Italo Calvino’s novel ‘If On a Winter’s Night a Traveller’ is fascinating. Each chapter restarts the same lost book with a totally different cast of characters. I thought I’d offer something similar for these autumn nights, a few paragraphs from the books I hope to develop for publication in the future. The first is called:
A Story of Love and Gravity
I knew she’d be here. I just knew it. She would have to be late and slip amongst the people unnoticed then watch from a corner. That would be her style. I wonder if Laurie’s noticed her yet. I bet he’s been looking out for her as much as I have. We’d both deny it, I’m sure. We’d feign surprise at the very thought. How old is she now? Twenty-three. It’s six years almost exactly since I first saw her. She was at the end of the first year of Sixth Form then. She was seventeen.
“Hello again,” I say.
“You look really well.”
She doesn’t look healthy but she looks interesting. It’s hard to describe her effect. She isn’t tall but seems it; she isn’t pretty but you feel she must be because she is so attractive. There is a beauty about her, but nothing that is traditional. She is oddly old-fashioned, something from the Thirties. She is skinny and her facial bones are angular. Her brown eyes shine but their surrounds are grey from little sleep. Her hair is a fashionable mess: careless and scruffy, longish but clean. She has a habit of redirecting it around her head as if it were liquid, adjusting its flow with a comb of fingers. The act takes effort, as if the hair was leaden. All I know she is wearing is an ankle length overcoat. It is expensive camel hair, possibly vicuna or cashmere. It hangs elegantly. She wears it like an evening dress. So far, she hasn’t taken her hands out of her pockets. She looks annoyed, bunching her coat into a pile as she joins her pocketed hands across her stomach.
“Do I know you?”