31st July

This is It?

They had been walking in silence but neither of them knew for how long. The sun had not moved or, rather, where they were did not seem to have moved in relation to the sun. The slope rose, almost imperceptibly. The turf continued both soft and firm.

The one said to the other, ‘How are you?’

‘I’m fine,’ the other answered.


‘Not at all.’

‘I never thought it would be like this,’ the one continued. ‘I couldn’t imagine what it would be like. I didn’t know if there would be anything.’

‘Sunny uplands,’ the other said. ‘Didn’t you believe in sunny uplands?’

She recalled the phrase from a guidebook that she’d found so appealing: good easy going along broad smooth ridges. Wasn’t that a promise of something? Yet how could it have related to this?

She saw her companion wipe her brow: the first and only sign of discomfort in however long it had been. ‘Are you hot?’ she asked.

‘I was, but no longer,’ came the reply. They were walking now down a green track shaded by old trees and bounded by banks of wildflowers. She did not understand how the change could have happened without her noticing, but the open hill was gone. She did not really mind. Probably the track would lead to the hill in time. But what was time?

She thought, Is this what happens when you step through the blue door? It took an effort even to remember the existence of the door and that it was blue. Why remember it when there was no going back through it?

‘Do you think this is it?’ she said.

‘Oh yes,’ her companion said. ‘What else could there be?’

‘There could have been anything. But why do I know this from somewhere?’

‘Perhaps you’ve been here before?’

‘No, I don’t think so.’ She paused, and could hardly tell which she liked better – the pausing or the walking. ‘Tell me,’ she said, ‘do you know, do you remember, your name?’

Her companion shook her head. ‘No. And you?’


‘Does it bother you?’

‘It did, but no longer.’

Suddenly she wanted the open hill again. She knew it would be there.

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