Unit 16 When Shadows Fall…………………………261
Cobwebs(蜘蛛网) hang lazily from the cracked plaster ceilings. Dust has piled thickly on the paper. Books are placed everywhere, on tall shelves and low shelves, in unsteady(不稳定的) stacks on floor, coffee table, lounge and piano, in boxes, cupboards and wardrobes(大衣柜).
A reading lamp casts a single bright circle on the green cloth of the dining table, and a woman’s head bent low over them. Her hair crinkles(成波浪状) like tarnished(失去光泽的) metal. As she writes, her brown arm moves slowly across the circle of light, the faint scratching of her pen is the only sound in the room.
Loud strikes at the front door shatters(打碎) the calm. The writer sighs, starts to lay down her pen, but with a shake of her head resumes writing. The over-enthusiastic knocking at the door is repeated. The house is vibrated: millions of tiny dust particles shiver and twirl(旋转) chaotically(无秩序地) through the air, fragments of plaster tremble along the cracks, spiders hurry to their corners. She hears footsteps pass the curtained window in front of her, the frail and dusted back gate opens with only a brief creak(吱吱的响声).
Pushing back her chair, she stands rigidly, revealing the red glow of a heater in the dark cave under the table, and walks slowly through the cold kitchen to the back door.
As she opens the back door, she finds there stands a young man on her threshold, who is from the flats across the road. He’s storing things in her garage.
“Hi, Mrs Embley. I just want to ask if you’d mind if I put up a few shelves in the shed?”
Shelves... timber... nails... hammering... noise!
“Uh, no, I don’t think that’s a good idea: Donald wouldn’t like it. ”
“Oh, Donald is back, isn’t he? ”
“Of course. I told you he has just gone up the street. ”
“Yeah, haven’t seen him, but OK. It doesn’t matter. See you. ”
“Wait! It really would be best if you didn’t disturb us in the house. Donald needs peace and quiet for his work, you see. Just come and go to the garage, as you want, no need to ask. A1right? ”
“Fair enough, ” he nods, and disappears down the side path. She shivers a little, glancing briefly at the vaguely familiar wildness of the yard before shutting and bolting the door. Donald used to look after it, but she no longer remembers how long since he went, nowhere he said he was going. Last winter? Or the one before?
A cup of tea, she thinks, then on to that troublesome chapter five. Searching vainly for biscuits, she curses gently. Such a waste of time, shopping. Perhaps she’ll just go to the petrol station on the corner again;they have a few things, and they certainly have biscuits.
She fetches her coat from the wardrobe. The hat she wears on her head is an old gardening one, but the mirror door, hanging by a hinge, shows only a haggard(憔悴的) and lanky(瘦长的) sight of her figure, and she leaves the house.
Returning ten minutes later with her stopgap (权宜的) shopping, she remembers to clear the mailbox. She skims(快速浏览) through the pile of letters and finds that most are sent to her for manuscripts. These publishers can be so pushy(热心的). She’ll deal with them later.
Now for chapter five! Tea and biscuits at her hand, the heater at her feet, silence and the night screen like a protective curtain all around her. She turns to the beginning to reread what she has finished and regain the imagined world.
The first paragraph is only a working one, but it has, she feels, a good title to it: When Shadows Fall, by Donald Embley.