Treacle and Ink

March 26, 2008

Inspired again

Filed under: Uncategorized — adrian @ 7:34 pm

Writing is such a strange business. I didn’t come to this bookshop to find inspiration, but to try to get away from it. But it seems to have followed me. I’m writing again. It’s the strangest thing. Let me explain.

Yesterday, I confessed to Jacques that I’d had a look round the store-room.
“But did I not tell you,” he said “not to do such a thing?”
I agreed that he had, but said: “Mr Ayre left me in charge, after all. You couldn’t expect me not to look could you? Too tempting!”
“Ah yes,” said Jacques, “the temptations, they are great.”
I explained my idea to him, that we could display some of the antiques in the bookshop, and maybe sell them on behalf of Loon herself.
“Ah,” he said, “but, pauvre she may never know the benefit.”
“What do you mean?”
“Did I not tell you? There was an accident. Something in the store room fell on ‘er, perhaps. I was not ‘ere.”
“Is she dead?”
“No no,” his face was grave, “she lies in ‘ospital, in a coma. Very serious. For several weeks now.”
“Oh!” I said. I thought for a moment. “That’s very sad, of course. Does she have no family who might want to take charge of the antiques?”
Jacques thought there was no one.

In a funny way, this news made me feel better about going into the storeroom again, taking a proper look this time. After all, no one was going to come and ask me what I thought I was doing. And I felt strangely as if I was doing the room a favour, visiting it. Things only come alive when you use them, don’t they? A pen that’s not being written with, a mirror that’s not being looked into, a chair that’s not being sat on: don’t they seem kind of sad to you?

It was a mirror that caught my fancy, actually. Going into the room in daylight, even waning daylight, was different. The light caught on motes of dust in the air, and on the polished surfaces of the antique furniture. I picked up a book with yellow leather binding and flicked through it, but it seemed to be a diary or journal, the writing too crabbed and faded to read. I ran my fingers over the marbled wood of an ormolu clock.

And then, out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of movement. A mouse! I turned – no, it had just been my own reflection in a brass-backed mirror. A pretty thing, very old-looking, the mirror is made of some sort of black stone but very shiny. I picked it up and turned it over. Half a label is stuck to the back “The mirror of Dr…” But the rest is missing. The brass fittings must be old and loose, though, because I caught my thumb on something sharp. I whipped my hand back. I’d drawn blood, just a little. A tiny bit was smeared on the face of the mirror. I looked at it and suddenly… it was like I was falling into a dream. Like that time, long ago, when I was dead-heading the roses. An idea, a scene, just a tiny fragment of a story but there it was fully formed.

I almost ran out of the room to start writing. I didn’t realise I’d taken the mirror with me until an hour later when I’d run out of steam. I don’t know what comes next in my story, but I want to find out. And a mirror’s certainly easier to keep around than a rose garden! I’m going to hang it in the shop and see if the sight of it will help me write again!


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