• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 07
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Collector Of Things

It didn’t start out as an obsession. I was standing in the charity shop, surrounded by the musty smells of lives once lived, when my phone pinged. An email from my solicitor. Instructions to go in and sign the papers that would make my divorce complete. My vision darkened, the partially healed scars of betrayal gaping wide once more.

I only meant to steady myself, but my hand brushed the smooth porcelain back of a sheep. It rocked on the edge of the table, poised to shatter into a million fragments. Catching it on the brink of oblivion, my fingers traced the nubby texture of its fleece, wrought for eternity by some unknown artist. Turning it this way and that, I watched light and shadow play across its surface. Its facial features, picked out in tiny hints of colour, radiated contentment. A smile, the first in months, plucked at the corner of my mouth and instinctively I brought the sheep to the register, purchased it for the bargain price of 50c.

The feeling of pleasure didn’t last. Next day I was back to my humdrum life, work, dinner alone, mindless television and bed. The sheep looked lonely sitting on the mantlepiece surrounded by half-burnt candles and my grandmother’s broken clock. I knew the feeling and wouldn’t wish it on anyone, so he had to have a companion.

Evenings and weekends were spent trawling through charity shops and car boot sales. My little sheep was joined by a host of farmyard animals. The joy of each purchase soon burned away and I was off again, rummaging and rooting to add to my collection. I told myself it wasn’t a problem. It was good to have a hobby. And I was getting out, meeting people. My face was well-known amongst the market stall holders.


Collector Of Things

Panic engulfed me on a Saturday, when I had searched the market from end to end and there were no animals to be found. Each trader shook their head as I approached. A pain started in the pit of my stomach and worked its way up my throat. Swallowing hard, I fought to keep nausea at bay. My hand hovered over the nearest stall, was drawn to a ceramic pot decorated with flowers and birds. In an instant the panic faded, a rush of pleasure taking its place. My criteria widened. Anything that caught my fancy came home with me.

My collection moved to the spare room, overflowed the shelves I assembled; colonised the sitting room; encroached on my bedroom; wheedle its way into the bathroom. China plates vied for wall space with antique mirrors and paintings.

Invitations from friends were declined, phone calls went unanswered. I was too busy taking care of my things. My collection made me happy, created a barrier between me and people who could hurt me. My collection would never betray me.