I switch on the animus.
I remember the day Robbie showed me how to time travel though he called it something different. I was in the garden lying on a rug in the hidden place where they could not see me from The House and I, thankfully, could not see them. Back then it was when I was alone that I did not feel lonely. Robbie understood this; only he knew how to be with me and not upset me. He was sensitive to these things as was the way in those days before the growing up.
Even when hidden I could sense The House was very close. I turned over onto my side and looked back up the garden. From my vantage point and prostrate position I could see both under the intervening low hanging branches of the trees and over the tops of the shrubs and flowers, through to the arbour gate; the portal that separated my life from theirs. It remains my favourite perspective even to this day. A sprawling clematis grew around the arch of the wooden frame and was now in full bloom, the tangled wire-frame of its flowers, stems and leaves providing additional cover from unwelcome eyes and ears.
The arbour gate swung open and Robbie appeared. His expression was blank. He stood under the arbour's arch and scanned the garden, then he slowly crouched down and sat on his haunches. He smiled and I knew then that he was pretending not to have spotted me. I was annoyed. I didn't want Robbie to play these types of games with me. I wasn't a little girl anymore. I coughed loudly to alert him that I was aware of his presence and to display my irritation. I turned onto my other side, closed my eyes and waited for him to approach.
I didn't answer him.
"Do you know what memory is?"
I sat up and looked at him. He was still smiling but his eyes were now scanning my face, checking my expression before eventually settling on my own eyes. I understood that he was trying to see into me, to gauge whether I was ready to hear what he had to say.
"That's a stupid question. Of course I do."
He sat down next to me on the rug and looked ahead. He sighed deeply and then whispered:
"Would you like to meet your mother?"
"My mother is dead." I whispered back, feeling slightly queasy.
"But would you like to meet her?" he persisted.
"Yes" I think I said, or maybe I just thought it. 1.761.891.73
Robbie activated his animus and a small keyboard appeared on his lap. A rainbow of lights hovered above the keyboard and the air shimmered around its colours. Sometimes a colour would come into sharp focus but then it would blur and disappear into the background as another colour became prominent in the foreground. At other times the rainbow twitched in the air and morphed into a ridged metallic strip composed of many shades of verdigris and grey monochrome; like a piece of weathered corrugated iron that has been worked one last time by human hand, its ridges repeatedly hammered until crudely flat. At the same moment as the rainbow switched to this long indented metal plate a crackling sound and something like the voice of a broken doll discharged from the keyboard.
"What is that?" I asked Robbie with a voice that I hoped didn't sound either too scared or too naive.
"Some might call it a trompe l'oeil but it is in fact your memory box." He stared at me and his face became serious."Where would you like to meet your mother? Here in the garden, in The House or...?" he asked.
"At The Scarp" I interruped him. I was excited now. I looked at him imploringly, "Please. Can I meet her at The Scarp?"
Robbie smiled again.
"Of course, that is such a beautiful place. I didn't know you had been there."
"I haven't." I answered abruptly and sensed that I should explain myself to him. "I just know it from books I've read in The House; her books and those written by others. I also saw it briefly in a film my uncle showed me last summer. You weren't here. It was the day you crossed the train tracks. Uncle put on the film and from behind the projector he told me what the images meant. He was like a narrator; it was strange the way he spoke, as if his voice was part of the film but at the same time it seemed as if his voice was inside my head and nowhere else. He said that my mother had found The Scarp by accident when she had been on one of her special walks, the ones where she left her animus in The House so no one could find her."
As I spoke the rainbow and keyboard seemed to freeze momentarily and the air around them became even more distorted. Robbie placed his fingers on the keyboard and told me to close my eyes.
I am walking across a moorland towards The Scarp. It is early morning but already I can feel the heat of the sun even as I feel the cooling dampness of the dew around my lower legs. I can see my mother in the distance, motionless but not lifeless. She has her back to me and I know instinctively that she is standing at the very highest and sharpest edge of The Scarp. I will be with her soon. I want to run but looking down I see that the heather around my feet is insistant I walk. I look back up at her and am about to call to her when she turns around. I see her face and stop walking. She is looking at me but there is something wrong with her expression. She starts shouting at me. At first I can't hear what she is saying so I start to walk again. My legs are getting colder and wetter. I look down and see that there is shallow water where the heather used to be. I can run to her now. I am getting nearer. As I approach more swiftly I can hear her voice. She is screaming at me.
"Go back child, go back. Oh my God. Go back."
I stop but realise as soon as I do so that the sudden absence of movement is not voluntary. I cannot move even if I wanted to. My legs are numb from the cold. I look down one last time and see that the shallow water has given way to a muddy pond into which I am sinking. I look up at my mother and cry out: to her, for her. The air shimmers between us and I realise there is no sun, only grey clouds. She has turned away and once again stands motionless on the edge of The Scarp.
Hallock Hill – Villages of the Black Earth
Hong Kong In The 60s – Empty House, Lonely Mouse
Anna Meredith – Rhododendron
Björk – Hidden Place
Múm – Green Green Grass Of Tunnel
The House In the Woods – Bucolica
Epic45 – We Grew Up Playing In The Fields Of England
July Skies – Distant Showers Sweep Across Norfolk Schools
Jane Weaver With Demdike Stare – Europium Alluminate
Langham Research Centre/John Cage – 4'33 No. 2
Leyland Kirby – Polaroid
Belbury Poly – Portals and Parallels
Minotaur Shock – The Downs
Ekoplekz – Outercountry
Boards of Canada – In A Beautiful Place Out In The Country
China Crisis – Jean Walks In Fresh Fields
King Of Woolworths – Kite Hill
The Advisory Circle – Here! In The Wychwoods
Kemper Norton – Windwept
William Basinski – Melancholia I
The Lowland Hundred – The Bruised Hill
The Memory Band – Facing the Granite Country
These New Puritans – Field of Reeds
Ariel Pink – Cemetary Suite
Black Mountain Transmitter – Drawn In Silhouette
John Cage – In a Landscape
Harold Budd And Brian Eno – Wind In Lonely Fences
XTC – Chalkhills And Children
1.761.891.73There is a definite and noticeable glitch at this location which may have arisen when transferring the event from the original recording. The original recording is now lost so the glitch cannot be repaired. Please do not attempt to repair the glitch as it is evidence that the original recording once existed. Thank you for your understanding.