Funerals are always a strain. But I think I carried it off, said all the right things, assumed an appropriately sombre expression. I’ll keep the ashes for a while. Time will pass, people forget. Eventually I’ll dump them on the compost heap, mix you into the vegetable patch, consume you in winter cabbages: microscopic traces of you, homoeopathic healing. Because, despite what you always claimed, the bruises you gave me were never my own fault.
17th May 2013
The party’s winding to a close. My tipsy uncle warbles a sad song, leaning towards the microphone like the prow of a tilting ship, surprising himself by hitting each note and remembering all the words. I slip through the room bestowing goodbye kisses. Most people are oblivious. Others seem bemused. Hands flutter uncertainly to flushed cheeks and are swiftly brought into check. Just a few shed unashamed tears remembering what they’re here for. My wake.
11th April 2013
I never told anyone. They’d think I was mad. But I remember her clearly, clothed in white, eager to show me somewhere beautiful. I wasn’t scared: I’d known her since childhood and she’d always been kind. But suddenly it felt wrong and I pulled away. It’s been fifty years since the dead lady came to show me her world. I wish I’d seen. But I know it’s beautiful. She wouldn’t lie; she was always kind.
1st March 2013
Black and white. Mother, postwar thin in shin length cotton dress. Father, Brylcreemed and ramrod straight in baggy trousers with turn-ups caught mid flap, his hand resting affectionately on a little girl’s shoulder. Mine, held mid squirm by a grip as firm as steel, thumb digging painfully into my shoulder blade, defying me to move. A happy family frozen time. Who took this photo? Did they know that things are never black and white?
23rd December 2013
Colourful pulsing light briefly frames the bedroom door as someone slips in. Feigning sleep she steadies her breathing and forces herself to remain still while soft footfalls move closer. Sour, beery breath warms and dampens her face. Across the room a bedspring creaks and her face cools. Hot, betraying tears threaten to squeeze through tightly closed lids, but she forces them back accepting their guilty sting. Molly doesn’t want to be Santa’s favourite this year.
30th October 2012
The first phone I remember was black: hunkered inside its red box it gorged on pennies before mocking my poverty with strident pips. Then came home phones; pastel plastic anchored by thick wires, trimphones that warbled, curly wires that tangled and push-button dials, cordless phones, mobiles and text. But you never called me, and I never called you. Now we’re old, the Reaper’s footsteps louder, which medium will we use to ignore each other next?