If I had told Cuff about Greswold and about Isaac Newtons complicated
friendship with a Mr. F., he wouldn't have written any of it down. He wouldnt
have considered it relevant. A man falling through air and shadows in Trinity
College, 1665. A secret friendship between two young men, forged in alchemical
and mathematical calculations. How could that have any bearing on a series of
murders in Cambridge that took place in 2002 and 2003? If I had suggested that,
Cuff would have raised one of his thick black eyebrows and his pen would have
paused in midair. Elizabeth Vogelsang would have understood. Cuff wouldnt.
Lily went to prison because the seventeenth century was missing from her court
records, from her story. Her time line needed to be longer, much longer, and
there were many sidelines and tracks, twistings and turnings and yes, it was a
labyrinth, a skein of silk that began to weave itself in 1665, 339 years ago.
Ive been thinking about labyrinths this summer. Ariadne giving Theseus the
thread so that he could find his way back out of the labyrinth, away from the
black void of the flesheating Minotaur. Unravellings have to start somewhere.
Now that I see, for the first time, how connected everything is, I know that the
threads between Isaac Newton and us were all attached, like the ground elder
under Kits soil.
That summer in which I wrote my story and yours for Patricia Dibb, Kit and I
declared war on the ground elder that had taken over her flower beds at Sturton
Street. As we began to dig, we could see how each of those separate plants,
uncurling above ground, was joined to a great network of root systems
underground. There was no point in digging up part of it; you had to pull
up the whole thing, and if you didn't, it would start reaching out again in the
wet darkness of the soil, another green leaf curling up a week or so later.
Grace, Kits elderly neighbour, leaning over the chicken wire fence, uttered her
warnings about the impossibility of ever killing it off. She had spent fifty
years trying, she said. Break those roots just once, she said, and the wound on
the root will make scores of new shoots.
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