ArtView May 2015 - Page 20

‘You just have to know what to ask,’ Mum will mutter as she works her arcana at night, always at night, with a bowl of tinned soup, or a bitter black coffee on a tray beside her—no milk, no sugar, because she’ll buy me sweeties to eat at the drop of a hat but she won’t touch them herself. ‘You just have to know where to look.’ Strangers come from all over. I open the door, or answer the phone at some God-awful hour, and it is always some new client who is quietly, though more often openly, desperate. And the questions they want answers to are always urgent, always life and death, needto-know, let me at her, I gotta see her, now, now, now. And most of them don’t pay. Or can’t. Not in money, anyway. Mum’s ‘reading room’—where hearts are set at rest, or mended, or broken all over again—is really just our meals area, only separated from our open kitchen by a vinyl-covered breakfast bar. All the reading room contains is an overflowing bookcase, a couple of mismatched chairs and a battered antique card table covered in a plastic tablecloth with a lacy, doily pattern embedded in it. The kind of ‘fabric’ you can buy by the metre from a haberdashery store that’s easy to wipe down. ‘It’s the only way to keep the only table we have in the house clean enough for us to eat off,’ she said once. ‘Fear and stains go hand in hand. You’d do well to 7 Lim_AstroDaughter_final.indd 7 4/06/2014 11:53 am