Reading In The Garden
The house is quiet. Somewhere inside, Evie is reading on her bed. Alice has gone to a party, and Michael has taken a break from mending the fence to ferry a group of twelve year olds from one venue to another. When I switch my radio off, the distant tinny echo of Michael's transistor carries to me from the bottom of the garden.
I'm three quarters through A Visit From The Good Squad, by Jennifer Egan. It's a novel in interconnected stories, roving back and forth in time. This is one of my favourite structures when it's well done, and this is excellent. One of the stories is in the form of powerpoint slides; I resolve to show it to Evie, I think she'll get a kick out of it.
The puppy whines at the back door, and I reach over to let her outside. She snuggles up beside me, her furry warmth against my leg where I'm propped along the mattress, and sleeps. I can hear kids' voices, drifting across the laneway from the school, the murmur of leaves, the brisk chatter of birds. The air is thick with tiny insects. A small spider creeps across my radio, and I flick it away with the tip of a dry leaf. The puppy sighs, and re-settles herself. I'm reminded of long-ago afternoons, sliding away, with a sleeping baby on my lap, not daring to move in case I woke her, but secretly glad of an excuse to stay still. The pages turn. Characters meet, and part, and reconnect, in lazy loops of story.
At last I set the book aside, because I'm enjoying it so much I want to prolong the experience of being inside it. Soon Michael and Alice will come home, and Evie's and my own readers' peace will be shattered.
The puppy twitches, dreaming.