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Euridice and Orpheus

Never look back

Euridice and Orpheus

I didn’t see that crack in the pavement. Well, I wasn’t looking, to be fair. I was in another world - that of my imagination, worrisome and anxious. I didn’t know that there was a real underworld: as real as my own dark thoughts.

Well, down I tumbled through the crack, past the sharp thorns, bumping on the rocks, landing with a bang on a sandy floor. Somewhere. I was bruised and bleeding, but I had survived the long flume. It smelled musty down there. Nothing would blossom or grow. 

I walked  further (it seemed a long way) and saw a man. He was so handsome that I  almost forgot to breathe.  He was wearing something that looked a bit like a blanket, but as I drew closer I could see it was clearly a chiton or something of the sort. He had a harp, and his playing and song were the sweetest thing I have ever heard: plangent, mournful, a cascade of notes each sweeter than the last. And yet it was sad: the yearning, the desire without fulfilment. He was down there, and was sitting on his rock. 

A woman approached him: she was clearly his only means of escape, she could lead him out by love, by hope, by light. She turned to me and said: “but I mustn’t look back, you know.” They gazed at each other steadily, and then she turned round and led him upwards. I looked aslant: watchful, curious, ironic as ever. This was about them. It was not about me. 

She had just reached the crack in the earth, where light was filtering through the green fronds. Nearly there. And then (I will never, ever know why) she turned round and looked at him. She looked back at her past, she refused to let it go. And he stood fixed there, for ever this time, singing, singing like a bird.

I followed her upwards. I tumbled out onto the wet grass. It too seemed to sing. I was more in the present moment than I had ever been. But I was surprised to find that it hurt so much.

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