A couple of weeks ago I took up a photo challenge- post the last picture I took on February 28th- so I did.
It was a picture of a housewarming gift- the story is I was so busy when I first moved into my new place that I set it aside with some furnishings I decided to not use and I forgot about it.
Then I stumbled across it when I as putting away some holiday decorations and I opended it.
Inside I found a stature, a picture of an Insane Asylum and a some clippings about a play where the audience went mad- they stumbled out of the Strand after the play was over with torn clothing, cuts and brusies and I think a lot of them went crazy.
I don’t know about you, but my home feels a little more cozy and a lot more interesting.
Mrs. Pritchard lived door to us when I was a child.
Mrs Pritchard always wore simple knee length black dresses, black shoes with square heels and a single strand of pearls around neck. I thought she was ancient, but in reality she was only a few years older then my Grandmother, so she was probably in her late fifties.
Sometimes when I saw Mrs Pritchard outside digging in her garden or taking groceries up the stairs to her kitchen door at the side of her house, it seemed to me she moved with far more energy then the other adults in the neighborhood.
Once she saw me watching her and she called me over. ” Do you want to ask me something?”
The words popped out of my mouth: ” Why do you pretend to be an old lady? ”
Mrs. Pritchard’s eyes sparkled – no they bubbled like my favorite soda pop in a tall glass full of ice. ” I do like you, I think I like you better then anyone on this street. Do you want something cold to drink? I have a collection of lovely bone china teacups and you can choose which one you want to drink from. ”
I said yes and that is how we became friends.
She grew tulips along our property line and beds of violets and chamomile under her windows and around the crabapple trees in her front and back yard and sometimes she would call me over and let me choose some flowers to take home to my Mom, or she said I could keep them for myself.
” Flowers weren’t meant to be the personal property of the dead and the love lorn, ” she would say ” if you have a nose on your face enjoy them too.”
I chose a little bunch of wild flowers and followed her into her house.
Mrs. Pritchard’s house was always a little dark.
She had old fashioned furniture like my Great Grandmother had and she had fancy rugs on her floors and few paintings of people in heavy gold frames on her walls and little porcelain figurines on her mantelpiece and table tops.
It sounds like her house was packed full of antiques, but it wasn’t, in fact it struck me then as it does now as I remember it that her house seemed a little empty, quiet, tomblike.
On the day I chose out my most recent bunch of flowers and she was tieing them together with a little bit of ribbon , I busied myself the way I always did. I played with the grandfather clock in the hall.
I opened the door I looked inside, I touched the chimes and said my name into it’s works.
” I really like your clock, my Aunt Irene has one just like it. Her’s works though. ”
” Oh. ” Mrs Pritchard looked a little startled, ” Oh, I see what you mean. He works like a charm. But he only works when my Dad went to work and when my Aunt went to work and when I went to work so our family would know when we were done at work and would be on our way home. ”
I liked that idea. ” So it was a special clock that told time just for you. ”
She handed me my flowers. ” Yes, he does. ”
” Do you work Mrs. Pritchard? ” I was surprised. Not a lot of women worked outside the home in our neighborhood back in those days.
” Yes I do. Sometimes. ”
I knew Mrs. Pritchard lived alone, but I wondered out loud anyway. ” Do you set your clock still? ”
” Well of course I do, ” she put her hand on the clocks side and patted it a little. ” For the both of us. ”
I thought she meant her cat, Fidget but something told me that wasn’t right.
” Mrs. Pritchard, where do you work? ”
She leaned down and so that we were eye to eye. ” I think you are a smart girl, a brave girl so I will tell you what I do because I know it won’t scare you the way it might scare our neighbors or even your family. I’m not going to tell you it’s a secret but you have to understand telling could be difficult. It’s hard to explain what I do. Even for me. ”
I nodded and she leaned to my right and said into my ear,