Here and Beyond


Olivia climbs the stairs all the way up, negotiating the steep and treacherous stairs to tell Matt that he has missed a very important phone call. It is treacherous because they are remodeling their house again and stairs are just stones piling on each other. The caller, she says was a woman, whose name she did not catch. He waits. She is looking dreamily beyond him now, out through the sloped window in front of the desk, to the hills in the distance, pale blue and flat. What, he asks gently, had this woman on the phone wished to speak to me about? Olivia with an effort withdraws her gaze from the view. “A film, she says in which it seems you have an offer in a leading part.”

This is interesting. Matt has never acted in film before. He inquirers as to the movie title or what it is to be  about. Olivia’s look grows vague, more vague that it has been up to now. “ She did not tell any title or about the movie.” She lowers her head and frowns at her husband from under her eyebrow in solemn silence, like a child who has been asked a difficult and onerous question the answer to which she does not know.

“Never mind, no doubt the woman will call again.” He says.

Olivia was very sharp but now it has changed a little. Her glossy, kohl-black eyes have lately taken on a faded, filmy aspect which worries her husband Matt. Some nights are different from the others. She wakes up or at least leaps from bed, and goes dashing in the dark through all the rooms , upstairs and down, calling their daughter’s name. It is kind of sleepwalker state which seems to her real thing that her daughter is living, trapped in one of the room of the house. Matt holds her still until she grows quiet. “ She is there in her bedroom,” she whispers in the dark. A long deep sigh. They lay on the bed on their backs for a long time holding each other’s hands. Around them the hall furniture stand dimly in the gloom like shocked and speechless attendants.

After their daughter’s sudden death Olivia finds herself venturing, tentatively to entertain the possibility not of the next world, exactly, but of a world next to this one, contiguous with it where there might linger somehow the spirit of those who no longer here and yet not entirely gone either. When she overhears people speaking of bereaved, she hungrily scans their faces to see if they really believe their lost one not entirely gone.

The curtains are thick and drawn tightly shut and Matt does not realize the dawn has come up until he sees forming above him a brightly shimmering image that spreads itself until it stretches over almost the ceiling. At first he takes it for a hallucination generates out of his sleep-deprived. “ I can see her clearly. Look at her pretty blue dress with white laces and colorful tiny mirrors on the bottom of the dress.” Olivia whispers clutching Matt’s hand.

” I remember this dress. It really looks good on her. This is the one we purchased in one of our trip to Agra. Right?” Matt asks turning his face slowly towards his wife.

” Yes. She spotted this dress in one of the roadside shop in-front of the Taj Mahal.” Olivia replies with a small smile. ”

They speak in whispers as if the very action of their voices might shatter the frail assemblages of light and spectral color of the image above them.The thing seems to vibrate inside itself, as if the teeming particles of light itself. Surely they feel this is not entirely a natural phenomenon for which there would be a perfectly simple scientific explanation. But surely this is a thing given to them as a gift, a greeting, in other words a sure sign to comfort them that their daughter is there. They lay there watching it , awestruck for a long time. As the sun rise the world above them are setting, retreating along the ceiling until it develops a hinge at one edge and begins to slide steadily down the far wall and pour itself at last into the carpet. Straight away they get up and start their dealing with the day. They are comforted a little until the wonder of the spectacle to which they have been treated begin to diffuse, to slip and slide. They absorb into the ordinary things of life.

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