Thursday, 6 March 2008

A Late Night Phone Call

There’s a box on the windowsill. In another life in a foreign country, the box could have held cigars or the lock of a loved one’s hair. She imagines its lining, blue velvet with no visible joins, pins, sewing or staples. On the outside it is encrusted with jewels. She presumes that they aren’t real jewels. Or maybe they are. Maybe, if you have something really valuable and keep in on display, such as on a windowsill, then you get to keep it. Perhaps they’re plastic. Someone, somewhere has gone to the trouble of making perfect little blue gems as deep in colour as a sink hole in the Mexican jungle and green ones to match her black cat’s eyes. Its edges are bordered in silver; so intricate that it could have been woven by hand and sewn on but it is solid enough. Solid enough to sustain the presence of a latch, a flap of glinting metal folding down over a small hook, under the bridge of which there is a faint trace of dust. She dusts the bedroom methodically, starting with the bedside tables, the lampshades, the skirting board and the mirror. She dusts the tops of the window handles, restoring them to such a gleam that she sees her distorted face peering into the lock of each one. She dusts along the windowsill, and moves the box ,using both hands, to the left. She dusts where it has been and lifts it back to the right. But she never dusts under the latch because that would be too tempting.

At night time, the moon catches the silver border and it winks at her. Tonight, at 11.36, the telephone rings. He has gone. She should be sad but she smiles because at last she can open the box.

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