- Vol. 05
- Chapter 10
He was there every day, standing looking at her. Cardboard cut-out he might have been, but to Marjorie he was real, so precisely did he resemble Gerald. Down to the shape of his ear lobes, which were unlike anyone else's.
She tried asking in the shop whether they could move him, but the girl gave her some gobbledygook about the figure being 'part of the merchandising', and said it was not 'down to her' anyway. Marjorie was going to ask to see the manager at that point, but her courage failed her.
It was difficult to avoid passing the shop on her way into town, and however much she tried not to, Marjorie felt drawn to the Gerald lookalike. His eyes seemed to follow her in the way the eyes of the Mona Lisa were said to do, in constant rebuke for the many inadequacies of which he had accused her during their marriage.
Moving to this town after the divorce had been a decisive step for Marjorie. It was a new place where she knew no-one. Things had been going well; she joined an origami club and found that – contrary to what Gerald had always said – she was dextrous and able to fashion intricate creations out of paper. Other people admired them and for the first time in her life she felt worth something as herself, rather than merely as an adjunct to someone else.
But this cardboard reminder of the man who had ruled her life for so long bugged Marjorie. She decided to make a little paper model of Gerald, fashioning him into the upright businessman as which he liked to present himself, complete with cut-out suit and tie. Then she took two pins from her needlework box and stuck them firmly into the little eyes which she had formed in the little paper head. She shivered with delight as the maimed figure seemed to cry out.
The next time Marjorie passed the shop with the cardboard figure she half expected to see pins in its eyes. There were none, but something else had happened to the face; it had been obliterated, turned into a swirling design. She turned away and found it was not just the figure; the faces of passers-by now all swirled, featureless, in her vision.
Afraid, Marjorie went into the nearest cafe and ordered a double expresso from the swirl-faced assistant. Although he looked strange, he behaved normally and Marjorie realised that this must be something to do with her.
At home she removed the pins from the eyes of the paper figure, scrunched it up and threw it away. Her sight returned to normal. The cardboard cut-out remained in the shop window, looking once more like Gerald. But he had lost his power over Marjorie. Now when she went past she could scrunch up her eyes and make his face swirl. And could do the same with anyone else who annoyed her. Now she was the one with the power.