MD Kerr

These Things Do Happen

An excerpt from These things do happen, a short story published in Open: An erotic anthology by Oshun Books, April 2008

Book cover: OPEN - An erotic anthology by South African women writers: link to"Certain things are simply, embarrassingly, true. A hard frost leaves a thick crystalline crust around the pavement debris, the hedgerows, the bare twigs, and the grass stems. Even in winter, the time for frosts, the moon is nevertheless full every 28.25 days and this bright light will reflect off the tiny ice crystals. Churches still have bells, which they’re prone to ringing. If you run fast with someone, you will laugh and be breathless. Before you know it, you’re running hand-in-hand over fields of diamonds under a brilliant moon through the sound of pealing bells. If you then step into the church and hear the Miserere sung for the first time, you will know: all the stories are true. These things do happen. So it’s true: they walked on frosted fields of juniper and lamplight; he held her hand. All the clichés have a foundation, somewhere and some time, in plain objective fact.

Some moments will be frozen forever in gleaming colours. The first time you see a shining green field against a deep lavender sky of cloud with the sunshine turning an oak tree the bright colour of an oil-coated green olive, you will remember. The edges of such a sharp moment can cut you, if you handle it carelessly. Before looking at it again, you should always take several deep breaths, steel your heart, and make your face hard and jocular. Otherwise, it will leap up at you all at once, fill your vision, and fling you back in time so fast that your stomach heaves. In severe cases, you might retch, begin to cry, or spend several days addled and confused. Other such moments to beware are as follows: eating blackberries directly from a hedge in the countryside on a day of dry, old sunshine; windswept beaches in wintertime; stumbling across the overgrown ruins of a cottage deep in the woods; sitting on a frozen river bank; and of course, any combination of frost and moonlight. If you see people crying in airports, walk the other way and buy a cup of coffee and a newspaper; do the crossword. Avoid lemongrass and look away from anything in hunter green. The angel still stands at the gate with his flaming sword and he will not hesitate to cut you to ribbons. You can avoid all that by following those simple rules. Some fools rush in, though – too naïve even to realise their own danger. This garden is the only place where ignorance of the law is an excuse. Here they come – our two innocents, shyly smiling, thinking the world was made for them brand-new not half an hour ago.

It all began, as stories do, with a hedge..."

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