Combining her novel, The Sun and the Moon, with twelve short stories and a collection of brief linked narratives, Triptych: Selected Fiction of P. K. Page presents an assortment of poet-artist P. K. Page's most insightful and provocative fiction.
Elizabeth Popham is professor in the Department of English Literature at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. Her scholarly editing includes collections of the letters of E.J. Pratt and A.M. Klein.
Veronika saw the old woman fall. She couldn't prevent it. She was as helpless as if she were falling herself. She felt with excruciating clarity the old woman's foot slip inside her shoe, saw her pitch forward, extend her arms, and crash down the steps. Slow motion. The sight was horrifying.
Veronika was there when the old woman lay extended on the driveway. 'If I can get her up,' Veronika thought, 'we'll know how badly she is hurt-whether or not she needs to go to emergency.' Veronika didn't like the responsibility. Wasn't sure she would know what to do if the old woman's leg were broken or her collar bone or hip. Wasn't this the sort of thing that happened to old bones? They grew brittle and cracked.
And these must be old bones. Veronika guessed her to be in her late sixties. She watched as the old woman slowly pushed herself into a sitting position; noticed the quite beautifully set moonstone ring on her engagement finger. Veronika thought the old woman behaved as if she were entirely alone in the world-unobserved. As if the driveway on which she had fallen led only to an empty street in an empty city. In fact, except for Veronika, there was no one about. The old woman looked dazed. Veronika wondered if she had suffered a slight concussion or a small stroke for she didn't seem to be aware of Veronika.
She was talking to herself. 'Hurt,' she said, and then, 'Badly?' she asked herself as she stretched each leg ... her stockings in ribbons. Her expensive shoes were Italian, Veronika thought. She felt she had seen her before somewhere. At the symphony or on the bus. Veronika couldn't be sure which, and as she continued observing she felt the old woman had a slightly familial look. Would her mother have looked like that if she had she lived so long?
The old woman rubbed her shins and then, slowly again, got to her feet, shrugged her shoulders, turned her head side to side, testing. Veronika noted the excellent cut of her coat.
She noted again that the old woman seemed unable to see her. Didn't want to see her perhaps. Who enjoys such moments of humiliation? Veronika watched her take a step, then another, and set off down the street, slow, but very erect.