What a stunningly beautiful picture of Mazandaran, tweeted by @kerem_ertem
Badab-e Surt is a natural site in Mazandaran Province in northern Iran, 95 km south of the city of Sari
Certainly a setting in which to pass those Rosy Hours.
It all began with a simple seaside vacation, a brother and sister recapturing their childhood. Antoine thought he had the perfect surprise for his sister Mélanie's birthday: a weekend by the sea at Noirmoutier Island, where the pair spent many happy childhood summers playing on the beach.
But the island's haunting beauty triggers more than happy memories; it reminds Mélanie of something unexpected and deeply disturbing about their last island summer. When, on the drive home to Paris, she finally summons the courage to reveal what she knows to Antoine, her emotions overcome her and she loses control of the car.Alone, waiting for news of Mélanie, Antoine reflects on his life: his wife has left him, his teenage children are strangers to him, his job bores him, and his father is an ageing tyrant who still poisons every aspect of his life. How did he end up here? And, more importantly, what was the secret that his sister wanted to tell him?
A Secret Kept plumbs the depths of complex family relationships and the power of a past secret to change everything in the present.
|Art by SlaviART on Etsy|
For a moment I did not understand what was happening, or I did not want to.
I struggled backwards, supporting myself on one hand. Before I could think to stop myself, I bunched the other into a fist and punched him square across the lip.
Climbing to my feet, I hobbled away into the night, leaving him there beneath the silent sky. Feeling each stab of pain in my ankle helped to ease the pain in my heart. I found a quiet hut on the outskirts of the fort. It was abandoned, used for grain and flour. I bedded down against one of the soft sacks and allowed myself to weep openly.
I had no place for love in my heart. So set was I against this union of my father’s that I had felt appalled by all affection. Before that night I had known our friendship ran deep. Images of those writhing bodies, of flesh against flesh, both female and male, had returned to my dreams many times since. Sometimes I woke sweat-drenched and short of breath, and in those first few moments I will admit it was Caílte my eyes searched for in the shadows.
Yet my father had changed everything.
Eventually, out of breath, we broke through the line of trees into the star-clustered night. The moss peeled back to show the ground made of granite. An unusual grey stone that rippled like water. The whole of the head of the mountain looked like the wind blowing gently upon the lake. As though winter had frozen the waves to stone beneath our feet.
On the crest of the hill stood a shelter. Not the daub and wattle roundhouse of the forts, but something older. Something that belonged to the Aos Sí, those ancient spirits who preceded the ancestors, who formed this world and permeate it like silent sentinels.
The shelter was formed of three large, flat rocks and a capstone, covered in turf to prevent the elements from rattling through it. As we approached, I could sense the children waking, their attention drawn by this mysterious place.
I knelt before the opening, drawing from my satchel a clay lamp. I filled it with oil and struck flint against birch bark until it caught, allowing me to light the wick. With the lamp help in the palm of my hand, we entered.
“It’s beautiful,” A--- breathed. “What is it?”
“A map,” I explained.
All across the walls, patterns were etched into the stone. It glittered softly beneath the candlelight, as though grains of snow had been trapped within it. Spirals and circles confused the eye, whilst diamonds and serpentine snakes sprawled out from the centre. Here and there, small pockmarks had been chiselled deep, marking places of importance, anchors in the ever-changing landscape.
“How do you read it?” he asked.
“It is the language of the Ovates, those who possess the second sight.”
“Like the dark juice?” F-- asked, her eyes wide as she traced her fingers across the scarred surface of the rock.
“Yes, only the Ovates never truly seem to wake. They live their lives as in a half-dream. Sometimes their words are wise and full of insight, other times they mumble like madmen. Somewhere in between the two they are able to see the past and the future. These maps have many meanings. They are the land, the sky, our inner thoughts and time itself.”
“I do not understand,” A--- said, struggling to see a pattern.
“You know when you go wandering down to the Black Vale?” I asked him. “How do you get there? Describe to me your journey.”
He thought for a moment.
“I leave the gates of Sidhe Fionnachaidh, down past our crannog on the Blue Lake. I keep going until I reach Anamcha’s tree, then I follow the trail down through the Vale of Caoimhe until I reach Bear Rock. From there I cross the shallow ford and it’s the next valley over.”
“Now, tell me, young lord. If I were a stranger to your lands, would I be able to follow your directions so well? The Blue Lake, is it actually blue?”
“Only in summertime, when the sun hits the clay beneath. Then more sort of grey-blue,” he conceded.
“And Anamcha’s tree, how would I know which that was?”
“It’s the tree where Anamcha thought himself a bird and tried to fly, only Taranis caused the sky to shake and he fell to earth, breaking his neck. They buried him there beneath that tree.”
“If I did not know that story, I would not know which tree,” I smiled.
“Aye, but you’d recognise the Bear Stone, you couldn’t miss that.”
“So I would have only half a map, because I did not know all the stories of the landscape.” A--- nodded. “Well,” I explained, “this is a map of those stories. If you know the right story, or the right song to sing, you can navigate your way through all worlds.”
When I was poor and complained about inequality they said I was bitter; now that I’m rich and I complain about inequality they say I’m a hypocrite. I’m beginning to think they just don’t want to talk about inequality. - Russell Brand
"Every generation has to fight the same battles for peace, justice and democracy, there is no final victory nor final defeat." - Tony Benn
© Dan Ben Matthews
Everyone lies about writing. They lie about how easy it is or how hard it was. They perpetuate a romantic idea that writing is some beautiful experience that takes place in an architectural room filled with leather novels and chai tea. They talk about their ‘morning ritual’ and how they ‘dress for writing’ and the cabin in Big Sur where they go to ‘be alone’—blah blah blah. No one tells the truth about writing a book. Authors pretend their stories were always shiny and perfect and just waiting to be written. The truth is, writing is this: hard and boring and occasionally great but usually not. Even I have lied about writing. I have told people that writing this book has been like brushing away dirt from a fossil. What a load of shit. It has been like hacking away at a freezer with a screwdriver...
Most authors liken the struggle of writing to something mighty and macho, like wrestling a bear. Writing a book is nothing like that. It is a small, slow crawl to the finish line. - Amy Poehler, Yes Please