“She didn’t die here?” I hardly dare ask the question, my voice barely a whisper. You are a man for statements, not explanations.
“She did not die here,” you say. It is a bald statement.
Yet again, as has been our custom, I let the silence hang between us. It is a new routine, to replace those of my prior, solitary existence.
“She died out there,” you say, pointing to the hills that brood on the horizon.
“I am sorry,” I say, looking at you. You are staring towards those hills, as if to destroy them with your thoughts. I kneel down, reach out to brush the dust and lichen from the worn stone, to reveal her name to the elements.
“NO!” You grasp my arm, pull me up and away from the headstone. I bite down on the yelp of protest as pain arrows across my shoulders. You do not like dissent. I have learned this lesson well.
“She was careless,” you say and stride away from me. You mount your horse, landing in the saddle in one, supple move.
“Why are we here, Papa? It’s so very quiet, like it’s Sunday or something.”
The man stares at his teenage daughter, his heart aching to see the ghost of Sarah lingering in her quizzical expression. He fingers the scar running along his jaw, a nervous habit he knows only too well.
“Did you and Mama work here, during the war?”
Bless her, she is as sharp as her mother, he thinks, his heart breaking slowly. He can’t believe it makes no noise in doing so, is incredulous that there is no pool of blood dripping onto the cobbles at his feet in witness to what is about to happen.
It has been ten years, since Sarah died here, in the road, outside this small magasin.
‘Not died,’ he thinks, correcting the lie he had been telling himself for a decade. ‘Killed. By me.’
He hopes his daughter is as strong as his mother had been. She will need to be, once she knows the truth.
Here’s my latest entry to Magpie Tales. I couldn’t quite leave my trilogy behind, so thought I would write a kind of post-script. You can read the other stories in order here, here, and here, if you like!
I hope you enjoy it – and please do visit Magpie Tales for more poetry and prose!