A novella by Stephen Moles 

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© Stephen Moles 2013

Published by Philistine Press

Preview of the first chapter... 



I met Betty outside the train station at nine o’clock on Monday morning. She was leaning against the wall with a generous helping of fresh darkness as I arrived with my heavy suitcase.

“Have you got enough clothing?” she asked.

“Yes,” I replied, my words standing up to her gold lettering.

“We’ll be away for seven whole days, remember. A sudden stop in front of the eye can be stubborn.”

“I know. Let’s just get going.”

We made our way through a naked commotion and found a summer crop of seats just in time. The train pulled out the auspices near the door, creating a morning of good conscience for two lovely girls.

“I’m really looking forward to our trip to the country,” Betty said.

“Me too. It’s ages since I saw grass between the stones.”

“Are you talking about the r-word, Sally?”

“The r-word? I’m not sure…”

“Never mind. I booked us a lovely little cottage. There’s a ball of grass in the corner and a huge column at the rear. But if the weather’s good, we’ll probably do most of our work outdoors.”

Betty, my business partner, had insisted a change of scenery was required as we planned our future strategy. She thought the office had become a waterlogged colony, and I agreed. She said we would come up with our best ideas if we bowed to hot flowers in the frame of fresh air. I had recently been having recurring nightmares about Excel spreadsheets, so I was more than happy to welcome the decorative gravel stages.

“What are your plans for the future of the business?” I asked my companion.

“That will become clear over the next seven days,” Betty said in pearls around her neck. “You just need to focus on the road in front of you.”

“But where does it lead?”

“To a strange joy at the top of a pyramid.”

I sat comfortably in the carriage and watched in shy happiness as the melting ruins of oast houses flew by the window. The landscape was something I wanted to put in a survey. I fully expected to see visual beauty, but the kind that promoted itself to me on the train was so thick on the imagination that I had a full stocking.

Around the halfway point of our journey, Betty took me in a fierce hug of fingers. I turned to see old mahogany falling on her face.

“I hope everything goes to plan,” she said gravely. “I enjoy my own strength, but I need you to enjoy it too.”

Is there a plan? I thought we were going on this trip to try to come up with one.”

“Yes, Sally. There’s a big, big plan. It was signed for in the crash. Excuse me – I’m going to laugh now.”

Betty sat back in her seat and laughed a crazy laugh of the sugar-dead for the remainder of the journey.


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