Home » A second life in pictures » “The past is never where you think you left it.” –Katherine Anne Porter

“The past is never where you think you left it.” –Katherine Anne Porter

I guess because I have been writing happy stories in my journal and not thinking about anything that is going on in Ashmourne, I have been thinking a lot about the past. The quote is from Ship of Fools, which I loved when I read it as an undergraduate and was looking forward to teaching one day. I probably won’t ever get to do that now.

But because I wrote that little fairy tale, I have been thinking about the past. And wondering, you know, where everybody got to, what happened, what really happened, after the car accident, how they all are, if they all are.

And this morning, the strangest thing happened. When I opened my journal to write, four photographs fell out. Old-fashioned photographs, the kind my female caretaker used to keep in books as if they were precious keepsakes — and I guess they were.

Fen took this on my iPhone, right before we left for Shining Lands.

Fen took this on my iPhone, right before we left for Shining Lands.

But these photographs — they were never printed. Fen took them all, on my iPhone. She always did that: she’d take your phone and take a photo if she wanted you to have it, then maybe take the same one on her phone for herself. It was her thing. Anyway. It was a few days before we left for Shining Lands. We were in London — well, the three of us were anyway. We went to Forbidden Planet and had lunch in Soho Square. That’s Richard on the left.

This bench was awful!

This bench was awful!

Fenella talked Richard and me into sitting on this godawful bench near St. Thomas’ Hospital — you can see the Houses of Parliament in the background. It was so dirty!I couldn’t stand sitting on it for very long, but she just laughed at me. She took my phone and made us sit still long enough for her to take this picture.

And that's where it gets really weird.

And that’s where it gets really weird.

And that’s where it gets really weird. See, I could almost believe that maybe I’d forgot about us going to Boots or something and printing those two pictures out straight off the iPhone. But the next ones … no. The picture on the right was taken on the first day at Shining Lands, in the lodge. Lots of people camped, but I hate camping, so we got space in the lodge. I remember her using my phone to take this picture: we were so bored because the event didn’t really kick off for hours and we were already garbed up. We were so bored, we actually played chess. Richard kicked my arse.

Fen was so happy when I told her we'd kissed!

Fen was so happy when I told her we’d kissed!

Richard first kissed me that evening on our way to dinner. Fen was so happy when I told her we’d kissed! She actually bitched about me not letting her photograph the event — can you believe that? She made us pose for this picture so she could immortalise the moment. But there’s no way any of these photographs could ever have been printed. Because they were taken on my iPhone, just days before the car accident happened. And the next two? I don’t even remember them being taken, although I do remember being in those places with Richard.

It's surreal.

It’s surreal.

It’s surreal, which isn’t any different from the other stuff that’s happened in my life in the past year — but my life Before (there I go capitalising Before like it’s a Place again!) does not fit into my life Now. And my life Before was very simple, and linear, and everything fit into its own special place. It doesn’t feel right for that life to somehow overlap into this one. I shouldn’t have these photographs. I shouldn’t have anything but a memory of those few days with Richard, before everything changed. This is the little bench seat in the lodge common room; we spent a lot of time there in between different events, and some of them were even held in the lodge.

Right before we left?

Right before we left?

This last one must have been taken right before we left — I remember those big trees were near the lodge carpark. I don’t remember Fenella taking a picture of us there; in fact, I’m pretty sure my phone was out of battery because I forgot to plug it in the night before. We had a fight over whose phone got to use the car charger first when we got into Fen’s car. She won, of course. Right before we left. This photograph was taken right before we left Shining Lands. Which means it was taken just an hour or two before everything changed, before I passed out and woke up on the side of the river and the Boatman carried me into my new life.

What does it mean? Six photographs that can’t ever have been printed just falling out of my journal and onto my bed? At least four photographs that probably couldn’t have been seen by anybody, unless maybe Emma or Richard took my phone — because I don’t think Fen and Kevin made it — and had them printed, saved them somehow. I can believe Richard might have printed them, but how did they get here? I don’t need any more mysteries: I have too many things to keep straight as it is, and I’m going to have to talk about current events in the next entry, because it’s all just threatening to spill out of my head right now, even though I’m staring at these pictures and realising I’d almost forgotten what Richard looked like, and I haven’t thought of his face in I don’t know how long. And the photographs won’t last long here. I’m going to have to sketch them before they fade away. Maybe I’ll just sketch one or two of them, so I can remember Richard. Who I thought I left in the past. But, as KAP says, the past is never where you thought you left it. 

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