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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 11, Number 4, December 2017
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Tim Gardiner
Manningtree, Essex, England


Hide and Seek

Forty-one Chediston Street, a seventeenth-century house in Halesworth, Suffolk, has its musty aroma, low ceilings, and dark rooms, stuck in a drab post-war rut. Sunday afternoons at Chediston tend to draw out slowly; today is no different. Aunt Ruby likes to talk of the past, her stories tinged with sadness.

she recalls
blackberry picking
in the fifties . . .
our names
on the tip of her tongue

We start our game. As Sister begins counting, I scarper down the stairs. Squeezing behind a couple of crates, I hear footsteps above; Sister's heading for the attic room. . . .

the attic ceiling
bowed by the weight
of time . . .
Mother says the nights
were darker then

She eventually finds me hidden in the cellar. My turn now. Closing my eyes, I count to ten as slowly as possible. I'm often drawn to the upper floors, checking the sewing room first. It's set off rickety stairs just before the first floor proper, a high step taking me into a small, well-lit space.

voices echo
from the garden below . . .
sunlight stitched
through thin panes
into my soul

I never returned after Aunt Ruby died several years later, just noticed the place for sale; one hundred and fifty thousand pounds, the asking price. Doesn't seem much, as rain specks my bedroom window.

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