Secret Reflections

I think I am the best keeper of secrets I know and as such would never divulge anything anyone has told me in confidence, certainly not on a public notice board. So, to meet the criteria for the ‘secret ‘ entry I thought I would write a short story.

I ran to take shelter in the museum and looked around furtively as I hunted through my pockets with wet hands in search of a tissue.  I hoped anyone watching me would not think it was anything more than rain as the diamond droplet from my nose dripped down the front of my jacket.

The warmth of the entrance hall carried its musty smell toward me in welcome. I’d spent many hours exploring here with Anna during the long school holidays. We’d laughed as we flirted with the boys from the Grammar school, hiding and stifling giggles behind our hands; made up stories about the crowns and robes that now hung lifeless and empty in dusty corners. We’d held hands and cried over broken relationships in the darkened quiet seats as teenagers and spent hours at the study tables  trying to put together essays that were different enough to look as if we hadn’t worked together while at college. Just before Anna had moved abroad with her family we’d both bought the same necklace and sworn never to take them off. We’d lost touch as they had moved around. Ah yes, the memories that clung tightly to that smell.

As it looked like the rain was not going to ease for a while I decided to take a walk round before going for a coffee in the café on the first floor. Although the smell hadn’t changed, the exhibits had.  A dinosaur exhibition housed rows and rows of bones and artefacts. Small screens allowed me to see the creature they came from at the touch of a button. Documentaries played on monitors telling me about the history of each one. I smiled as I remembered the dinosaur story we had written one afternoon for a science project on evolution. The ammonite fossil caught my eye. It had been captured in what looked like an old piece of granite kerbstone. Its curled shell nestled tightly inside a quartz casing. More tiny pieces of quartz were glistening between some of the folds and I smiled to myself as I thought how much like life was this ancient creature; how much like my life.

 I walked back up to the café, bought myself a cream cake and a coffee and sat by the window looking down on the street below.  Rivulets of water clung together as they ran races to the frame at the bottom of the window. I reflected on the ammonite. Such a beautiful creature incarcerated in a coffin of grey stone, taunted by the sparkling of reflected light on its prison walls. I sighed and looked outside. Large droplets of rain scattered across the window, little images of people in the street below drifted through each drop. The vibrant, magnified colours of their clothing faded away to the grey of the pavement once they had passed and left me with just my broken reflection. I wondered where the years had gone, where Anna was now. I sipped my coffee.

‘Lorna?’ a voice broke into my daydreams. ‘Lorna, I don’t believe this, it is you!’

Anna? My heart leapt. It couldn’t be, could it?

‘Lorna, have you any idea how I have missed you.’

As I stood up she embraced me and I held her tight. Tears fell down my cheeks as I cradled her face in my hands.

‘Oh, Anna.’

I was speechless as she brushed my face with her thumb.

‘You old silly, I knew we would find each other again. I just moved back. It’s funny; I sort of knew I would find you here.’

She removed her coat, shook it and hung it on the back of a chair.

‘I’ll get you a drink,’ I said, ‘ hot chocolate with marshmallows?’

‘ You remembered!’

She smiled and pulled the silk scarf from her neck. A tiny silver ammonite pendant nestled between her breasts.

‘I think we both did,’

She laughed as she undid the top button of my blouse, ran her finger down the chain and touched my pendant.

‘Did you put it on especially? ‘

I kissed her hand.

‘No Anna, I never took it off.’

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