CuiousPages - fiction and nonfiction
CuriousPages - fiction and nonfiction
Jack said, “Yes, it’s marvellous,” and left the kitchen.
On the following morning he moved the soap and towels back to their proper places, then again on the next morning, and the next. This same thing happened to the objects on his living room shelving. He would move them back to their proper position only to find they would seemingly move again of their own accord. He came to seriously believe a poltergeist had taken up residence in his flat.
Due to his training, his senses were focused on detecting energy—both the energy emanating from all people, and also the energy they left behind—and he could sense the presence of this poltergeist in the same way he sensed the energy of a martial arts opponent. It felt as though some force—which was separate from Maryanne—had occupied his flat, though it had obviously been brought there by her, as though it were the mind of some malicious entity that had attached itself to her. In the kitchen, when he now picked up a jar, it would fall from his hands, its lid having been left unscrewed. He would tighten it, only to find when he next picked it up, it would again drop from his hands. His laundry was now folded differently and placed on the wrong shelves; his books, left open for convenience, were now tidied away; objects, which he lay in certain places as a reminder to perform certain tasks, would disappear; and in the kitchen he would take out a knife and a few seconds later would go to use it only to find it had vanished. It was as though some supernatural force had been set upon him to erode his sanity.
He began his daily practice by holding a stance for one hour in his living room. The following morning he was standing in the Praying Mantis Takes Flight position for forty minutes while pondering the poltergeist’s antics. He imagined a jar lid slowly turning and he could sense the poltergeist nearby, as an invisible cloud of energy. He watched one of his books fold itself up and levitate back onto the bookcase, and there too was that cloud and for the first time he saw clearly its intention. Its purpose in life was simply to oppose him. He imagined the cloud moving the cups in his cupboard around, destroying his efficiency, his economy; it seemed as though it were unpicking his every thought of the past eight years. Any design he developed, to either save time or space, or to improve flavour or texture, it seemed the poltergeist had been set upon him to destroy—to, perhaps, feed upon his designs. Perhaps (he mused) that was the purpose of such a force. It fed upon human designs and sought to restore the randomness of nature. Perhaps, perhaps.
He recalled Maryanne saying, “That was nice,” and saw her smiling face.
Of course he knew it was she who moved these objects and of course he said to her, “You keep leaving the lids unscrewed.”
“Oh really? How interesting,” she said.
 “Where are my shoes? I always leave them here,” he said on another occasion, to which she said:
 “No, shoes should go here; it’s more tidy.”
And when he said: “I left that there to remind me to pay the phone bill,” she said nothing, but merely glanced at him while deep in thought; and recalling this now, he could see the meaning in her glance. It was the poltergeist that was looking back out at him through her eyes and it was saying, “Yes, I am here to resist you; my purpose in life is to un-build human endeavours, and the more focussed they are, the more they attract me,” and, silently, from within Maryanne’s eyes, the poltergeist fixed him with its combative gaze.
Lily was watching his face. She was sure she had seen him somewhere before but could not think where. Then she started recalling that place, the asylum; she could still clearly see its wards and corridors, even after all these years. And while continuing to watch this man raging at her from the sofa, she recalled the noise of the mob as they clung to her like the collapsing walls of some confined pit she had stumbled into. They were pushing her along a corridor, shouting, “Butcher’s wife!” Then they pushed her into that room; and she could still recall the sight of their close‑up faces and the feel of each of them entering her in turn like a series of brutally curious snakes, each determined to plant him inside her, so he would grow and grow until he, too, would become like them.
She continued watching the face as it raged at her. Yes, it was him, her second son, Thomas (—But why’s he come back here?—and after all this time, and just to read the gas meter? And who’s that woman beside him?—arguing with him and smiling at me—she keeps doing it!—what does she mean?). Lily heard the woman saying something about, “...your bloody petition again.” And then, “What does it matter?” And it seemed to Lily they must be talking about the gas meter: what does it matter about reading that when they can drink all her tea—“After all, what does it matter?”
Lily heard the man saying something about, “...her see‑nine letter to the MP.” But that could not be right, so perhaps he was saying, “I’ve seen nine letters to the MP.” Then she heard him saying there was room in the letter; he kept shouting this at the woman on the sofa, “There’s room in it and she doesn’t know.” And Lily wondered what there could possibly be room in the ninth letter for.
She watched his angry face, and suddenly the face seemed unfamiliar again. She knew he was connected with Tommy, her young boy, but she could not work out how. She could imagine Tommy’s face, and she could even hear his voice, a small boy’s voice, calling to her from somewhere nearby (—Yes, that’s where he is—playing in the garden. And he’ll want his dinner soon; what can I make? something for—), something for her dear little boy, the only one she had left now—they had taken her first one, Peter, and now she only had Tommy, her dear little Tommy.
She saw the man on the sofa glaring at her, then realized who he was, for she now remembered it was this man who stole her Tommy from her (—And now he’s come back to boast about it—“I’ve taken your Tommy, so you can’t have him any more, so there”—that’s just what he’s done).

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