house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Ourense, May 2012

Hot springs. We're late for the 'civilised' - bathrobe, cap and slippers - springs. We walk to the forest.

Like walking to a witches' sabbath. Steam comes out of the forest floor. trees seem to whisper. The smell of sulphur slithers inside nostrils and stays there, florid, unwelcome.

We pass by some other lost souls, coming out. 'The first pool is too hot', they whisper. 'Try the third.'

I aim straight for the first but Niki's faster. I walk to the second, you and Kiwi take the third. I lower myself in gingerly and wait. Picture it: a bed of moss and mud, then hot honey scalding my aching limbs; above, poisonous gas and steam settle on my closed eyelids; above, a frisson of dark leaves, a creaking of dry branches, the hoot of an owl; above still, the moon looks like a golden loaf inside a swarm of twinkling crumbs.

I can hear you chatter in the next glade. Later you come to me and lay down on my bed of moss, inside this reeking pool of honey and stars. We chat, my head on your chest, your fingers tangled in my hair, we watch the glowing moon.

Remember the last time we came here: I dropped my hairpin in the pool. You searched the dark water, stones, moss, everywhere. Your fingertips burned.

On the way home, talking about some friends, we decided to give them different names, in case the kids are listening. 'Mike' I said. 'I wanted to say that' you shouted and slammed the wheel. 'And...' - then we both said at the same time: 'Rose'. A chill. Silent wonder. Of all the names imaginable, in the same instant we'd chosen the same two. Old magic.


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