Tuesday 29th May 2012
A return to the cemetery
BARE-headed we stood, by the excavated hole in the ground, where the wooden boxes bearing the two bodies were to be buried. No words were spoken.
Jenny, clinging tightly to the arm of her brother, cast grains of earth on to the coffins, before turning away, trying to control the shaking that now continually assailed her. Others also sprinkled soil or dropped floral offerings into the hole.
Inside the caskets, Tom clutched his skateboard and Emily shared a silent bed with seventeen cuddlies.
Jenny’s kindred and friends began to move away from the burial site. We were to return to the house, but I chose to linger, showing Brendan the church tower, telling him of my fall, and recalling how Tom had stepped out of the shadows to greet me.
‘Won’t be the same when our Em’s here,’ he had said, of the place where he’d made dens as a younger boy, where he’d offered me chocolate, while I listened to his talk of things wicked and cool.
I led Brendan to the shelter in the corner of the graveyard.
“And this is where we were hiding from the helicopter. Tom could not stop laughing because I held his foot and he said it tickled him. Even when the bright searching light shone down on us, he giggled. It was like a game for him. All that Tom desired was a life of fun. Is that not what we all want, Brendan?”
My escorts, who’d remained outside the gates during the ceremony, followed – but at a distance – as we took Tom’s short cut across the narrow road, through the wooden gate and down the muddy path to the back entrance of the house in Churchfield Road.
Brendan said that he would not come in, saying he did not wish to intrude, but would wait with the henchmen in their car.
I pushed open the back door… or, rather, I tried to, but it would not move. Tom had always said they left it unlocked because they had ‘nothing worth nicking’.
Seeing a figure in the kitchen, I tapped lightly on the window, whereupon I could hear a bolt being drawn and a key turned.