When she wasn't in the library, or teaching at the university, she would work here at her desk most days, looking out at the canal with her books on the shelves behind her. She slotted them into the spaces that she found amongst my own so that now, when I am searching for an old textbook or browsing for one of my mother's gardening books to read in the silence of my weekday breakfasts, I am from time to time surprised by a volume of Shelley, or Keats, or by a run of novels. And sometimes I will open one of those instead and see an inscription, 'To Rachel, My Love', without a signature, and I will begin to read and find myself rushing through an open weir, carried away by a current that is strange to me and new. And when I am halfway through and utterly lost to myself, no longer in London but far away in Italy, a fifth person in an abandoned hillside villa lit only by candlelight and now then the light from a storm, I will turn a page and come across a postcard covered in a script too faded to read, or a photograph of Rachel with someone I do not recognize, and I will remember what she used to say about the sort of person who went to the trouble of using an actual bookmark to keep their place.
from Every Contact Leaves a Trace, by Elanor Dymott