Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
|photo credit of Highgate Cemetery here|
“Welcome to Highgate Cemetery,” Jessica said. “Robert will be your guide. He is one of our most Learned Guides, an historian of the Victorian Era, and is writing a book about this cemetery. All of our work is done on a voluntary basis, and every year we must raise over three hundred and fifty thousand pounds just to keep the cemetery open.” Jessica flirted with them as she spoke, and exhibited the green box. “As you leave, a volunteer will be stationed at the gate with this green box, and any help you can give will be Much Appreciated.” Robert watched the tourists fidget. Jessica wished them a Pleasant Tour and went back to the office. She felt a flutter of excitement. Why? She stood at the office window and watched Robert gather his group in front of the Colonnade steps. He stood two steps up and spoke to them, looking down, gesturing. From where they stood, the tourists could not see anything but greenery and the steps. Those girls look extraordinarily like Elsepth. How amazing life is. I hope he’ll be all right. He looked a bit pale.
Robert tried to clear his mind. He felt as though he were watching himself, as though he had separated into two Roberts, one of whom was calmly giving a tour; the other mute with nerves, trying to think what he might say to the twins. Bloody hell, you’d think you were seventeen. You don’t have to talk to them. They’ll talk to you. Wait.
Elspeth has left her home in London to her nieces, under the condition that they live in it for one full year. And, that they never let her sister, the twin’s mother, inside. There has been a terrible rift between the two, one which divided them while Elspeth was alive and continues on into her death. Because with Audrey’s writing, time is never as we know it. Even death becomes a novelty, a concept which Audrey pounces on like a little kitty as she bats it back and forth across our consciousness.
I don’t know if you can understand, but I will try to explain. I need to live my life without being always vigilant to calm your fears. I am tired, Martin. You have worn me out. I know that I will be lonely without you, but I will be more free. I will find myself a little apartment and open the windows and let the sun and the air come in. Everything will be painted white, and I will have flowers in all the rooms. I will not have to always enter the rooms with my right foot first, or smell bleach on my skin, on everything I touch. My things will be in their cupboards and drawers, not in Tupperware, not wrapped in cling film. My furniture will not wear out from being scrubbed too much. Maybe I will have a cat.