From Teenage Rambles
By Natalie Basnett
Location: Philip’s Park, Clayton, Manchester
At first it was exciting, so much to look at, so much to talk about. It was on this daily walk that at seventeen and nineteen they had planned out their life together, wandering aimlessly through nooks and crannies, only their conversations leading the way.
But now they were accustomed to this walk, first among the grave stones and beneath the boughs of the bare willow tree and then over the bridge by the wood ear and on to the paths that were now covered with decomposing leaves.
He didn’t need to mention the slim trees that sprouted so close to one another they hugged, he looked in their direction and her eyes followed knowingly. She no longer stopped abruptly begging him to ‘wait, wait a moment and listen’ to the water carousing by, she merely slowed her pace and paused and his ears pricked up to hear what might once have been a body, disinterred from its grave, being swept downstream.
They shuddered now, recomposed and commenced their walk into Tulip Valley. From here they could see the great dome that rose and fell in the distance. They marvelled at it and wondered if it was warm and firm, like a great big belly. They each placed their hands across their own and breathed deeply.
She caught a glimpse of the magpies; she wished she carried his child. She had held her stomach longer than was usual, he was thinking it now too. He longed for his seed to grow in her. He shifted through her in the dark at night; it was comforting to know that they both wanted this.
Then each month the blood emptied from her. They knew the words by heart: it would happen, they would try again when it was over.
They walked at an easy pace on to the embankment by the trees. He observed a brown leaf that had curled in to a tight cocoon. It hung alone. He wanted to be inside it, encased in its soft papery skin. She saw him looking. ‘What is it?’ she asked, inviting him out of the silence with which it had momentarily provided. He gestured toward it and his sad brown eyes hung there for a moment longer. She peered at it and then gently took his hand, leading him away. They crossed over the green boggy land and left by the usual gate.
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