The Jigsaw Floor – chapter two

‘Don’t look,’ said Anders, ‘let’s just keep walking’.

Harper covered the small hole again with his foot and looked around. It was quiet. Harper liked it quiet. He liked it when no one was there. Watching.

‘I thought you didn’t believe my friend’s story. Any of the stories’ Harper said.
‘That was before we found a hole.’
‘Are you scared?’
‘Yes,’ Anders said.
‘Don’t you want to see?’

Anders looked around this time. A cold sweat slid down between his back and his shirt.

‘No,’ Anders said, ‘I don’t want to see. Let’s just go.’

Harper wasn’t going to just go.
‘Anders,’ he said, ‘remember when we were kids? Before the floor. Back in the Old Country.’
‘You’re going to bring up the Picture Palace again, aren’t you?’
‘Yes,’ admitted Harper.
‘I’ve heard it all before,’ Anders said.
‘I know, but this time the story is even more relevant.’

Harper smiled and looked down at his foot.
‘The Ultimate Picture House. You know I dream about it every now and again.’
‘I know you do, Harper. Come on. Please.’
‘Every Saturday a new film. And every Saturday I’d beg my ma to go. And you know what she’s say?’
‘Of course I do you obstinate bastard. She’d say, “When you’re fifteen years of age and not a day before.” I was there – remember?’
‘It was the only thing I wanted in the world. I wanted to see a movie in the Ultimate Picture House. And you know what happened?’
‘It was bombed. OK, for God’s sakes it was bombed. And you never got to see a film there. And it’s the biggest regret of your miserable life. That does not mean I’m going to look!’

Anders straightened himself up and checked that no one had heard his outburst.

‘In my dreams, I go back and it’s still there. I can’t believe that it survived the bombing. I approach the front door, and hear music. The most exciting music. And I open up that door. And look inside.’

Anders listens, even though he’s heard it all before.

‘But there’s nothing. Because I have no idea what was through those doors. And I suddenly realise that I’m dreaming again. And that I’ll never know what was in the Ultimate Picture House.’

‘If you’re so determined to look through that gap then do it when I’m not here.’

‘I should have just gone. Ignored my ma.’

‘Did you hear me? When. I. Am. Not. Here. Risk your own life.’

‘Look how big this section of the floor is. What if I come back tomorrow and I can’t find the hole?’

‘I don’t care.’

‘What if they mend it?’

‘I’m not looking!’

‘What if another bomb drops?’

Anders bit his tongue and winced. He was determined not to give in.

‘I’m not going to be whisked away and disappeared just because you couldn’t mind your own business!’

But it was too late; Harper had already moved his foot and bent down closer to the gap in the gigantic metal jigsaw.

Anders held his breath and thought about running.

But instead he asked a question.

‘What can you see?’

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David Baillie is a freelance writer and artist. Born almost thirty years ago in Scotland, he now lives and works in the East End of London.

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