A Daughter Came to Visit
by Hannah Bagnall
A daughter opened the door to her mother’s house with a key that she had. She called to her mother and only the quiet noises of the house answered. For instance, a clock ticked and some wind escaped through a window. She called again as she turned to close the door. Still, only the house answered.
She wandered about the rooms of her mother’s house. It was cold and the daylight was dark. She continued to call for her mother without a response but she knew her mother was there. The rooms were empty. They did contain furniture but other than the furniture, they were empty. The house was a perfect square with a central room and a corridor that ran all the way around the central room and which led to other rooms.After the third corner, this daughter found her mother in the dining room.
The mother was sitting at the dining room table. She was expectant but she was not waiting. There was a pot of tea and two cups laid out on the table and the mother gestured that the daughter could pour the tea into the cups for them both. The mother already knew what she was going to talk about but she didn’t like to instigate the conversation. The daughter did not know what they were going to talk about but she knew it had already been decided and so she asked lots of questions until she found it out. If the daughter accidentally steered the conversation away from the decided topic, her mother looked away at the window as if she was looking out of it at something not very interesting. The daughter would trace her way back to where she had strayed off course and her mother would start talking again. This way, a daughter can come to trace the boundaries of her mother’s conversation.
The mother expected that the daughter had things to do and so the daughter began collecting the cups and plates and the tea pot and put them onto the tray to tidy things away before she left. The mother insisted that she did not need to do that while she placed the things the daughter had forgotten onto the tray. The daughter put the tray in the kitchen and said goodbye to her mother who remained in her seat but participated in a hug. The daughter turned the fourth corner and was back at the front door. As she left, the daughter pictured the map of their conversation but with her wrong turns erased.