Saturday, June 06, 2009
A Bird in the Hand
On the step of the Magik shop (the ‘k’ spelling attracted the gullible tourists), when Meinwen opened up, was a cardboard box no larger than her hand, fastened the old-fashioned way with string and sealing wax and the address of her shop neatly printed in black ink. The stamps were all small denominations – the latest Royal Mail money-makers of twentieth century design, though to Meinwen’s eye the letterboxes looked like phallic.
She carried the box inside and ignored it until she’d switched on all the lights, stocked the till and brewed a pot of nettle tea. Able to take a few moments, she broke the wax and worried the knot. She was never a one to waste string, as her mother would say. Inside the box, once she’d lifted out the tissue paper, was an old fashioned £5 note, the kind that went out of circulation with the Conservative government. Inside the note, was a handful of small bones – a bird, Meinwen thought, but there was no explanatory letter.
Meinwen took a sip of tea. There were markings on the bones; tiny scratches and indentations and she pulled a magnifying glass from the drawer to study them.
“Meroitic hieroglyphs,” she said with a frown. “A language that’s been dead for six thousand years. Where the Hell am I going to find a translation of those?”
She looked up at the pentagram above the door with a wry smile.