That morning I found a dead rabbit in the road, a high and dry November morning sun and funghi growing in the hedgerows. Big brown top-heavy mushrooms had growth-spurted their way out of every crack in the long-limbed trees and up through holes in the road tarmac. They were everywhere. I phoned the sculptress and asked her whether she had seen them and she dropped the phone, picked it up and giggled and then told me to come over and see. She sounded so excited that I just had to go.
In the streets everyone was wearing watermelon smiles and sneezing as though sneezing was the future. On the way to the sculptress’ house I counted sixty-two bless-yous.
When I got there she was grinning pink ear-to-ear as well. She kissed me on the cheek and then took my hand and pulled me through her house to her work room, where her black cat had just carefully dipped the end of his tail into her cup of tea. Having spoiled the cup of tea, the cat then flicked its tail and turned to glare at the sculptress and I as if we were doing something wrong.
Not to mind, my attention had been caught by the sculptress’ latest work in progress – a brand new piece carved from soft and obedient brown mushroom mystery. It was a story about a young girl and a large suitcase, the suitcase being nearly the same size as the girl and the title being, ‘The Least Secret Of Your Secrets.’ It was the first mushroom sculpture I had ever seen in the flesh.
From behind us came the sound of the sculptress receiving an email as the voice of her dead husband proclaimed: YOU’VE GOT MAIL. I had never asked how the sculptress’ husband died but I do know that shortly after his death he took up a haunting residence in her email inbox and had been monitoring her communications ever since.
The sculptress read the email and then reported to me that her dead husband was very much disapproving of my visit. I took one last admiring glance at, ‘The Least Secret Of Your Secrets,’ and turned to go but the sculptress stopped me for a moment: there was no need to go just yet.
I passed the afternoon in her work room as she put the finishing touches to the sculpture, making tea and coffee and sneezing and occasionally putting together a watermelon smile for her work. As the sun dropped lower in the sky the orange afternoon light burned through the window and I made reference to ‘Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.’
I left the sculptress’ house as the day got dark. There was a big bad witch of a cloud hanging to the east and lit-up church spires to the west. Straight up above me was the sky and below me was the ground, all the elements packed up and crunched down together into a hard-packed encyclopedia. The funghi did not seem to have grown much but they were still there and everywhere, flopping around and making the world look like a very different place.