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method Cache::get() should not be called statically in /customers/d/6/4/thesouthbankreview.org/httpd.www/concrete/models/area.php on line 127 Strict Standards: Non-static method Cache::key() should not be called statically in /customers/d/6/4/thesouthbankreview.org/httpd.www/concrete/libraries/cache.php on line 117 Strict Standards: Non-static method Cache::getLibrary() should not be called statically in /customers/d/6/4/thesouthbankreview.org/httpd.www/concrete/libraries/cache.php on line 122 Strict Standards: Non-static method Cache::get() should not be called statically in /customers/d/6/4/thesouthbankreview.org/httpd.www/concrete/models/block.php on line 63 Strict Standards: Non-static method Cache::key() should not be called statically in /customers/d/6/4/thesouthbankreview.org/httpd.www/concrete/libraries/cache.php on line 117 Strict Standards: Non-static method Cache::getLibrary() should not be called statically in /customers/d/6/4/thesouthbankreview.org/httpd.www/concrete/libraries/cache.php on line 122 Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /customers/d/6/4/thesouthbankreview.org/httpd.www/concrete/models/package.php:84) in /customers/d/6/4/thesouthbankreview.org/httpd.www/concrete/libraries/view.php on line 776 The South Bank Review :: Distant Home

Far from Home a little girl played atop a hill. Father watched her, distant sunlight dancing upon the silver of his face. He smiled as she fell from one foot to another with the manic gait of her age, the most capering dash to nowhere in particular. Where would she want to run once her mind quickened into adolescence and she thought of these things? The susurrus of her voice spilled small snippets of song as she ran, a composition all of her own.
     Her lilting tones built to a crescendo and at the last word she threw herself to the grass, casting laughter into the air as she tumbled amongst the soft blades. Through Father's ears it was a symphony performed by an orchestra of one, such was the way in which he heard. To his mind it was a work unrivalled by any of the great masters of Home, and it was but one of ten thousand she had brought into this world so effortlessly. 
     Alisa.
     Her song and tumble over, she rose from the blades. Her eyes turned to the other children where they climbed upon a frame at the apex of the hill, and took turns plummeting from it in confident leaps of faith - again, the likes of which only children could muster. Some tumbled, some dove, as Alisa climbed herself; some flopped, some thudded. Alisa did none of these things. Why be so quick to jump when one stands at the peak of one’s own world? The others stared, thinking her odd whilst continuing in their jumping.
     ‘What do you see now, Alisa?’ said Father, and the children stopped dead, becoming as flies in amber. Father was one of few words, and as such his words carried weight. 
     The wind caught her hair, and carried it across her face. She turned her head this way and that, swiped the golden mess from her eyes, and looked on their world while all its eyes were on her. Beyond the playground, the hill, their home and all its green, the world changed. There were lots of other hills, some bigger, some smaller - all different sizes - but none were like their hill. The others were all red-brown, and empty. They didn’t have playgrounds or homes, and they carried on until the sky began. Paon was in the sky, and at night when Paon wasn’t in the sky they could see the stars, and Home wa but that wasn’t now.
     ‘Empty hills,’ said Alisa, because that was what she saw.
     The children slowly joined Alisa. Those at the foot made their ways to the apex, together they looked out on their world properly - some of the younger children for the first time.
     ‘What do all of you see?’ asked Father.
     Silence ensued as eyes roamed and focused. Brows were furrowed, and lips chewed. Thought flowed, coalesced as matter might in a stellar nursery. Stars formed in the minds of the children, and eventually tentative words came forth as Life had from Home.
     ‘The flats between the hills,’ said an older boy.
     ‘The sky!’ said one very little girl.
     ‘Paon!’ said another.
     ‘And that’s where the world ends,’ said a little boy, his finger marking the horizon.
     He was about six years old by Home’s calendar, and small for his age; olive-skinned, with nut-brown hair. He had a puppy fat about him that would slough off with age, and his eyes were an almost flourescent green; a shallow colour, but one offset by the sheer depth of his cognisance - all this conspired to provide him with an honest, tranquil face. The name chosen for him by the elder children had been Thomas. An old name.
     Father walked to him where he was perched, and looked up to the child in search of his wisdom.
     ‘Why does the world end there, Thomas?’ asked Father.
     ‘Well, there’s only sky after that.’
     ‘What makes you think that, Thomas?’
     The little boy looked thoughtful for a time, then quite taken aback at the alternative possibility.
     ‘Then what’s after the sky?’ he asked, puzzlement plain to all ears.
     ‘More World,’ said Father, ‘a thousand thousand other hills; countless hills’. He looked to each watching face In turn, some shocked, some scared, others already knowing. ‘And spaces in between. In time they will be mountains and oceans, forests and seas, cliffs and chasms, islands and valleys. And cities.’
     To some amongst the watching faces perched upon the frame these were new words, and whispering rose in their wakes as speculative meanings passed from mind to mind.
     ‘This one hill we will leave before long, and a World awaits,’ spoke Father. ‘And in time you may go to Home.’
     The whispering halted abruptly at this, an invocation of Home’s name. All faces looked on to Father with wonder, bar one.
     ‘I like our hill…’ Alisa whispered to herself, unheard by any other.