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Court Shoes With Jeans

I knew the road, having been made to go up and down it on driving practice. And I knew the face, realising as she opened the door that we'd already met. A ‘chance' to bump into her in Smith's, a how funny, just come and say hello to my friend, nice to meet you smile. Yet it springs to the forefront as soon as I see her.

She bustles, fetching lemonade like I'm nine not nineteen, and tea for my mum. The house has a soft hush, cushioned against the world. Its warm cream tones are clean, free of clutter, devoid of personality.

She asks questions. Did my brother's venture work out? We know nothing of it. Am I enjoying university? How is my sister? She knows more about us than we do. Is it possible that all he did when he was here was talk about us?

She expresses her gratitude for our visit, for our civilised attitude. My mother speaks through gritted teeth. The box of photos sits on the polished table, to be cleared away when we leave. She already has the St Christopher he wore.

The bubbles attack my nose as I gulp down the drink. I want to know where he died, suffocating in this cosy padded house, enveloped by its silence, so different from home.

I can never ask.

Story by:

Sue Barsby

12 April 2016