30th July

The Other Side

It was a low, wooden, blue door with no handle or latch. It had made no sound when opened, not a creak nor a groan; but when closed, the sound it made, though soft, was one of firmness and finality.

The first and immediate effect that this had was to make one of them try to open it again, despite the absence of handle or latch. When, on the other side, she had pushed, the door had yielded. When she pushed and pulled now, the door did not yield.

Her companion said, ‘So we cannot go back.’

She replied, ‘Should we not have come through?’

‘What else could we do? The wall might have gone on for ever.’

They looked at the wall. As before, it was too smooth and too tall for them to climb, and as before it stretched as far as they could see in both directions. Yet it did not seem unfriendly: its stone was of a warm, red hue, and when they put their hands to it they felt how it still held the heat of the sun.

‘I thought the day would soon be over,’ she said, ‘but look!’ She pointed to the sky, which was blue, and dotted with very white fluffy clouds that did not seem quite real. Yet the sunshine felt real enough, and so did the cooling breeze.

‘There is no road along the wall on this side,’ her companion said, ‘and no road or path going away from the door. What will we do?’

Before them stretched a vast expanse of short grass and moss such as you might find on the upper slopes of a hill. And perhaps the ground did rise, but in a gentle, not an intimidating, way.

She took a few steps from the door. The turf was both soft and firm. A phrase from some walking guide came back to her: good easy going along broad smooth ridges. There were no ridges, no visible peaks, just the slope, yet it seemed to invite them onto it.

‘Let’s go for a walk,’ she said. ‘In that direction. All right?’

‘Yes,’ her companion said. ‘I was tired before, but no longer.’

Reader: Sharon Mackay
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Harmonium and Piano: Kit Downes
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