Letter: Following into another world

Published: 10/27/2021 4:16:18 PM

She sits in the dark on a low couch. It must have come from her old house. She’s holding a slip of paper, torn up by her fingers. “Whatchoo up to?” I ask. “Well I’m trying to find...where...how to…”, her words won’t come.

I’ve walked into her memory. It is playing out before my eyes. She is in her past in the present – there is no difference anymore. As if her mind is strewn with the same slips of paper, each piece a fragment of a past moment she lived, none of which complete a whole picture. Imagine a brain littered with puzzle pieces that can’t be fitted together, all from different puzzle boxes, scattered around.

“Let’s go to a show together,” I say enticingly. “A show?” She in fact is puzzled by my words. “Well, where is it?” she asks. “Down the hall, let’s walk together,” I say assuredly. “I’d love to but my husband won’t know where I am.” (I know her husband is long gone. He passed away years ago.) “Is he due back today?” I ask. “Well of course he is,” she answers as if I’m an idiot. Then, hopefully, she asks: “do you know where he is?” “I haven’t seen him, I’m sure he is out for errands,” I reply, hoping this will suffice.

Determined, she says, “He won’t know where I am. I want to leave him a note.”

“Good idea. A note. I’ll go get paper and a pen,” I say.

She feeds me the lines. I write them down. She tells me to tape it to the wall. I tape it to the wall. She is satisfied. We walk off together. As I drive home I am struck with how harmless it was to follow her into her past life, to write her note for her, to put it on a wall, all harmless yet for her essential. Later, at home, my son asks how my day went. I tell him the story. He listens, then nods. I conclude: “I leave notes for dead people. It’s my job.”

Tara Greenblatt

Peterborough




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