A Shadow

A haunting, C. tells me, is the return of the same shadow.

Under the heavy veil of mosquito netting, I’m not sure I want to hear the rest of the story I know will follow, though she’s told it a few other times before.

Each time is disconcerting. I don’t completely understand yet this need to circle the unknown again and again, even if it is frightening.

There was a woman, she begins. She must have been in love with your mother. Her name was J.

I have seen a few photographs– she has very short dark hair, eyebrows that look penciled in. Dark mouth, bony shoulders.

She came every Friday after work to visit, even after my father had married my mother. As the hour got later, they must have asked her to stay for supper.

How long did this go on? I cannot remember what I’ve been told; except, one afternoon, almost as soon as she arrived, she poured a packet of rat poison into the coffee she was served.

C. tells me: In the kitchen, there at the old round wooden table. She had written a letter, and it was found by the police in one of her pockets. I want to know what was in the letter but no one seems to know.

I don’t want to listen to what comes next— how in the months that followed a cab would pull up at our gate, the driver insisting that a woman had telephoned to be picked up; how a hand would materialize from under a mosquito net such as the one that made us a little cocoon in the dark.

Who is that plucking at a sleeve, trying to touch the sleepers who are still very much awake?

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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