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From a gently insidious dystopian future, a woman looks back on her life and the true love she knows she missed out on. Finally, she remains undismayed, confident that the human span isn't everything... "Along a lane threaded through the night… threaded through space: so the colours and shapes had sung for over forty years. Of daylight inside darkness. Of reassurance. Of permanence beyond the transitory. Though its mysterious and variegated surface could not alter, its effect each day, was often subtly different. Kathleen had never tired of this painting, and it always narrowed the distance in years and personal space between her and the painter she’d once known. Several times they’d met when they were young, and so close in mind had she felt, that to her they’d stayed friends in a hidden parallel ever since – despite only the occasional letter to break the silence. Perhaps the song of these colours and forms welled from sentiment? Perhaps she’d buried her love in this painting… and its shifting planes, stood in for the man who would rarely have claimed more than partial responsibility for the work he signed? Moving away from the dark glass, her reflected face left the rim of the impulsive, breathing world beyond – a landscape frequently more promising than the intermittently anxious horizons outside. Passing an unexpectant chair, she had only wished before nightfall, to check the latch. Now, she needed to open the door, to renew her faith in the real world..."
Twenty-Five Tenpenny Tales
Brindley Hallam Dennis
A collection of twenty five flash fictions. "It frightened him when she walked out alone like that in the early evenings and in the mornings. Sometimes he watched her from the upstairs windows, a flickering upright between the hedgerow trees beyond fields. She ranged a little further every time, in widening circuits of the empty space between them. Sometimes he tried to follow her, though not to catch her up, and by the time he’d put his coat on and the heavy shoes – the fields and tracks were often wet and muddy after rain – she was too far ahead for him even to be sure that he was following; not merely walking in his own unravelling circles. Sometimes, when walking out like that he knew that she was one side or another of him, perhaps ahead, and felt they were like planets in their orbits, or rather comets. Their orbits were not perfect circles around the house, but stretched, elongated ellipses. Sometimes when he walked, searching for glimpses of her through the trees along the rides and lanes, he would glance back towards the house and see it setting like a sun, glinting in the early morning light or lit with yellow panes at evening in its deep cut windows..."
The Night Study
A Danish painter is driven into exile by his father. But he can never escape the chains of the family's dark secrets. "I watched the face of the man who could destroy me and, even then, I remember thinking what a fine composition this room would make. The mighty bookcases indistinct in the darkness, the fire in the grate, illuminating the faces of the two men drinking but clearly having no care or regard for each other. I had never been good enough for my father but I could always trust my younger sister to act as a bridge between him and me. It was to her that I could show my paintings, before my father destroyed them. When my father insisted that I go into the family business, that was when I knew I had to leave. But at regular intervals I would row over the lake to see her when my father was away. When she told me he was making her marry his old business partner I wanted to go and confront him but I did not really have the courage and was too easily persuaded by my sweet sister not to do anything. On the night of the wedding I stayed on the other side of the lake, looking at my old home lit up in festivity. As the music died I rowed over to where I knew my sister would be waiting. That night we said our last farewells, for the next day she would be leaving for Copenhagen. I knew the composition we made was beautiful. Angrily I threw myself into painting, feeding on my melancholy. I tried a palette of blacks and greys but could not cope with these. Instead I painted the summer fields of my childhood, all greens and yellows and a bright blue sky. I despised my weakness. Even more so when I was taken up by the London art market, my bright daubs becoming popular with the bourgeoisie because enough influential critics liked them..."
What if the dead could apologise for leaving you? "The first thing you have to take in – if you're fairly young, that is – what you have to try to imagine is a world where people never heard anything from anyone among the departed. There was no message, not of any type … So, from a world in which there was no such communication, to one in which sooner or later just about everyone would get word. When the phone calls started it was amazing…"