Sunday, 6 July 2008
The Girl of the leaves.
"I knew a girl once," Guy said softly.
"You always know girls, Guy. It's what you do isn't it?" Scott asked him with a grin and not a hint of jealousy.
"No, but,..." Guy began.
"But this girl was different. Of course she was. What girl isn't."
"True, but Scott, I don't mean she meant that little bit more or anything soppy like that. She was... well she was different," Guy tried to explain, but fell silent.
Scott got up from his armchair and got himself another drink. The two men had met up again on business and while neither was fond of business, they were both pragmatic enough to understand it. In the bar of the large hotel, they were the only two customers. A woman in a long black dress came in, drank a martini down somewhat carelessly and swayed out slightly tearfully. Both men tried not to think about the thousands of human stories that are to be found in hotels and buried their noses in their drinks.
"So," Scott asked amiably as he sat down opposite Guy, "What was different about this girl then, huh?"
Guy raised his nearly blank eyes to his friend and thought on the question. Then he raised his glass in remembrance of speech forgot and continued.
"She was made out of leaves," he murmured.
Scott smiled helplessly and wondered if he'd misheard.
"She was what?"
"Made out of leaves. You know, like on trees," Guy answered waving his glass around.
"Oh Guy are you drunk already?" Scott asked dryly, sipping from his own glass.
"Well I'm a little squiffy, I suppose, but I'm not drunk. Not that drunk anyway. It's like this," Guy began.
He sat forward in his chair and sighed, then got up and went to the bar. He ordered a bottle of whisky and a large bottle of ginger beer. Having fetched these necessaries, he sat down again and made himself a whisky and ginger.
"Where was I," he paused holding up his refilled glass.
Then remembering again, he continued.
"About eight years ago after we'd left university, I started work with the company. I was still living at home, couldn't afford anywhere else. A man moved into the neighbourhood with his daughter. She was beautiful Scott, really beautiful. Her hair was brown like hazelnuts, her eyes were green and bright and her skin was pale like... well like newly cut wood. I fell in love with her just looking at her. Her name was Blodweth or something similar and she told me that she was made out of leaves. Of course I just laughed, who wouldn't? I mean that's ridiculous right?
But she was angry when I laughed and wouldn't talk to me. Well time passed, I was working for the company and doing fine and we got to our first Halloween. Well Blodweth wouldn't come out to the fireworks, she said they frightened her and she hated the bonfire because the trees were burning. So she said. Exactly like that too. The trees are burning. I lit a match and she cried out and backed away. Well at first I treated it like a joke, but then I realised she was really scared of it. I blew it out and apologised and that was that.
But I couldn't stop thinking about her and after a while we were going out together and she was a lot of fun. She could make birds sit on her shoulders and in her hand. I don't think we ever made love, but it didn't seem to matter somehow. We were so much in love that all I had to do was gaze into her green eyes and I'd feel calm and sort of safe. Well it was all going fine and then I met Lou.
Lou was different from Blodweth altogether," Guy paused remembering.
"Oh Guy, you dog!" Scott chuckled warmly, then stopped as Guy shot him an angry glance.
"Hey, sorry ok. I was just kidding you. Go on. Lou, right?" he said holding up his hands peaceably.
Guy took a deep breath and sighed again.
"Well, yeah, Lou. She was as fiery and warm-blooded as Blodweth wasn't. She wanted to kiss and make love and all that. I suddenly began to miss that from Blodweth and I realised I'd have to choose one or the other. I was a damned fool Scott, I'll tell you. When I was with Blodweth, everything went right. I got promoted, I got an apartment and everything.
Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. I told Lou I was going to break up with Blodweth and we could be together. She was ok with that, we were getting on famously. So I arranged to meet Blodweth one morning at the cafe on Sidney Street.
That morning I got a paper and it was sunny. I went to the cafe and met Blodweth there. She only ever drank water I remember. She was beautiful in the sunlight. She wore a green and gold dress and her hair was bound back with a green ribbon. I swear I never saw... well anyway. I told her I'd met someone else and I apologised if I hurt her. I loved her, but it wasn't working... you know Scott, all the usual cliches you tell someone when you're trying to break up with them. I told her she was a really sweet girl, but I just wasn't in love with her any more and that it was probably for the best if we parted.
She looked utterly broken. Then she told me - 'I'm a girl made of leaves and that is why you don't love me.'
I didn't know what to say. I mean what can you say to that?
I put my paper under my arm and got up. The sky had clouded over and it began to rain. I left the cafe and she got up to follow me. I walked away - I was a fool. The rain fell hard and I dropped the paper as she reached out for me. I ducked under an awning and as I turned to her, she - she turned into a shower of leaves that fell upon the earth.
I moved soon after to Larkham soon after Lou was caught in the storm and drowned. Sometimes I wonder if she drowned in the tears of Blodweth as they fell. I was to blame. I've never married since, I am afraid to." Guy murmured.