2. Lament

2. Lament

A Chapter by livspen

That night, after dinner, my sister and I sat on the old leather settee and she asked me for the first time:

“What do think of Wilf, then?”

It might have been ‘Wilf’ or ‘Wilfred’; it escapes me which she used to call him. She had a little hidden look about her as she sipped her hot chocolate and asked this question. Her blackened lashes flickered.

I picked the edge of the settee arm. “He’s very eloquent.”

She couldn’t accept that on its own merits. A tiny frown had appeared on her brow. I went on.

“Seems intelligent.... friendly...”

“He’s remarkably good-looking. Doesn’t smoke. He has wonderful eyes. Did you notice that?”

“I...You seem to have formed a pretty strong opinion of him.”

She drained her mug and dropped her head back, so her hair fell down behind the sofa. Her eyes glistened, and half a smile played on her lips. The clangor of mother’s pots and pans from the kitchen rippled through the sun-ridden air. She was making dad’s tea.

“Are we going to see him again, do you think?” Alison murmured. Her fingernails sank into the leather, pressing it in viciously.

“I expect so. He said he’d see you soon.”

“In the park?”


“What if he’s not there?”

“He’ll be there. On his bicycle. At some point.” I rubbed the back of my hand over my eyes. They stung with the smell of onions. “At some point, he’ll be there.”

She shifted, curled up and round into the corner of the settee, pulled her knees up between her slim white hands and rested her forehead between them. Her eyelids closed. That hidden face, the hidden green rings of her irises, were full of contentment. I watched her breathe for a while, then slunk off upstairs.

I fell asleep to the sound of my father’s rasping. It crept down through the ceiling, his poison-laced spluttering, a black shadow above my bed. This was the spot which scared me long after he died. I was sure, the harder I stared at it, thinking about the sing-song whine of the bicycle, that that spot was slightly brown, stained like cigarette tar. It was just a few dots then. A murky patch of grime. Signposting death. Alison said she never heard it.

Mr and Mrs Spinner smiled at Alison in the church; Mrs Spinner held her hand. The Spinners looked nothing like their son. They were gaunt and shivery like smoke in black suits talking to my sister. I stood trying to shake the rain out of the broken umbrella. Mother’s face was sticky with tears already. The organ began grinding its slow, melodious lament. Alison was drifting up the aisle as is possessed, a black sceptre in the middle of everything. And all the time it echoed round the crystal colours of the windows and the benches and the passive flowers: the whine of the wheels going round, round, round. A young man, a wonderful young man, as they said over and again and again and again, simply lost.

We went home after the service, and I had my arm round Alison’s shoulders. The rain continued to drift down in a light film. She was shaking very slightly.

“It just reminds me of your father’s funeral,” my mother said. She dabbed her handkerchief over her face. “Lovely service.”

Alison couldn’t talk really. We sat in my room for a while, just drinking and looking at each other. She was ridiculously beautiful. Her skin was whiter than I had ever seen it. She’d taken off her cardigan and I could see her smooth shoulders. She sniffed and squeezed shut her eyes every now and again, making them deeper red, sorer.

She left at about ten o’clock and went to the bathroom. I pressed my ear to the wall; the dull sound of snipping, gentle snipping of blades. I tried to feel that cut, and lay down on my narrow bed, and tried to remember how soft her voice was. Soft, sing-song. Over and round and round went the wheels in my head.

© 2010 livspen

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Added on September 28, 2010
Last Updated on September 28, 2010



Brighton, Sussex, United Kingdom

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

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