1. GLOVE STORY

 

Birds sang the sweet warm music of early spring. Their feathers glossy as the swollen brown buds, which waited expectantly to burst into chloroform green. Soft sunlight gently coaxed the tender beginnings of newly hatched life. Reclusive shadows shook, swayed and sashayed across the pebbled path as the light flickered in the soft breeze.

By the narrow path stood an old park bench, supported by grandly wrought iron moldings of arch-necked swans and gasping carp, on which the once smooth metal corroded into flakes of mineral once more. The seats of weather-bleached wood were cracked and dry, but still displayed the deeply carved names of long dead sweethearts, who beckoned to their lovers with lichen-covered kisses.

A glove lay on the seat of the bench. The fingers seemed ready to move, to point, to wave, to grip, to caress. But the sight left you with an ache of anguish, a lonely feeling.

All across the land other gloves lay abandoned in strange and in prominent places. On bushes, on fence posts, in gutters, tangled in the flotsam of the seashore, on low walls, on doorknobs. Always alone and with the same air of neglect and hopelessness.

 

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Once upon a time, whilst working with a partner, they had warmed and protected the hands of the nation. From the ermine bound gauntlets of the king, to the tattered fingerless bindings of the beggar. “To fit like a glove” was their proud motto and, in hugely varying guises, indeed they had.

But they did their job too well. Their effectiveness in feeling like a second skin resulted in their humans forgetting about them the minute that they took them off. So it came to pass that the lost and separated gloves formed the greatest waste of warmth in history. The solitary glove being discarded or placed somewhere thoughtfully, by a passer-by, in the hope that it would one day be reunited with its other half.

The first gloves were worn; it is believed, by Paleolithic man some 12,000 years ago. The second great ice age forced him to it, and so began the creation and the great sorrow of glove kind. Frozen in glacial ice, a man’s “single” glove appeared in the spring thaw of 2013. 12,000 years spent lost, alone and with no hand to warm.

On the morning of the 9th April 2013 a raven scoured the mountainside for dead and decaying meat. (The ancient ancestors of this bird had picked the bones clean of the owner of the glove). High at the end of the steep valley, shrouded in a veil of finest mist, sat the majestically dying glacier. Her life slipping away, slowly but surely, as the world warmed itself for lizards once more. The most closely guarded treasures and secrets exposed to the air, invariably rotted or simply melted away. Haunch of mammoth, a wolf tail and finely chiseled flint spearheads tumbled into the churning melt water. But the leather glove of our Paleolithic man did not decay, the tannic acid saw to that. It simply lay as it had fallen, exposed on rocky ledge, a celandine lovingly twining itself through the tense fingers.

The raven glided through the mist above the valley, effortlessly circling over the womb shaped glacier, his black wing tips splayed like fat fingers. A large fissure had opened in the frozen river of history and the bird, always on the lookout for carrion flesh, spiraled from the high thermals with all the ease of a sycamore seed and into the newly exposed chasm. The steady blue drip, drip, drip of the history of the world. Ancient water freed at last made its way to the clouds, to the rain, to the sea and the endless cycle began once more. On the rocky ledge the bird spotted the organic looking glove and snatched it from its celandine cradle.

Higher he flew through the mist. Glancing effortlessly past the rocky throne from where the glacial queen had once ruled. The raven let go of the glove and it plummeted again to earth. It landed on a pebbled path in a small wood of birch trees and juniper bushes. Soft sunshine warmed its skin for the first time in thousands of years, the fingers flexed and stiffened as it uncurled to await a human hand once more. Later that day some brightly clad walkers, out enjoying the spring sunshine, found the glove where it had landed on the path. It didn’t strike them as remarkable, just another old glove, and thoughtfully placed it on the bench.