Paula wasn’t sure when she lost this world. It began slowly, almost imperceptibly. She saw shadows on the edge of her sight, like some bird flying across her peripheral vision. At first, in the beginning, she dismissed them and went on about her life as normal.
Then, after a while, she noticed the shadows creeping closer around the edges of her eyes. She had her eyes tested, explained her symptoms as well as she could. But all she received in return were assurances that her vision was fine – which it was – and that there was nothing wrong with her. She soon learnt, from the looks of incomprehension she received when she described them, to keep all talk of the encroaching shadows to herself.
Paula carried on just carrying on, trying to ignore the shadows that grew more noticeable around the world. She had a life it live and just accepted there was something there that was not there. At least, she did until she began to realise how the shadows were changing.
At first, she thought the shadows were fading, going from deep grey into something paler like clouds after the storm has passed by.
Paula saw the changing shadows as a sign that things were returning to normal, that soon the shadows around the edges of everything she saw would be gone.
Then she noticed the changes, creeping into the edge around the sides and in her peripheral vision. She first realised it was no longer an artefact, some trick of the light, merging and mutating with the shadows in her eyes, one Saturday morning.
She sat in her kitchen nursing a mug of her favourite strong black coffee. A slice of thick toast, heavy with butter and thick-cut marmalade, lay on the plate in front of her. Outside, the sun shone and the new spring promised so much to come. She half sang along with a song she knew on the radio, thinking that – now with the shadows fading and the winter going – that soon it would be all right with her world. Maybe she would even met someone, perhaps even a special someone.
Then he appeared.
‘Who? What the…?’ Paula leapt from her seat spilling her coffee over her toast.
There was no-one there.
There was no-one anywhere. Her flat was as empty as a moment ago.
Then from the other side a car… no, a vehicle like no other she’d ever seen, sped past a few yards on her other side where her hallway should have been.
As she turned she saw, in the spaces in her vision another world, so unlike this one, was appearing, like some picture filling in the gaps.
Only this was no picture, this was real.
As she stood there, Paula saw this new world was taking over, spreading across her vision. Those small patches that had been empty shadow were filling with this new world, joining and spreading.
She looked down to see her bare feet were standing on damp grass while the rest of her kitchen faded into this new scene until she stood there in this new world and her old life was gone.