• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 04
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In Place

She had a peculiar penchant for novelty hats. Nothing rational here, and wearing purple didn’t equate to growing old and vice versa. Her hat collection was monstrous, and when the children, then the husband, then finally the dog left home, the hats began to seep in through the brickwork. It was a gradual development. One netted piece with a peacock feather, bought for Ladies’ Day at the races. Soft materials, all, mediocre replacements for the plushness of human skin. Countless hats for countless weddings (grandchildren, second cousins, as the compulsory Drunk Older Lady), because she worried that she’d be branded A Bit of a Tart without one. That’s what they’re like if anyone over 40 dares to wear a skirt which falls above her knees. They’ll be having a go at her for her leopard-print underwear soon, despite the fact that no-one sees her lingerie, bar the cat and the painting of Great-Aunt Alice hanging opposite her bedstead.

She was proud of this particular acquisition. Velvet, decadent, the sort of hat a muse might wear, sprawling luxuriously on satin sheets and rose petals. Utterly unpractical, of course, unless you wanted to act as a bird table. It kept the weather out of her face, and the passing public at (more than) arm’s length. But here, in the hills, the vastness of everything matched. Big hat, big sky, big lump of rock to climb. This was the only place she was in place.