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Top Of The Hill.

(from The Loser by Marcella Belly. Top Of The Hill is a town located in the High Country, half a day's walk from the Two Shows Ranges.)

I am a dead writer in the exact sense of the phrase: I am writing and I am dead. The first point is obvious, but in the case of the second you will have to take me at my word. I died on the lee side of a hill a short way away from the houses of the town of Top Of The Hill: at the same instant I realised that I was allergic to bee stings, and in this way two revelations came to me at once.

The grass moved around me and the honey grew slowly in the hives while the seed-heads bowed before the wind in wondering attitudes. My dying body lay one of these musing fields in the exact centre of an invisible triangle bordered by three transparent beehives. The sun was in my eyes and I waited impatiently for unconsciousness to remove it. It seemed to much to be bourne: not only was I dying, but the last thing I would take away from this world would be the glare of sunlight in my eyes, feebly blocked by the underside of an ocean of grass!

On reflection, I believe that a beehive was magnifying the rays of the sun. Anyone who knows Top Of The Hill, that village of honey and poets, will be aware that our hives are made of clear glass, an innovation that came to one of our forefathers, Quincas Bulbous, when he found a bee trapped in a transparent prism of ice while hiking near the Two Show Ranges during a particularly chilly winter evening. You will wonder how I lived in a beekeeper's town for more than twenty years without realising that an excess of beestings would kill me. My answer is that I my family were writers, not apiarists. I ignored their profession while I was alive, fleeing to Gum Gooloo at the first opportunity and becoming a fishmonger, but returned a number of days ago when I heard that my poet father was dying of an unidentified illness. I travelled home with all the power of my young body, feeling that if I did not hurry he would be dead before I reached him. My mind trembled with anxiety and fear and I chastised myself every time I found my thoughts wandering to some topic other than he. Now I am dead and he, for all I know, may have recovered completely and be living in the bloom of health. How strange death is!

We lived in one of the lower parts of Top. The town (for those of you who do not know it, a trespass I will forgive) is built in the same spiral pattern as Gum Gooloo, but where their concentric arrangement has a Museum at its heart, ours has the unadorned peak of a hill where dances and meetings are held. Houses spin outward from that central point, tumbling down the hill until with a crash they meet the advance of of a swarm of those glass hives which spread across the hills glittering like a turbulent sea. On hot days we keep the bees cool by filling a depression at the top of each hive with cold water. We care for our bees, and in return they give us the sweetest, thickest honey in the country. When I lived in Gum Gooloo, the street vendor's cry of, "A honey-cake! A honey-cake!" was enough to remind me of home, for I knew where the honey in those Goolooian cakes came from. Kind bees, good bees. One of them has killed me, but the town will forgive its rudeness, I am sure.