I finally spoke to the girl who had come with me: ‘I’ve been here before’ I said vaguely, trying in vain to jog my memory and frowning as I tried to recall the first day. The atmosphere really had not changed, although this time I was closer to the heart of the city than I had been previously. I had wandered around that time, partly because of a search for something I could not place, but also because it had been my duty to establish the geometric co-ordinates of the city’s layout.
(I was a code-cracker).
I had many friends there in those days, people on the inside who were prepared to share some of their knowledge with me, and they had taken me to a place of repose on the outskirts of the forbidding campus where discipline was either extreme or non-existent.
By chance, I also recalled that I had once enjoyed rather an elevated social status, thanks to my association with a young man of high rank. I had taken part in a memorable group photograph in the grounds of a private house somewhere in the area, although the precise location of this place was no longer known to me. The occasion of the photograph had given me the strong impression of a funeral at the time, for everybody was dressed in black and I was aware that at least some of the guests were alive only in spirit. There was, however, an air of suppressed hilarity which detracted from any suggestion of death.
Politeness forbade me from enquiring into the exact state of the other guests, or indeed myself, but I had enjoyed rather an interesting conversation with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who was positioned to my left and who spent at least half an hour imparting to me the secret of her style, and other invaluable information: Many whispers were exchanged on how a woman ought to deal with a powerful husband. The photograph had turned out beautifully.
Away from the distraction of visiting dignitaries, the rolling garden surrounds of the University were possibly the most enticing grounds I had ever encountered. I spent a very long period there in relaxation. So pleasurable was that plateau, beyond the burden of time, and yet it was only a staging post for me, a place where I could not permanently reside. The Elysium fields of my friends became dangerously like the spiritual land of Dido transported to a dream, whilst those around me recognized no queen…. My destiny, how it was revealed through history.
“Do you two need any help?”
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