Monday, 14 May 2018

Round 20.

20.

Andy is standing in the doorway, saying goodbye.

He is looking older and it’s not just his hair - no longer the black of his youth, more like the frost that sits heavily on the forest that is waiting for him outside the door - but also the way his speech is slurred and his body stooped.

In a moment he will drive across the forest, return home where the fire is lit and the cat waiting to be fed and then sit at his desk and translate a document sent to him by Dr Frost.

Dr Frost is not a medical doctor, he is a doctor of Philosophy and he lives in London; he hasn’t seen the forest for a long time.

He has never spoken French.

Isabella is French, though her name sounds Spanish and when Andy leaves she will drive up and park in the space Andy’s car has left behind.

She is in the car with her father who is wearing less than is advisable for such a cold day, but he is warm with happiness for being with his daughter who has come home for Christmas; he has a present for her in the car.

When she enters the house he will give it to her and she will put them on; a pair of pink, furry, tiger slippers.

They are perfect; she is wearing skinny tight black jeans and the slippers will make the slenderness of her legs something people will talk about.

She likes that.

Isabella has just finished her studies in catering but she is unsure what to do next, so home and Christmas is a good time and place for her to be.

Her brother Thomas is not there; he is lying on a beach in the Maldives. The sun is hot and Thomas is wet; he has just been diving.

He is trying to catalogue the Manta rays that swim in the ocean he has just left.

The cataloguing takes the form of photographic matching to enable the Rays to be named.

Professor Emmerson is a name he wants to use but the head of Mantra Ray naming project has used his veto.

Her name is Rosalind, she comes from Chicago and she prefers the name Sam.

The Rays real name is Xyui, a local dialect that means something like ‘the light and grace of the deep’; her mother gave it to her.

Her mother was captured before the project took shape and is now confined in an aquarium in Ocean World San Diego.

Neither Thomas or Rosalind know this, and it is possible that Xyui’s mum is also unaware.

Someone who does know this in Danielle.

Danielle is thirteen years old and she is looking at Xyui’s mum through the glass of the Aquarium.

Danielle is the only member of the very recently formed radical Ray liberation Front San Diego 
Chapter and she is considering how she can liberate the Ray and repatriate her to The Maldives.

She knows that the Maldives is her real home because it says so on a label at the side of the aquarium.

She doesn’t know that the ray is female; it doesn’t say this on the label.

The sexing of a Mantra Rey is not easy.

One of the world’s experts on this, though he doesn’t know it yet, is Thomas who is sitting on a beach in The Maldives, drying in the sun.

He is a world expert because no one else has much bothered and part of his cataloguing work is to study the mating pattern of the ray.

Right now he isn’t thinking about that.

He is thinking about his sister who he hasn’t seen for 9 months and is now on the other side of the world, driving towards a parking space that is about to be vacated by Andy who is standing in the doorway saying goodbye.



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