Home » Archive » Wayfarers » Page 3


Page 3

Darryl Emmerson

And how are you, dear heart? she asked me.

Oh, all right, Mum, I said, in a tone that convinced no one. I've brought you the letters, and there are some receipts too. It was one of my filial duties, in these days, to look after all the finances.       

Then there fell one of those silences so common between people who are closely united, and now only meet at difficult moments. She seemed re-assured just to have me there, made no attempt to create discussion, and just let me take my time. She even turned away, to put the letters on the bedside shelf, next to her toiletries, the women's magazines, and a couple of figurines, the fairly bright kind she liked.

Watching her, I noticed a comb, and it occurred to me to ask whether she would like me to do her hair. One of the effects of the disease was that she sweated more, and her wavy hair would lie moist and thin on her forehead. So I sat nearer, and begun to run the comb through the fine strands. Once my sister would have done this, but she lived at some distance and could seldom visit. It felt strange, to touch my mother's hair in this way, for the first time in years. It was intimate, affectionate and unsettling. In a little while, it was finished, she said it looked much better, and there was a pause.   

And now some terrible force began to stir and move inside me, and I tried to delay, by any means at hand, what I knew must happen. The room seemed to shake. My body felt at once faint and powerful, my own breath sounded in my ears, and my eyes ran quickly up the walls behind her, on to the fading paint of the wooden ceiling, and almost into the evening sky outside. But still the stars shone, the wind blew, and the plants continued their quiet, steady growth, while the two people sat together.

Page 3

This edition