A plate of jam biscuits and a cup of steaming tea sat on the side table, and Effie moved around the room, carrying boxes covered in dust from the closet and placing them on the floor and the bed. She couldn’t put it off, she knew she had to go through her mother’s things, but there was a pain in her heart that wouldn’t go away.
Satisfied that she had enough boxes to fill a few hours, Effie sat in the centre of her bed and opened the first box—it was filled with journals and books and dusty, faded letters written on handmade paper. The writing was definitely her mother’s, and the subjects ranged from longing to excitement to a dark depression Effie hadn’t known her mother had experienced until recently. She placed the letters in a pile beside her, hoping to go through them all at a later date.
The diaries were just as jumpy—some entries were so bright that Effie felt blinded by her mother’s happiness, yet scattered throughout the pages were such dark thoughts and feelings that confused her. How had her mother dealt with such a jumble of emotions? Effie stacked the diaries to one side of the letters, planning on putting them all together to form the story of Theola Wickes in a way that she might be able to understand her mother’s illness better.
The books excited something in her that hadn’t shown itself in years; the childlike wonder and curiosity of old tales and fables, the undying innocence of stories that taught morals and valuable lessons but still caused such a deep fear within the readers that they would never dare do what the characters had done. There were bookmarks made of cloth, leaves, bits of paper stuck between pages, corners bent; she felt that each page held a clue to what her mother had felt and thought throughout the years.
Finding these things made her feel closer to Theola, made the loss of her mother more bearable as if she had not died at all but was only away indefinitely.