• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 01

One way… or another

'Travelling through the world will bring some strange experiences,' said Diana. 'I should know.'

She blew a ring of hot breath into the frosty afternoon, then put her finger to its centre. 'My mentor,' she said, 'was a woman of immense charm. Her education had come entirely through being given a library made up of fiction. She told me that she had never read anything else, and that enjoying both classical and modern writers had resulted in an inability to refuse seeing truth. For her, even the most challenging situations were as clear as glass.'

We had reached the end of the path, and I saw that our destination was not Diana's home. She had brought us to the muddy bank of a broad river. 'It looks deep,' I said.

Diana said, 'That was not where I began, and I knew that I was too late, but still I begged her to change the range of my vocabulary.'

The water was heavy with sediment, and on either side of the path dense beds of thorns and thistles closed us in. Diana drew me to the edge of the bank, and we sat on the dry mud. It had baked so hard that the surface had cracked into a jigsaw of flakes. I picked one off and shied it towards the opposite bank.

Diana said, 'I didn't see that it was time for me to graduate, even when she pried my fingers from the door then locked it behind me.'