V/Line Vignette 9

09.07.19 Mr Farrow’s Parcel

The bell painfully warbled Green Sleeves, only just powered by its almost-dead battery, with no consolation of Mr Whippy approaching. Faye looked up from her stack of boxes and saw the last digit of the wall mounted clock flip; 6:13 AM, the first for the working week. She pulled open the metal hatch on the early collection window. The heavy opacity of the wrought iron hatch kept out the cold and the peering eyes of passers-by while she sorted, stacked, and amused herself with a life-sized game of Tetris. The window was narrow, taller than it was wide, meaning she saw most people with spliced faces, depending on where they stood, until she found their parcel, and if it was too large for the window, she’d open a side door and see the whole person.

Mr Farrow from 34 Halls Avenue always stood centre to the opening, a little stooped over to get within frame. He had a small head, so Faye was intimately aware of his entire face, with the many opportunities she’d had to observe it contort from neutral to slightly irate and finally, teary, because at 6:13 AM every Monday through to Friday, they had precisely the same conversation. The others who worked that shift busied themselves by about ten past, leaving Faye to be the one to respond to Mr Farrow’s query.

‘Good morning Faye’

It had taken two years for him to acknowledge there was no longer anonymity in their exchange.

‘Good morning Mr Farrow’

‘I was walking by and thought I’d check on whether my parcel has come in’

At that point, there was calm, Mr Farrow’s forehead smooth except for the lines of age as he passed her the creased and faded notice which was indecipherable except for a faint trace of the red ‘ralia Pos’ in the postal service provider’s recognisable type setting, and Mr Farrow’s name and address which he’d clearly hand written, either tracing over what had once been there or fabricating it entirely.

On this particular morning, however, following a sleepless night and an accusatory tone in her husband’s voice when he’d noted the absence of milk and toilet paper in the house, Faye didn’t have the energy for the charade, and so did not respond.

Mr Farrow tried again.

‘Good morning Faye’

On autopilot, Faye returned to the script, at least up until the next line.

‘Good morning Mr Farrow’

‘I was walking by and thought I’d check on whether my parcel has come in’

Keenly aware of the fragility of the man who stood before her, she settled on a compromise, skipping the part where she shifts some boxes in feigned search of one addressed to him.

‘I’m sorry Mr Farrow, there is no parcel’

Words she normally uttered with detachment filled the early morning air with the quivering weight of her exhaustion and the no longer deniable fact that she was unhappy in her marriage.

Faye and Mr Farrow stood, at 6:18 AM, each on their side of the window, crying. After all those years, without opening the side door, she’d peered through the window and seen all that mattered in what was their final exchange.

 

Check out @10000hoursleft for accompanying illustration.

3 thoughts on “V/Line Vignette 9

    1. Strange connections in conceiving such stories or in our interactions with one another? Maybe both I guess. I love your comments Kerfe…they come from the same place of thinking the human condition as I’m coming from in writing a story. I think more than anything else, writing has made me more compassionate…that is the natural end point when we try to think about what drives the behaviours/actions/beliefs of others.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Both! I’m so glad you saw it that way. I was thinking also how things that happen to us connect us to something totally different in our memories.
        It’s easy to see that often people act out of terror or sadness, but hard to get past their actions sometimes to help.

        Liked by 1 person

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