28th February


Another time – any number of other times – she might turn around and nothing would be there. Nothing would have happened. Because that was the thing, it was always over, she never quite saw it. What she saw was the ripple, the vibration, the aftermath. And this was why the experience was never complete. She understood this. She was an unreliable witness, because what she saw was not what she saw but a visual echo of what she might have seen.

She looked through the dining-room window and it was as if a gust of wind, on a day entirely still, had waltzed across the grass and flowerbeds. Along the route of the old brick path that had been there before they re- designed the garden. No cat or bird moved like that. And no gust of wind either, because there was a gauzy kind of shade to it, and a shape. And waltz wasn’t right after all, for something so straight, so pedestrian.

She thought, Did I ever see her when the brick path was still in place? And that was odd, because until that moment she’d never thought of it as female, but there it was: her.

She thought, A day does not exist unless we say so, and even when we say so it requires collective will and individual imagination to sustain its existence. The next day, it’s gone. You cannot capture time and hold it. A date in a diary proves nothing.

She thought, I will go to my grave believing that I saw whatever it was I saw. She was quite shocked at this betrayal of her own scepticism, this undoing of reason, but not as much as she might have been. Because it was not the first time.

She didn’t have a ‘gift’. She absolutely didn’t believe that about herself. It wasn’t about her, it was about the garden, and who had been there before.

One year in every four, she thought, there is a day after this one that does not exist in the other years. We accept that: it’s an invention. But this was different: a real, unreal thing that had happened, somehow, just before she, somehow, witnessed it.

Reader: Kate Molleson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Piano: Kit Downes
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