A tough week – the puppy, so dear to my heart, must be returned due to a severe asthmatic reaction. Nothing but to bear the regret and knuckle down to find her a new home. So, for now, a piece of hopefulness from the novel:
Cross-legged and hunched on her bed with her little computer, the woman sipped from a mug of tea, browsing for her map; the Valley of the Seven Winters. On the screen, contours described a flat, u-shaped channel rising to steeper slopes, demarcated green and forested, on either side. A scribble of river and a road that followed it into a horseshoe bend, ribs of a gentler hill anchored by scree. Aida looked at the biro note on her hand ordering her to buy the map the next day, and the ticket to Santa Fe. She would place herself on paper, a dot, an empty plot at the end of the road. And there would come to be a house, built along a basic plan; Adobe bungalow, porch, hearth. Stone path around the outside to a standalone greenhouse in bottle green, full of her best-beloved species. Aida was a botanist, not an especially well-qualified one, and not paid to be. Full sized trees, not city stunted! She scratched her wrist. Someone upstairs screamed an epithet that sounded often-used without having been ever thought-through. Next, crying, or it was a cat, or the wheels of hand cart stubbing on a section of pavement. Very different sounds, but why distinguish? There was nothing on the isle of Manhattan to keep her, except her own badness and the sights she had not seen.
She entered New York City Beautiful Wilderness Free Space into the browser search bar, but nothing coherent came up. The use of a search engine as divination tool was not the intended purpose, though often fruitful. It was how she had found out about the valley after all, and the name of the man whose life she had ruined. She tapped her teeth against the cup, which shunted forward a memory of Viking berserkers, of all things, who in their fury would bite down on the edges of their shields, and of the Lewis chessmen, performing the same clamping gesture in walrus ivory. She put the mug next to the cantina, trying not to think of axes breaking teeth, and of the shock of unwanted blood. Which of course she had no knowledge of in reality, though her mouth hurt, and she had to touch her face to check for damage. No harm, and hope the only agony.