I am not at home. I have come here for peace and quiet. I hear the river lapping against the shore, a regular rhythm that doesn’t disturb. Dusk is falling. I hear an owl hoot, plaintive and musical. A dog barks in the distance. The only other sound it the tapping of my type-writer keys. Coffee, strictly too late for drinking stands on the desk close at hand. The smell of the beans I ground earlier still hangs in the air and a scent of fir trees wafts through the window. The desk still smells of polish. I stop to think and run my hand over the surface of the desk feelings its grain. Its an old desk, slightly pitted and roughened by use. I run my finger along a small dip, a dimple. I wonder how that happened and when. On the desk is my camera, a lamp and a notebook and a small round bowl. The little bowl is nothing more than itself, yet it holds on hundred years of history and reflects the shape of this valley.
The buildings in that part of town had seen better days. The white paint was peeling from classical porticos, the concrete steps were stained, the tall sash windows needed fresh paint and the curtains that hung limp behind them were worn and in need of a wash. If they were washed, they might fall apart. The trees at the edge of the pavement, too closely hemmed in tried to push up the slabs. I notice a dandelion thrusting its way through a crack by the wall. That made me smile for a moment, but the mood didn’t last.
I turned and walked into a shabby little park with sparse grass and bare stunted trees. Then I saw her; a misplaced middle aged fairy-tale geisha in a long, fitted, brocade dress that had once been the colour of dark jewels but was now faded and made me think of thick dust. She took small hesitant steps. Her hair was up, piled on her head. Her delicate oriental face and her fragile neck were beautiful but outlined by deeply imbedded smoky grey grime.
I imagined her room in one of those houses, feeling sure she lived alone with her old treasures. I couldn’t imagine her cleaning her room. Why would she bother?
I would have liked to invite her to tea, with full ceremony and grace, but I didn’t approach. I was young then. She must have died long ago.
Desperate to look in someone’s eyes, I summon Deliveroo.