Cropped

Shama pulled up in his silver pick-up truck. “Having car trouble?” he said.

“No, I’m not,” said Sophie. “More like brain trouble. I had a rough night and don’t feel like driving this morning. Are you heading into town?”

He said, “I sure am. Jump in.”

Despite feeling bad, Sophie was looking good this morning. A white summer dress always works wonders with a tan. Her relationship with Danny had cooled off since they’d got engaged. Though her friends had said this was normal after reaching such a milestone, she hoped it would revive soon.

Shama dropped her in the village and she went straight into a crisis. The Lilly River was rising in the Upper Valley, setting off alarm bells. Four years ago the Village office had been slow to heed warnings and the flood had claimed ten lives. The Authority had made the mayor and council scapegoats and removed them.

No one was taking chances this time. Geologists had been called in from the city, and old timers with personal experience of the great floods of ’43, ’68, ’89, and 2008 were consulted. Search and rescue teams stood on standby.

At lunchtime Sophie remembered the drawing. Why would someone throw away such a detailed artwork? It must have taken days of careful sketching. Then she thought, well, everything changes. Maybe they were redecorating their house and it no longer suited their scheme. There’s days when there’s just too much stuff, and you can’t even breathe till it’s sorted and gone. Maybe somebody had one of those days.

The drawing had not been casually tossed aside though. It had been properly screwed up and stuffed into garbage. Sophie opened it out on her desk. Again she felt assaulted by the detail and somehow drawn into it. It seemed alive.

She knew that good art affects you. This drawing was doing that. Maybe I’ll get it framed, she thought. She went to the local art shop, which also offered a framing service. The owner priced it up. “It’s three feet by four, that’s twelve square feet at thirty dollars a foot – so that’s three hundred and sixty dollars.”

“Three hundred and sixty?” said Sophie. “Really? I didn’t think it would be that much.”

“It’s a specialist job. It if was three feet square, I could sell you a standard frame for a hundred dollars.” The owner gave her a mean look. “Why support local artisans when you can support factory workers in China?”

What a stupid comment, thought Sophie. She’s offering Chinese products in her shop. No one is making her do that. There was no question though. “Why don’t you crop the picture for me, and I’ll take the hundred dollar frame.”

The woman sliced a one foot strip off the end, and fitted the drawing in the hundred dollar frame. “There,” she said. “How does that look?”

“It looks good,” said Sophie, thinking that it looked different somehow.

It seemed darker and quieter.

She didn’t know that the slicing of the city had caused agony for suburbans, who had suddenly lost all power and communications. Huge fault-lines had appeared. Disaster recovery teams had been despatched to patch up the broken edges of the city.

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