Monday, 3 September 2018

Wood Nymph

By Roger Noons


a glass of homemade lemonade


Beyond the garden is a wood. In my grandfather’s time it had been an orchard, but over more than thirty years it has become overgrown. Fruit trees battle with birch, holly, blackthorn, ivy, numerous grasses and occasional wild flowers. I am grateful my father, concentrating on his playwriting, has neglected the site. Every time I climb over the fence offers the possibility of adventure.
    Mama is never happy about my visits, but I believe that is because having spent most of her life in a city, she has a fear of the unknown. She also becomes annoyed when I return in torn clothes, scuffed shoes, with scratches on my arms and legs. 
    ‘You will catch some disease, Alice,’ she tells me. When she remonstrates with my father, his stock answer is, ‘Leave her alone, it’s all part of growing up.’ 
    Last Saturday afternoon, while my father was in London and Mama was entertaining one of the ladies she regularly has lunch with, I was sitting on the fallen trunk of a silver birch. There was a slight breeze rustling leaves, but the predominant sounds came from scurrying songbirds and occasional screeches from jays. I spotted a robin. His breast was beginning to fade, but in his mouth was a caterpillar. As I watched, he flew up into a holly tree disappearing into a cluster of overlapping leaves.
    I kept still and he came out again, flew away but was back within a minute with another grub in his beak. His antics continued and even when I stood up, he didn’t seem to be put off. I saw a tree which might give me a better view, so I climbed up about six feet until I found a position where I could sit between two branches. 
    He continued his visits and I watched as he perched on the edge of a bowl of dried leaves and soft moss. As I looked for a better vantage point, I heard laughter and looking down saw a young woman with a dog. Usually when people bring dogs, as soon as they are clear of the boundary hedge, the animals are set free. This Heinz 57 was kept on the lead, tied to a holly tree and given a handful of biscuits. The woman strolled around, humming to herself, plucked a stem of grass and ran the seeded end along her bare arm until she shivered and giggled.
    The dog let out a short woof.
    ‘Quiet Rufus.’
    As I watched a man arrived, put his arms around her and they began to kiss. I could see the parting in her hair just a few feet below me. Their kiss seemed to last forever and I was wondering how they were able to breathe, when their mouths drew apart. The woman’s cheeks were red and her lipstick was smudged. She reminded me of a character in a pantomime and I had to press my hand against my lips to stifle any giggles. 
    He pulled the woman towards him but she held up her hand.
    ‘Let’s go over there,’ she said, pointing. ‘We can sit down. Besides, it feels like we’re being watched.’
    The man laughed. ‘Apart from us, there’s only Rufus. No one comes here at the weekend.’
    She touched his cheek with her fingertips, kissed him on his nose and smiled. ‘Come on,’ she said and took his hand.
    They moved out of my sight, but I could still hear them. Not that they talked much and then it was in whispers. After about a quarter of an hour, I heard the woman cry out and soon afterwards they reappeared, gathered Rufus and went away. I was grateful as my bum and thighs had become numb and I had pins and needles in my arms. 
    As I walked back to the house, I was sure I knew what they had been doing, but I wasn’t going to say anything. Mama would have been embarrassed.

About the author


Roger is a regular contributor to Cafe Lit’s Blogspot.

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