A nearby neighbor's house

Katherine had had a normal life for so long now that there was no longer anyone who remembered who she had once been.

In Katherine's world you always had to get up when the alarm clock went off if not before. You always had to balance the nutrients that you consumed every time you ate or drank anything. You had to make sure that you treated everyone at work fairly and warmly and yet keep things under control. You had to make sure that your handbag matched the suit you were wearing. Black was never to be worn except at funerals. The news was to be watched but not for too long or else you'd never get the washing done or if you did you'd have to cut back on the amount of time spent sorting out tax issues and then that had to be balanced against doing the ironing and there still had to be time to see friends twice a week to have a small glass of wine and a chat.

(Quelty House - two miles.)

Life was about strategic planning, balance, eating healthily, wearing the right clothes, balancing your domestic budget, managing your time... essentially it was about being in control of a plan and then successfully executing it and making sure that everyone else followed your plan too. That way lay happiness. That way lay contentedness. That way lay order.

(Quelty House - a mile and a half. Roadworks ahead. Recalculating...)

But life hadn't always been like that. Before she had been a supervisor she had been on the shop floor. Only about half the people she now knew remembered that. There had been less control then.

(On. Car parking spot outside Quelty House. Out of the car.)

Before that she had worked for a different company. Very few people still kept in touch with her from those days.

(On. It's been a long time - slightly lost. Retrace steps and go round the other way.)

Before that she had worked for another company, before that another and before that another. That was now so far back in time that she knew absolutely no-one from that time.

(On. Right way now. Ah yes, the gate and then down those steps.)

Before then she had been in a psychiatric hospital. When they felt she was well enough they had taken her and some of the other patients out to a garden at Quelty House. She had tended that garden more than anyone else there. Oh, how she had loved being Katherine Garden as they had affectionately called her! She remembered looking forward to it all week. That feeling of freedom as the rain would roll down her cheeks and there she'd be working away, feeling that wind, looking at that grey sky and just feeling so alive as she made all these wonderful things grow - tomatoes; carrots; turnips; sunflowers; onions; strawberries; pansies... and then it'd be time to go back, back into that room where you couldn't feel the wind and the rain and you could only see the grey sky through the window.


To her delight, the garden was still there and it had a label saying that various communities used the space including her old psychiatric hospital. But they'd let it go downhill - it was looking very brown and earthy! Luckily she'd brought some things to plant there. And she'd carefully checked the rota so that no-one else was due at that time and so no-one could challenge her about what she was doing there.

(Till soil as taught; pause; consider the season; put in fertiliser; consider the amount of seeds to put in. Consider. Consider.)

It still felt wonderful - that sense of freedom. How strange that they'd be asking questions about her old life, the life where she'd set light to a car abroad and visited a nearby house and of how she'd tried to set light to that too and of how the police... that life had disappeared so long ago; the new life in the hospital and planting flowers and fruit and vegetables had so long ago become an old life and a forgotten life; the life in the company after it where she refused to talk about her background was an even newer life and yet still so old and out-of-date and yesterdayish that no-one could remember it; the new new new life in the next company was really old news now; there was the super new world in the company after that; the unbelievably new world in the company after that; then her current company after that; her current role in her current company after that.

("You're so good at gardening. Perhaps you'll take it up when you've left here. You seem so in control. Are you ready to talk about what happened in that house that you nearly burnt? When you're ready. In your own time. In your own time. I reckon that marrow will come up next year. You should come back and have a look.")

Phew! She'd been a supervisor for 12 years. She'd been at her current company for 19 years. There was layer upon layer of history on top of the hospital and that itself lay on top of the Greek Incident. That was well and truly buried. Whenever people did ask her about her past she had company after company to talk about and evening after evening drinking wine with good friends, some of whom she'd long since lost touch with and yet who were themselves unaware of the already-ancient stories of her in the hospital and before that of the Incident.

(Garden under control. Retreat must be made through rear gate as unexpected people are coming.)

The current crisis in her life was making her miserable but coming here had made everything seem all right for the time being. She would have to face up to Lukja at work this week. She wished she'd never have to see him again but she did have to. She had to work with him and be professional.

It would be a difficult week ahead but she'd come back here again. She was already looking forward to it. It'd been so nice to feel that cool wind again and to feel just a sprinkle of rain - how utterly perfect.

Yes, it'd be a difficult week but she'd be looking forward to this lovely garden again.

"When you're ready. In your own time. In your own time."


The End

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