the past can not be undone
not by dictators
nor the historians of empires
who may rewrite history
nor failing memory
the past is a fact
it is in the landscape
carried by the weather
and whispered by the wind
the droughted land
the droughted skin
on your shins
that cracked field of scars
those stretch marks
men and women
carry as medals
until decay or fire
the past does not die
nature keeps it close
it is in the rocks
the dying and birthing stars
the dark nights
the past will not go out
with our sun or others
not with the dying
of the universe
the vacuum its marker
that emptiness the
very essence of
everything we have done
AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 173
‘Good luck with that,’ Marit says. ‘She’s cleaned it out.’
Aggie shrugs. ‘I try to be professional.’
Katharina laughs. ‘Let me try.’
‘Go ahead,’ Aggie says, and watches as Katharina makes exactly the same moves as she did when she went through this place a few days ago, except this time the drawers of the desk aren’t locked.
Katharina starts with the desk, pulls the drawers fully out, turns them upside down, pulls at them as if doubting their solidity, puts them onto the floor quietly, tidily. She reaches into the desk’s pedestals, on her knees now, her head disappearing into the pedestals along with her proving hands, her movements so precise and tidy and fast that Aggie can tell she’s done this before. Not here, of course, but elsewhere, in many places, through the course of her long life, and Aggie doesn’t know how long that’s been. ‘Ah,’ Katharina says, grunts as she puts a little more effort into her search inside the desk.
‘What?’ Marit says.
‘Splinter. In my finger.’ Katharina’s voice is muffled.
‘I thought it was something exciting.’
‘A splinter in my finger is just about the only excitement I get at my age.’ Katharina sniggers. ‘But there’s something else, too. I’m trying to shift it.’ She comes out from the desk, sucking her finger.
‘Don’t even say it,’ Katharina says, raises an eyebrow. ‘It would be funny if it wasn’t true.’
‘Get on a dating site,’ Lilibet says. ‘Never too old for that.’
Katharina shakes her head and grins. ‘I’m not looking for someone my age.’
‘Doesn’t matter,’ Lilibet says. ‘There’s all sorts out there.’
‘I don’t doubt it,’ Katharina says. ‘I should never have started this. Right, hang on.’ Her head disappears into the desk again, and there’s a dullened click. ‘Thought as much. I was pushing too hard.’ Her right arm snakes its way out of the desk and reaches behind her. A tiny key. ‘I wonder what this could be for.’ She crawls out, stands up again, puts her hand on Aggie’s shoulder. ‘I hope I’ve delighted you, my dear.’
‘I suppose you have,’ Aggie says. ‘But I’m disappointed I didn’t find it.’
‘You were probably rushing,’ Katharina says. ‘And worried either he was going to come back and surprise you…’
‘Or Zak was going to escape,’ Aggie says. ‘He was locked in the other room at the time. And not making a sound.’
‘And that’s what worried you,’ Katharina says.
‘And I’m guessing you’ve never really done a house search, have you, nor been trained in it.’
‘Nope. I have no idea what I’m doing. I just rely on what my brain tells me to do.’
‘No surprise then, is it?’ Katharina hands her the key. ‘That’s why teams are best.’ She smiles again. ‘And, anyway, we don’t know f this is what she wanted you to find.’
‘And we don’t know where it’s for,’ Lilibet says, leaning against the wall.
‘Do you think we should sweep the room again, then?’ Aggie says to Katharina, seeing her in a totally new perspective, respect massively increased. ‘Just in case there’s something else?’
‘I don’t think there will be. I reckon you found everything that could be found, except for the key. And I bet you were worried about trashing the room as well.’
‘I bloody felt like trashing it,’ Aggie says. ‘And I do now. This is all just so frustrating.’
‘Patience, my girl, patience.’ Katharina wanders over to the bedside tables, pulls their drawers open. ‘Oh, my,’ she says. ‘Well, she did always know how to have fun.’ Pushes the drawers closed again. She crosses her arms. ‘You know, Aggie, I think your instinct about the cellar is right. And I think that’s where we’ll find whatever that key is for.’