My mother dressed in satin black with purple eye-shadow is a daunting sight. I'm not sure if there is anything more gothic in this town than her in mourning. Fake mourning, I may add. She hated my father just about as much as the rest of us.

My two uncles did not make the commemoration. When they got wind that John would be there they wholeheartedly refused to come. They said he is probably in a wheelchair because he has “colon cancer”. Even my my mother agrees that was a wicked, godless thing to say.

Aunt Jaqueline, my mothers sister, was there though. She showed up an hour late, covered in black netting, with another years worth of wrinkles carved into her face. In contrast to my mothers bulk, she's a frail spindly thing. Her lips are thin and look like slithers of anchovy. She drinks Gin and Tonic like it's water and smokes more than John. Every ten minutes she folds up in a coughing fit and you can see her knickers. Her tongue is dark grey, almost black. She'd make a great funeral flower.

Sitting at the far end of the table, looking like a thunderstorm, mother led us in prayer. She said she'd do anything to have my father back, and five years without him is five years without life. When she finished she uncrossed her legs and pulled a decanter full of brandy from the sideboard.

“To 'Betsy' Spencer!” she said holding forward a large round glass
“To Betsy!”

Then it was down the hatch.

By three o'clock I was the only sober person left. Aunt Jaqueline was nodding forward off the couch with her eyes nine tenths closed listening as my mother explained to John the medical reason for water retention. “Go on, poke it!” she slurred, slapping a leg up on the coffee table. John pressed a couple of fingers into the thick flesh that surrounded her ankles. When he removed them there were two inch deep indentations in her leg. “It's like plasticine, ” Mum said “and if you prick it water trickles out! The body's an amazing thing, especially a womans!” At one point she even pulled John's head down and had his face resting on her gigantic boobs. I think they had bonded over incontinence.

Sometimes I give my mother a hard deal. She's not such a bad woman, more a disappointed one. She is trapped between The Bible and me. I am her sin and one that will forever test her beliefs. I forgive her because I know her. Her disinterest was the closest thing I had to love for nigh on 22 years. I think if my father had have died when I was young she would have loved me. It was him that suppressed her warmth, crushed her belief in passion, and now it is gone forever.

At just gone 5pm John and I waved goodbye and I pushed him off to the bus-stop. Although a little worse for wear, he hadn't played one wrong note all afternoon. In fact he had been a real sweet heart.
“Tristy?” he asked
“The world is beautiful isn't it?  D'you remember those trips we used to make to the heath, laying spent in the grass listening to the crickets and insects and life?... the sun beating down on our chests. And the lake, Oh ha! D'you remember the lake and the little island? We'd swim across and it was like another world, our secret place away from even the heath. Oh it was beautiful! D'you Remember that?”
“Of course I remember!” I replied, gripping his hand “When I think of us, I think of that, nothing else. It's like that is my only memory. When I die, I will swim across to that island once more, pull myself up on the reeds and retire. It will be my own little paradise.”
“Mine too,” said John staring out into the distance “It'll be my paradise too.”


  1. 'I am her sin'.

    That is Satan speaking.

    You are your own sin.

    And don't be too hard on the drinkers. Our Lord Jesus was a great imbiber.

    I myself regularly partake of the grape. After a day with my nephew and the Nerdettes I need a relaxant. Otherwise I don't know what I'd be capable of.

    And my drinking crowd - a gang of sparky Catholic priests (we all go way back) - agree with me that the drinking/falling over/throwing up etc keeps us in touch with the Little People...

  2. Tristram,
    Is your Aunt Jacqueline a widower as well?
    She sounds like a real catch.

    All the beast,

  3. @ Abigail: I suppose you're right, in your world. Your drinking sessions sound a bit fruity! Who'd have ever thought? But I suppose you can get as drunk as you like around catholic priests and in the safe knowledge that your petticoat won't be raised once. X

    @ Dusty: Four times widowed I'm afraid. She's been in mourning since as long as I can remember. A real catch, yeah, if you've an interest in manufacturing tinned dog food I suppose. X


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