Naomi’s Room, Chapter 13…
Dear God, the clock has stopped. I wound it yesterday, it has no reason to stop now. Of course, it may mean nothing. But the silence feels charged. How I wish I could leave this house. How I wish I could leave.
I found Laura in Naomi’s room. She was playing with the doll’s house, one that my father had made in his spare time for Naomi. She had been three and a little young for the house, but he had wanted her to have it. He had modelled it on one he had seen in the toy museum at Wallington Hall in Northumberland, modifying the design of the original to make his version a more or less exact replica of the house in which we lived.
Laura was speaking to herself in a low voice. At least, I thought then that her whispers were intended for herself. I know better now, of course. They were meant for Naomi. And quite possibly Caroline and Victoria, though I cannot be certain. Not that it matters now.
She held little dolls in her hands and with great exactitude was disposing them through the rooms of the tiny house. Naomi had long ago named the dolls. I did not then know with what precognition. Charles and Laura and Naomi, of course. And Caroline and Victoria, ordinary names that had signified nothing. And Dr and Mrs Liddley, which had made us laugh. Sweet Jesus, made us laugh! We wondered where on earth she had dreamed up such names.
I took the dolls from Laura and led her from the little house. She followed me without protest, like an obedient child whose playtime has ended. We went back to bed, but neither of us slept for the rest of that night. There were no further sounds from the attic, nor did I tell Laura that I had heard any. On the floor by the dressing-table, fragments of glass lay glinting in the cold electric light.
The next morning, Lewis arrived shortly after nine o’clock. I introduced him to Laura. There seemed little point in continuing the charade. I told him that Laura had seen the photographs. That was later, when she was out of the room. I mentioned to him that there had been some I had kept back. It was then that he told me quickly what he had seen in the shots developed the day before, the ones he had telephoned about.