I walked back across the track a couple of nights ago with the same friend who made the original journey with me, Otter*; we decided to go on an adventure despite the darkness, and I’m so glad we did! It was one of those surreal, half-imagined, half-real experiences that I’m so glad I shared with someone, because then you can at least look at someone else and say; “I did experience that, didn’t I…”
It was a clouded night, low and rolling, but the city lights were reflected; they made the air half-shadowed, lit in whites and greys, light enough to see each other’s faces but dark enough to be a dusky shadow. The ceiling of clouds was broken by slashes, and I ended up walking with my face turned to the sky, watching as the stars spun behind the white and grey, rents of black that sent the field stumbling. And the road; it went on forever, the fields stretching either side of it, following the rows of pylons into the dusk – if we’d half-closed our eyes, succumbed to a dreaming drowsiness, we could have missed the cross-path and walked on forever into the dusky lands…
As an aside: Otter and I were talking about the early Greek idea of afterlife, the endless nothingness, Achilles and “Don’t try to sell me on death, Odysseus / I’d rather be a hired hand back up on earth / Slaving away for some poor dirt farmer / Than lord it over all these withered dead”; and talking about mirrors being portals to another world, a shadowed reflections of our own, and how you’d get back if you stepped through. I promptly pulled China Mieville’s Looking For Jake off the shelf when I got home!
The railway was another world again, reached through a tunnel of tangled branches and upright trunks; an orange sodium capsule of light with bright tracks, the gleam of the rails forming another barrier, another path, industrial and warm and still in the midst of the dark landscape – and as unreachable as the mirror-world in the lakes from our perch above, walking across the footbridge that looked down over the strange landscape.
And then the lakes; we sat peacefully on the steps for a while, looking out over the narrow bridge as it stretched between the reflections: the lakes on either side so still that they were just stars and cloud, no ripples, no wind, nothing moving. We watched as people walked past the portal, lit in white and moving on with their world – while ours was still, held, waiting for something. We had the hum of the road overlaying the stillness, the stars wheeling overhead through the slashes of sky, talking about nothing: and the real world beckoning for us to choose the walk across the long path and the step through the portal ahead.
And then, looking back from the portal across the stillness of the lakes:
I have no idea what or how this is going to come out in my writing, but I’m going to be very interested to see how it does!
*They picked the nickname, and it’s now a running joke that I’m trying to get a whole woodland collection!