In my dreams, she stares back at me.
Her face, her expression are imprinted on my inner eye. I can revisit these pictures any time I like. They will always be there, waiting. And it won’t matter where I am, I can see her anywhere, any time. Not just her, either, but all the others. I have one to suit each and every mood.
This morning I was in the ladieswear department. I held a scarf loosely between my fingers, and, as there were so few people around, I even closed my eyes for a few moments and allowed the soft, silken fabric to play gently across my fingers. I knew it was exactly right, it would be strong enough. It would be perfect.
I opened my eyes to find the sales assistant staring at me. She approached, and I told myself there was no need to feel nervous. I smiled.
‘May I help you?’ She asked. Her mouth smiled but her lovely eyes told me she thought I was a creep. I put on my apologetic face.
‘Sorry, I guess that looked a little creepy,’ I said, and already she was softening. ‘Thing is, I need to buy a little gift for my aunt. Nothing, you know, too lavish, just something nice, something thoughtful. She practically raised us kids after our Dad left, and my Mum got sick, and she’s getting older and her eyesight’s not so good now she’s over eighty. And now she’s got to give up her home and go into sheltered housing.’
I could see she was hooked, she was nodding along and making concerned faces.
‘I was just trying to imagine how this might feel to her when she unwraps the package. Do you think she’ll know it’s silk? I don’t want her to think I don’t care enough to send her something nice.’
The sales assistant, Hayley, according to her badge, put out a hand and did just what I had done, played the fabric through her fingers, eyes closed. I could have done it there and then. But there’ll be cameras, and there were still a few people dotted around. But I really wanted to do it.
‘I never thought about it before, but you can tell, just from the feel of the fabric. It’ll be perfect.’
‘Then I’ll take it. Thanks for all your help.’ I smiled.
She rang the sale up and I handed over the cash. She smiled at me a little mistily as I turned to leave.
‘I hope your aunt enjoys the gift.’
It’s time to create more memories. I sat in my car until all the staff left the store. It wasn’t too difficult to trail her through the traffic. Now I’m parked across the street from her house.
I’m holding the scarf and playing with its softness as I stare across at the house. I imagine how it will look around her neck, the soft fabric, the soft skin of her throat. Once the lights go out, I’ll make my move.