‘FALLING‘ By EMMA KAVANAGH
The grating of metal rings on a metal pole, thick velvet curtains billowing outwards. A large window. Libby lay beyond the glass, Snow White in a crystal coffin. Her eyes were closed, and Tom found himself wondering who had closed them, grateful that they had. She could be sleeping now; if you ignored the greyness of her pallor, the blood that crusted her scalp.
‘ I have to see her.’ Jim had been waiting for him when he arrived at the house that morning. Arms folded across his chest, ready for a battle.
Jim’s fingers rested on the glass, shoulders slumped like the bones had been stripped from him. Policeman posture slipping away on to the dark-carpeted floor. There was a noise coming from him, something low that Tom would be willing to bet he didn’t know he was making. A quiet keening. Tom remembered his father talking about Jim – the big J. “You should have seen this guy in the St Paul’s riots, facing down the fury.” Had said that they had stood shoulder to shoulder. But then the crowd had surged, Tom’s father slipping on a ground slick with gasoline and anger. Feeling hands tugging at him, boots digging into his soft flesh. “Then”, he had said to Tom, “these hands reaching in, picking me up.” That was Jim.
Jim was trembling now, a full-body quiver like a newborn left outside in the snow. The mortuary attendant watching him, an exercise in inconspicuous sympathy, hands folded at his waist, head bowed.
Teaser lines taken from page 133/134 of my paperback edition.
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