Wednesday, 30 December 2009
continued from Monday's post:
...At first, she dismissed them as coincidences, the kind you notice, think of as a little weird, and then shrug off. Like the day she finally accepted that her favourite pair of shoes - an old pair of combat boots she picked up in a flea market and wore into the ground - were beyond repair and threw them out, and the next day, on the riverbank, there were fourteen shoe soles washed up. Fourteen. She counted them.
Later, the connections - that’s the word she uses for them - moved out of the realm of coincidence and into that of just plain creepy. It was the week after her Aunty Doris died, the old man’s last surviving sister, and she was feeling pretty shook up. She hadn’t spoken with that side of her family in years - still hasn’t - but she’d always liked the old lady. Most of the few memories she can bear to hang on to from her childhood have to do with Aunty Doris, a floral-patterned and talcum-powdered counterpoint to the old man’s tobacco-bitter darkness. So she goes to the river, because thoughts have been stirred up that she figured were burned fast to the bottom of the pan years ago. She doesn’t have her camera with her - she still regrets that now - because she’d jumped on her bike on a whim straight from work. But she can recall the image like it’s a photo of the objects she found on the shore: waiting for her, that’s how she puts it. There was a tea cosy, sodden and mud-stained, sure, but otherwise the exact likeness of the one her Aunty Doris gave her for Christmas the year before she moved away for good. There was an old lady’s cardigan, the loose-knitted kind, short in the waist, like what some old folks wear to bed. She’d never seen her Aunty wear one herself, but when she saw it she got a picture in her head, clear as day, of the old lady propped up in bed with the cardigan round her shoulders. And there was a pair of spectacles, one lens missing, and these she’s willing to swear could have been the very same ones she saw Aunty Doris wear every day that she knew her to read the classifieds in the local paper. She would have taken a photo of each item if she’d been able. She couldn’t actually bring herself to touch them, though she stood there staring at them for twenty, maybe twenty-five minutes solid. The whole incident creeped her out, and for a while she avoided going back to the river bank.
She did return though, eventually, and does still. She carries her camera without fail. She’s become methodical - near scientific - in her documenting of the objects she finds. She’s got a wall in her flat devoted to the images she’s taken, but it’s almost full now and they’re going to spill over onto the next wall, which isn’t as good because it’s got the door to the kitchen right in the middle. But she likes to see them all spread out in front of her - it makes the connections easier to spot. There’s not yet been anything as major as what she calls the Aunty Doris situation, but even the tiny patterns she notices give her some satisfaction. There’s a message in them. Maybe over time the message will become easier to see, and maybe even whoever or whatever’s sending it will turn up. Not a ghost, of course. Something bigger, something cosmic perhaps. She’ll just keep taking her pictures and see.