Diary Entry
Vanessa Gebbie

Saturday November 18th

Got a package.

Maybe twenty inches by twelve, wrapped in brown paper, slightly misshapen, narrower at one end than the other. No addressee. Nothing. I wasn't expecting anything. I was just going to do some gardening. I shouted back into the house, "Edna? Expecting a package?"

She shouted back no, she wasn't, then appeared, wiping her hands on a cloth. "Is it for us?"

"It doesn't say."

Edna shook her head. We weren't the sort of people to get packages, she said. It was probably for the neighbours. Not the Franklins, they were away. She said she was busy.

I picked up the package. It wasn't heavy — but solid. I took it across to the Murdochs' and rang the bell. There was no answer, even though the car was in the drive, and the upstairs curtains were closed.

So I left the package on their doorstep and went back to the gardening. After a while Murdoch came out and stood looking at the package. Then he saw me. "Did you leave this here?"

I nodded. "It's not for us," I said.

"What is it"?

"No idea. We aren't expecting anything."

Murdoch went back inside, leaving the package on the doorstep. That made me cross. He should have at least opened it, seen what it was. I stuck the spade in the soil, went and knocked. He came to the door. I nodded at the package.

"Aren't you going to open it?"

"Nope. Nothing to do with me." He went back inside and shut the door.

I needed to get on with the garden. It wasn't the right time of year to leave it; things get on top of you if you don't deal with them quickly.

I left the package outside the Eliases' and went back to my gardening. She did needlework. Maybe the package was for her quilting, something like that.

After a while, Clara Elias came over, carrying the package in both hands like it was alive.

'George left yesterday," she said.

George was a salesman. Photographic. I nodded. "Where to?"

'No — he's left. Gone. I don't want this." She put the package down on the grass.

"Don't leave it there. It's not mine."

"But I saw you bring it a while back."

"It must be for someone round here."

Edna called from inside, "Leonard, who's that?"

Clara Elias had gone. "No one" I said.

My hands were muddy now. I took off my boots, went back into the house. Couldn't pick up the package with muddy hands. When I came back out, there was a hearse outside number eleven. The back of the hearse was open, there were flowers. The door to number eleven was closed. It stayed like that for about ten minutes, no one came out of the house, and no one seemed to be looking after the hearse.

I took the package across the road and put it in the back of the hearse, behind a wreath that said 'Gloria' in white chrysanthemums. I don't know who Gloria was. The Roberts at number eleven are called Harry and Margaret.

Before I got the bulbs in, the hearse drove off with the package. Just one man driving — I don't know who he was.

I saw a beetle on the lawn.

Nothing else of note.

Vanessa Gebbie's second collection of stories, Storm Warning, comes out in November.

To link to this story directly: http://wigleaf.com/201009entry.htm

Detail of photo on main page courtesy of Beck Gusler.

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