After George was murdered by Blanche’s boyfriend, there was a funeral. Lady Smock thrived on funerals, and assumed the duties of death with brio. Others’ woes brought her to life and gave her hope. But this was tricky. She didn’t care one whit for Great Uncle George. He besmirched the family reputation when he deflowered Blanche in the pantry.
Nonetheless, a funeral was necessary. She consulted her Excel spreadsheet of to do’s:
- Send condolence card (hard to find one for this particular circumstance – “So sorry for the loss of the your diddling husband.”)
- Request mass for the deceased. (She foresaw a major contribution to the parish.)
- Make boeuf bourguignon (She had a reputation to maintain.)
- Rally the neighbours to drop meals, make a schedule, and provide suggestions (she saw no reason to feed the bereaved vats of spaghetti sauce).
- Set up a Facebook remembrance page. (She couldn’t wait to read the posts!)
Sweet Peas – the symbol of pleasure
When Harry arrived with a bouquet of Sweet Peas to dress the funeral buffet, the last of her concerns about the funeral dissolved. Life was fun again.
It came like a Normandy brume and stuck. Sometimes she heard Harry’s foghorn voice, shushed as though by waves slurring over sand. His concern made her cry.
Why it was called the black dog she didn’t know. It was light without sight, like being drunk in the daylight without her glasses.
Sick of herself, she turned to YouTube for inspiration, a terrible mistake. The #1 song on the uplifting playlist made her heave and weep until dehydrated.
Propelled by wind, assaulted by switches of yellow, and struck by space, she walked until night settled her dreaded daylight terrors. Soon, sleep.
Dicentra (Bleeding Heart)
It gnawed through her like aspirin on an ulcer and then burned until a hole appeared in her stomach. Why couldn’t he see it? It never healed.
The day he ripped it out, a trail of broken pillow-blooms led like an opened vein to the bin where he disposed of the body. “It was ugly”, he said. Every spring when she looked at the shady cavity where her beloved Dicentra Spectabilis once grew, caustic rage radiated from her heart.
A carpet of common forget-me-knots grew in its place. He said it was symbolic of his love. True. She’d never forget.
They were in the pantry.
He was good at it, as you’d expect, although a bit quick – also to be expected. She hoped for – anticipated – something with greater grandeur to confirm the rumours.
Being the family diddler made him doubly intriguing. Who made up the word diddler, Blanche wondered as she wiggled. She giggled, too, thinking of a cow jumping over the moon, an idiotic metaphor for a love affair, although she definitely felt like a silly cow today.
When Lady Smock found them, Blanche wondered was she the cat and the fiddle?
She didn’t like the rhyme anymore.
– to eat
Is it time yet?
– look! Chocolate cake! Baguette! EVOO!
Look down. Globular.
Breasts, diaphragm, Belly, pubic bone.
Watch! they reappear
Watch me skinny
Watch me w i l l o w
Watch me sylph
– Dumb-bells. Bar bells. Wine glass.
– Scale – up and down
a song a voice a range a rage
Do-ray, ME, me ray Bread dough
– Is it time yet?
Pointless at 3:00 p.m.
0 points. Zero. Zero.
Wait until tomorrow.
Well! That’s another scratch in my old bark, Lady thought, as she pruned the cherry tree. Mr. Bittercress’ comment cut her to the core, again.
The branch revealed tight rings, like an echo. She imagined her torso chopped in two and Harry’s hurts revealed in her dendrochronology – stiff scar tissue in her muscles from the 1999 incident; arteries dammed with sclerosis from a year of impotence, (a terrible drought!); an unhealed rib from when he briefly left her for another woman. It was lovely wood though, despite its irregularities.
“Har-ry!”, she called. Holding the saw, she went looking for her beloved.