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“You think you know what silence is,” says Stephanie, sipping from the hip flask and handing it to me, “and then you come somewhere like this and it’s like, – you know… Like the world doesn’t reach it, or…” Her voice trails off, and I finally get to experience some of that silence she’s talking about. The echoes of her words take a while to fade, and the memories of the heat of the day, sun glinting from car roofs, toilet stops, radio chatter, ale, roast lamb and arguments in the Crow and Brooch.
Silence comes down from the sky and up from the ground. It fills the night as surely as the cool darkness fills this space beneath the trees and, deeper yet, the waters of the well upon whose lichen-covered holding stones we sit. The well is ancient and holy, a black rectangle the same size and shape as our king-size bed in Clapham, pinpricked with reflected stars. At one side stands a Celtic stone cross, taller than a man, carved with interlocking lines and green with moss. The stones edging the well are uneven, hand-hewn, but worn to comfortable curves. I revel in their dry roughness at the back of my legs, the damp, springy turf beneath my hands where I lean back, and the cold, smooth water chilling our feet; I used to love being alone with her in places like this. Just the two of us, and all that night. All that history. I take a mouthful of the whisky, savouring the burn as it runs down my throat. It stops me feeling as though I need to speak. Lately, I prefer to be alone by myself.
Roz Clarke was born in Manchester to Liverpudlian parents, and raised in London from the age of four, before returning to Manchester to study psychology. Her accent is therefore a confused muddle, and her outlook on life is a similar fusion of North and South. She particularly likes pie and chips, washed down with Earl Grey.
Mr Jim Moon is a perpetual n’er’do well who owns far too many books for his own good. However this does mean he has a vast store of useless information which informs his writing and reviewing, plus provides an ample stockpile of material to talk about on his weird fiction podcast Hypnogoria