Sunday, July 12, 2009

Details of the war

Auntie Annie would stay with us from time to time. Not
our real aunt—a great-aunt, I think—she smelt of camphor
and seemed incredibly old and shapeless, even boneless,
as if she spent her nights hung up in a wardrobe. She had
never married, or, if she had, it was in another century,
and Henry or Tom or Titus was dust in an unattended
grave. With her wispy shuffle and dowdy dress she made
so little impression that you hardly knew she was in the
house. When she took a bath she would turn out the light
and from outside the bathroom window you'd hear little
plashing sounds in the dark. To shield yourself from
yourself: the ultimate in modesty.


Old Geezer said...

Maybe she was just frugal, not modest. Or maybe she was aware that the bathroom was overlooked by another house.
Or maybe (as we used to do when staying with relatives on a farm), she bathed in the dark because the window was wedged open a bit, and to bathe with the light on invited guests in and the bathwater became moth soup.

Mary McCallum said...

oh what a lovely description - interesting you read it as modesty, denis - and find practical reasons, old geezer - i think of it as an exciting insight into the nature of someone who is otherwise apparently characterless - perhaps she opened the window a touch to let the moon in and lay in the bath and dreamed