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Fast Fiction: Who Was It?

…One summer's day during the second world war I met a woman walking on the downs. She wore a white dress and a large white sunhat…

Could it be…? Surely not. She drowned herself before this happened…

Richard Mallinson tells a puzzling tale.

One summer's day during the second world war I met a woman walking on the downs. She wore a white dress and a large white sunhat

She said, 'Let us sit here and then you can tell me all about yourself.'

I told her that I was an evacuee from London and I wanted to be a shepherd when I grew up, which was true at the time.

'Don't you ever want to go back to London?' she asked.

'Not bloody likely,' I said (though I did go back at the end of the war.)

She smiled with her lovely eyes and said, 'You are as brown as a nut.'

A long way away I could see the sea with the sun glittering on it and there were some ships, I think.

She opened a book she was carrying and began to read to me in a voice like music about a boy who wanted to go to a lighthouse.

Then she became tearful and walked slowly away until she was just a white spot far below and then nothing.

Yes, I do still think of her after all these years.
*
- So, was it a dream?

- No, it happened.

- But did it happen as you now think it happened?

- I'm not sure about the book and the lighthouse.

- You were trying to imply that she was Virginia Woolf?

- Yes, I suppose I was.

- Cheating a bit?

- Perhaps . . .

- When did you meet this woman?

- I think it was in 1943.

- But Virginia Woolf drowned herself in 1941.

- Well, if it wasn't her... then who the hell was it?

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