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The sun broke out from between the hills as Thackeray walked into her new room. From drab ceiling to dusty floor it filled up with light, and shadows pulled towards the door. Thackeray pulled it shut and closed them all in. She was home, for now, but something in it felt precarious and impermanent — a painted set on a stage that could be wheeled away.
A cracked tan leather suitcase was hoisted onto the thin bedspread by thin arms, and from it Thackeray began to unpack her life. Five dresses, one blue and four floral; two combs, one polished wood with mother of pearl set in, to wear in her hair, and one plain black plastic, for taming it (or attempting to — Thackeray’s hair was very unruly by nature); one pair of black mary-janes with gold buckles; a photo of an old woman in a kimono; four favourite books; and silk ribbons in every colour of the rainbow.
And then it was a matter of finding a place for all of these things in the little room, the new room that knew her as little as she knew it, yet now meant to wall her and all of her things inside regardless.
That done, she crawled up onto the bed and rested her head against the suitcase. she tapped her fingers along its edges, listening to the hollow echoes they made inside.
Mother and father brought her here to be where she belonged, but she had hardly ever felt less like she belonged anywhere in her life. The bus that had carried her as far of the edge of town had felt more like home than this. The hum of the road beneath the tyres had been something like a pulse, like a rush of blood, the following along of a path. Here, everything was still, while inside, everything in Thackeray rushed and swayed and tapped against the walls, urging on and forward and elsewhere.