CuiousPages - fiction and nonfiction
CuriousPages - fiction and nonfiction
Then I could hear footsteps in an adjoining room and I started following them or trying to. I was passing from room to room, from corridor to corridor and the steps always seemed to be receding from me, as if deliberately shunning me. I turned into a darkened room and it was full of the sound of those steps, echoing. The sound diminished and I noticed a single picture, from which the steps seemed to be emanating. My eyes followed the sound of those steps deep into the picture, which seemed to consist of nothing else other than the sound of those steps always walking away from me. My mind listened to the picture as my helpless eyes stood by. But then I turned to another wall and saw a silent picture. I saw Jonathan’s face looking at me. And there was nothing that either of us could say; all we could both do was stare, helplessly, as we both knew that we should be together but were now parted for life and in another picture, nearby, one which I recognised had been painted by myself over the years since our parting, I saw all my mistakes laid out, the wrong paths I took, and the so obvious things I should have said to avoid this, this silence, the enforced dumbness, and this, his staring face, his heart connecting with mine, from deep inside his body, that knowledge within both of us, that we should be together, if only I had done those obvious things, and not been driven by my own deformed impressions. I saw his face, looking back at me from within that picture and heard those footsteps receding from me.
I turned to another wall and saw a tunnel, its path disappearing into the distance, as though tunnelling deep into a dark hillside, though I knew that it was, in reality, tunnelling deep down into my own heart and I realized, with alarm, that the name of this room was ‘My True Loves’. It contained my most treasured, yet most feared pictures. These were the remnants of the men who had become lodged deep within my own heart. Next to the tunnel, I saw another face, the face of Lee. He was staring up at me as he hung over a cliff’s edge, his fingers desperately gripping the ledge. Our eyes, again, watched each other helplessly, and in my mind another gallery of mistakes played out its images, each of them a lifeline that Lee could have grasped, had I not mistaken it for a rejection and tidied it away into my grave where one day I would join it and lie there alone with those tattered, misunderstood ropes, my only company.
Then the air in there was suffocating; I could not breathe; I had to get out. I fell towards a wall, for I had lost my balance, and I was then in a new room. This one seemed to be outdoors, for I could feel grass beneath my feet and in place of walls, there was an orchard—its trees burdened with tempting fruit, which I dared not pick. I looked closely at the glossy surface of a ruddy apple and noticed the reflection of myself there. I was buying furniture to make a home but I could not decide between this fabric or that. Then an assistant walked passed behind be, angrily tearing to shreds my favourite clothes, saying, “If you can’t decide, you’ll have nothing.”
He returned to his easy chair, wearing only his shirt, underwear, shoes and hat—which he seemed to have forgotten to take off. He folded his arms, resumed his smug smile and beamed this at Primrose.
Primrose waved her weapon even more frantically at him and shouted, “Five thousand signatures—you can’t get out of it this easily—five thousand.”
Roland shouted, “What are you looking at me for?—he’s down there—” pointing to the floor, “—down there.”
She shouted, “Five thousand, five!”
He pointed her to his uniform, “Down there—” pointing vigorously with his whole arm, “—he’s down there.” He then looked away, firmly folded his arms and crossed his bare legs.
Meanwhile Sally had finished her initial questioning of Thomas and was becoming more diverted by this fascinating idea—which seemed more convincing the more she “scientifically examined the facts”. That is, the more she looked at Thomas’s face and saw everything she wanted to know, written all over it.
She smiled broadly to herself, tapped the arm of her chair conclusively, then adopted a grimace that resembled a stick‑on photo of a smile while her face appeared to be straining with the effort of holding the photo in place. And at the same time, she widened her eyes as if she were sitting on a pin but could not possibly break with decorum and reveal her pain to anyone. She turned to Primrose, beamed this stick‑on smile at her and politely asked, “Now, would you like tea… or coffee?” beam, beam.
Primrose shouted, “What—?”
Sally politely repeated, “Tea… or coffee?”
Primrose gaped at her for a moment, then said, begrudgingly, “Coffee… please.”
Sally took similar orders from Francis and Thomas, then walked to the kitchen.
Roland watched the backs of her tracksuited legs as she left, sighed deeply, tapped his fingers several times on the arm of his chair, then looked closely at the arm, reflecting that there was definitely nothing criminal‑looking there (—No, no, nothing at all; damned if I can see a thing). He got up—leaving his uniform heaped on the floor beside his chair, but apparently unaware he was still wearing his hat—and headed for the kitchen, waving his arm dismissively over his shoulder at Primrose Jones and shouting, “Sack the lot of them; oh yes, let’s do that—Miss Volcano‑gob wants to have a go!”
Primrose glared after him and her head began trembling on her shoulders. She viciously watched the living‑room door, as if by merely staring at the door Roland had passed through, she could inflict some terrible injury on him. And as she watched the door, her head began quivering alarmingly and the occasional spray of venom escaped from between her whitened lips.

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