CHAPTER 1

They, that we knew then, were a rare strange breed indeed, long-limbed children striking sparks with old clothes on young frames, and when I think of them now by the cold light of a first morning coffee it is with regret. I have become something removed, visible in the right light but always, always out of the office…And they, by now somewhere in the far north of town in a glowing lamplit room upstairs, are making electrical crackles to keep warm, stitching moths wings, spinning printed wallpaper like before. We will never see their kind again. But I have you to make these cheques out to, you have me to tell you when you should keep your damned head down. We get by. I will say Let That Be Our Legacy, not some strung-out stale smoke fantasy but the real taste of butter on brown bread, sunshine and rain at a funeral, the restless feeling at the turn of the seasons, the bus ride home from work with good music playing loud, the smile more precious than all of life. I wrote a letter to the relevant authorities to tell them that time is on our side. We sleep in oysters. We get by.



CHAPTER 2

Slowly, then, I had come to regard them as friends, and as the heralds of some yet undefined change in the plan, my natural reticence notwithstanding. Then they were gone. A year passed, and longer, and I thought about them sometimes when the old headaches came back and my routine at the office was disrupted. But not for long. You were here for always, you said, and I determined never to make you sad by wandering too far amongst the clouds behind my eyes. Come back. Stay home. Be around, for a change. In November, they wrote. In a child's hand, the letter said: "We made this for you." The parcel was wrapped in fabric cut from the clothes they had never worn well. It meant something to me, I kept it close, even after all.



CHAPTER 3

The argument was long and without a reason, except that it was caused by pressures which were real enough. I sat and I watched them both disappear into the small, black places they made for themselves until, at the last, at the end of something, he gave a bellow and stalked from the room. She and I only remained, and she didn’t see that as he left, he wore for a moment the face of a great brown bear with matted hair and bared white fangs. Still, I was glad to be back with them, though the disquiet I had known before was multiplied. We worked on the old projects, even with a presentiment of failure. Or more the sense that success or failure was irrelevant now. And the animals would come and go. He was the bear again only once, some weeks later, stood at the sink washing dishes. I thought then about washing up on camping holidays in the South West, birdsong and the early evening chill in the grey-blue light, and I reached out to touch the fur at the base of his skull and I knew then she was behind me and I knew nothing more until I woke up here with the ticking of the longcase clock and the sun on the sampler over the bed that reads ‘Lo!’ with the picture of the gate to the garden. I am tired, though I have slept. Someone is moving around in the kitchen.