Verity sat at her desk after Jo had left and looked around herself. She softly touched the rough surface of the wood. It was an old antique desk that she had discovered in a shop in the Valley. She loved old furniture and belongings. Before the lights went out, she had loved going round charity shops with her friend Dot. Verity was 40 years younger than Dot, but she was a dear friend who Verity felt understood her better than many people her own age and she had taught her a lot. They spent many days walking around the West End of Glasgow looking through charity shops and eating ice cream for dinner.
There was often a shelf surrounded by all the old furniture, just a few rows of random ornaments and small decorative pieces like crystal whiskey decanters, figurines and tea sets. Verity loved this shelf. It had a presence. She wasn’t sure why but perhaps it reminded her of “Return to Oz” when all of Dorothy’s friend’s souls have been put into objects and she must guess which ones are her friends to set them free. There was a comfort in certain things. Not in the material sense. Verity had never had any interest in brand new 50 inch TV screens or fancy cars. To her, those objects had no energy. This desk however gave her a great comfort. It felt like she was sitting with an old friend. She looked around at the other things in the room, at some of the things she had managed to hold onto. She had saved the little Buddha figurines that had been a gift to her for her travels. She liked having them with her and often focused on them when she was meditating. She had not managed to save many other things and she had taken very little with her to Australia. She did have a little soft Santa toy that her mother had sent her for Christmas and her journals. She held the little Santa in her hands and stroked his beard. Verity had loved Christmas. Her mother knew how much and had given this to her before she left so that she would have a Christmas decoration. It looked quite worn now even though Verity had tried to keep it clean and safe. She felt a little worn herself. She thought about her mother and about how she still had so much she wanted to say to her, wanted to know from her. She hoped she was not suffering. She did not feel that she was gone, her mother was very strong and very adaptable, but she would be older now and it was possible she may be frail now. Verity felt like she was five again and she was at school and it was raining and she just wanted her mum to come and get her. She could feel that five year old feeling. She had to find out if she was ok, and her dad and her sister and everyone else she had left behind with her valuables.
She looked around again, shaking her head to avoid the tears, at all of the other little trinkets that she collected, tiny little keepsakes and gifts. She liked to think they had a feeling to them because people had bought them with a lot of love in their hearts. They bought these things for people because they wanted them to have something they could keep, a token of their fondness. Snow globes, glass globes with fairies inside, little signs with quotes on them, ornaments, miniature cottages. Her room actually looked a little bit like a charity store now with all of these little eccentricities lying around. She liked them being with her, it made her feel like she was never alone.
She wondered what had happened to all her belongings back home. She had thrown out a lot of things before going to Australia, but there were a lot of things that she had left with her sister that had sentimental value to her; her diaries from childhood, her favourite books, her photos, her letters, her drawings, her guitar, her DVDs, concert tickets, cinema tickets, her University work. Would it all be gone? That was a sad thought. All these traces of people’s lives, of their stories, and their families were being lost and that worried Verity. She did not want people to forget, she did not want it all to be lost because it made it feel like it was all a dream, like it never really happened.
She remembered walking around Brisbane before she went outback. She had felt at times then that she was looking at an experience that she would never have again. She had felt a sad fondness looking around her there, like she somehow knew that soon she would never see it the same way again. Never again would the same people be going about their daily lives, going to work on the ferry, the sun shining at 7am, the heat beginning to build already. She remembered looking at the buildings from across the water, the pretty restaurants. She had felt like she was already reminiscing about the time, as she was experiencing it as though her perception of her experience was a few seconds ahead instead of behind. She knew she would never again feel the peaceful happiness of living in another country with promise and hope and wealth and only all the wrong, silly insignificant things to worry about that seem so small now. If only we had known, known for sure what was about to happen – would anyone have believed it? Would anyone have done anything differently? Would Verity have done anything differently? She had at least acknowledged the happiness at the time, perhaps that is why she never felt truly sad.