‘Catherine’ 11

25 May

 

Instinct was telling her that something had changed.  That in all the years she and Cathy had kept watch, this was a significant sighting, and as she joined her family, warm around the table in the kitchen, she wanted to believe that, at last, Cathy’s daddy had come home.

There were pools of water in the yard beyond Maud’s gate at the workhouse.  She had come to regard it as her gate since standing at it was now a regular part of her daily routine.

 The rain had been relentless for two days and as darkness fell across Liverpool, Maud was about to end her vigil when the spectre girl appeared, wading through the water, seemingly oblivious to her drenched state.  Reaching for the bars of the gate she clutched them and Maud was surprised to perceive signs of intelligence in the gaze which met hers. They faced each other, divided by a few strips of wrought iron and a few degrees of poverty.

Close up the girl was older that Maud had guessed during their first encounter, possibly her own age,  no longer a child, not quite a woman, ghostly pale with huge green eyes conveying unfathomable depths of sorrow. 

‘Have you seen Catherine?’

Maud pleaded.  The girl was silent.

‘What’s your name?’

Maud ventured, hoping to gain her trust.

‘Anne,’ she replied, ‘I’m Anne.’

It was as if she had spoken her name for the first time and was surprised to discover that she owned one. 

‘Anne, take this note and give it to Catherine,’

Maud pulled Anne’s bony wet fingers from the bar and wrapped them round the note she had written that morning. 

‘Please give it to Catherine.’

She repeated, as Anne waded back across the yard and out of sight.

Maud doubted the note would reach its destination, but it was worth a try, and as she stepped through the puddles on her way home, she allowed herself a few cautiously joyous splashes.

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