Grace always liked to hide in the dark airing cupboard.
In the dampness of the linens, with the fresh smells of
laundry day filling her nostrils, Grace would close her
eyes and dream.
In her pocket she often had a square of coconut ice, her
favourite delicacy from Grandad's sweet shop. He would
give her a sly wink and slip it over the counter when her
mother wasn't looking. Saying "Bye bye Duckie, see you
Mother always bought large slabs of Aero chocolate bars
from the man on the market stall, demanding that he keep
her secret and not tell her father. The whole town knew
that he had the sweet shop and it was suffering in these
In the airing cupboard, breathing in the scents of linen
and fresh air through the cracks in the old wooden door,
Grace would cry in private and eat her coconut ice slowly,
with a certain dedication.
The vase she had accidently broken lay in shards across
the dining room floor. Unable to think clearly, she had
automatically fled to her secret refuge. Her mother, with
her decisive emphasis on "absolute truth" would be angry
and denounce Grace to her father when he returned from the
hospital. Father, she knew, would be kind and understanding.
He worked at the local mental health facility, in a building
known as "the loony bin" .
It was a forbidding building with fluted pillars set in
beautiful landscaped gardens designed by a famous Victorian
gardener. It always filled her with dread to visit. But
when she was older and able to crack the childhood codes that
once frightened and befuddled her, she could translate
encephalitis to mean the sad and sick demented souls who had
once haunted her dreams. They were just poor and poorly,
not devils after all.
The copyright of this post belongs to Valerie Rule