Have you ever had an image in your mind of what someone you admire is like, and then met that person and realized . . . ? Here’s what happened when I took fresh scones to our visiting author to welcome her to Inversgail.
I turned the corner, and there, halfway along the street, standing in the middle of it, was a woman dressed for some form of martial arts, waving what appeared to be a sword.
I studied the situation and started forward again. The “sword” was no doubt wooden, as it didn’t glint in the sun. And the woman’s movements with it were more deliberate than random waving. They looked like a choreographed routine. And, of course, the woman was our peculiar visiting author, Daphne Wood.
“Glorious morning,” Daphne called upon seeing me. A night’s rest had apparently done its best for Daphne. That would be a relief for Gillian.
“Enjoying the fresh air?” I asked.
Daphne did several deep lunges, thrusting with the sword each time. “This isn’t fresh air.” She slashed the sword from right to left and then from left to right. “You haven’t breathed fresh air until you’ve filled your lungs with the crystalline purity that is the atmosphere of the Canadian woods.”
“You could be right.” I held up the bag. “Have you had breakfast? Perhaps you should move out of the street. There’s a car coming.”
Daphne brought the sword upright and touched it to her nose. Without a look at the approaching car, she strode to her front gate, where I saw her dog waiting. Daphne gave a hand signal to the dog, and then opened the gate, went through, and closed it, leaving me on the other side. I decided I didn’t mind.
“Have you discovered the back garden?” I asked. “You might find your, er, swordplay more enjoyable there.”
“Forza,” Daphne said.
“What I’m doing is Forza, an exercise routine based on samurai sword work. And no, the back garden is out. The trees won’t give me enough room to swing properly and I never like to hurt trees.”
“I suppose the front garden’s too small? I’m just thinking about your workout being interrupted by traffic. And safety.”
“I’ll tell you something about myself, Janet. You are Janet, aren’t you?
“You have a good memory.”
“An excellent memory, which is a feature people notice about me immediately. But I find that people notice very little else about me. In fact, I often feel invisible. Compound that with my theory that most people, these days, are more interested in divining the truth on their screens, and I suspect that no residents on this street even noticed me this morning. Other than the fellow in the car, and he’s probably already forgot that he saw me.”
I was pretty sure Daphne was wrong about at least some of the residents. I’d noticed a curtain twitch in one window and an elderly man had come out of his house and must have swept his stoop to a nub by now. On the other hand, judging by the number of public service announcements Police Scotland broadcast about distracted driving, Daphne might be right about the man in the car. Rather than argue either point, I held up the bag again.
“I brought fresh scones as a welcome-to-Inversgail present.”
Daphne reached over the gate and took the bag. She opened it, sniffed, and appeared to consider what she’d smelled. Then she took out a scone and offered it to the dog. The dog ignored it.
“This doesn’t bode well,” Daphne said.
There you have it. Daphne is definitely not what any of us expected here in Inversgail. I hope her words weren’t in any way prophetic.
Molly MacRae is the author of the award-winning, national bestselling Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries and the Highland Bookshop Mysteries. Visit Molly on Facebook and Pinterest, connect with her on Twitter @mysteryMacRae, or find her the first Monday of each month at Amy Alessio’s Vintage Cookbooks and Crafts.