02 October 2012

tilly with the others: part 31

Tilly sipped her cappuccino as slowly as she could manage without arousing the ire of the café barrista. She hadn't enjoyed the Art Gallery of Ontario so.... thoroughly in a very long time. Normally she just made a beeline for the Old Masters section and then lingered a little over the miniatures, but this time she'd chosen to start in the basement. The AGO had an astonishing collection of model ships there, huge ones four feet long or more, each with a painstaking amount of detail carved, painted, and rigged onto them.

Some of the models were carved from bones by eighteenth-century prisoners of war. Prisoners, even in wartime, had had to pay their own way back then, so the men had saved soup bones to carve and sell to their captors. They'd used their own hair for "rope" on the models, and other sad little odds and ends to make exquisitely detailed work. Just as nice as the ivory carvings in the miniatures upstairs, really.

Tilly had even gone upstairs and spent some time in the Canadian collection. At dinner parties, when friends or the wives of Marcus's colleagues had asked her if she ever regretted moving to Canada, she'd always commented on the winters. This seemed to be what immigrants were expected to comment upon. Truth be told, Tilly liked taking Owen tobogganing and ice skating when he was little. It was Canadian art that annoyed her. She'd never been sure why. Maybe because of all the time she'd spent in Canadian government offices when they were getting their citizenship papers together, fighting her impatience by trying to get lost in yet another Tom Thomson reproduction.

Still and all, today she meditated on the lumpy renditions of trees and rocks, and paused thoughtfully to consider the formal portraits of Family Compact members. The colonialist elite were always depicted as if they were completely sure they were doing the right thing, which was sometimes good for a laugh if one knew enough history.

The café was on the same level as the contemporary art exhibition area, which this month consisted of several abstract glass sculptures. They reminded Tilly of a toy Owen had had when he was about twelve. Capsella, that was it. Tilly thought it was a pity the artist hadn't known about Capsella. If he had, she was sure he would have made at least some of the sculptures with moving parts.

Tilly took another tiny sip of her cappuccino. She'd almost managed to forget about this morning, but she'd have to go back to the Annex and home eventually.

If she could get home. The idea of switching from using to subway to taking cabs didn't appeal to her, and she had a feeling that even if she did, the hostiles would find a way to get to her eventually.

She'd just have to be more careful.

The trip back from the gallery to the Annex was uneventful, at least. Tilly left the streetcar one stop early, at Harbord. Really her apartment building was in between Harbord and Spadina station, but she used to always use Spadina. Not anymore.

The half-block between the stop and her building looked the same as it always had. People walked along like it was just a regular day. Tilly let herself glance up the street, and didn't see any emergency vehicles near the subway station. Maybe things had finally settled down again.

The security entrance to her building was just its regular self too. Tilly started to relax  little. She waved her keycard in front of the scanner and let herself into the lobby, then pressed the Up button to call an elevator.

All of the elevator doors shone bright, pure white light in the spaces between the door and the wall. Tilly could hear the babble of voices rising up, the same as had come from the garbage chutes twice now.

Fortunately, the building's stairwells had doors with windows in them. Tilly didn't see any lights coming from there, so she walked to the stairwell, opened the door, and started to climb.

By the third floor her knees were hurting.

By the fifth floor she was out of breath.

Tilly let herself rest in the landing between the fifth and sixth floors, checking for bright white lights. There weren't any, so as her gasping changed to something like a regular breathing rhythm she tried to figure out how to handle this.

She could use a backpack instead of the bundle buggy to pick up groceries.

She would have to be more clever about buying groceries, period.

She squared her shoulders and started to climb again.


  1. There's something cute about Tilly going to an art exhibition while under threat from the hostiles. I'm not sure I'd be as calm!

    The first line of the fourth paragraph confused me a bit. "Still and all..."

    I like the practicality of Tilly's response: "Ok so there's alien's in the lifts. I'll use the stairs. Hmm, I'll need a different shopping bag."

    1. "Despite her longtime hatred of Canadian art, she spent a lot of time looking at it that day." If I ever turn these episodes into a proper novel I'll find a better way of putting it.

  2. When my mom worked in an office building, she was on the fourth floor. She always took the stairs. If you mentioned what floor Tilly was on before this, I've forgotten… but she'll be in good shape pretty soon!

    OTOH, I'm not sure I'd want to stay there, with hostiles lurking in elevator shafts and garbage chutes.

    1. I can't remember if I have either (I really have to get these episodes into a word processor file I can search easily). But in Part 5 the helicopter was flying parallel with her floor. So she's fairly high up, although not at the top.

      Agreed the apartment building isn't as nice as it used to be. Neighbours can really ruin a place :-).

  3. Tilly's my girl, she takes it all in her stride! She's not going to let ailens in the lift faze her too much. I like her practical thinking, backpack if she's gonna have to take the stairs! Really enjoying this series. ^_^

    1. Oh great, thank you! Funny everyone responded so positively. I can think of a negative side to the practical thinking -- but maybe I'll show that later on.


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