an indefinite large number, possibly derived from the mathematical notion that z = an unknown quantity + million. Some believe that as many alternative realities exist for each of us. All we have to do is find our own doorway and have the courage to cross whatever constitutes the liminal.
the second unknown quantity. A measurement of our own fear to accept the world as subjectively perceived. Perhaps.
to Lewis all outsiders were foreigners. He’d chosen to live in an isolated farmhouse, miles from anywhere. A morbid silence hung over the place. Few birds sang. Sometimes, in the Spring, around the time of her birthday, if she listened carefully, she caught the sound of a lost cuckoo. The joy of it lasted for days.
the ceiling was a precarious maze of cracks and bulges. At night she lay flat on her back, following the convoluted course of the river Wye from its birth at the corner of the wardrobe until its final plunge into a ridged and puckered sea above the window. It was soon over. Coarse hands over bruised flesh. A heave. A bump. A stifled groan. The ceiling fascinated her. Every line and wrinkle radiated from one place. All roads might lead to Rome, but eventually everything was allowed to melt back into the sea.
leave. Cease to occupy. Make empty.
It was only a body, a carcass, a shell. Most days it seemed like a good idea.
unigedd uffern loneliness hell
was the name of the place: The Red House. There was nothing red about it, though, unless it was shame. Grey, more like. The colour of misery. Of quiet despair…
Rare visitors called it idyllic, lying as it did in the lazy curve of the willow-flanked river. She knew different. If ever maggots squirmed in the bud they did here. The place festered with dirty, creeping, covert things. Bits of rotting frog spewed from the taps in spring. Blood-hungry gnats danced wild figures-of-eight over dank lawns. Crows dangled blowfly warnings from barbed gibbets. Rats everywhere. Under floorboards. In wall spaces. Along rafters. And everything always mildew damp from the melancholy Welsh Marches drizzle, spreading thread-bare blankets of curdled mist over the unworkable heavy clay.
SEVEN CROWS A SECRET:
was Lewis her real or surrogate father? Or did he just represent patriarchal authority?
We all know he was years older than her.
What makes women stay?
the square symbolises the earth of matter and rationalism, while the circle symbolises the encompassing world of spirit, heart and feeling. Thus the squaring of the circle was the philosophical pursuit of the ancient sciences of religion. The looking-glass itself was square. Its frame, being heavily hand-carved and the work of an exceptionally gifted craftsman, was answerable to no one, but most people would have called it round…
And where did she go?
the lower part of us, like the allegory of the Great God Pan, obeys the laws of biology. The upper half will not. The rhythms of sacred order reveal themselves through dream and symbol, myth and legend, but we close down our senses, allowing them to shrivel in the raging fires of rational progress. We blunder on, surrounded by worlds we cannot enter, colours we cannot see, songs we cannot hear. We see as real what is only illusion. We refuse to consider what is.
dread, terror. Nevertheless she had to do it. For a week the house was buffeted by violent winds crashing down over the Black Mountains. Slates had come loose. A slow drip wept from the sea above the bedroom window. Bucket in hand, armed with a stick, she edged up the dog-leg stairs to the attic. A pale gleam in a far corner reflected the light sneaking in under the rafters. Life was too full of sameness not to creep along the unboarded beams and feel into the darkness. The looking-glass was large, almost too big to carry, difficult to manoeuvre downstairs. When she finally got it onto the kitchen table she saw the glass was spotted with age. The frame was filthy: clogged with years of muck and matted cobwebs; not even that obscured its beauty. Some master craftsman had carved an intricate pattern of leaves, flowers, and sinuous coiling branches. Its making had been an act of worship. A celebration. She looked into the glass and saw her reflection, pale green and dim. Her hair, once so thick and vital, so brilliantly copper coloured, was scraped back from her face, deadened to a pale, fuzzy ginger. Lines of fatigue and stress stood out more clearly than ever. Old. Old, before her time. Setting aside her bitterness, she began to clean away the grime. Straightening, she glanced into the glass, instinctively pushing back a stray lock of hair. And in that first split second, still in the act of raising her head, she saw that her own reflection had turned away, looking at something over its own shoulder. Then it snapped abruptly round, blinking, staring squarely back at her.