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The Gathering

Phillipps handed me my coat. I wanted to say something about Julietta, put it in a way that no one else had managed that night, or any other night. The somewhat tiresome phrase, what we cannot speak of we must pass over in silence, thrummed through my head.

Bloody stupid quotes. I'd attached my life to them like rescue lines. But who had been waiting at the other end? Not some bristled old sailor, tot of rum at the ready, but the unfathomably dead. Mute at last, they meandered over wormed beaches, unseeing and dusty, absentmindedly feeling their watch-chains beneath moth-eaten topcoats.

I shrugged into the Burberry (a present from my last wife but one), then became aware of Phillipps' hand lightly pressing at my elbow. He searched my eyes, then said, as if blowing out a refractory candle, "Good night."

I walked into the blank city, towards the sound and sense of the river.

When Stevens had found Julietta, after breaking down the door, my last letter to her was on the kitchen table, cut into many pieces. Apparently.

The evening, an idea of Candia's, some sort of retrospective, commemoration of the life, had not been a success, I reflected. Well, not for me. Friendships had distinctly cooled. I did not trust the unctuous pacifications. "You couldn't have known." "She might have done it anyway." The word might given a quite unnecessary push.

I stood midway on Hungerford Bridge. Black Velvet water. Chained lights. A distant shout.

Story by:

Mark Mayes

11 May 2013