She knows she is running out of steam, the writing is coming harder and harder, each word pulled sticking and protesting from her pen, the nib threatens to pierce holes in the fine cream paper of her special note-book, her writers notebook.
She wants to stop, unsure why she even started this, no longer getting any pleasure from this writing, each piece now is a knee jerk reaction to the newspaper clipping and she knows, in the terrible law of diminishing returns, that the writing is getting poorer and poorer, more perfunctory, but she cannot stop, needs to complete the project, although, of course, she can not complete a project when she doesn’t know the parameters, for all she knows there are hundreds, maybe thousands of newspaper cutting, hidden al over the house.
She looks around her parents’ bedroom again, looks at it as perspective purchasers will see it. A square, substantial room, painted a serviceable cream just after her mother died, just after her father started sleeping alone for the first time in over 40 years. The furniture is old, not antique, not quirky, just chosen to last, to be functional, comforting in its unchangingness.
She sits, perches really on her mothers’ special seat at the dressing table. she can remember her mothers’ quick glances into the mirror, her look of dissatisfaction, the sense that her relection, her appearance was a quiet let down, a disappointment, but that she contained her vanity, made sure that she didn’t give it too much house room, so only the smallest amount of time could ever be allocated to this daily checking, this daily evaluation.
She can feel herself drifting again, needs to remind herself that she has only until tomorrow morning and some time must be given to multiple charity shop drop off, she does not have time to wander down memory lane, to lose herself in childhood.
So, she grabs piles of cloths from the wardrobe, doesn’t even really look at them, becomes a machine, stuff into another of the growing mountain of black bags, move onto the next one and the next one and she knows that she is crying, but she doesn’t stop, not until she pulls out her fathers’ favourite scarf, a surprisingly luxurious item, soft wool, maybe even cashmere, warm muted colors, orange and brown and grey. She knows it was a Christmas present, given the first year she went away. She can remember the box it came in, the scarf itself wrapped in tissue paper and the way her mother wrapped it carefully, gently around his neck and the smile they exchanged and his mock horror at the extravagance and it suddenly hits her.
They had, her mum and dad, a happy marriage, short on demonstration, on declaration, but a little like this functional bedroom furniture, fit for purpose, designed for the long haul and she has stopped crying, is smiling instead, wrapping the scarf around her own neck, enjoying its’ softness. She will keep this she decides, will wear it on cold winter days, will wrap it with love around her own neck.
There are no mysteries, no hidden stories in this room, just the things that get left behind, the things that other people have to tidy away and so she does, occasionally adding something to the little pile of things that she will keep, will take home with her, will look at in days and months and years to come.
She knows now that she will never understand the newspaper clippings, will never know who or how or why, but it doesn’t really matter.
She stops for a break, makes a coffee and sits on her parents’ bed, such a bitter-sweet moment and wishes with a hunger that surprises her, that just once, she could have sat with them, sipped a drink, talked about the every day, but then she shrugs, imagines the look of horror and invasion that her fathers’ face would have held if she had ever tried to break into the tiny circle of intimacy that this bedroom, this bed, this closed door represented.
Instead, she flicks through the stories she has written over the last few, strange days,sees clumsy phrases, clunky paragraphs, unwieldy sentences, but also tiny bits that please her,that make her want to go home right now and sit at her little scrubbed wood desk and write and re-write all of these stories into something better.
She understands that this is not finished, that this gift of other people’s’ narratives, wherever it came from, is just a starting point and she smiles, looks at her reflection smiling in the bedroom mirror and then she finishes her coffee and starts dragging the bin bag mountain down the stairs and towards the front door.