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Arts Centre

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As we walked past the café I felt a cool other-world breath on my neck and goose-bumps jostled for space. We emerge into an open area of lawn coffee fumes still spill where there may have been an exercise yard: loose shift-clad, pale-faced women were almost visible pacing about. I am almost as isolated as those inmates, patients, or do I call them cases? Did those residents look up at the sky, watch the clouds float past, let raindrops fall on their heads, ponder the blue?

Overhead, vistas through green maple-shaped leaves passed like images on a screen. Silent leaves begin to rattle in the breeze. A power, maybe an aura of a dead person, or spirit trapped in this purgatory finally released by a sudden, violent death... I sense the rattle of that One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest eerie music as the Chief jogs off into the mist. Tell myself to settle down, this buzz is just the nuance of coffee, cappuccino machines and cake.  

Casual introductions began, ‘and this is Beth,’ John said. Even though it appears my name is enough I long to hear him credit me with a role or at least a title…

a) My physio: deals with so much more than knee and back pains. Oh those miracle hands.

b) An exhibit attendant at the museum, destined to remain so - until our fingers met across drawers of ancient artifacts.

c) My friend, I recognized our kinship when I saw her bent over furiously in the café and had to ask what she had written.

d) Beth knows my cleaning lady and we all use the same baby-sitting co-operative. I got to know her when invited to a birthday party, she zeroed in for some slow dancing, navel engagement style.

e) Oh yes, twelve years in my office, never really noticed her, until that team building weekend.

f) Receptionist at my wife’s counsellor’s clinic, she really understands the façade my marriage has become. Beth agrees to tag along to these things because my wife refuses. 

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