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A Footnote on the Origin of Grief

By Khristian Mecom From Issue No. 7

After dreaming of London for so long, Myra returned to the city with the goal of earning a PhD in Evolutionary Biology1. For years, she had carried around the version of London she had seen as a child. In her fantastical memories, sidewalks glistened with rain, bright shop signs beckoned her inside, cars roamed the streets like wild horses, and the sweet smell of bread and cooked meat infused everything. But Myra had only been in the city for a day. Her aunt had met her on the dock2. Then, they walked a little way to the bus station where they boarded one bound for Dover3. As they passed out of the city, London passed into the realm of fairy tales. 

Now, however, Myra understood that she had been mistaken. Childhood memories are nothing but romanticized versions of dull reality. London was like any other city: dirty, busy, expensive, and lonely. She had limited funds, so her only option for living arrangements was a small university dorm apartment. For the first couple of months, she only went from her dorm to the biology building, to the curry takeout place, to the library, and then back to her dorm. It had always been hard for her to make friends—a remnant of classmates mocking her accent until she never spoke to anyone unless she absolutely had to—and despite common interests, her fellow PhD candidates were absorbed in their own studies. Whenever they did go out for a pint, they always forgot to invite her.4

Even worse was the lack of family. Myra’s mother was back in Dover. Although she called almost every day, it wasn’t the same. There was no popping over to do laundry. There was no sitting down for a home-cooked meal. There was no spending a Saturday night watching the BBC together. Distance was a cruel mistress, and Myra now understood how her mother had felt when her family had been so far away.5

However, it was Myra’s lack of a social life that led to her discovery. She had been roaming the halls of the library, not looking for anything in particular but not wanting to leave yet. It was a bright, sunny afternoon,6 and the thought of walking home, passing all those happy Londoners out for strolls or coffee or meeting friends was unbearable. Even though she had already finished her paper on Elephantfish,7 Myra continued to prowl through the library, trying to look busy and hoping the librarian wouldn’t ask if she was all right again, as to her eyes, Myra always seemed very tired and sad.

“It’s just my face,” Myra had said the first time the “all right?” question had been posed.

But the librarian didn’t seem to believe her and had since taken to inquiring often.

Dodging the librarian and scanning the shelves, a familiar name caught her eye: Florence Kensington.8

Among the two books by Florence Kensington that Myra was intimately familiar with, there was a third she had never seen. Myra pulled the slim volume from the shelf. Not nearly as dense as the other two, the cover was a plain, faded blue with the title—On the Origin of Grief—embossed in gold.

Myra felt as if she had suffered a loss without even knowing it.9 Feeling completely out of sorts, she headed to the check-out counter and then returned home. How was it possible she didn’t know this book existed? She should’ve known. She just should have. 

Without taking off her shoes, she collapsed on her bed and turned to the first page.10 The opening paragraph began like so:

There is no right and proper way to write it down. So, as plainly as I can, I write these words: My daughter is dead. There. That will make it true. She died of a fever. She was only three months old. I was a mother. Now, I am not. The one thing left is the question of how I come to terms with it all.1

1 What a ridiculous question to set out to answer. As if there even is an answer. How high and mighty I think myself. But I’m only a scientist now and this question is my only child.

Myra stayed up all night reading, marveling at the intimate and detailed nature of the text—so unlike her first book. Florence Kensington didn’t shy away from any thought that passed through her mind. There were chapters solely about the genus Panthera—which included the snow leopard of the Himalayas—and in painstaking fashion, Florence Kensington compared and contrasted characteristics of the African leopard, the Siberian tiger, the West African lion, and other big cats. But she never worked her way to any thesis. There was just facts and observations. Yet, at the end of the chapter, Florence Kensington wrote the following footnote:

31 So, in the end, I see that all things share something in common. But wasn’t that something I already knew? Did I somehow forget? Still, despite my lapse, I know it to be true. I’ve proven it to myself. We are all the same, sharing the same heartaches. I need to be cognizant of that fact when it comes to Benjamin. 

Although Myra had thought she knew all there was to know about Florence Kensington, she was wrong.11 Myra never knew she had been married to a man named Benjamin, let alone had a child. None of what Myra read in On the Origin of Grief was present in Florence Kensington’s biography.12

Then Myra came across a disturbing section:

Something has happened. Something I’m not even sure I should put down in writing. Perhaps, my mind has finally left me, and this is the proof. But, no, I must write, if only to make sense of it. I was on my morning hike—the one I take every day at the cusp of dawn when the animal life is still active. My usual route takes me through the Homkhani Forest and into the wide valley of Dhel Thatch. This day, I hiked up farther than usual to a goddess shrine on a mild peak—the shrine being only some humble red flags and cloths atop a pile of stones. I surveyed the land before me. 

Then I saw it. 

There was some creature a little below me. I couldn’t name it straight off like I can the other animals. It was not a snow leopard, a tahr, or even a deer. It was upright. I wondered if was it another human, but it walked with such a long, gaping stride that I discounted the possibility of it being a hiker. It crossed the valley, paused, then looked in my direction. Some unspeakable understanding passed between us. Then, with three strides, it disappeared into a grouping of trees. 

What creature was this? 119 

119 This footnote is being added weeks after the encounter. Only now can I fully admit the truth of what I saw that day. I, of course, have heard the stories from locals. Their tales speak of a man-like creature living high in the Himalayas. I never believed them. The most likely explanation was that, if they saw anything, it was a bear. But I did not see a bear that day. As a scientist, I know observation is the first step to understanding. And what I observed was a yeti. 

A yeti? Florence Kensington believed she had seen a yeti. An animal that only quacks and crazies believed in. Myra felt betrayed.13 The basis for Myra’s life had been the love she had for Florence Kensington—a woman who believed in yetis.

No one noticed or cared that Myra’s life had been uprooted by a single book. Over the course of the next week, Myra stopped paying attention during labs and lectures. She blew off an important paper. Every minute of the day was filled with the sickening weight of impending doom that had settled in her chest—right over her heart—and never went away. A few times she snuck off to the bathroom to make herself throw up.14 As she kneeled on the bathroom floor, Myra, from somewhere remote, watched herself be sick. She felt sorry for this pitiful little girl who had swallowed all this grief only to have it turn on her.15 In those sweet moments after emptying her stomach, Myra almost felt normal again. But invariably, the sickness in her heart would return stronger than before. 

With nothing to hold onto, Myra turned to what was both a comfort and a trigger: On the Origin of Grief:

I think that there is nothing that remains of me. How can that be when I once contained so much? I was a mother. I was a wife. Now, I’m neither. The unfairness of it all is a bitter taste on my tongue that I can never be rid of. Nothing grants relief. Before, I could turn to science. I could pour myself into a text and savor the new knowledge. I once spent all night tracking a snow leopard through treacherous terrain and never tired or thought of turning back. But since losing my daughter, there are days when the only thing I do is wander the house hopelessly, too restless to sit, too lethargic to dress.

Am I lost for good?

Is there anything in the world that can save me?


Two weeks after discovering On the Origin of Grief, as Myra aimlessly walked the London streets, she saw Florence Kensington, who was standing in front of a bakery, dressed as if she were on an expedition: khaki pants, a large-brimmed hat, and a full pack at her feet. Their eyes met. Florence Kensington then reached for her pack, picked it up, and made her way across the street as if she had been waiting for Myra to show up.16

As Myra stepped forward to meet her, a passing bus obscured Florence Kensington from sight and she didn’t reappear. 

In that moment, Myra’s mind17 was made up. She was invigorated by having a clear course of action again.18 The next thing Myra did was board a plane headed for Delhi, India. She didn’t call and tell her mother. 

It was a strange kind of homecoming. On the train to Chandigarh,19 everyone she encountered assumed she knew their language. Yet, when she actually spoke, her perfected English accent came through and whoever she was talking to would nod as if to say sorry for her loss. Myra didn’t bother exploring Chandigarh. She hopped the next bus heading to the Himalayan National Park. 

As she bypassed the beautiful country, Myra took out On the Origin of Grief, which she had failed to return to the library. She opened it to the last chapter and began to read:

Here, in the absolute absence of my past life, I have been returned to myself. The wildness of this mountain land is where I truly and solely belong. There are times, however, when I am sorry for what I left behind. Benjamin was a good man, and I loved him the best I could, but the loss we shared was too much.219 

In the Himalayas, I wake each morning with fresh air in my lungs. I catalogue the plant life. I study the animals. I am consumed by nothing other than my observations. 

At last, I am what I was meant to be: a scientist and nothing more.. 

219 There are times when the only prudent course of action is to unravel yourself from what you have so tightly clung. So, I am unraveled.

The sight of the Himalayas was almost too great to take in.20 Myra only saw it in small pieces: a towering mountain, the expanse, the greenery, another mountain, the sky opened wide, a far-off winding river. Myra had bought camping and hiking gear before she left London and signed up for a park trek that passed through the Homkhani Forest.21 The guide, an older man who was burdened with making sure those in his charge didn’t fall off a cliff or slip down into a valley or get themselves injured in any number of unimaginable ways, kept a close eye on her as if he sensed she was the weak link.

And, indeed, Myra kept trailing far behind the others and, worse yet, wandering off.22 The guide kept doubling back to politely tell her to keep up or that they weren’t going that way but this way. 

On the third day of the excursion, the guide sat next to her after the other group members had eaten dinner and were padding off to their tents.

“Long day, yes?” the guide said.

Myra nodded and turned back to On the Origin of Grief, which she was reading by flashlight.

She hadn’t bothered to get to know anyone on the trek. Besides the guide, there was the American husband and wife who constantly bickered, a woman retiree from Australia who oohed and awed a lot, and a group of four other Americans who were very serious about their birdwatching. No one had asked her any personal questions, and she hadn’t volunteered any information. On the first day of the trek, the Australian had tried to engage Myra, but her one-word answers and nods got the point across—she wasn’t in the Himalayas for the company.23

“Your first time on an expedition of this kind, I think?” the guide asked.

“How’d you know?” Myra said, hoping it wasn’t too obvious.

“I see all kinds,” the guide said, and then he glanced at her book. “The Lady Kensington!”

 “You know of her?”

“Oh, yes, yes, my grandmother told stories of her. She knew her when she was a child and Lady Kensington was an old woman.24 She lived not far from here for many years, in fact.”

“She’s why I came,” Myra said.

The guide, his face rough and inquisitive, seemed to be deciding something. “We pass by her old cabin. Maybe you will see it from a distance.”

Two days later, as they passed out of Homkhani Forest and into a large open field, the guide lagged behind the group and approached Myra.

“There,” he said, pointing to something far off. “Lady Kensington’s cabin.” 

Yes, she saw it: a small cabin with a pale green roof nestled midway up the incline of a valley. But the group bypassed the cabin and continued their trek for another couple of hours before stopping for the night. 

The guide seemed to think glimpsing the cabin was enough.25

When Myra was sure everyone was asleep, she laced up her hiking boots and left her tent. She had memorized the route the best she could, and with only a flashlight and the half-moon above her, Myra retraced her steps, thinking it wouldn’t be so bad to get lost in the Himalayas. It was, perhaps, the stupidest thing she had ever done. But there was no undoing it. Forward was the only direction.26

Myra crossed the valley and entered a small grouping of trees, which was denser than she remembered. Yet, maybe she was just tired. She stopped to rest. Her muscles ached, and she had cuts and bruises on her arms and legs from when she had slipped and fallen earlier that day. She hadn’t taken a proper bath since she arrived in India, and her hair was a matted mess. 

A fog filled her head, and when she sat and leaned against a tree, she fell asleep. Who knew how much later, she woke with a start when someone yelled her name.27

“Shut up,” Myra said. “You’re the whole reason I’m here in the first place.”28

“There’s something she wants to tell me,” Myra said.29

“You haunt me even more than she does,” Myra said. “So just leave me alone.”30

Myra stood up and carried on. 

The trees thinned then ended. The morning sky emerged, erasing the stars that had blanketed the expanse. Myra must’ve taken a wrong turn because before her was an unfamiliar long, low valley filled with mist and to her right was a small outcropping.

As expected, Myra had gotten herself lost.31 This would be the time to panic, but Myra felt only a strange sense of relief and calm. 

Then Myra saw it.32

Just above her on the rocks, moving steadily, was a large creature with white-gray fur. It was unlike anything she had ever seen but she knew a yeti when she saw one. Florence Kensington hadn’t been crazy. Without warning, the yeti paused and bellowed a soul-cowering scream that echoed through the mountains. It began to move again, taking elongated, easy strides down the outcropping and into the valley.

Without thinking, Myra followed.33

The yeti had disappeared from her sight when it had descended from the outcropping, but it had left a trampled trail through the tall grass. The mist cleared as the sun reached its zenith. The valley came alive, purple monkshood appearing everywhere. A gentle incline led her back up. Then, as if it had been placed to block her path, Florence Kensington’s cabin appeared. There was no door, so Myra stepped right inside.

Although it was once cared for, the cabin had fallen victim to the hands of time. The smell of decay—heavy and a little acidic—greeted her right away. It was as if Florence Kensington had gone out on her daily observation walk and had forgotten to come back. All was as it had been, except for the way time eroded all things. Moldy books were piled on a table next to the one broken window and still more were tucked beneath a rusted bed frame that nestled a torn sleeping pad. The wardrobe in the corner contained yellowed shirts that were once white, a large-brimmed hat, and two pair of half-decomposed boots. A large desk with broken back legs leaned against the wall for support, creating a V that had collected faded papers and an assortment of glass jars filled with long-dead animals, only their skeletons remaining. 

The cabin had become a shrine to Florence Kensington and her love of science.

 Myra was examining one of the jars when a noise from the doorway startled her. She expected it to be the yeti.34

It was Florence Kensington.

“Oh, hello, dear, I wasn’t expecting visitors today,” she said. “Would you care for some tea?”

Myra tried to find some flaw, some proof that what she was seeing wasn’t real, but Florence Kensington was in full color and completely manifest. Every detail, from the strands of her hair to the light in her eyes to the dirt under her fingernails, spoke to a living body. Making tea, she moved around the cabin as if it wasn’t a relic, pulling objects from seemingly nowhere, fetching water from outside, standing in front of a collapsed fireplace as she waited for a nonexistent kettle to boil. When she passed Myra her tea, what had been a perfectly beautiful teacup with blue flowers became an empty, broken cup in Myra’s hands. Yet, Florence Kensington sat in a sunken chair that, nonetheless, held her weight and very much sipped steaming tea from her own unbroken cup. 

“Yes, loss is a  hard thing to understand,” she said as if they were in the middle of a long conversation. “If I could tell you the key to surviving it, I would. Some days, I feel as if I’m okay, then others I know I am not. I try to focus on what is around me.” 

“I don’t know how to do that,” Myra said, looking around the dead cabin.

“Oh, you’ll learn,” Florence Kensington said. “You’ll find things to fill your life with. Me? I choose the yeti. Ridiculous, maybe, but it reminds me there are still mysteries we don’t understand.”

“I don’t understand what’s happening to me right now.”35

Florence Kensington set her teacup on the sloping top of the broken table and it somehow stayed upright. She gave Myra a searching look then asked, “Who did you lose?” 

Although Myra didn’t want to say it, the words were pulled from her throat: “My sister.”

“Well, there’s your trouble. You won’t admit your yeti is real,” Florence Kensington said. She got up and rifled through the decaying bookshelf next to the bed. She pulled out a book that was no longer there and held it as if it was real. Her whole being had become faded and thin. “You cannot relegate your monsters to the footnotes. You have to make them a part of the story proper.”

Myra recognized those words as part of the last footnote in On the Origin of Grief. She hadn’t understood what Florence Kensington had meant. Or maybe, she hadn’t wanted to understand it.  

“Here, for you to keep,” Florence Kensington said, holding out Myra’s own copy of On the Origin of Grief.  Myra took the offering and when she looked back up, Florence Kensington was gone. 

Hours later, the guide found her asleep in the cabin with On the Origin of Grief opened to the last page. When they returned to the others, nothing was said about her disappearance, but the guide never let her out of his sight again.

Through the rough, long days of the return hike, Myra grew more and more tired. But she was awake in other ways. The beauty of the Himalayas surrounded her—mountains hiding ancient shrines, flower-filled valleys veiling secret trails, and rocky rivers obscuring unknown depths. So much was hidden to her eye. But she wanted, for the first time in so long, to meet every mystery. The yeti was out there somewhere, a creature of inexplicable hope. Florence Kensington was out there in her old cabin, a ghost of what once was. Her sister was here, an unspoken36 grief. But Myra couldn’t let her sister become a footnote in her life, so to the heights of the Himalayas, she spoke her sister’s name at last: “Padma.”

  1. Myra’s mother had wanted her to become a real doctor: “You know, the kind who heals people and makes lots of money. I don’t even know what a biologist does let alone an evolved one.” But as a child, Myra had come across the works of Florence Kensington, a groundbreaking biologist who had built a career in the late 1800’s. Her magnum opus was a book entitled The Natural Wonders of the Himalayas. There was a quality to Florence Kensington’s writing that made Myra feel like she was standing right next to her, surveying the Himalayas and observing a tahr or a red panda or a musk deer. She was also a supporter of Darwin and his theories. Her studies and research about the Himalayas were focused on helping to answer the central question of how species could be so different and so similar at the same time. That was a common refrain in Florence Kensington’s writings. It was also a question that had plagued Myra, especially when it came to her sister, Padma, and herself.
  2. Although Padma was there, too, Myra now had trouble conjuring accurate memories of her sister. 
  3. It took Myra’s mother two years to save up enough to send for her daughters. Up until then, Myra and Padma had lived with their grandmother, a woman who worked in a textile factory for all of her life and had very little love left to give. They, at best, were an inconvenience. At worst, they didn’t exist at all. Their grandmother often went weeks without speaking to either of them. On the morning of their departure, their grandmother slipped out of the apartment without saying goodbye. When Myra told her mother this, she said, “Well, the textile factory has been the only constant of her life.” 
  4. Padma had been the one who could make friends with anyone. She was effervescent and good-natured. Everyone wanted to be her friend. And by rejecting you, Padma could break your heart. Myra knew that well. 
  5. Regarding distance, Padma was now as distant as anyone could ever be. She had died in May, only three months before Myra moved to London. A heart defect they hadn’t known existed.
  6. A rarity in London.
  7. A species of fish native to the Congo that had an electrified organ in their tail.
  8. With the name came this memory: Padma standing in the doorway of their bedroom: “Always with this Florence book. Don’t you ever read anything else? Come on, let’s go down to the beach. Right now. Get up.” Standing in the library, Myra thought: I should’ve become a medical doctor like mother wanted. Then, I could’ve saved her.
  9. On the day of Padma’s death, Myra had turned in the final draft of her master’s thesis and was elated. She had stopped for fish and chips. Chips were Padma’s favorite, but she only indulged on special occasions. And what could be more special than Myra finishing grad school? Yet, all day as Myra was shaking her professors’ hands and being congratulated, as she was walking down the road, an extra bounce in her step, as she was standing in line at the fish and chips place, as she was unlocking the apartment door, as she called out Padma’s name, she was experiencing a loss and didn’t even know it.
  10. By the stiffness of the spine, Myra knew that the book had never been opened before.
  11. And so deep was Myra’s obsession that for their sixteenth birthday, Padma had arranged for them to visit the library in Oxford that housed the only known first edition of The Natural Wonders of the Himalayas and Florence Kensington’s original, handwritten field notes. The research librarian in charge of the collection didn’t even know all that Myra knew about Florence Kensington. “This was the greatest present ever,” Myra said, feeling bad that she had only gotten her sister a gift card. “You’re going to owe me for years after this,” Padma replied. Myra had never topped that present, not even when she got Myra tickets to the London Olympics. “Gymnastics!” Padma said. “Awesome! How the hell did you score these?” Myra had bought them off a friend who had won them in a lottery, spending just about her entire life savings. “I have my ways. You can take Beth,” Myra said. Padma frowned. “But—” “You know that I hate crowds. I would just have a panic attack and ruin it for you.” And it was true, Padma would have a much better time without her. It was just unfortunate that the same wasn’t true for Myra. She was never okay without her sister. 
  12. Myra even pulled out her copy of The Undiscovered Florence Kensington: The Life of a Woman Scientist. She ignored the cover that Padma had defaced—scribbled permanent ink blacking out the title and author’s name—after one of their stupid arguments about Myra borrowing Padma’s favorite skirt without asking But Adam J. Waters had seemingly not done his research if he missed out on so much of Florence Kensington’s life. Perhaps, he deliberately left it out. But to what purpose? Waters had even written that Florence
    Kensington had died in her home in London, but according to On the Origin of Grief, she had returned to the Himalayas and a note in the front book matter said she had died there.    
  13. In the same way she felt betrayed by Padma.
  14. During a molecular biology lecture, Myra swore to god the two girls sitting to her right were Padma and Florence Kensington. They were both taking copious notes and looking serious. Myra wondered why Florence Kensington was even attending this lecture; molecular biology didn’t exist when she was alive. She must be so confused, Myra thought. Then Padma glanced over at her, and it took Myra a very long moment to realize it wasn’t her sister at all. Then, Myra got up and rushed to the bathroom.
  15. When Myra was fourteen, Padma found her running a razor blade across the inner part of her thigh. Myra had been cutting for a couple of months. No one knew. The first time she cut herself was because a friend had stopped speaking to her after hearing Myra had snogged the boy she liked, which wasn’t true. It was a stupid rumor started by a girl in Myra’s chemistry class who was pissed off Myra had thrown the grading curve by acing a recent test. That day crying hadn’t been enough, so she took apart a disposable razor, undid her jeans, and carefully pressed the razor into her skin, dragging it from her inner thigh to her knee. There was no release, only the pain she deserved. Myra was careful to hide the cuts. But she wasn’t careful about locking the bathroom door. Padma busted in and saw what she was doing. Although Myra knew she was angry, Padma didn’t scold her. All she said was, “Never again,” then took the razor from Myra’s hand and left her alone in the bathroom. From that moment on, Padma made Myra give her back the razor after she shaved her legs. Out of fear of what would happen if Padma found any cuts—she made sure to check Myra’s legs and arms every couple of days—Myra stopped cutting. 
  16. Only briefly did Myra wonder why Padma wasn’t with Florence Kensington this time.
  17. But, really, the idea had been in Myra’s head since she read about the yeti. And maybe even longer than that. It had been there ever since Padma died. Lying dormant inside Myra was the instinct to flee. But how did you flee from what was inside of you?
  18. According to Padma, it was Myra’s worst quality. “You’re so damn stubborn! Why can’t you consider going to school anywhere but London?” “I got into the best program there is, so there’s no considering anything.” “Fine. If you’re perfectly okay with leaving me and my mom behind, go for it!”
  19. A city in Northern India close to the Himalayas. Also known as The City Beautiful. Padma meant lotus in Sanskrit. Myra was a made-up name that a poet thought up in the 17th century that could’ve been based on the word meaning myrrh, which was a fragrant tree resin. So, while Padma was a flower, Myra was a sticky sap. But that sounded quite right to Myra—Padma was the beautiful one. 
  20. This is what it meant to feel small. You could live your whole life never realizing just how large the world was. Padma had always wanted to go to America. “California must be incredible. And no, I just don’t want to go to Hollywood, either, so shut up. I want to see the Redwoods. You know, those trees that are hundreds of years old? And I also want to go to Joshua Tree—the desert. And I want to go to the Santa Monica pier and swim in the Pacific. Can you believe one place contains all those things? God, I don’t want to be stuck on this little island forever.” But she never got to go anywhere. She died in Dover, the place she wasn’t born in but got stuck in.
  21. Florence Kensington had mentioned the Homkhani Forest several times in her book. The best Myra could tell, she had lived there after her daughter had died and she had left her husband. It was also where she had seen the yeti.
  22. She kept seeing Florence Kensington along with Padma. The two of them would be standing together on an outcropping, watching Myra with unknowable eyes. Or, they would be waiting for her across a river. Or, would be calling her name from somewhere behind her. Two ghosts beckoning her toward something Myra couldn’t name. 
  23. Only vaguely did Myra hear Padma’s voice in her head: “You don’t have to be so rude to everyone you meet. No wonder you don’t have any friends.”
  24. The guide’s grandmother had known her only as Lady Kensington; although, it should be noted that wasn’t a name she gave to herself. She was a rare sight in the village, but she spoke the language well and was friends with a great number of people. Every few months she received a package from England, and from them, she always passed out small hard candies to the children. The guide remembered that his grandmother once said, “She was a woman who wanted to disappear, so we all let her do just that.” Toward the end of her life, Lady Kensington had come across the guide’s grandmother in a large valley. “Ah, lovely to see you again,” she said as if they had known each other well but had fallen out of touch. “Tell me, have you seen the yeti pass this way?” The guide’s grandmother had seen the yeti once, many months ago, but not in the area. “Ah, a shame, would you keep me apprised of any other sightings?” For a full year, the guide’s grandmother visited Lady Kensington every week or so, reporting yeti sightings from near and far. Some, she knew, had no truth but she wanted to visit Lady Kensington’s cabin as it was filled with such wonderful things: books, tea kettles, papers, insects pinned under glass, and collections of different types of fur in little wooden drawers. And Lady Kensington seemed to enjoy having company. She always made tea and talked for hours on end. Once she said, “How nice it would’ve been to have a daughter your age.” After Lady Kensington became ill, a bad cough hounding her, she entrusted the guide’s grandmother with a manuscript with the instructions to have it transcribed and then sent to England, which the guide’s grandmother did, returning the original. As its origins were dubious, an editor didn’t believe On the Origin of Grief was written by Florence Kensington—a yeti, really—and it was only published fifty years after her death with little fanfare by a yeti hunter who believed her.
  25. It wasn’t. 
  26. Just behind her, like a shadow, Myra felt Padma’s presence echoing her every footstep.
  27. “Myra!” Padma said. “Jesus Christ, you’re in sorry shape. You and the outdoors were not meant to be. You should get yourself back to London as quick as you can.”
  28. “I thought you came for Florence Kensington,” Padma said.
  29. “So, now you’re communicating with ghosts?” Padma said. “You really have lost it.”
  30. “Really, Myra? Just turn and go back. Are you trying to kill yourself? Turn back. Turn back now. Don’t follow me into death.”
  31. But wasn’t she lost already?
  32. Behind her, Padma gasped. “What the hell is that?”
  33. Padma said, “What are you even hoping to find? I’m not going to be there. You know that, right?”
  34. No, she thought it was going to be Padma. There was never a time when she heard a noise or a voice or sensed a presence and didn’t hope against all hope that it would be Padma.
  35. The options as Myra saw them: She had slipped into some other reality, she had finally lost it, or she was dying and all this was the synapses in her brain firing their last shots. Or worse yet, it was real.
  36. The origin of all grief is love.
About Khristian Mecom More From Issue No. 7