Edwin's Egg

'Edwin's Egg' is the eighth and final part of Cilla McQueen's Serial, which will be published as a novella in 2011.

The preceding chapters were:

  1. Higgs
  2. Hotdog
  3. Birdie
  4. Inflation
  5. Pleochroic
  6. Tête à Tête
  7. Nanoflowers

Edwin's Egg

Edwin gloomily sorted through the remains of his marriage.

He took a new cardboard box and wrote on the lid “Sporting Memorabilia.” Then he turned to the shelves and took down one by one the tarnished trophies of his wife.

He wrapped them in newspaper and packed them in.

He paused when he came to the golden runner. She had not tarnished. Her limbs were as smooth as ever and as ever he bent his head and licked her little feet.

He put her aside on the small table, beside the magnifying glass. After he had closed the box and stacked it with the others he picked up the magnifying glass and trained it on the green velvet chair.

When he bent down to the chair with the glass to his eye he seemed to come into a green field. As he came closer he could see the stalks of freshly-mown grass. In places the grass was flattened and bent, flecked with wind-blown rubbish.

He sat down. The bookcase was dusty enough to draw on. He drew a humpty-dumpty face looking over a wall, wide-eyed, knuckles on either side as if it had popped up out of the books. A single spiral of hair on the bald head.

He blew dust off the carved lid of a lacquered box.

Inside was his wife’s first artificial hip. The slim titanium spike gleamed. Ed pointed it at the window. It nosed aside the lace curtain and rapped on the pane.

Rapped again, harder. Two passing schoolgirls looked up, open-mouthed, turned and ran. One dropped her schoolbag, scattering things. Bent double she ran back, grabbing books, bag, phone, as if she were under fire.

On the radio in the kitchen Russia was invading Georgia.

He put an egg in boiling water, set the timer and made toast. By the time the egg was done there was a detail of soldiers on the plate, gleaming with butter.

Putting his tray on the small table he studied the bookcase.

The larger books first. The Bible, for instance; the Wonders of the World, the Dictionaries, the Engines of War, the Nautical Knots, the Universe. Fabergé Eggs. He paused, opened it.

With the book propped against the golden runner he tapped his egg with the Apostle teaspoon then sliced off the top. The yolk, just hardened, remained a yellow dome. The white shone inside the top like the lining of a doffed hat.

The Romanov Tercentenary Egg, he read aloud, chased with gold double-headed eagles and crowns framing eighteen miniature likenesses of Romanov rulers within rose diamond borders, rested on a pedestal in the form of the Imperial Eagle.

His yolk was warm amber in a white crucible. He dipped a soldier in and sucked it.

Inside the Romanov Egg, a globe displaying historical maps of the Russian Empire, the landmasses described in gold on a blue sea.

He smoothed the next page to examine his favourite. This was the last egg, the Steel Military Egg of 1916, surmounted by the Imperial crown in gold, executed in blackened steel and poised on the points of four miniature artillery shells.

Beside the wartime egg a miniature easel, removed from within for the photograph, supported a painting the size of a postage stamp showing the Czar and his son in a grassy field under trees, conferring with the staff generals at the Front.

Edwin felt the menace of the egg.

Not knowing it to be their last, the Czar, his son and staff, dressed in long coats and boots, discussed the battle. Meanwhile in St Petersburg the Czarina, as lovely as a quartzite lily, was conversing with Rasputin.

Red and blue lights whirled outside the window. The silver Apostle flashed in the sun as it scooped the bottom of his egg, bringing out a curl of white. Lastly he ate the hat.

Someone was making a noise down below. It appeared to be police.

The two schoolgirls stood at a distance, looking up. A policeman in the middle of the street raised a megaphone. Two others crouched behind a car. What next, thought Edwin. It must be the neighbours. The megaphone blared.

He pulled the hip from his pocket and rapped on the window pane. He hadn’t finished his lunch.

He turned the shell upside-down, took out a black felt pen and began to draw the handlebar moustaches of the Czar.

Contents of an honesty box on a tram
Reference number: 114/356/07-G

Woman picking apples in the Nelson district
Reference number: 1/4-000984-F

Genera of plants. No. 4. Botany. London, J. Wilkes, August 4th 1799
Reference number: E-086-q-014

Isabel Jane Hodgekins: Study of a vase
Reference number: B-083-013

Exhibition at the Parliamentary Library
Reference number: 114/258/03-G

Cigarette box presented to the captain of the English cricket team
Reference number: 114/276/02-G

Egg standing party
Reference number: 114/264/02-G

Living/dining room interior
Reference number: 1/1-010493-G

Mary Elizabeth Dickie, 1905
Reference number: 1/2-034657-G

The evacuation of Sulva Bay. The burning of a million pounds worth of stores; last lighter coming away as dawn broke
Reference number: A-176-003

Man with miniature radio
Reference number: 114/227/03-G

Family breakfasting - Photograph taken by Edward Percival Christensen
Reference number: PAColl-3060-018

Charlotte Beatrice Youmans, Interior of St Pauls Cathedral, Wellington
Reference number: C-119-001

The Tell-U-Vision entertainer; the wrestling chart published to create a mind picture and increase your appreciation of the radio broadcasts
Reference number: Eph-D-WRESTLING-1930s-01

Two eggs on a table
Reference number: 114/257/13-G

Display advertising feather products of the Helvetia Ostrich Company Ltd
Reference number: 1/2-096502-F

New Zealander Artillery soldier eating toast in forward areas of the Italian Front
Reference number: DA-04910-F

Members of the British Antarctic Expedition of 1911-1913 around a Midwinter Day tree at Antarctica, 22 Jun 1911
Reference number: 114/356/07-G

Centurion tank
Reference number: 114/178/06-G

Circus group in Hastings
Reference number: 1/1-019253-G

Egg standing party
Reference number: 114/264/01-G

Hawkins, Myrtle, fl 1916: Design drawings for jewellery items
Reference number: C-119-024

Warre, Henry James, 1819-1898: Interior of my hut. Camp before Sebastopol
Reference number: E-308-q-2-001

North Signal Box, Lambton Railway Station, Wellington, ca 1900
Reference number: APG-0014-1/2-G

New Zealand Free Lance
Reference number: Eph-D-DRAMA-Wilford-1934-01

Turtle found in Wellington Harbour
Reference number: 114/388/14-G

W S Percy, ca 1897
Reference number: PAColl-1091-02


That's all from Pilot Small



Serial, Acknowledgements

"The Montgolfier Brothers and the Invention of Aviation" Charles Coulston Gillispie Princeton University Press 1983
"The Southland Times" 22 August 1892
"Extinct Birds of New Zealand" Tennyson and Martinson, Te Papa Press 2006
"The Possessed" Fyodor Dostoyevsky
"Resurrection" Tolstoy
"Astronomica" Millennium House 2007
Richard Reeve. Lois Lenski. Eugene Ionesco.

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