3.A Chapter by Alice
So Christmas was on the way, and I helped Dianne to put up decorations, and eventually forgot the whole thing, though every so often Dianne would probe by speaking to me about weddings and children and all different sorts of things related to romance, and I would smile and say nothing, because there was nothing really that I could say. Dianne was distracted herself, so she would often forget. I felt sad for her; she was getting old and her weight constantly troubled her. She was running the business by herself. She and William had had a son together, but he had no interest in the shop, and little interest in her from what I gathered, though I never liked to ask her outright. He had a wife and children, but they seldom saw her, even over Christmas. Again, I never liked to ask her outright, but I had a feeling that she would be spending Christmas day alone. I decided that I would visit her, and began thinking up an excuse.
How much time went by like this? Days. Weeks. The middle of November was drawing near I think, on the day when I looked up, and saw something that would change me forever.
I was at the window arranging lights, which, despite mine and Dianne's best efforts, would insist on coming untacked every day or so. I suppose it was my fault for attempting such an intricate arrangement. I looked out at the empty street and turned away to get some more tack, and when I looked back the street was equally empty. I wondered where all the people could be at midday, but since I had lived in the town for years I was used to this sort of sight; it was only my knowledge of the rest of the world that lead me to question it. I bent down to stick back the lights, and as I stuck them back I was blinded by a host of tiny white circles. I managed to secure the string and I looked up, waiting for my vision to return to normal. To this day, I will never forget what I saw on the other side of the glass, through the flurry of fading white. Outside the window was a human face, a pale face, a child's face, staring back at me. I jumped back in surprise, and as I did so I blinked, and it was gone. I looked up to Dianne.
'Did you see that? Who was it?'
She was looking out of the window as well, from her place behind the counter, and she could not have failed to see what I had just seen. But her eyes were glazed, and her mouth was hanging open just a little, and when I spoke she shook her head as if waking from some sort of dream.
'Sorry?' she said. I shivered and looked away.
'Nothing,' I said. 'I'm seeing things. I must be tired.'
I went off to work in a different part of the shop and tried not to look at the window for the rest of the day, which was difficult as the place was small and the window took up most of the front of the shop. I did not want to say so but I was sure that they face I had seen had not been imagined. Dianne had not seen it. How was that possible? She had been looking right at it. I did not understand, but I was certain that I was not imagining things. Something strange had happened. I did not want to think about it, but I could not leave it alone.
Sitting around the table that night with my grey faced mother and father, with them talking little, and me not talking at all, I suddenly asked - 'If you have been missing someone, did you ever see them, and really believe that it was them? I mean, really believe that it was them?'
'What are you talking about?' asked my mother, and then I suddenly did not want to tell her at all. My father said nothing.
'Oh - just something that happened at work today...'
I carried on eating in silence while my parents spoke of renovations that needed doing to the house, and the subject was never spoken of again.
Truthfully I had been thinking of Michelle. Lying in bed that night I stared at the ceiling and tried to remember her face. Had it much resembled the face outside the window? But all children looked the same to me, more or less, and I couldn't tell. My sister's face was leaving me, and the photos were all kept away safe in a box, in case anything should ever happen to them. My parents kept my sister's face, and I could not ask for it without in turn asking about Michelle, and that was never done in my house. I decided that I could not possibly be anything to do with her, and that I was just thinking about things too much. Even so, that night I had a very uneasy sleep, and I dreaded having to go to work the next day like I had never dreaded anything else.
© 2010 Alice
AboutI’m a prose writer, mainly one that works on novels and doesn’t finish them. I want to use this place like an online notebook. I’ll be posting as I write, which means a lot of this .. more..