of tea at the door. I locked it. With my back turned Freya had got out of the bath and got under the shower. She had to have some idea of what she was doing as she managed to get it on. She let out a high pitched call that morphed into a series of descending arpeggios – she was singing! I went over and put my hand over her mouth.

“You’ll have to go now.” I said.

“You can’t stay here.” I added.

She looked rather hurt, but she hadn’t finished with her tricks.

I call it the Cheshire cat, what she did, because it was exactly as in Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland.” She put on this cheeky grin then began to vanish from the feet up – legs, dress, jacket, top up the up to her neck until there were only eyes, the top of her nose & her chin – one last giggle and she disappeared. Or rather, turned invisible, as I knew exactly where she was.

O poked her with a finger in what I assumed to be her tummy and she giggled. I did it again and she laughed and I laughed too. I hadn’t noticed the door open.

Mum must have thought I had gone mental, creating this other-worldly giggle that had a built in echo.

Just as well Freya had vanished then, but I knew she was still these of course.

“And biscuits,” said Mum noticing that I\’d picked up the tea and put it by the sink.

“Thanks” I said, not being one to resist at Hobnob when offered.

“You’re going to have to do better than that if you want me to forgive you,” I said.

A bit cruel. But fare in the circumstances don’t you think?

Mum took me literally. She must have had something in the back of her mind. The following night we went to Roberto’s for Pizza then to the Theatre to see something the Royal Shakespeare Company were putting on. This in term, during the week, was unheard of as it was usually ‘practice you piano, do your homework, get an early night, tidy your room … ‘

Yawn, yawn, yawn …

Once she had gown I reached into the shower but Freya was not there.

The bathroom window opened and for a moment I could make her out against the street light and she was gone.

What a day. What a beginning.
But it wasn’t over yet. When I reached for my tea I found there were three translucent balls – like those thing you put in the bath. Bath balls. They did not smell of bath salts though, rather they were quite tasty and rather tempting. I thought they might be liqueurs. Freya had left them, as a present I think.

I put one in my mouth and oh boy – its outer casing quickly melted and this cool shot of something alcoholic and spicy like ginger filled my mouth and once Had swallowed it the same sensation filled my body. So this is what it felt to turn invisible. I should have known this is what they would do as I now, just as Frey had vanished before my eyes I did the same. Except for the towel. Freaky. Not knowing how long it would last I made a dash for my bedroom and bed. It felt very odd pulling on my PCs. I had the light on but it felt like getting dressed in the dark because I couldn’t see my foot or leg. I felt rather empty too – like a glass with nothing in it, if that makes sense.

I would have put something in my diary right then but Helen came to the door and I had to duck under the duvet – I didn’t want her seeing me, or rather not seeing me!

“You okay?” She asked and came and sat by the bed. She put her hand on my shoulder and I touched her fingers from under the duvet to acknowledge her presence.

:Mum’s really, really sorry you know,” She said.

“I know.” I said.

“She shouldn’t have sad all that stuff.”

“Well, she did.”

“What are you going to do?” She asked.

As if things had now changed. I guess they had, but I was still at school. I still lived at home. And I still had a boyfriend. Only now I had these odd new friends.

“Nothing.” I said. I’m going to sleep if you don’t mind.

And so I did, waking in the morning and immediately jumping out of bed to look in the mirror to check that I was there. I was. Phew.

The Watersprites (Chapter Three)

The Watersprites

CHAPTER THREE

Now I know why Mum has this “gay” thing over George Clooney; there is a look, a smile, a glint in the eye, the shape of his chin, the thickness of his eyebrows and hair and those broad shoulders and long arms. I loved in particular his wrists, I don’t know why. Herschn, his name, as best as I can spell it – think of the sound as a hayfever-sneeze, has these protruding veins on the back of his hands when he uses his fingers. And his smile, have I said that already? His ear-to-ear grin, his winsome, cheekiness, his loveliness … all this and he isn’t even human.

All of these feelings are to come, for now I’m a frightened girl who wonders if she is about to die or has died already. I am beneath the murky waters of a pond, this beast’s face, it’s jaw dislocated, its mouth over my nose and chin … one arm around me, part clinging to me so that I can’t let go, partly guiding me I think as it swims so fish-like through the water. Like a dolphin. I’m certain, if I saw anything at all that this creature had double-jointed knees and ankles, its legs were more fish-like that human, in water at leasat, yet he had appears human to me when sitting on the log above the water.

We got down too far for me, five or more metres – the water presses on my ears and squeezes my sinuses. I don’t like it all and at this stage I struggle, but then we enter some cavern and start to rise towards a warm glow and I find myself in what I can only describe as a den – there is a fire burning and artificial – did they have electricity? He releases me, though I am reluctant for a moment to give up the breath that he has been breathing into me, to gasp in plainair once more. Herschn climbs out beside me. I cough, pull myself away from the water’s edge and find there are what I can only describe as sun-loungers to lie on. And it is then that I can observe for the first time the transformation that takes place when a watersprite leaves water – they transmogrify (I’ve looked it up, it is a word, it means to change form). Obviously I’ve seen this many times now, so I know what takes place in detail, but this first time it was rather like a magician at the end of a show becoming a real person again – when he stood up, first his ankles, then his knees articulated so that he could stand and be less fish-like, he pulled his fingers in turn, each one, and as he did so the webbing folded away. A lizard like film over his eyes, a second eye-lid, open to reveal the human-like eyes below … and his chest, while under water, so large it reminded me of the gaping mouth of a basking shark, though on a smaller scale, collapsed into his chest. So this is how they could breathe on land.

They are not of this world; you must realise this by now. I’m getting ahead of the story, but I feel I ought to give you this bit of background now. ‘Watersprites’ is my word. The word has been used for centuries to describe nymph-like creatures that lived in pools and lakes – a few could well have been the first visitors, none of whom survived to have families … they simply died out. Mostly.

These humanoids, watersprites, as diverse in their nature and culture as we humans are, travelled from a system of planets many thousands of light years away. They travelled in a form of stasis, frozen in spaceships made from water, hard frozen into shapes and forms we would think impossible. Like comets, these ships would travel indefinately in wild arcs that occasionally would be trapped by a sun and drawn to a planet that they may or may not be able to inhabit. Odds on, as we know, the greater percentage of these cargos would be lost, plunging into suns, melting into planets comprised of a poisonous soup, or so cold that our friends, these watersprites, would be frozen for eternity. But then, and very rarely, a comet such as this would enter our solar system, travel in just the right plain s to be caught by the earth and would descend, on its way splitting into thousands of parts the size of pieces of small icebergs, quickly reducing in size as they melted to units about the size of a Mini whereupon they would hit water, or land, or cities … and be destroyed or saved, the contents smashed against rock or land, the contents burning up in salty water, but in freshwater lakes and ponds there was a chance the contents would not only survive, but after some months they would come to life and break out.

Had I any idea how much time had passed by now? No. I reached for my mobile, but of course I didn’t have it. Girl in school uniform in some kind of beaver bungalow by the water in a wood by the Tyne. Mum would be worried by now. She would be thinking the worst. That was only natural. I had to go home, I knew that.

“You can stay here if you like,” Herschn said in a voice so strange, as if he were speaking through organ pipes round the back of his head.

“I need to get home.” I replied.

He understood this.

Several other heads then appeared in the water, all eager to see who was here, some friendly, some not so. I don’t think they’d had a human in their den before. In this place of theirs.

“Where do you live?” Herschn asked.

Stupidly I tried to point, I had this idea that I lived somewhere behind my left ear, but that might have taken me anywhere, instead I worked on the basis that Hersch knew the local geography. They spoke our language, they most have been mixing with us for years – like gypsies or travellers. There was something a bit Polish, maybe Eastern European or Russian about them I thought.

I indicated that I wanted to draw something, a map. Herschn slipped into the water and returned with a pad of some kind. It was more IT than cartridge paper, like a Wacom board, one of those drawing tablets my Dad has plugged into his iMac. The thing only worked in water, so I had to lean over the entrance to the pool and scribe on it under a few centimetres of water. I thought electricity and water didn’t mix, but clearly the watersprites had fathomed that one out.

I put in the obvious landmarks, the River Tyne, the hills on either side … the A69 and the row of electricity pylons that stretch from Consett to Wide Open. (It is a place, look it up, north of Gosforth on the old Great North Road, once the A1) Google it! I put in the North Sea too – I didn’t know if their geography stretched this far, but it seemed a reasonable way to try express it.

Herschn was eager to show how they expressed rivers and land and other features. It struck me that it was as good as an OS map, but turned inside out … I’ve seen Admiralty charts so could imagine how someone how spent their life on water might picture the land … We got there. Features such as bridges Herschn could pick out, indeed it seemed they had some measure of where they were within thirty miles of this spot.

While we were doing this I found it disconcerting to see out of the corner of the my eye that we were being watched all the time, but maybe one or two different people at a time – then a face I’d become familiar with would return as if to take a second look or to check up on us.

We were about to set off, Herschn indicated that he’d take me along the river, even walk me to my door – which spooked me, the thought that these creatures were travelling up and down the river in the dark and could at any stage peer in through our windows. We were about to set off when we were joined by a girl … I knew she was female because physiologically (big word, biology, I am doing the A’level after all), she had the boobs and the hips. Her name sounded like Fry-up which struck me as somewhat inappropriate name for a humanoid-fishy person so I just called her Freya which seemed to make her happy.

Freya it turned out was Herschn’s older sister – and get this, she had been told to travel with us to chaperone Herschn in case I tried to … well molest him I guess! As if I would. He was a fish-based alien for a start, however gooey he made me feel when he took me by the arm with that firm grip of his.

It was Freya who took me in her embrace this time. I closed my eyes as her jaw dislocated and these gummy lips went over my nose and mouth. Her breath, as I should have expected, was sweater than that of Herschn. There was a minty flavour to it, while Herschn’s breathe tasted more of nettles.

Did I tell you they are vegetarian? Something else I found out later so I shouldn’t have worried about them putting me on the menu, that would never have happened. And by being vegetarian of course it was far easier for them to go unnoticed for so long – crops and fruits of the forest and hedgerow going missing don’t rate so highly as missing sheep, cows or humans. They hadn’t told me at this stage that there were another race of watersprites that ate little else but meat (we’ll get to them later, they’re on earth but thousands of miles away from the little old island of Britain with its protective salty waters).

These two took me back into the pond water and we travelled just beneath the surface to a gate, beyond this, and deeper through a water filled tunnel until were able to spill into a swirling pool. It was notorious whirlpool on the Tyne that was a fairground ride to these too. They knew they had this important task to complete – to take this land-loving girl home but they nonetheless insisted on a few spins around, rolling and twisting and gyrating in the flow of the water like they were fish. I suppose they are. But they’re not … they’re no more fish than we are, but we swim. They’re no more birds, but they too can fly. With artificial wings and an engine of course. All of this I learn from them later, how the history of their home had been passed down to them and that how their technologically had been more advanced than that of humans … not by much, say a dozen generations they figured … 250+ years.

You know what people in flippers are like when they walk around the side of a swimming pool or down to the sea. There was a hint of this as the watersprites walked by my side along the path by the Tyne. Had we been seen and the observer known they may have thought that these too had cerabral palsy- a physical disability, but able to walk and run in a manner of their own. So they wouldn’t go noticed, indeed, knowing human nature, many people would consciously look away rather than stare, which suited the Watersprites fine when they were travelling around in our world incognito, which to my surprise they said they did all the time, just no one noticed and they hadn’t thought it wise to join the local swimming club.

We walked together across the bridge at Wylam. I kept a look out for my mother’s car … Dad could be out looking for me by now, the police even. Would they spot me in this group of three? Perhaps not. At the bottom of Beech Bank row Freya left us. Did she feel like a gooseberry? Do watersprites feel like gooseberries? Do they understand the concept? In any case, I had a boyfriend. I hadn’t felt the need to tell anyone that, he was hardly there to protect me and in their society what would that have meant? Who knows?

Outside are house I saw Mum and Dad through the kitchen window. There was a flap on; I didn’t need to know they were upset. It wasn’t that late. I looked at the time 9.30pm. I thought it could have been way later, 2 in the morning … but no. It wasn’t that late, but if they can’t reach you on the mobile and you ought to have been home a couple of hours they will get agitated, won’t they!?. And who would blame them? Here I was, at the end of the drive, a creature from another world holding my arm and about to kiss me.

I know it was a kiss. As his face came close to mine his jaw didn’t break in half and his eyes roll into the top of his head when they are giving you their breath, no … this was a kiss like we humans do, lips puckered up and pressed against mine, my mouth closed. No effort to do more, but I opened my mouth and I just let my tongue brush his lips. This tingle made him blush, if you can see a blush in the semi-dark on a creature that isn’t human. I think he blushed though, a peculiar iridescence filtered across his cheeks and for a moment it was as if little lights lit up behind his eyes.

Ooops. I’m too timing. Ooops. I fancy him. Oops. He’s not of this world. And quadruple oops I’d better join the swimming club and get fit if I am going to have fun with this one!

The Watersprites (Chapter Two)

The Watersprites

CHAPTER TWO

I find a path, others have been in here, perhaps they too had been taking a short cut. Not far in, twenty metres or so, there was a huge tree on which a sign had been nailed.

‘Danger Keep Out”

And below it a second sign, as if the admonition alone would not suffice the additional sign, more an explanation really.

‘Deep Water’

I suppose this ought to have put me off, but I’m the kind of person who once they are resolved to do something they stick to it. I wanted to get home and had decided that the fastest route was through this wood. I say this now by way of explanation though in all likelihood I was being lured. It became more clear as I went deeper into the wood and heard this voice, a voice of a young man singing. I would describe it as a chant, a haunting. sound that made me think of a Gregorian cant crossed with a tribal grunt or guttural bark for a beat.

Pressing on I came to a pool that was described as ‘Deep’ that I felt I could only describe as a water-filled tip, part full of rubble & junk as if this was someone’s favourite place to fly-tip, not a lake and something that gave me no impression of being deep at all. Most odd of al was the sight of some bloke sitting on the trunk of a fallen over tree, He was perched there in the light of a lantern. Edging around the pond, away from the water’s edge and keeping in the shadows I was able to move closer. The desire to see his face, to make out who he was compelled me to go on – my mind was emptied of all else. And heck, that voice of his was dead sexy!

Someone else entering the woods disturbed him, he stopped his singing and turned his head to look directly at me. I hadn’t made a sound, that was coming from behind me, Looking into his eyes I knew one thing immediately – he wasn’t human (though he was human-sized and of human form). With a movement that reminded one of a bird rising from a cliff top nest and dropping into the air this creature rose, then dropped into the water – there was barely a ripple, not even a splash just the sound as if someone had dropped an iron rod into water – and he was gone.

There were voices behind me – male & female, laughing and ….. This tree where I stood had a hollow in it so I stepped inside to keep out of sight. I wish I hadn’t because I found myself trapped. This group of three young men and a couple of girls had with them a cardboard box of bottled drink and takeaway food. Using a long branch they reached out to get a rope that I saw had been attached high up in the tree. It wasn’t long before they were taking it in turns to swing on it. One of the bottles wasn’t to drink – it must have contained petrol or meths. They made a fire in the hollow of the tree where I was hiding and lit it – to escape their attentions while they were here I shimmied up the hollow. Big mistake. For a while I tried to tolerate it hoping that I’d either choke from the smoke nor cook from the heat.

Three lads and two girls isn’t a good mix if you’re intending to cop off with someone. It wasn’t long before the two couples that formed were at it while the last guy gathered wood and looked enviously at the others as he built up the fire intent on burning the tree down.

I had to come down, to show that I was there.

“It’s one each now.” Said this git as he lifted his face out from the chubby cheeks and massive hair of the girl he was engrossed in. “You can have her, Connor.” He suggested to the lad who had been building up the fire and had as a result smoked me out.

I wasn’t having any of this, I had no desire to be groped by one of these oiks so made an attempt to escape – the water seemed the only answer, which is how I found myself 10m or so out into this pond, clothed & treading water. I got my school jacket off and shoes too – I put one shoe in each pocket, I didn’t want to lose them. I still had a few miles to walk. (I’d done my Duke of Edinburgh Survival so I knew how to meet a challenge). Not being able to see how far it was across this pool I kept just 10m or so out and not too far from the light of the fire they had burning.

By this stage the lads had got through most of their drink and one bright spark decided that it would be a good idea to throw the empties at me. I was getting tired of this by now and scared and cold. I could swim well enough to tread water but wasn’t enjoying my predicament at all – being used as target practice wasn’t fun and worst of all the sod quickly got his hand in so I had no choice but to duck beneath the water – the second time I did this I got such a shock I kicked with so much fury that I swear I got myself out of the water down to my waistband, but just as I got so high, I sank just as low and too my greater surprise there were people in the water near me – not only were they watching me, but whenever a bottle hit the water they’d swim after it and throw it back to the bank so refuelling ‘the enemy’ as I now saw them. At that point a bottle from the bank caught me on the side of the head and taking a final gasp of air I lost consciousness and sank.

Game over. Or was it?

CHAPTER THREE

Now I know why Mum has this “gay” thing over George Clooney; there is a look, a smile, a glint in the eye, the shape of his chin, the thickness of his eyebrows and hair and those broad shoulders and long arms. I loved in particular his wrists, I don’t know why. Herschn, his name, as best as I can spell it – think of the sound as a hayfever-sneeze, has these protruding veins on the back of his hands when he uses his fingers. And his smile, have I said that already? His ear-to-ear grin, his winsome, cheekiness, his loveliness … all this and he isn’t even human.

All of these feelings are to come, for now I’m a frightened girl who wonders if she is about to die or has died already. I am beneath the murky waters of a pond, this beast’s face, it’s jaw dislocated, its mouth over my nose and chin … one arm around me, part clinging to me so that I can’t let go, partly guiding me I think as it swims so fish-like through the water. Like a dolphin. I’m certain, if I saw anything at all that this creature had double-jointed knees and ankles, its legs were more fish-like that human, in water at leasat, yet he had appears human to me when sitting on the log above the water.

We got down too far for me, five or more metres – the water presses on my ears and squeezes my sinuses. I don’t like it all and at this stage I struggle, but then we enter some cavern and start to rise towards a warm glow and I find myself in what I can only describe as a den – there is a fire burning and artificial – did they have electricity? He releases me, though I am reluctant for a moment to give up the breath that he has been breathing into me, to gasp in plainair once more. Herschn climbs out beside me. I cough, pull myself away from the water’s edge and find there are what I can only describe as sun-loungers to lie on. And it is then that I can observe for the first time the transformation that takes place when a watersprite leaves water – they transmogrify (I’ve looked it up, it is a word, it means to change form). Obviously I’ve seen this many times now, so I know what takes place in detail, but this first time it was rather like a magician at the end of a show becoming a real person again – when he stood up, first his ankles, then his knees articulated so that he could stand and be less fish-like, he pulled his fingers in turn, each one, and as he did so the webbing folded away. A lizard like film over his eyes, a second eye-lid, open to reveal the human-like eyes below … and his chest, while under water, so large it reminded me of the gaping mouth of a basking shark, though on a smaller scale, collapsed into his chest. So this is how they could breathe on land.

They are not of this world; you must realise this by now. I’m getting ahead of the story, but I feel I ought to give you this bit of background now. ‘Watersprites’ is my word. The word has been used for centuries to describe nymph-like creatures that lived in pools and lakes – a few could well have been the first visitors, none of whom survived to have families … they simply died out. Mostly.

These humanoids, watersprites, as diverse in their nature and culture as we humans are, travelled from a system of planets many thousands of light years away. They travelled in a form of stasis, frozen in spaceships made from water, hard frozen into shapes and forms we would think impossible. Like comets, these ships would travel indefinately in wild arcs that occasionally would be trapped by a sun and drawn to a planet that they may or may not be able to inhabit. Odds on, as we know, the greater percentage of these cargos would be lost, plunging into suns, melting into planets comprised of a poisonous soup, or so cold that our friends, these watersprites, would be frozen for eternity. But then, and very rarely, a comet such as this would enter our solar system, travel in just the right plain s to be caught by the earth and would descend, on its way splitting into thousands of parts the size of pieces of small icebergs, quickly reducing in size as they melted to units about the size of a Mini whereupon they would hit water, or land, or cities … and be destroyed or saved, the contents smashed against rock or land, the contents burning up in salty water, but in freshwater lakes and ponds there was a chance the contents would not only survive, but after some months they would come to life and break out.

Had I any idea how much time had passed by now? No. I reached for my mobile, but of course I didn’t have it. Girl in school uniform in some kind of beaver bungalow by the water in a wood by the Tyne. Mum would be worried by now. She would be thinking the worst. That was only natural. I had to go home, I knew that.

“You can stay here if you like,” Herschn said in a voice so strange, as if he were speaking through organ pipes round the back of his head.

“I need to get home.” I replied.

He understood this.

Several other heads then appeared in the water, all eager to see who was here, some friendly, some not so. I don’t think they’d had a human in their den before. In this place of theirs.

“Where do you live?” Herschn asked.

Stupidly I tried to point, I had this idea that I lived somewhere behind my left ear, but that might have taken me anywhere, instead I worked on the basis that Hersch knew the local geography. They spoke our language, they most have been mixing with us for years – like gypsies or travellers. There was something a bit Polish, maybe Eastern European or Russian about them I thought.

I indicated that I wanted to draw something, a map. Herschn slipped into the water and returned with a pad of some kind. It was more IT than cartridge paper, like a Wacom board, one of those drawing tablets my Dad has plugged into his iMac. The thing only worked in water, so I had to lean over the entrance to the pool and scribe on it under a few centimetres of water. I thought electricity and water didn’t mix, but clearly the watersprites had fathomed that one out.

I put in the obvious landmarks, the River Tyne, the hills on either side … the A69 and the row of electricity pylons that stretch from Consett to Wide Open. (It is a place, look it up, north of Gosforth on the old Great North Road, once the A1) Google it! I put in the North Sea too – I didn’t know if their geography stretched this far, but it seemed a reasonable way to try express it.

Herschn was eager to show how they expressed rivers and land and other features. It struck me that it was as good as an OS map, but turned inside out … I’ve seen Admiralty charts so could imagine how someone how spent their life on water might picture the land … We got there. Features such as bridges Herschn could pick out, indeed it seemed they had some measure of where they were within thirty miles of this spot.

While we were doing this I found it disconcerting to see out of the corner of the my eye that we were being watched all the time, but maybe one or two different people at a time – then a face I’d become familiar with would return as if to take a second look or to check up on us.

We were about to set off, Herschn indicated that he’d take me along the river, even walk me to my door – which spooked me, the thought that these creatures were travelling up and down the river in the dark and could at any stage peer in through our windows. We were about to set off when we were joined by a girl … I knew she was female because physiologically (big word, biology, I am doing the A’level after all), she had the boobs and the hips. Her name sounded like Fry-up which struck me as somewhat inappropriate name for a humanoid-fishy person so I just called her Freya which seemed to make her happy.

Freya it turned out was Herschn’s older sister – and get this, she had been told to travel with us to chaperone Herschn in case I tried to … well molest him I guess! As if I would. He was a fish-based alien for a start, however gooey he made me feel when he took me by the arm with that firm grip of his.

It was Freya who took me in her embrace this time. I closed my eyes as her jaw dislocated and these gummy lips went over my nose and mouth. Her breath, as I should have expected, was sweater than that of Herschn. There was a minty flavour to it, while Herschn’s breathe tasted more of nettles.

Did I tell you they are vegetarian? Something else I found out later so I shouldn’t have worried about them putting me on the menu, that would never have happened. And by being vegetarian of course it was far easier for them to go unnoticed for so long – crops and fruits of the forest and hedgerow going missing don’t rate so highly as missing sheep, cows or humans. They hadn’t told me at this stage that there were another race of watersprites that ate little else but meat (we’ll get to them later, they’re on earth but thousands of miles away from the little old island of Britain with its protective salty waters).

These two took me back into the pond water and we travelled just beneath the surface to a gate, beyond this, and deeper through a water filled tunnel until were able to spill into a swirling pool. It was notorious whirlpool on the Tyne that was a fairground ride to these too. They knew they had this important task to complete – to take this land-loving girl home but they nonetheless insisted on a few spins around, rolling and twisting and gyrating in the flow of the water like they were fish. I suppose they are. But they’re not … they’re no more fish than we are, but we swim. They’re no more birds, but they too can fly. With artificial wings and an engine of course. All of this I learn from them later, how the history of their home had been passed down to them and that how their technologically had been more advanced than that of humans … not by much, say a dozen generations they figured … 250+ years.

You know what people in flippers are like when they walk around the side of a swimming pool or down to the sea. There was a hint of this as the watersprites walked by my side along the path by the Tyne. Had we been seen and the observer known they may have thought that these too had cerabral palsy- a physical disability, but able to walk and run in a manner of their own. So they wouldn’t go noticed, indeed, knowing human nature, many people would consciously look away rather than stare, which suited the Watersprites fine when they were travelling around in our world incognito, which to my surprise they said they did all the time, just no one noticed and they hadn’t thought it wise to join the local swimming club.

We walked together across the bridge at Wylam. I kept a look out for my mother’s car … Dad could be out looking for me by now, the police even. Would they spot me in this group of three? Perhaps not. At the bottom of Beech Bank row Freya left us. Did she feel like a gooseberry? Do watersprites feel like gooseberries? Do they understand the concept? In any case, I had a boyfriend. I hadn’t felt the need to tell anyone that, he was hardly there to protect me and in their society what would that have meant? Who knows?

Outside are house I saw Mum and Dad through the kitchen window. There was a flap on; I didn’t need to know they were upset. It wasn’t that late. I looked at the time 9.30pm. I thought it could have been way later, 2 in the morning … but no. It wasn’t that late, but if they can’t reach you on the mobile and you ought to have been home a couple of hours they will get agitated, won’t they!?. And who would blame them? Here I was, at the end of the drive, a creature from another world holding my arm and about to kiss me.

I know it was a kiss. As his face came close to mine his jaw didn’t break in half and his eyes roll into the top of his head when they are giving you their breath, no … this was a kiss like we humans do, lips puckered up and pressed against mine, my mouth closed. No effort to do more, but I opened my mouth and I just let my tongue brush his lips. This tingle made him blush, if you can see a blush in the semi-dark on a creature that isn’t human. I think he blushed though, a peculiar iridescence filtered across his cheeks and for a moment it was as if little lights lit up behind his eyes.

Ooops. I’m too timing. Ooops. I fancy him. Oops. He’s not of this world. And quadruple oops I’d better join the swimming club and get fit if I am going to have fun with this one!

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