Marion Jones

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Two Women

The street woman opens a door, climbs thirty-nine steps. Overcast glows from the skylight, a tapestry hangs on the wall. Moons, suns, stars, fish border the emblems of sea, sky, earth. At the sink, a woman washes potatoes. With her knife, she gouges their eyes. Her visitor demands, ‘Tell me the answer.’  She waits. ‘Tell me.’ 

‘What happened is so bad and so far back,’ the sink woman says. ‘Nothing now can be fixed. Your book is on the table. Take it home. Read it.’

The oversized book lies closed. Ancient signs frame the leather cover; handwritten fonts, typewritten, letterpress, linotype fill the centre.

‘That book is too heavy to carry,’ the street woman says. She walks down the stairs to the door. In the gutter, slivers of brown glass glint in the sun. As sharp as the sink woman’s knife, a fragment points at her.

Across the street, a teenage boy and girl bend beneath the hood of an old car. ‘Bring an instruction book,’ the girl shouts. ‘And a light.’

Next morning at her house in a cul-de-sac, the street woman walks through a door in the wall. Tables, chairs and windows line the passageway.
Un-sanded wooden sashes splinter beneath a coat of flat white. She sits, draws a hand over the table, over the gaps between the boards. A woman appears to sit opposite.

‘You can have what you want.’

‘I don’t know what I need.’

‘Who works with your hands?’

The street woman looks at her hands.

‘Already, you have what you want because you are what you need.’

The street woman looks up, but no one has come or gone. At the window, blue sky shines with a clarity of the first day. Far below the netting of sashes, waves break on a pebbled beach. Rows of houses line the slope. On hands and knees, strangers crawl across the terraced hill to their doors.

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