Everyone in the village knew her… Or thought they did.
Each day, Josephina made her rounds of the village. Josephina listened carefully. but also recorded the chat. On her phone and on a small recorder in her purse. She only stayed an hour, so she didn’t have to change the tapes till after she left. And each tape change, she wrote down five things she remembered. To cue her memory.
Her stops :
- the school. She stopped off in the office to see her long term friend, Martha. Just in time for a cup of tea and a chat. Martha always relayed the stuff of her day. The people who stopped by, the kids who were in the office (not just for punishment) and the deliveries.
- the church. Again, Michaela, the secretary, and she had been friends for years. In fact they went to school together. She was told so many things in confidence. Sure she promised. Noone wuld ever hear it from her lips. She kept that promise till the day she died. She heard who had come in for counselling or had needed the church’s help with bills or groceries. And who needed a hospital or home visit because they were ill.
- the pub. The manager, Pietr, and she were on a flirt basis. Nothing would ever come of it. They just both enjoyed the reparte. There she found out who was stepping out on their partner; who drank too much; who had lost their license due to DWIs. And who could be counted on to slip her a little pick-me-up.
- the town store with the postal center. The store owners, Andrea and her husband Stefan, were always ready with her mail and a cup of tea. Andrea enjoyed name-dropping about who was asking for a tab and whose were running long. Whose kids were little thieves and banned from the store. And which kids asked for pocket money for helping Stefan out with cleaning or deliveries. She saw that often they were the same kids, same families from the other stops she made.
So she went home and put together her notes into a story. These families were often mentioned under pseudonyms in her web blog. She was very careful nobody in her town knew she wrote the blog. She would be run out of town on a rail if they knew!
Josephina was excited to see that her blog was growing in popularity.
The town folk were none the wiser.
After Josephina died…
Her husband, Christian, found her stuff on the computer and in her desk. The wife he always thought was such a loyal friend and lovely woman was telling things about town folk to anyone (literally) in the world who would listen.
He didn’t know what to do. But the first thing he did was close the blog down.
What did he want to do? She was dead now. So she couldn’t spread any more tales. It was all about how he wanted her to be remembered now.
Was she a gossipy old biddy, a bitch or a wonderful friend? He knew he had been shocked to the core at her tittering. And from now on, he’d be far more wary when it came to the potential harm of small town gossip.
In the end, Christian decided to burn the notes and tapes. No one else needed to know all he did.
And he left town. He told his friends there that the town had too many memories of his wife for him to stay. And that was true. Just not the way they thought. He would miss their friends, but he could no longer look them in the eye. So he packed up, sold the house and left. Never to return. He was so ashamed. So heart-broken. How could he not have known?
Was his wife ever who he thought she was? Who he had fallen in love with? He’d never know now. Would he?