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My Brother’s Handwriting

Page 2

Peter Farrar

I hated funerals. Never understood holding grief in until it ambushed you later. Wearing sunglasses while shaking hands. A woman kissed me dryly, once on each cheek. I craved a triple scotch, imagined it burning on the way down. Anything but shaking hands with third removed cousins I hadn’t seen since toilet training. Wasn’t interested in dropping a fistful of petals onto the coffin with a cold wind cutting into me like a new body piercing. 

My ex-wife Jo came up beside me. She kissed me lightly. Used to love her freckled back flexing and shifting through rooms. Her hand squeezed mine. It must’ve taken courage, standing next to me, knowing what I’d told my family about her last year. My mother turned away from her abruptly. 

We slid into the back of the hearse. Settled into cold upholstery, dragging seat belts over ourselves. 

I’d found the note. As I walked in smelt cooking odours. Steak and mushroom sauce. Pushing Luke’s door open I noticed silence. So many times I’d walked into prods of loud music. I strained to listen for a footstep or murmur. Called out and my voice echoed back.

His note was on the table. How many meals had we sat down to there? His wife, frowning and quiet, endured our debates over who would win the premiership and if pumpkin belonged on pizza. Jo laughed along, elbowing me if I went too far.

“Dear Family,” it started. Half way through reading I backed towards the door. A few steps through the manicured garden I noticed his car gone. Groped around in a pocket, fingers amongst coins and a matted tissue before dragging out my mobile.         

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