‘There was something odd about the rose bushes, Eleanor could not put her finger on it, but they seemed to have bloomed out of season, and were brighter and more colourful than they should be. Perhaps she had some sort of power over them, to make them bloom more beautifully at her will?’
This story has mental illness at its heart, but it also invites the reader to consider the way women can be infantilised and how an illness like depression can spiral out of control, hushed up and locked away. It deals with loss, sometimes the loss of something you never really had. It’s a strange and claustrophobic story with a final twist at the end.
The story is set in rural France, in a place I am very familiar with, so my descriptions of the settings are real places. In the 90s, my grandparents had a house in St Giles, a tiny village on the River Soane, in the bourgoigne region. Its views were of high hills with three crosses on top and at night storms rumbled round flashing in pink and green light. The whole village seemed to be in a timewarp – stuck in 1945, with memorials to the resistance everywhere. The memory of this setting inspired the backdrop for this story.
‘She concentrated on the corner of the room where a crack ran from the damp-stained wall, papered with blue and green peacocks, up into the white-washed ceiling. Even as she looked, the crack appeared to extend and widen, and she had the feeling of being drawn upwards, likely to disappear into its cavernous tear. She averted her eyes quickly, but on returning her gaze she noticed that something had changed. Was that peacock spreading his tail into a fan before? She blinked. There it was – his tail feathers spread into lots of tiny eyes, all looking back at her.’