A clear drop falls onto her cheek. It glistens for a moment,
plump as a pearl, then is drawn into the soft powder of
her make-up, and its lustre fades. She does not stir. He
touches his face: he is crying. Crying because she is so
beautiful and yet she does not stir when a tear falls, warm
on her skin. Is he sorry for her or for himself? He cannot
bear it. She was his. She belonged to him for too short
a time, but it was the purest pleasure he had ever known.
Now she is gone. How will he ever find another like her?
He looks again at her lovely face. Her
eyelids have a shadowy look, bluish, bruised, and her
lips are pale and bloodless, for he has kissed away the lipstick
that she had so carefully applied, only hours earlier.
He smoothes a stray hair from her face - God, she's so beautiful!
He closes his eyes against a pain that is real, physical.
She was everything to him - everything he wanted, everything
he could ever imagine. A moan escapes him and he puts
his fingers to his lips to stop their trembling. He kneels beside
her and sits back on his heels, for a while losing
himself, rocking slowly back and forth, comforted by the repetition.
This can't go on. There are things he
must do - for her, and for himself. They say that rituals
help us through difficult times; that the conventions of
mourning and burial help us to accept both the fact
of death and the need to carry on. He believes this, and although
he has no religion, he still has faith in its rites:
the old hymns, the smell of incense, and the murmured responses
of a congregation retain their soothing power over
him. He wipes his eyes.
He will not bury her. She hated the dark
- was in terror of being shut in. And anyway, how will
they find her if he puts her under the ground?
He finds a quiet place, upstream from the bandstand,
hidden from the prying eyes of insomniacs and the occasional
drunk, weaving home across the footbridge over the River
Dee. Deep, still water, black and inscrutable, far from
the treacherous pull of the weir that, given the opportunity,
would drag her too soon into the glare of publicity. Before
he has had chance to clean and disinfect, to re-establish
order from the disarray her preparation and death have
She is heavy. Heavier in death than
she ever was in life. It is as if her life force bore
her up, defying gravity's pull. In life, she was quick
to learn not to oppose his will, but now that conscious
resistance is beyond her, she obstructs him with her inertia.
He quells an angry impulse to punish her - she is beyond
that; and he is no lunatic - he won't disfigure her: she
came to him unblemished, and she will leave the same
He takes one last look at her body,
perfect in its vulnerability, then lowers her into the
water. He gasps in shock at the icy chill and looks quickly
into her face. It is untroubled. She feels nothing -
he almost envies her that because he is in turmoil: he has
embarked on a course of action from which there is no
going back. She slips, unprotesting, under the surface.
For a moment her hair drifts out in an arc, framing her
face, then she rolls and turns, sleek as an otter, and
disappears into the depths.