The building was old and smelt of a lonely staleness. As if once upon a time people had thrown a party there and then had closed the door behind themselves.
It had been built to fulfil a dream of a man whose name had been long since forgotten; one who had run out of money before the completion of the place and like his body had begun to turn to dust and rust.
It had lain that way for over fifty years when, Patrick, who had taken the wrong path one day, passed it and decided to buy it. The interior was part Art Deco and part Art Nouveau, part lost and part full of colour and life. It suited Patrick perfectly, because he too had a dream and that was to build a very special museum. One that would be unique – one that would bring tears and joy both at the same time.
To fill it the way he intended meant that Patrick had to hide in quiet places. He had to sneak into rooms when folks were occupied in other things – he had to search in old huts and sheds where folks had left the things that Patrick was seeking.
He found them. There was no problem with that, because people always left traces of themselves and that would always lead Patrick to a new seam of discovery.
It took him over two years to get the collection together the way that he wanted, and a further year to present them the way he wanted. In the end, exhausted and tired, he looked at his work and it pleased him.
For the opening night, he invited all those from whom he had taken an object – whether they knew or not. Some were amazed, others shocked, some were crying and some laughing, but no one could ignore the beautiful strange building with its beautiful contents.
The corridors were dark, and the walls were white to show off their contents. A man, a woman or a child would go to their exhibit and point; for on the big, impressive walls of the strange building were displayed – in all their glory – the shadows of the people’s former selves. Some folks stood next to their shadows and tried to fit into them, but time had moved on.
People looked at who they once were and wondered what had happened to them, to their lives. Some laughed, some cried, some wept, some danced but all were moved to show some emotion when they came face-to-face with their shadows.
Patrick felt his work was now done and that his house of shadows was indeed complete.
bobby stevenson 2016