almost see the Boss in front of me, but then the mist blew in and I was cut off from view.
I stopped, for I know how futile it is to walk in the fog, and saw without surprise that there were little flowers around my feet, little yellow flowers; and there was a naked girl lying among them. It was she, again, of course – but now the long red scar was gone, replaced by unblemished skin.
“Do you know me?” she asked, and it was the voice I had been hearing, the voice which had summoned me from the tent. “Yes, I know you,” I replied; and at that moment it was true. I knew who she was, and what she was doing there, though I seem to have forgotten it again now. “Come and join me,” she said, and I was kissing her, kissing her beautiful red lips, pale with cold, holding her lissom body in my arms. I was fucking her, fucking her long and hard – not like in Melbourne, but with a perfection of pleasure.
And then I realised it was Laurence I was holding so hard, whose smooth young boy’s body I was caressing, whose lips were fixed to mine. It seemed perfect to me. For that moment I was an animal, not a man: we were two seals, swimming in the translucent cathedral of the ice; we were terns, spiralling above the ice-floes. I drove in and out of him as the girl’s voice kept whispering in my ear, “This is the Heart of the Snow; this is the home you have been seeking.”
And I was back again.
It didn’t seem like a dream, but real. When I woke up back in my bag, I was convinced that I had been outside, and in fact got up to check that the ties were really closed. The other two were sleeping just as I had left them, and there were no voices.
Such visions are natural enough. We never speak of it, but quite often during the day I am sure that there is someone else with us, usually the girl, but sometimes a more shadowy figure. I had not been consciously thinking of Shackleton, but of course he is always more or less in my mind.
As for the transformation of the girl into young Laurence, I think it would be wrong to place too much stock in it. So far from women, it is natural that I should feel strange. The same has happened with me on the sporting field before, but it means no more than that – rough comradeship, mutual esteem and affection. I refuse to see it as more than that.