By Olga Dermott-Bond
I tear the tag off my new pair of leather gloves as I walk out of H&M. They are dark green, the colour of dusty fat olives. Maybe they remind me of a vintage car. Yes. That’s it. I wriggle my fingers into unmapped lanes. Their lining is like cream upholstery. I get in them and drive to see you.
I crawl through the traffic and imagine myself in a convertible, top down, wind in my hair. I imagine myself going far, so far away from now. And here. I’m the opposite of Audrey Hepburn. No lipstick, scarf, sunglasses. I think how you would have liked these silly thoughts, comic diversions, playing like the radio in your sunny kitchen, kettle on, legs tucked under you with cushions, too few days left to need to count them all at once.
I pull myself up outside the funeral parlour, which is disguising itself as a Victorian terrace next to a pub.
It’s hot in here, unlike the bright cold of February outside. The lighting is set suitably low, a mumbled apology. I sense a faintly familiar atmosphere, and recognise that sterile hospital smell, dimmer-switched down low. The scent of lilies is arm-wrestling to beat it, their stamens like bloodied knuckles.
In the basement, grief must be wailing, because on this floor there is no screaming outrage. A lady dressed as a waitress shows me to the right room. Open coffin. Your daughter has been here before me, evidently, as there are a few toys and teddies wedged in beside you.
This is your death. Polite as afternoon tea.
I pull off my coat and gloves. There are three chairs and I choose the middle one. I hang my coat on the back of the chair, so as not to make a mess.
I look at my rag nails, ugly cuticles, smothered moons. It must be this cold weather because I realise my skin is crumbling like shortbread. I don’t know where to start, so I tell you about my latest purchase. Even hold them up to show you.
Silence takes our hands. A heavy fist sits where my heart should be. This is your death.