Sarah put her hand down the back of the sofa, looking for her mobile phone, and was shocked when her fingers were grasped by a tiny, ice-cold hand. She shrieked, but it would not let go. With great difficulty she drew her hand out, and examined the tiny creature clinging to it.
It was a perfectly-proportioned little woman about six inches high. It sat down in the palm of her hand and piped: “thank goodness! I’ve been waiting ages for you to find and acknowledge me. I am one of the people you might have been. My name is Suspiria.”
Sarah looked askance: “what do you mean? As far as I am aware, my choices were rationally made, and I don’t think that I have any repressed desires.” Suspiria replied: “there are hinges in everyone’s lives, events after which nothing is ever the same again. Often you don’t know how momentous they are. There have been several in your life. I come from that evening in Piraeus when you waved your lover goodbye from the quayside. If you had gone with him, you would have been me. But there are other moments too. Put you hand down the side of the sofa again.”
Frightened, Sarah did so, and pulled out one little twirling mannequin after another: “if you had failed the examination on that hot afternoon, you would have been me”: “if you had answered back to your boss that April, you would have been me”: “if you had learned Spanish instead of German, you would have been me”: “if you had not decided to be so tough, you would have been me”. On and on they went, clambering out of the upholstery. There were so many of them! They danced over her body, and there wasn’t a lot she could do about it without injuring them. They were, after all, her unasked questions, her unmade journeys, the songs she had not sung.
She said: “what will it take to make you go back down the side of the sofa?” With one accord, they cried “we will go back, if you come with us!” “Very well” Sarah said. Suddenly, rather like the scene in Alice in Wonderland when she finds the cake saying “Eat Me”, Sarah found herself shrinking fast till she was the same size as her small interlocutors.
They held out their hands to her, and she slipped down the side of the sofa with them. She was whole at last. What she was, and what she might have been, became sisters under the skin. She was, in that dark world, without either desire or regret. And it felt good.