Athira Mlavil

The Waves - Susan

Susan, The Waves by Virginia Woolf


It was a sunny autumn afternoon and aunt Susan was picking apples from the trees. The three of us were standing in front of that door. My sister was twisting and turning with her hair slide on its keyhole. Meanwhile my brother and I were looking around whether our aunt is about to come or not. My cousins were in the sitting area, alert, but pretending like they were playing some game. Finally she unlocked the door.

In our childhood we used to visit our cousins who were living in the countryside. Their mother, Susan, had a huge garden near their house. The garden was enclosed by a tall brick wall, so you had to enter through a door. The first thing that we did, as we entered the garden was running up the steps towards the roofed sitting area and put our bags, that filled with crayons and games, on the brick bench and go play hide-and-seek or some other game. After we had some turns our aunt would call for tea that she had cooked in the small kitchen. Once while having tea and some sandwiches I asked my aunt: ”Aunt Susan, what’s behind that door there?“ and pointed to the rather unimpressive door at the round place with a mill stone and some flowers in its center. ”Oh there, well there is actually just a run-down backyard, my dear. Nothing special, so I locked it. I am thinking of walling it as well. But you better try not to open it, will you?“ I nodded and did not ask anything further. But the wall behind the brick benches had many tiny gaps to let the light come through. So I peeked into some of those gaps and saw just the trunk of a maybe huge tree and windows and doors of some other houses. When we had tea, we would either continue our game or help our aunt in her vegetable garden where we usually got the task to pull out the weeds. In the evening we then left the garden after my aunt had locked its entrance door safely.

Another day in an early autumn afternoon, we were playing hide-and-seek again, and it was my turn to seek. A cousin and my sister were still left to find. I found my cousin lying curled in the open bathtub, which I think was the most quiet place in the garden. So my sister was still missing. From the bath I walked towards the big opening from where you had a view on a landscape. Looking back to the garden aunt Susan smiled at me quickly and I smiled back. Then for the first time the treetop caught my eye behind the wall of the sitting area. Some of its branches were overhanging over the roof. So I rushed up the steps straight through the central path, to the walls riddled with holes. As I got there I also found my sister crouching behind the brick bench. After I had enjoyed my little triumph my interest drew back towards of what was behind the wall and behind the door. So I told to the others that I don’t feel like playing anymore and went to the door.

As my sister saw me being busy with the doorknob she came to me and shoved me away from the door. She, my brother and my cousins had also got curious since I asked aunt Susan what behind the door was. And we all were eager to see what was behind it before our aunt was going to wall the door too, like all the many other possible openings that she had walled before.

We opened the door.