1. Raindrops

1. Raindrops

A Chapter by livspen

Alison was playing music through the wall on the morning of Wilfred’s funeral. It beat loud at me like someone knocking their fist, knocking it almost right through the paper and wood of the wall separating our rooms. I sat on the edge of my bed. I imagined the monsters of hell raging round in there, scraping the walls and tearing bits out of the bed and the ceiling and Alison herself. Muted rain fell softly down the window.


When I went downstairs, I found my mother leaning on the kitchen counter, gazing at a hymn book that used to belong to my father. It was black but age had worn the edges grey, and the gold lettering had virtually vanished altogether. Her eyes were transfixed upon it, taking it in blinklessly. She’d done something different with her hair, put it up into a smooth round knot at the back of her head. Not a single stray white hair was out of place.


My father had never met Wilfred. By the time Wilfred had come into our lives, dad was permanently upstairs in bed, or on a ward somewhere. They moved him around a lot, until the very end. Weren’t sure what to do with him. He died in the middle of the night in some hospital out of town. My mother didn’t smile for about six months afterwards.


That was not how Wilfred went at all.


The roar from Alison’s room cut out. Slow footsteps carried her down the stairs. She looked peculiarly radiant, all covered head to toe in black, black eyelids, black hair curled around her shoulders, black gloves, black patent shoes. Her face was a full moon of confusion and sadness. She didn’t really seem to be looking at anything.


Nobody said a word as we left the house. Mother and Alison shared an umbrella, half broken in places like brittle bones, while the biting rain fell down on my head. There was to be no parade, no adorned hearse dragging up the road. Just a short, silent walk in the rain to the church. I watched their heels, as I walked behind, making small splashes in the puddles. 





It was three summers ago, when the sun ran off the park pond and the sky barely spoke of cloud, when Wilfred saw Alison for the first time. I was sitting cross-legged on a bench near the wishing well, breaking up the rest of my paltry lunch and scattering it among the  ducks. They fixed their tiny black eyes on me with nothing less than the purest disdain. The tepid breeze sent the copious rose heads bobbing wildly up and down around me. A little girl ran by in gingham and ballet shoes, and I wondered where Alison had got to.


She was, in fact, on the other side of the park. The white lace hem of her skirt rustled like bunting. She was climbing her favourite tree, the ancient oak, completely symmetrical and magnificent, to whom she talked when she thought no one was around. The free stretch of the branches matched her twists of dark hair as she evanesced further up into the leaves, until only her white leather sandals, tip-toeing, were visible.


And the whine, small and sing-song, of his bicycle wheels bumping over the grass came along just as the wind changed. He always cut across the grass like this on his way home, mowing down ants and worms and millipedes no doubt. And maybe things would have been different if the wind hadn’t changed and blown his handsome head of brown hair across his eyes. He wouldn’t have paused mid-peddle to brush it away, and caught in his eyes the glimpse of her golden legs suspended above him. He wouldn’t have stopped. But Wilfred did all these things, and lay down his bicycle gently with his eyes turned upwards to Alison, who was blissfully oblivious.




I beheld that scene across the grass, far off and skewed, like a daydream. They were mere thumbnail dolls in the distance, and even the celsitude of the tree was diminished to a broccoli. She was gazing from her branch, her hair hanging down, her puppet legs dangling; he was staring up at her. I was reminded with a shiver of the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet. Their moment was highlighted by pure gold beads of sunshine. They were clutched in the hazy, hot-headed summer instant. And here I came, hunched figure, the black-headed joke, trampling the grass with heavy-gaited step.  



I waited until I was almost right beside the bicycle, lying helplessly on the ground, before I gave the slightest impression that I knew Alison. They gave a start when I spoke.


“Hullo up there,” I said. I did not look at the boy, at first.


“Rob, where’ve you been?” 


I shrugged. A dull silence followed. Leaf dust circled in the air. Alison’s startling face stared hard at the ground.


“Did you know this young lady was talking to a tree?” 


The boy’s smile radiated towards me. He nodded in jest towards Alison, and laughed a little to himself, his hands deep in his trouser pockets. The lad looked in love with the idea of my sister being completely insane. Which she was not. But I was surprised at how much I liked him, all of a sudden.


“Sounds like her, yeah.”


“They like people chatting to them,” she said, indignantly, one hand stroking the trunk. 


“I’m Wilf.” He took a sturdy step towards me, his arm and smile outstretched. We shook. “And you are...?”


“That’s my stepbrother,” Alison said loftily, picking a leaf and setting it free. It drifted down just past Wilf’s right ear. 


“Good to meet you,” Wilf said, and even though I loathed his brogues and his hair style and the large blue peepers that bored into mine, I felt this not just said out of common politeness.


This is how our time with Wilfred, whose surname I soon discovered was Spinner, began. Alison was massively fond of him already, and I noticed her ruffling his hair before we parted that first afternoon, ruffling it and staring at his face as the sun went down. I remember how he glowed in that sunset as he cycled briskly off, and my sister’s far-off demeanour as we strolled home. It seems like it happened in a different town, but everything happened in this town. The glitter in her eyes, the touch of his fingers, the twist of her dress… the sunshine….

 

 

But the rain pattered down on the day we buried him.








© 2010 livspen


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Added on September 12, 2010
Last Updated on October 22, 2010
Tags: funeral, memory, meeting


Author

livspen
livspen

Brighton, Sussex, United Kingdom



About
Im Liv. I'm from Brighton, England. I write, constantly. Enjoy. more..

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