The next day found her at work, her head turned from them for fear that if she looked at them they would draw her out of her chant. They didn’t know she was reciting a calming mantra. She was chanting with her inside voice and her lips were not moving. She lifted the lid. The neatly rolled cloth bundles bounced softly in the chest. The smell of camphor floated, reminding her of mother’s linen cupboard, as she unfurled the topmost roll. If she had a favourite no one would know. The others saw Helena gazing, thinking, sorting. Stories caught in the threads of images carefully crafted over the years slowly appeared on the cloth as they unfurled. With some, colours and textures dazzled with their brightness while others evoked muddy memories … and something else. Her glasses slipped from her nose as she reached into the chest and her stomach tightened. A dread crossed her path. Brief but intense.
‘Would you like to take a look?’ she said at last, turning to her colleagues.