The Anatomy of a Death
Bonny’s finished for the day, the medical centre locked up for the weekend, the phone system on forward and she’s in the garden when the call comes. It’s Friday, early evening, dry air still hot and she’s looking forward to a cool white, and then two days of doing absolutely nothing.
She hears the phone ring, lets it drift past her, then a few moments later her husband knocks on the French doors, calls out; It’s Peter. He’s saying your sister’s had an accident.
She doesn’t need to ask. She knows who it’ll be. It will not be Tuwi. Too cautious to put herself at risk.
Derry, Kris confirms her suspicion. Peter says she’s gone and done something silly, but he’s saying there’s no need to worry as Tuwi’s with her. He’ll call you later when he’s got some more news.
That’s okay then, she thinks, forcing herself to stay in the emptiness she’s been nurturing. She doesn’t lift her eyes, continues deadheading the roses, focussing on the buds, shuffling slowly along the sleepers on her aching knees, the right already stiff. Inside the emptiness a thought is beginning to gather, a cloud struck through with darkness.
A little later, Kris steps out onto the decking.
It’s Tuwi. She’s asking where you are. Apparently, Peter’s told her you were on your way. That you’ll be there any time now.
Way to where? she asks; her head is hurting and thinking is an effort, and her body is shutting down with the heat. If only she could close her eyes….
Victoria station. That’s where she is. She didn’t sound too good.
Is Peter with her?
Yes. He says he’s just got there, but she wants you there.
Why does Tuwi want her there? Peter’s already there. Surely he can deal with whatever’s happening? The brim of her hat is wet, an uncomfortable cold touch on her forehead. And why the hell does she have to drop everything whenever Derry’s done something stupid? What does she want? To go and hold her hand while she discharges herself from another visit to A&E, another bandage on her wrist, another cut to her face?
The phone’s ringing again and Kris steps inside.
Bonny waits for the update, watches for her husband to reappear at the door to the garden. She wonders where Jessie is; probably sleeping off another hectic day at the nursery. She’ll have to check in on her.
It’s the police, he says in a low voice; she knows he’s careful like that, doesn’t want the neighbours to hear, just in case, keep their personal stuff within their fences. They’re asking when you’ll be at Victoria.
She forces herself to stand, her right knee screaming, the skin, still healing, taut, wipes the bitter sweat from her eyes. A loud gaggle of geese flies overhead, spearing their way towards London. She watches them until they disappear behind the roofline, the sound still hanging an echo in the air.
You’ve got to go, Kris says. They’re saying you have to be there.
She knows she has to be there.
I’m going now. Give them my mobile number.
The trains run every 20 minutes. If she’s quick, glancing at her watch, the next one’s in 10 minutes.
They call her twice more, each time telling her that Tuwi is asking for her sister. Bonny’s head is heavy, a sluggish swell of water dampening the tide of her thoughts. She doesn’t want to think, is grateful for the drowning sound of the train tubing her towards London. Both times it’s the same woman, soft modulated voice asking how far she is from Victoria.
Do you know which platform you’re coming into? the woman asks.
Bonny checks on Trainline.
Ok, you come through the barriers, turn right, walk all the way to the end, and when you’re past platform 1 keep to the right and past the bend on the left you’ll see signs to “Transport Police Office.” We’re on the 2nd floor.
They’re sitting at a small table, Tuwi and Peter, when she runs up the stairs and is ushered into the room where they’ve been waiting. Cups of tea, still full, in front of them. A box of tissues, a spent pile beside Tuwi’s right hand. She looks up when Bonny enters, eyes red, shadows of recent ghosts bringing fresh tears.
Bonny knows, has known, has fought that knowing, since she left her house that Derry’s not going to come through the doors, that stupid grin of hers wide saying, “Hey guys, sorry for the inconvenience. Just needed to see who cares for me. And you definitely do!”
Bonny reaches out to her sister, can only feel the one heartbeat, had been expecting still, still another to join them and strengthen the rhythm. Tuwi stands, collapses into Bonny.
Peter’s sitting, watches as the two sisters stand swaying, holding onto each other, Bonny and Tuwi, howling, tears soaking into each other’s hair. He stands and comes forward, behind his wife, lifts his hand, wants to touch her, to comfort her, to fill the space that has just been emptied, to say he’s sorry, but he can’t and bowing his head lets it fall.
I remember falling. For a long time. And then I was here. In the dark. Wherever this is, this darkness. All I hear is the wind outside this, this room. I call it a room, but not too sure what it is. There’s no light, just blackness on all sides. I’ve followed the walls, if that’s what they are, all the way around, at least I think I’ve come back to where I started. I can’t be sure. I’ve sat here, in this spot, keeping my eyes open, looking out into the dark, trying to make out any shapes, but there’s nothing. I think there’s a spark sometimes, but when I blink it’s gone. It must be me, imagining that there is light.