Rachael already has three daughters. The baby is asleep as usual and the older two are at a nursery. She has named them for the Three Graces: Agiaia, Euphrosyne and Thalia. It is typical of Rachael’s well-ordered life that once she began this naming no son appeared to disrupt it. I imagine myself seated in a bright calm room like this, working at a tapestry of a garden, with three graceful daughters kneeling around me. It is a beautiful picture and for a moment I imagine myself painting it. It is a long time since I picked up a paintbrush. It is a long time since I felt that rush of joy before the first brushstroke: everything possible.
with three graceful daughters kneeling around me. It is a beautiful picture and for a moment I imagine myself painting it. It is a long time since I felt that rush of But Rachael is saying that I must do something practical. I must take a first small step and begin to find a way through my dark walls. ‘Baby steps,’ she says. And now she pulls her shawl closely around her and turns back to her needle and her silks and secret thoughts of pregnancy.
My way of planning any task is the bookish one: I find a work of reference and look up subjects in the index. I am logical and practical, sometimes. So I finish my scented tea, kiss Rachael at the door and walk round the corner, to the library.