1 May 2012 3.4
The atmosphere in the house was slightly dishevelled. John wore a faded blue pullover over a dark golf shirt. We sat in the living room with paintings on the wall. They were of wildlly differing quality. The portrait of the young Bernice took pride of place. She brought in a tray with tea and coffee.She had smartened up and was wearing embroidered pumps. One could still see the resemblance between her and the portrait. She poured tea, offered coffee. There were home-baked biscuits and pieces of fruitcake, very sweet. Bernice talked brightly about the theatre, said nothing about her great roles. John stood up with some effort and left the room. He returned with a small whitish rock and handed it to me. Embedded in it were the fine fossilised bones of a small animal. A type of rodent, John said. The precursor of all mammals could have looked like this. I could see tiny claws, a narrow skull, a row of sharp teeth, a socket that once contained a bright eye. Bernice gathered the cups. That was a long time ago, she said. You were the queen of the stage, John said. It suckled its babies, Bernice answered, looking at the graduation photo on the wall. Just like we do.