Will this woman also consider stopping off for a coffee? After all it is about coffee time! Somehow I doubt it, she looks like she’s in a world of her own, wandering through Alice’s magic mirror.
It’s Thursday, so it’s the dark side…..
Below you will find part two of my story The Invited, a story that has grown out of some collaborative writing started by Margaret and Helen. Last week’s story was written by my creative writing group colleagues, with just a little from me at the end. This week you have no one to blame but me.
This project was started by Andy Townend and he invites you to join in with writing, poetry, or images. Please visit Andy’s excellent blog, and catch up with his dark side story. It can be found here.
The Invited: Part Two
With white knuckles she tightly grips the steering wheel, frozen by indecision. She watches in complete surprise as a deer with two young make their way past, only feet away.
They seem to be totally unconcerned by her presence and she sits amazed, watching the dappled light run across their tan coloured sides as they move into the trees ahead of her. Helen is transfixed, and she switches off the engine, as two more deer join the others. In the stillness she realises that she has been holding her breath. Then she’s aware of the sound of birdsong and, suddenly, of how hot she is. Opening the car door she’s astonished to be engulfed in hot, humid air. But this is April; the first of April, she thinks, and it was cool and spotting with rain not ten minutes ago. Helen is frowning with a mixture of puzzlement and disbelief.
Then she notices the red arrow nailed to a post. She can’t understand quite how she’d missed such an obvious sign before. It points to a narrow path that leads through the trees. Curiosity once more prevails over caution, and getting out of the car into the almost tropical heat, she looks around at the woodland with a more intense gaze, realising that there’s a Tree-Fern like the ones she’s seen in Tasmania, and then comes a screech followed by a flash of green feathers. Of course, she thinks, this is a tropical garden. How clever, and she looks up, expecting to see the glazing bars of a geodesic dome, but all she can see between the foliage of a flowering tree is blue sky. These are the Erewhemos Gardens, she thinks somewhat absently to herself, and then she tries to remember where she’d heard the name before, but she can’t.
“Well,” she says out loud, “I’ve been invited here, so…….”
So Helen follows the narrow path and is soon having to push her way through ferns and laurel. All around in the humid air are Eucalyptus, Sassafras and Tree-Ferns. A few minutes later she comes to a wide, gurgling stream where she splashes her face to cool off in the sticky heat. and then, wading across to the far bank, she sees that the stream marks the boundary of the forest, for ahead of her, through the thinning trees is a small lichen covered stone building.
Apprehension strikes again, and she pauses nervously to look around and to listen.
Only the frontage of the building appears to be decorated, and she slowly circles it to confirm that the other three walls are indeed just plain dressed stone. Looking up at the ornate facade, it immediately reminds her of the tombs that she’d seen at the Necropolis in Glasgow. It has a classical front with fluted Doric columns. Between the columns, and fencing off the interior is an ornate iron gate that’s painted a deep red and is covered in complex geometric forms that could be tantric or Masonic symbols. Above the columns is a triangular pediment with an inscription running along its length. Helen reads it, and staggers back in shock. “Oh God….. Oh, my God!!” She can scarcely believe her eyes. She knows the name. Oh, yes, she knows that name. Shaking, she sits on a fallen tree.
Though the shock has crowded out all sense of time and place, there is no mistaking the danger implicit in the low growl that emanates from the forest.
The small village of Aihole in the south of India has innumerable temples and many of them date back well over a thousand years. How many of them are still in use is unclear; probably very few, and yet they have survived. In other places they would have been used as quarries to source building stone. I wonder why not here? So we are very fortunate to still have so many that survive here.
A quiet village scene in South India where the pace of life may seem slow but where life isn’t always easy and facilities are rudimentary. Yes, there is electricity, and you do see the occasional satellite dish, but the way of life changes only slowly.