Mahogany and Brass
Pennsylvania, ca. 1823
She isn’t in Egypt anymore. She’s walking down a bright hallway lined with tall wooden clocks who are all stopped and whose hands all point to different times. The steady clicking of her heels makes May suddenly self-conscious, and she leans down and slips off her shoes. The stone floor is cool against her feet. She turns into a series of period rooms of early American interiors. Mahogany dining tables, chandeliers and paintings of proud pink faces. She walks silently through these silent rooms, with the feeling she’s in an enormous empty dollhouse. Fake daylight spills in through the false windows. It’s a soft calming light, and May slows down and begins to notice all the little staged details. Tables set with china and cut-crystal glasses and decanters for guests who will never arrive. Books no one will ever read splayed open by armchairs no one ever sits in. There are desks arranged to look as if their owners have just stepped out for lunch: inkwells and quills ready for use, paper and envelopes. Letters to no-one from nobody.