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It made him resentful, and he thought he would equalise things by not coming himself. He could be hard: but he would not be wet.  He gradually came to see their relationship as a rock in a stream: an immovable object surrounded by eddies and swirls.


She took him to a prehistoric stone circle called The Nine Sisters. She was enraptured, and trotted round admiringly. In the middle was an oak tree where silly female pagans hung votive offerings. The local council, in an understandable bid for control, had tried to discourage this practice  by sawing off the lower branches. But the celebrants were not dissuaded, and climbed up to the higher branches (or were lifted there by compliant swains). Their objects hung glitteringly in the leaves. A bit of tin, a sliver of glass, a bright scarf,  signifying what they wished for most: love from the unlikeliest sources, no doubt. She  wanted to add her own sacred object, and laughingly scrambled up and hung her brasssiere in the tree, although he remonstrated. Perhaps it will rain, she said, and then all the wishes will meld together and the prayers be answered.


In the weeks that followed, he found himself becoming more  monumental. He worked hard to remove any expressivity from his features. He needed to take a stand against all this wetness and mobility and to re-establish the proper order. Painstakingly he fashioned a new sign for the Nine Sisters site. He dragged himself there (the last steps were painful), pulled down the old sign and erected the new one. As he took his place in the circle, he felt sinews and bones turn to stone, his strong body becoming rectangular. As his breathing slowed and his eyes dimmed, he looked admiringly at his sign: The Ten Brothers.




They had been together for what felt like aeons. It is not the case that opposites attract, he thought: sometimes they repel. She was volatile and inconsistent: he was steady and stern. He began to think of her as a watery sort of person. She liked the rain,  wept easily: when she came, he could have sworn that she spurted some kind of liquid. Surely that was a male prerogative? 

Photo courtesy Alan Everatt
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