My height wouldn't matter if I had a ladder, I thought as I struggled to kiss the man named Independence Gray. It was an inversion of the songline: the only man who could ever reach me, which made me laugh, because Independence really was the son of a preacher man, though one so addicted to the shadow on the grapes that he was completely undone by his religious philosophy. And the shame of that, combined with his astonishing height, formed the coordinates for the downfall of Independence, whom I was still finding it difficult to kiss.
If I were on my own with him, I would go out and improvise a ladder; I'd build a makeshift Corney Reach set of steps and climb up the perilous slope to place my lips upon the brow of the man I like to call my own dear heart. But I cannot do that before all these people.
There is Reckless McClennahan, longing to find the path, turning her torn bits of map this way and that and asking us for improbable post-codes. There is the Original Female Drummer girl with her banners and her Temperance vest. There is Grendel's mother in her boned corset. They will all be quick to spit and judge. So here I stand, helplessly on tiptoes, straining to the horizon, puckering up and knowing beyond all certainty that if only I had a ladder, my height would not matter at all.
The copyright of this post belongs to Claire Steele