Tuesday 10th April 2012
Emily’s broken breakfast; to the cliff-top with Tom
HOPE is more premise than promise, as we are often told. Like a slippery egg falling to the floor or something cast from a cliff that crashes on to the rocks below, it can be broken in an instant. Even the most permanent masses – stars, seas, the land – fidget constantly, never listening to any voices other than their own.
The egg, being soft-boiled, splashed entrails of white and yellow on to the floor, as Jenny, with shaking hand, took the tray away so that she might free the bed of encumbrances and thus make room for herself to lie down alongside the smallness of her daughter.
Tom and I used paper tissues to pick up the uneaten breakfast, to remove splinters of shell, and to wipe away spots of watery membrane from the bed covers.
“Thanks, Ulla. Maybe if I… would you mind? I’d like to be on my own with her for a bit. Not long. An hour or so. Get Tom to show you the beach.”
He said nothing until we were out of the building. Clouds had returned, nudging rain towards the coast-line.
“Spose I was hoping today would be like yesterday. Thought she’d wake up wanting another party. Never missed breakfast before. Three or four days, Mam said the doctor said. Some days I wish it was me. I want to be the one who never wakes up again, not our Em.”
He drew in breath quickly, wanting, and yet not wanting, to let out a blob of sob.
We were approaching the bench where, that coming evening, we would meet the Pry Minister. I was expecting us to continue down the hill towards the shore, but Tom chose to leave the road…
“Let me show you this first.”
…and led me up a grassy slope, ending on the cliff’s promontory, overlooking the sea.
Way below were the sharp crags and the scree of countless millennia of erosion. Here the wind had teeth, the sea looked you straight in the eye with a beckoning fierceness: a perch both thrilling and inviting to any Rhetan.
Somehow I stifled the impulse to unfurl my wings and dive into the currents.