The devil’s den

I stepped out from behind the stone, straight into the party. They were drumming, dancing, chanting, drinking, crawling through the old tomb with their candles and their music and their ribbons and cut flowers, as if the sarsens were a portal, a doorway to the new summer.  The sky was still bright and red and warm. I sat on the dry grass, between thistles and the leavings of sheep, and offered a bottle to the man next to me. He nodded, drank, and winced as he swallowed, his brittle and bleached dreadlocks trembling as he shook his head and handed it back. The lines on his forehead folded and he leaned towards me, questioning.

I stood, and smiled.

A woman in a long, patchwork skirt threw glitter at me as I passed her the bottle. She drank, and laughed, and whirled away.

I stood, and smiled.

When the new summer came, the valley was decorated with glitter and blankets and colourfully dressed corpses. I poured the remains of the bottle into a hollow on a stone, and watched the lichen there wither and die, before I stepped back behind it, back where there is only one summer, and it is always mine.


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