Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Message in a Bottle

Make it all your own, then share it out. Velvet Blake carved the words into the piece of driftwood she had found that morning and pinned them above the door to the tiny room with its big bed. She was living the good life, a born-again pig farmer in the commune of good-lifers in the sleepy village of little Winchendon. Mostly she was glad. She liked the pigs. She especially liked the the large white sow called Violet, who would lay her vast bulk down before her in every inconvenient place and wait to be tickled.
She also liked the boy who bottled mineral water, called Martin, though it made her laugh to think of anyone mad-fool enough to think of paying for water. Still, she was thinking that moment of inviting him to sleep with her in the very high featherbed. It was cool. Whatever he decided, it would be cool.
She followed the staircase of horseshoes up to the room. The door was open and the fire was burning in the grate. Baby Hoof was in his crib, his blue face dark as a wet stone beneath her gaze. Velvet Blake feeds him hoof jelly, boiling up the hooves of lame fairies to pacify his colic. Which is nice of her, she thinks, and a mark of how far she has come in the way of communal living.
She only notices the bottle when she straightens the Jilly Cooper novels on the windowsill, squares them up against Dick Francis and The Hobbit. It is one of Martin's, corked with a single message  inside it written on a rizla paper. Tenderly she unrolls it. Baby Hoof is utterly still, quiet as the dead. The message reads: Can I warm my hands by your fire?
And she turns, whips round before the fist sized scar above her heart has time to ache and sees him, Martin, a half-smile on his face, waiting for her response. She closes his eyes with her one hand and leads him under her new sign: Make it your own, then share it out.

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