An Accidental Discovery
The hedge I was looking at had a little nest near its roots. The nest contained three perfect eggs, settled like milk teeth.
As I watched, I thought I saw a small movement, a tiny knocking that slightly splintered the surface. I wanted their mother to be there, to watch them break into the world, so I turned my head on the gravel, looking up at the blue for her.
‘Don’t move,’ they say. Something warm and soft is placed over me.
Then, suddenly, she was there, flitting through the sky, hopping among the clouds. A small brown sparrow. She landed by the hedge, looking ready to launch herself into the nest, a security guard protecting precious art.
The hedge was in front of a house, a house I thought I knew. It was white with black edges and I wondered if I was inside the black-and-white TV we got when I was six. The house scratched at the corner of my memory, begging to be lit up in colour.
‘I think he lives in that house,’ they say, ‘I saw him coming down the driveway.’
And of course I do, so I nod, but then my head is pierced with knives. Suddenly, my insides turn to ice and my eyelids glitter and burst with stars.
Later, in the hospital, a nurse adjusts my drip. She sees that I am awake. ‘You had quite a nasty knock,’ she says. ‘How are you feeling?’
I squint at her. ‘You look like my wife,’ I say. And she does. The arm that her clipboard rests on is just as slender as my wife’s, and it curves down into a tiny wrist, like a smooth glass vase for flowers.
She smiles sympathetically. ‘Are you ready for a visitor? He’s been waiting to come in for quite a while now.’
I tell her to let him in and when he comes and sits by my bed I don’t recognise him. He is wearing a uniform, a uniform I know I should know but can’t place. It is black-and-white, like my house.
He tells me that someone at the scene has told the police where I live. No one is at home so they are waiting for my wife there.
‘What home?’ I wonder aloud. ‘What wife?’
He has a wart that bubbles right next to his eye. ‘Not to worry,’ he tells me, and the wart wiggles.
He returns my bag to me, and this I remember. It’s a good, sturdy leather with lots of secret zips for secret things. What I don’t remember is the jewelry that’s inside. I suppose that it must be my wife’s and fall back into the black again.
I dream of my wife. She stands in the door of our black-and-white house in my faded brown dressing gown and her favourite silk nightie. On her feet she wears a slim pair of black heels, the ones she wore for dinner with Tim and Julie the other night, and I laugh because these are the first shoes she has grabbed to come out onto the porch patio. She is waving me off to work as she always does, her hair still static from the pillow. A thin strand snakes down by her ear onto her neck. Her neck is peachy and raw and I can’t help but remember its taste. Bags sit heavy as lead under her eyes and her small hand, frail as a bird skeleton, flaps in the wind. The ring I put there glints in the sun.
I look at the hedge. I will trim that hedge soon, I think.
The policeman comes back with a policewoman and my bag is gone. He asks how I am feeling and I tell him I am fine, a little sore, but fine. He asks if I am ready for a few questions and I suppose that it is about the accident. I remember it now. I had left the house in a hurry, and I was by the hedge, open bag resting on my lifted knee. I didn’t see the bus, I was too busy trying to open one of the secret zips to put my keys in.
Instead of asking about the accident, he asks about me. He asks what I remember about my life.
‘I don’t remember my name,’ I tell him. ‘But I do remember my house: 33 Herbert Street. The black-and-white house. And I remember my wife.’
‘Well,’ he says. ‘We’ve just been to 33 Herbert Street, and when the lady who lives there, Mrs Walton, arrived home, she said that you weren’t her husband when we described you. Mr Walton is bald, you have plenty of hair. Mr Walton is at work at this very moment, like any other normal day.’
I squirm at how patronising he is. ‘Oh,’ I say.
‘Well,’ the policeman says again. ‘We have found no form of ID on you, so are you sure you have no idea what your real name is? Or the names of anyone who might know?’
I want to help him, so I tell him my name is Kevin Green.
‘Kevin, I see.’ He frowns. ‘One final question: do you recognise any of these items?’
He shows me some keys, two rings, a necklace and a woman’s watch.
‘Of course,’ I say. ‘Those are my keys, and that is my wife’s jewelry.’
The policeman looks sad and the policewoman next to him sighs. I had almost forgotten she was there.
‘Mr Green,’ the policeman says. ‘These items belong to the Waltons, and they were found in your bag. Can you explain this for us?’
The wart next to his eye wiggles.