Ophelia is looking out her office window, and feeling sad. They're closed, but a client comes to the door. Ophelia tells the women that they will be open tomorrow. The woman has tears in her eyes. She notices the ink stain on Ophelia's sleeve and offers a remedy, vinegar.
“I have no vinegar,” I said.
The afternoon seemed suddenly quite empty. Why would a lack of vinegar plunge me into a fit of melancholia?
It wasn’t the shirt, but what the stain on the white shirt represented, and that it was now permanent;
that I lacked any of the essentials to create a home;
that I was spending another Sunday afternoon alone, save for a talking bird;
and that, in my hour of need, I was denied even the consolation of sour wine, a biblical resonance that is at once absurd and indicates the depth of my sudden self-pity.
doesn't that sound desolate? But Ophelia decides to invite the woman in to feel less lonely. The woman explains why she came to see her.
“Your life sounds pleasant enough,” I said. “Why do you need my help?”
She hid her face with her hand, fingertips trembling on her forehead. “Because,” she said, in a voice so low that I had to lean forward to catch the words. “We are haunted by a book.”
They're being haunted by a book! Can't wait -- reading on!