Troy seems pleased to be back, he moves away from the walls, takes his toy cars into the centre of the tiny sitting room and sits cross-legged, pushing a little red sports car up and down the rug.
The house seems even smaller, the rooms more cramped. The windows have been closed for a week and there is a smell of damp, fustiness. I feel full of energy and move from room to room, opening windows, trying to make the house feel alive.
Music, I think , I need music, i need to fill this house with noise and ignoring Troy’s’ face, screwed up in distress, i pump up the volume, make sure the noise spills onto the street outside.
i dance and as I move, i gently touch my face and for the first time in hours, I miss the mirrors, even consider unpacking one from the suitcase, hanging it on the wall. I want to stand, to look at my face, to explore the new shapes and colours and have even got as far as opening the suitcase i am using as a bed side table when i see her walking up the road.
She looks thinner, tired, her children are hanging off the pushchair, while her toddler sleeps. Her shoes don’t fit her properly, they make her walk strangely, her feet sliding. gliding along the path. I watch her get nearer, see her head come up, register the car, the open window, the music . I wonder what she will do, again, i am tempted to stay silent, hidden, make her do all the work, but actually, I don’t have as much time as I thought, so i move quickly, downstairs and out the front door.
I time it just right, I am stepping out, directly in her sight line as she draws level with me.
She looks and everything she is thinking is in plain sight, her face says it all, but she is tentative, doesn’t look for too long, just long enough.
I compose my features carefully, i need to get the expression just right. a hint of pain, of loss tinged with defiance.
I speak and for a terrible moment, i almost forget, the accent has slipped but i don’t think shes’ noticed, one word and I have it back, have the voice under control. The words are right, what she expects.
i wonder what her house will be like, wonder where she hides the other stuff, the things from her previous life, I’m guessing books, a note-book maybe even, god help us, a battered sketch book. I am looking forward to finding them tomorrow.
Later, as i dig in the magic box, hunting out scraps of fabric, lights, silk scarves, my hand brushes against the other box. i cant hep myself, I look inside, the photos are still there, in the order they were packed. I’m not ready to look, but dig below them, hand searching, trying not to see. the square mirror is at the bottom, I pull it out, use my t-shirt to remove the thin layer of dust, my finger nails to try to scrape off the marks.
Its time to hang a mirror in this house.