Ghosts have wet hair in the morning like the rest of us. There I was lighting up like Belmondo when this rivulet came down my arm and this pale woman stood next to the kitchen door with a cup in her hand.
Big pause. I’m thirsty today she said. Too much night thinking. I like it strong and sweet. Can you manage that for me?
Just looking at her gave me goose bumps. I mean i knew she couldn’t have found the door open or anything. I am a night and day bolter. Privacy is my middle name, yet here she was, asking for tea and sort of whispering words to herself in this voice that made butter of my best intentions. I didn’t bother asking how she got in. I knew. That’s the trouble with too much reading, but I will come to that later. That wet hair, that black bob, too much a give-away. She wasn’t even pretending to hide. It was me that felt like hiding. i mean this girl was the one. She wasn’t even wearing shoes or lipstick but that wet hair told me everything. everything.
Trying to get past her to the kitchen there was this chypre thing in the air, her air, her hair! I nearly stumbled into her, chypred to hell, brinkful of apologies, but no need as she backed away into the unlit kitchen still mouthing something to herself , eyes on the picture of some hill my dad had inflicted on me when he had run out of room.
I’ve been there. Or somewhere near there. Her eyes were still on the picture, head to one side, more animal than girl. She was having difficulty with the black sheep in the foreground. Everyone did. Dad had put this sheep in to cheer up the landscape, but it looked miserable as hell and twice as lonely. Perhaps it was his self-portait, his way of saying sorry.
Watching her look at the sheep I heard dad again and the rattle of that biscuit barrel that grandma would bring out each Sunday when we had run out of things to say about school. I could even smell wood now and that hit of chocloate as my brother and I grabbed some special biscuit fingers. I felt I wanted to shake my head so these ant-like thoughts would fall out onto the kitchen tiles .
The kettle boiled and she smiled at the steam. Another clue, and the tea bag was just so amusing I could tell. I held my breath and made some grand opening gesture as i brought out the milk from the fridge.
Indesit she teased me or was it just everything about this time ? Where do Indesit’s come from. You might notice that there is a slight edge to my thinking now. Not even a question mark to a question. Kiwi arrogance. Be careful what you wish for and all that. Well I must admit I was(am still) not so secretly pleased that this force of nature should appear so gorgeously in my kitchen. Beats hell out of pretending to be Belmondo on my birthday!
The Woman in Black
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