In a neighbouring suburb there used to be a coffee shop, a quaint place with huge windows and creaking wooden floors. A friend and I used to meet there occasionally to catch up and share news. Across the road is a jumbly old house filled with memories and ghosts. I recall sitting in the coffee shop waiting for Jane to turn up. I had my notebook out, as writers often do… It was then that I felt a presence. A woman, watching me, assessing me. I tuned in, susceptible as I am to these beings who’ve gone without going. She had a story to tell and as I listened and waited this is what flowed from my pen…
Daffodil yellow window frames, with matching awnings billowing on the wind. A yellow tin roof. Sash windows and potted geraniums and marigolds behind a bleached white picket fence. A house with a story to tell…
Fairy cakes on a refectory table. Autumnal chrysanthemums in a red enamel jug. Scrubbed wooden floor and tall airy windows. Illumination from a gleaming brass chandelier. A coffee shop now. Called Gryphons – with a story to tell…
There’s a ghost, I can feel her presence and her memories, drifting, watching, whispering with the breeze.
Smells of coffee linger on the air.
Empty soda bottles with violet blue statice stuffed in their necks.
I hear a rustle of old lace and a giggle – girlish yet cracked. She is amused, curious, shy and yet… She too has a story to tell.
He lived in the house opposite behind the daffodil yellow window frames. She is a ghost now, he was a ghost then but she loved him, even through his moods when the pots would fly and the shutters bang as he declared his frustration at being no longer fully alive.
The house with the yellow windows – Delfhaven…
The curtain in the upstairs room trembles, now as it did then. I think I see a pale hand, just as she thought she did.
Yes, I hear her whisper through the clatter of teacups.
“I did. I saw him watching me, felt his eyes upon me…”
The floorboard creaks. She knows I am here, am listening, like she listened to him. She edges closer, stepping through the waitress, who unseeing, moves on.
“We were lovers,” she whispers and across the road, I sense him sigh.
I never finished writing the story – never really started it – there were other things that came along, as there always are. But last week I drove past the house and as I waited in the traffic to make the crossing into the side road, I felt them again. Both of them, him and her, still waiting for their story to be told. They know I’m out here, I know they’re in there. The coffee shop has closed but I shall have to find a place sit nearby so I can listen to their story… For it seems to me they want it told to the world. But in the meanwhile the gryphons watch over them.