Miss Delacroix’s Bow (story)

I first noticed there was something wrong when I was coming back from a walk along the Ladebraes. I had just turned off the path by the river, climbed up through the trees, and was walking back along the road into St. Andrews. It was a hot afternoon and people were strolling past me in short sleeves and summer dresses. Then I noticed in the distance an odd figure all dressed up in winter coat and hood, who was running every few yards and plunging her head like a horse. I followed her from a distance of about a 100 yards, but even before I`d taken her in properly I knew by a strange instinct it was Lotte Delacroix.

It was sad about Miss Delacroix: I received her bow through the post this morning.

            Another day I dropped round to see her. Her door is at the back of an old stone house. I took the gravel path round the side, opened the green awing gate and glanced up at her window as I rounded the back of the house. I got rather a surprise to see her standing at the window half hidden by the net curtain, and staring down at me on the path. There is nothing odd in that by itself of course. She could easily have heard the squeaking of the gate. But when I knocked, she took several minutes to come and answer the door and was astonished to see me.

            The next time, we were sitting in the doctor`s waiting room. The lamp hangs low over the table in the middle and throws the rest of the room into dark pink shadows. I was sitting trying to read a magazine in the half light and pulled my chair into the middle of the room. Miss Delacroix was sitting in the darkest edge, on a wooden chair with its back pulled up to the wall.  When I looked up at her, she was sitting bolt upright, and her hands – though they lay quite relaxed on her lap – had become thick, swollen and deep purple.

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When I first woke up it was 9 o`clock. It was alright, I could still make it to the bus station. I fall asleep. When I woke again it was 10.30 and too late.

            I went downstairs, washed and had breakfast. Then I carried on with my packing. I turned on the radio. A quartet was playing “The Lark” by Haydn. I thought of Miss Delacroix`s dark figure wrapped up in the window of some bus. I took down my curtains and carried on packing, until the room was completely bare and strange.

                                                                                                                                    1976