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Authors: Geoff Ryman

Tags: #Romance, #Science Fiction, #SciFi-Masterwork, #Fantasy

Child Garden (72 page)

BOOK: Child Garden
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pure and ready to rise to the stars.

The Second Book was finished, and the Third could begin.



On the floor, the flesh that was Milena Shibush remained behind. Mike Stone gazed in love and wonder at her face. Piglet held his hand and walked forward on newly imagined, newly living legs and leaned shyly over her. The face of Milena Shibush was ablaze with a smile of purest joy. The spirit saw the smile too. Her whole body was ablaze with the brightest fire, as if she were translucent, glass, illumined from within.

In her hand, she could still feel Jacob's crucifix. Somehow the chain had broken. The hand reached up, blindly groping. The crucifix was enfolded in Mike Stone's hand, passed on.

Milena thought of them all, Mike and Root, Lucy and Old Tone, the Babes. She thought of Thrawn and Rose Ella. The flesh on the floor was smiling at the whole of her life, at the panoply of it. It had ended in freedom after all.

For the last time all the many selves of Milena Shibush were united. My turn now, thought the spirit. Like the Consensus, she was a framework to be emptied.

Milena died.

She settled into the silence and was divided. All her separate selves were freed: the infant and the child, the orphan in the Child Garden, the actress and the director, the wife and the People's Artist, Milena the Angel, Milena the oncogene, Milena who carried the Mind of Heather, and the Milena who remembered Rolfa.

They rose up like the white pages of a written speech thrown to the winds. The pages blew like leaves, were scattered to their individual and eternal Nows. The Nows were no longer linked by time or by a self. They went beyond time, to where the whole truth can be told. It takes forever to tell the truth, and it is bound into one volume by love. That is the third book, beyond words or low imagining. Leaving Purgatory will have to be comedy enough.



But that is not the end. There is no such thing as an end.

It was still Easter in Czechoslovakia, and Loving One was climbing a hill with her parents, through a wood.

She was still dressed as an angel. She wore a star and wings covered with crinkled resin. She was very tired, but her parents swung her between them through the air. It was as if she were flying.

The slope of the hill became less steep, and there was more light: Loving One was swung out onto the top of the hill, where the larches stood bolt upright like the tails of squirrels. She looked about her and squealed with delight.

At the top of the hill there was her home. There was the
her lime tree and the hot white limestone house. The child broke into a run, shrieking with glee, into her field, over the grass that seemed to have hands and elbows, through the grass that seemed to part like a smile.
Tatinka, Maminko,
ghost-names ran laughing with her. There was the light flowing, there were the birds. The gates to the garden had been left hanging open.

The gates would be left hanging open in each moment, here, now, in Czechoslovakia or in England. Always.



About the Author

  SF writer Geoff Ryman was born in Canada in 1951, went to high school and college in the United States, and has lived most of his adult life in Britain.

His longer works include
The Unconquered Country,
the novella version of which won the World Fantasy Award in 1985;
The Child Garden,
which won the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 1990; the hypertext novel 253
the “print remix” of which won the Philip K. Dick Award in 1999; and
, which won the Arthur C. Clarke and James Tiptree, Jr. Awards in 2006.

An early Web design professional, Ryman led the teams that designed the first web sites for the British monarchy and the Prime Minister’s office. He also has a lifelong interest in drama and film; his 1992 novel
looks at America through the lens of
The Wizard of Oz
and has been adapted for the stage, and Ryman himself wrote and directed a stage adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s
The Transmigration of Timothy Archer

BOOK: Child Garden
8.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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