A Death Refracted – Part 2
Part 2 of the story. Edited thanks to Guaj, IYP and SteveF
Part 2 – The waiting room
The journey to Victoria had emptied Bonny. Nothing existed around, inside her. She saw only the blur of colours outside the windows. There was no connection, no stirring, no need to reach past her self. However, inside there was an ember. Beginning to glow, to gather strength. But it was formless; her thoughts barely took a breath before they were drowned. She, herself, was killing them. The idea of loss was…she could not face it. She walked past shapes, shifting images, angled flesh, faces melting one into the other……now she’s here…..and there is the shadow of her sister, Derry; an incubus nibbling at her insides.
I wanted to see her, Tuwi tells her.
They’re in the waiting room. The woman constable has told them she’ll bring news as soon as she knows anything. If they want anything, just ask. And she’s gone to check in with the team – Bonny, in one part of her self, wonders what they’re doing in the tunnel and why they haven’t brought Derry, whatever is left of her, up yet – leaving them with more cups of tea and a plate of digestives.
I hadn’t seen her for weeks, Tuwi says. I called every day and she’s always put me off, always. Things to do, she said to me, papers to sort out, people to line up, get ready for the hearing. Then I just decided to go over and knock on her door. And she, she just opened the lounge window and told me her horoscope had said no visitors. What could I do? She wipes her cheek with the back of her hand. Her husband holds out a tissue, but she ignores him and twists her left hand in the cave of her right: Just sit on the wall outside and wait?
The room is insulated, the noise of the platforms shut out, and warm, a wet heat. Bonny looks at the posters on the wall behind her sister: “If you spot something suspicious, call the Transport Police on…”; “Bereavement counselling -we’re here to listen…”; “Get away to the coast. The quickest getaway you can get is by train. Book online at…” “The quickest getaway, getaway, getaway, getawaywayway….” A hole is beginning to shred its way through Bonny. She wants to rest, the notion of closing her eyes so attractive, just to lay her head down….
She said she was waiting for you, Tuwi says. For your call….
No, No, No! the cry rises cutting, freezes inside her. Bonny hasn’t spoken to Derry for over three weeks, not since that incident at the medical centre when she’d stormed into her consulting room, demanding she write up a new prescription, that she owed her that, it was the least she could do as her sister. She’d told herself to just pick up the phone, had, in fact, twice dialled Derry’s number and then she’d listened to Kris. She needs to learn, he said; let her make the first move this time. You can’t always be running after her.
She was waiting for you to call her.
Bonny’s heart curls in upon itself and all she hears is the pounding of her blood tracing out the delta of her guilt, because there is a guilt there, the feeling of abandonment… that she, out of the circle Derry had, she should have been there to save her…..the thin red lines connecting her to her sister to her, they were her duty, she should have fed and fostered……
She called me out of the blue, Tuwi carries on. Said she wanted to meet up for lunch and have a chat. We hadn’t done that in ages, and I said Friday, today, would be good. It’s my day off. She said great, was Euston ok? Said there were a couple of things she needed to sort out with the library. Kill two birds, she said, and we could spend some time. She looked ok.
Derry was always “ok”. Every time Bonny saw her, every time they spoke she said she was ok, everything was good, her job was great, she and Desh were doing up the house, Desh was doing well at the Home Office, focusing on the MBA, getting all the assignments done, going up to Manchester once a month and they were happy. But Bonny knew that wasn’t true. The hard scars on Derry’s wrists, the ones she tried to hide under the long sweaters, told another story, the cuts on her neck, covered by the extravagant scarves, showed that the blood flowing through her arteries was always in danger of bursting out, washing away the thin veneer she applied so carefully every day.
She wanted to do some shopping, Tuwi says. For Jessie. Said she was looking forward to her birthday, wanted to find something just right for a three year old. We must have gone to every shop on Regent Street. You know how she is. Has to try everything, feel everything, taste everything.
Bonny can see her clearly, the vivid reds, blues and oranges of her skirts, the gypsy swirls as she strides, hitting the paving stones with a confident heel, the tangles framing that face, the smiles, those sad, sad eyes hiding behind the laughter, and the loudness, the thunder of her as she entered. And Jessie loved that, loved the way that her aunt would sit down with her and read through the pile of books she’s just brought, the lilting voice rising and falling with the swell of the story. And she, Bonny, loved to listen as well, to be part of a rare moment.
We bought a little blouse, purple and pink, and there’s a book as well, “The Monkey Princesses”. Because Derry said Jessie’s into princesses and stuff, said she saw all the books about them the last time she was at yours.
It had been Derry’s birthday, in March…. They’d gone to the Meridiana. Derry wanted something “a little special.” Was it really that long since Derry had been over at the house?
And there’s one about poo. She said Jessie needs to know all about poo, as there’s a lot of shit around. And she was laughing; So many shits in this world, shitting on everything and everyone.
A bud of a smile cut through the tightness in Derry’s chest.
The world is just one big cess pool, she said to me. You need to step lightly.
Tuwi stops to take a sip of water. She’s twisting her wedding band, and Bonny notices that she’s being chewing her fingernails, the polish ragged from the bites. Peter is sitting, eyes closed, an open magazine limp on the table.
God, my feet were aching with all that walking, and I was starving by now. She didn’t really want to eat, but I said, just a nibble. She said she knew some places behind Euston. There’s a couple of nice vegetarian places there, fresh and cheap. That’s where she and Desh go all the time. She didn’t eat much, just nibbled, had a tea and some sweets.
Did she say anything? Bonny wants to know if there’s anything that could have been done to stop Derry. But she knows, too, that she’s starting to lay the blame….when it is she, herself, who has been neglecting Derry. All she had to do was pick up the bloody phone.
Tuwi chews on the knuckles of her left hand. She looks past Bonny, and then re-focuses on her sister.
She was talking about when we lived in Lower Street. Tuwi frowns and her voice is touched by petulance. I can’t remember anything of that. But she said she remembered you taking us to the nursery once. Mum and dad were working and you’d been told to drop us off. When we got there the lady in charge asked whether you had the fees. You had the 50p mum had given you, but the lady said the rate had gone up to 75p. We couldn’t stay, and you just marched us into Woolworths and we spent the 50p on sweets. Do you remember that?
Bonny has to reach back.
I do, she says finally. But that was…how can Derry remember? The girls had been two and three. How could Derry see so far back? But Tuwi’s words have opened up a room inside Bonny; she feels the door, a solid dark block, sees the lock, and as she listens it slowly turns, clicks open; inside there are three chairs, a single cut of light from a window high in the far wall, and behind the dancing dust there are, she counts them, five paintings, the frames barely discernible, faces turned to the wall. She watches the light spun thread shifting, shapes shapeless forming and unforming…..
Anyway, Tuwi is saying, she was sorting out things at work. She’d seen her manager, the chat with her went well, and a date was set for the hearing. Her manager said not to worry……she pauses and Bonny senses, shares the pain.
Tuwi continues, and there is anger in her voice; And if you’re asking if she said something about what she was going to do, she said nothing, nothing at all. It was you she wanted……
Bonny knows; the room is beginning to strengthen, grow inside of her, the falling light being sucked into the cracks, dark fissures, which have appeared in the floor, and there is the faint strain of a song. The ghosts of the shared words are taking shape, settling themselves into the chairs; the lines hardening are of their mother, of Bonny, and Derry before them, and they’re holding her down in her chair, both of them pulling on a scarf, tightening around her neck; “YOU ARE MY DEATH”, the words explode in a shower of spit from Derry. Bonny wants to scream.
Tuwi whispers, it was always you. She stops, gathers. And then the words break out; I couldn’t ….I didn’t know she was going to…..
Bonny cannot hold her sister, her sobs break unfettered, she herself breaks. When they’re spent, hands twined, barely breathing, tears still hot, she hears herself asking; What happened?
We walked all the way here. She was talking all the time; she was doing so many things, she was updating her website, writing again and there were bookings for birthday parties………..You know, she didn’t have to come here, to Victoria, with me. I needed to catch the tube back to Blackfriars. But she insisted, said we needed more time together. She wanted to see me get on my train. We were on the platform sitting on one of those benches. There’s people all around us, walking, shoving past. My feet were aching. The rails are shivering and the wind picks up down the tunnel. You know, when the train’s coming. She stands up. You’re not coming with me? I say; this is my train. She looks at me and smiles. She says, I’ll always be with you, always. And walks towards the edge, pushing past the people, and and I think she’s making sure we can get on. Then she looks back, holds out her hand to me, turns away then she’s gone I can’t remember remember screaming screams the noise of the train, the screeching shouting remember someone holding me, asking if I was ok I said where’s my sister where is she I want to see her, I need to be with her.
There is a floor – how could I be standing if there wasn’t – and there are walls – I have traced them, but is there a ceiling? I can’t say. I watched a film, I think it was the “The Beach”. One of the characters, played by Leonardo de Caprio if I remember correctly, sits in the dark to get his eyes adjusted to the night. He has to go and check on the poppy fields which are hidden in the middle of the island, and he spends weeks getting his eyes “darkened”. It’s surprising how adaptable we, our bodies are. We are always adapting, either because we want to and need to, or because we have to and are forced to.