The Photograph and the Journal
Nickie walked back to Greenhaven, thoughts zooming around in her mind like bees. So much had happened in just two days. She felt a little dizzy with it all. She would read for a while, she decided, to get calmed down.
Her plan for that afternoon was to go through the Look at Later pile. She went into the kitchen to make herself a cup of hot chocolate—and it occurred to her all at once that hot chocolate was the perfect thing to give up. It was something she really liked, so it would behard to give up; and doing something hard would strengthen her goodness, just the way exercise strengthened muscles.
So she made a cup of mint tea instead and carried it up to the nursery, where she took her Look at Later pile from the toy cabinet and set it on the window seat. The light was dim there because of the blankets she and Amanda had hung over the windows, and because of the cloudy sky. She pushed one of the blankets aside a little and settled down with a big red pillow at her back. Otis jumped up next to her.
The first thing she wanted to check was that envelope she’d begun to look at yesterday. She picked it up and slid out the photograph. It was brownish and had a cardboard backing. It showed six people—two men and two women, seated, and two children sitting on the floor in front of them. They wore old-fashioned outfits and had sour looks on their faces, as if they were annoyed with the photographer for making them sit still so long.
There was something odd about the two men, who sat next to each other in the center of the group. At first Nickie thought one of them was sitting in the other one’s lap. She looked closer. The two men, who looked just alike, seemed to be stuck together. Yes! They were joined by what looked like a thick finger of flesh that went from the stomach of one to the stomach of the other. That was why they were sitting in that odd way. They were twins—connected twins, or something like that. There was another word for it that she couldn’t remember.
Under the picture, someone had written, “The Mssrs. Bunker and Their Wives, visitors to Greenhaven on June 4, 1868.”
Visitors to Greenhaven! They had been here, in this house. She gazed at the picture a long time. How would it be to live your life attached to someone else? You could never get away from each other, not to go for a walk, not in bed at night, not even in the bathroom! If one was sick, the other would have to lie there, too. If one wanted to go downtown and the other wanted to stay home and read the newspaper, they’d have to negotiate about it and try to agree. Each one would always hear everything the other one said. It was the strangest kind of life she could imagine.
She put the picture back in its envelope and took up the small brown notebook that Amanda had brought to her, the one her great-grandfather had written in. She read the first entry again, where he said he’d been having odd experiences, and then she read on.
Date: 2015-12-18; view: 89