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The windows had been painted shut during the summer break, and a late showing of summer in September was making the air turgid and soporific. Thirty-one children fanned themselves with their exercise books, feigning interest in the lesson, allowing their heads to drop to the desk.

Our teacher had stopped talking as it was futile competing with sound of the caretaker, knife in hand cutting at the paint-work. We watched, largely in silence as anything else would have required effort.

Melanie Jackson smiled at me and passed a note across the desk. Even wearing ungainly braces, she was dazzlingly beautiful for a thirteen year old.

I hoped it was a love letter or a provocative message, but it was instead, a note to draw my attention to Morwenna Adams.

“Morwenna Adams has wet herself.”

Melanie sniggered and covered her mouth, delighting herself with the news.

Morwenna Adams had fallen asleep and sure enough, there was evidence enough to suggest that this was true. I poked her companion in the back and passed the note forward.

A sad characteristic of children, is the energy and inventiveness they will put into the merciless teasing of their victims and Morwenna was a born victim. Striding through the school corridors in long black gypsy skirts of flowing muslin, she gave an air of purpose but was purposeless. She was competent enough at her work sufficient not to draw unwelcome attention and excelled in her art work. Here her pictures had depth and feeling with endless lakes and deep caverns, sorrowful women and clinging children. The things, vaguely Gothic, were consistent with her demeanour; her raven black hair and brooding out of place amid the cacophony of brute young adolescence.

A week went by, the weather remained sultry and during the week the science teacher who’s name hides somewhere in my memory, expounded one scientific hypothesis after another.

“That’s why we can have faith . . ” he emphasised the full point with his chalk “. . .absolute faith is science. We dispel the mystery . . . and which mystery?”

He surveyed the class as we tried to shrink back into our chairs while he located a volunteer.

“Morwenna – you seem to know a thing about mysteries – what mystery?”

The class erupted into laughter. “Morwenna’s Mystery” it was known as. Something she spoke about having that none of us understood. The teacher looked smugly on as his class revelled in the conspiracy. I looked at Morwenna as she hung her head, wretched under the assault. I was gripped with a strange feeling and things seemed to happen slowly, though they clearly didn’t.

I stood on my chair and shouted. The class fell silent and the teacher looked squarely at me.

“Where’s our example,” I asked furiously, “if we can no longer look to our teachers?”

The words were mine, possibly the most lucid I’d spoken in my life to date. The sentiment must have been mine. But I don’t recall the real motivation, whether in a sense of righteous indignation or üsküdar escort empathy for the girl. I fixed my gaze, as I could only look at the teacher, possibly the other students, but not girl I had just defended.

Just for a moment a shadow of shame passed over the man’s face and he was unsure what to do. Softly he chided the class.

“Get on with your work.”

After school I crossed the ten-acre wood. Half developed for housing, it was by now, five acres. I heard a rustle of leaves and a small voice drifted out to me.

“Simon? Is that you?”


“In here, you’ll have to duck.”

A tiny copse of trees with their summer canopy had formed a small shaded retreat. A glade. Crouching, I eased myself inside, pulling my school bag behind me.

Morwenna was sat cross-legged on a carpet of moss wearing a simple cheese-cloth cape. I could see she was naked underneath. She smiled as I sat down with her.

“I didn’t know this was here.”

Wordlessly, she placed her finger over my mouth and moved her face to mine. We faced each other quietly for several moments.

“You’re a good person.” She said at last. I shrugged in a suitably inscrutable way. But my adolescent cockiness was wasted here. I felt transparent and callow under her gaze.

“The man’s a prick.” I croaked lamely.

“You weren’t thinking about the man.” She said huskily, and I realised she was right.

“Now,” she continued, “quiet – the mystery is here.” She said at last.

“What . .?”

Her forehead touched mine and rolling her face she pressed her young lips to mine. There was a warm sweetness and then her lips moved against mine as she spoke.

“Close your eyes. Don’t open them again.”

We sat, her lips barely touching mine, the sounds around us becoming more intense until they melded. Slowly I became aware of something. Imperceptibly at first, the songbirds, the dappled sunshine, the moss, the sound of the wind through the leaves were a singular thing. They met and filled all five senses and explored a sixth beyond simple definition. I wanted to open my eyes but there was a refuge here . . . an unutterable sweetness in the girl’s touch and the heavens meeting the sky.

Something here was comforting my soul.

Eventually I opened my eyes. Morwenna had gone and the glade was dark and empty. I wondered whether I had been asleep or not.

I didn’t see Morwenna again for almost five years. Her parents employed a battery of home tutors, taking her away from her ring of tormentors. I visited the glade with decreasing regularity, but never saw her there. I tried to re-capture the feelings she had somehow shown me, but I knew without being told, that the key was the girl herself. I knew where she lived and spent agonising hours, pondering how to call, how to initiate a chance meeting, realising that she would see through anything so shallow. With some regret I put Morwenna out of my mind and şerifali escort started University in Bristol, unable to articulate my emotions, I never realised that I had probably fallen in love with her.

My accommodation was austere and grim and of the kind that only students would accept, being neither discerning enough to realise, nor confident enough to complain. I sat alone in my room, a heavy tome of blurred and meaningless numbers across my thighs. Soft footfall outside my door broke the remaining threads of concentration. Before a single further sound had passed I called out.

“Come in”.

I was on my feet already and the door opened.

“You knew.” Morwenna stood in the doorway.

“I . . did I?”

“You knew, as I knew you were here.”

I thought back five years and smiled.

“And is this – is this the mystery still?”

“Come with me.”

Morwenna’s lodgings were above mine, and her own effects had overwhelmed the dingy room, mocking the damp walls and threadbare furnishings. How was it that I didn’t I know she was here?

The table in her room was taken up with a large glass castle, a small blow torch and coloured glass rods. Small figures made from glass populated the castle rooms in breathtaking detail.

“God, Morwenna. This is fantastic.”

“I have made the elves into tailors, the tinkers are sat here, getting drunk in the scullery.”

Soldiers with improbably thin filigree limbs lined the battlements, their armour and livery detailed in purple and gold.

“Shades of Sennacherib?” I asked and she nodded.

I laughed at the care and the detail and the love which had gone into it.

“What’s if for?”

She laughed softly.

“What’s a Rodin for, a Da Vinci, anything?”

I looked at her closely. The sharp childish features had rounded, become rich with feminine curves and promise.

Her clothes were less radical, though still unusual. She looked intently at me and her forehead touched mine.

“Do you remember . . .”


I looked into her eyes, once dark green but now, darker still, deep as a garden well and full of dreams.

“That was the mystery.” She exhaled slowly and her warm breath blew in my mouth. Before I knew it, she had covered my mouth with a full warm kiss. Sweet and lingering beyond description, it transcended sex, because there was something pure and spiritual in it. Her tongue explored my mouth, met my own tongue, danced and played with me. She pulled away slowly.

“I was too young to give you anything but the mystery,” she sighed, “but now.”

“Now. .?”

“You’ve waited Simon. I know, for I have too.”

I wanted to protest. To conceal my innocence behind a shield of bravado, but there was nothing large enough to hide behind. I nodded in dumb agreement.

“No more mystery?” I asked.

“It was the mystery of children. Of a child.”

“You still do that thing?”

“I won’t be able to soon. It’s what I gave as a powerful innocent. I’ve always loved you Simon. I knew I would hold onto the mystery until this moment.”

And to explain this moment she disrobed us both slowly. She lit candles and the room flickered in sombre shadows and I laid her down on her soft quilt.

Tea candles within her magnificent castle threw coloured shadows around the room, played spectral patterns across her breasts.

“You can kiss them. Do you want to?”

I tenderly enclosed her nipple in my mouth and she caught locks of my hair between her fingers in her ecstasy. He nipples responded going hard under my tongue. I gasped.

“They do that,” she whispered in the semi-darkness, “that’s what they do.”

I marvelled at her body, young and firm and yielding beneath my hands and tongue which explored her neck, breasts, thighs and soft down. Her legs spread open and her hand took hold of my hardness. I gasped involuntarily.

“Between my legs. Lie between them.”

As I did, she took me and placed me inside her. She was moist and warm and as welcoming as her arms which wrapped around me.

“Oh God, Morwenna.”

“Simon. Move. Move inside me. I have to feel you – oh God, that’s it.”

I moved slowly inside her in long silent strokes, savouring the flesh I was touching, the flesh I was inside. She pulled me close, bit my cheek gently, my lips and again placed her tongue inside my mouth.

I moved faster and she set up a movement in counter-point to my own. My breath became short and tight. She caught my shoulders and stopped me.

“Down here. Taste me. Please.”

I moved my mouth over her womanhood, open and wet. My tongue went inside and over her slit. I had never even felt a woman before and the texture, the sight, taste and scent were deep and new.

“Here.” Her finger directed me and a small bud came up under my tongue. As I moved my tongue gently over her she writhed and sighed. I relished the pleasure I was giving.

“Now, get back inside me. I want you inside me.”

Again, she hid my erection, enclosed it and moved under me. At each stroke she gasped and let out a small cry. I began moving again. Feeling the warm wet flesh enclosing me, drawing me closer. I buried my face in her shoulder and neck, kissed her. Whispered words which meant nothing and yet were the sum of everything.

Suddenly I came.

“Oh. God Simon. That’s it.” She cried. “That’s it.” And moved her hips below me, pulling me harder into her, savouring her own feelings.

We lay beneath her quilt, her hand on my thigh, playing with me gently, all excitement gone.

“The mystery. It’s no longer there. We’ve a new mystery to share.” She said simply.

“I know.”

“It was there for a reason, I knew that. I shared it with you once and no one else. Now I’ve given you this.”

I touched my cheek, astonished to find tears.

Fifteen years later, the castle is finished. Morwenna dreams for us both and I can only watch them and keep count, but together we share our tender moods and put tea candles inside the fabulous castle, extinguishing the bedroom light. The mystery of children may have finished, but there’s always a new one and so the mystery continues.

Copyright © 2000 Gregg Dean

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