We All Die in the End – an excerpt:

Jim nodded and said goodnight and waited for Connie to button up her new brown duffle-coat. It is a man’s coat, he thought again, looking at the long sleeves of it and the breadth across the shoulders. Whatever she says, it is a man’s coat. I’ll say it to her later, get her going. His own grey tweed was threadbare but he was attached to it. Connie wouldn’t let him have a new one anyway. She belted the door open and Jim ducked as it swung towards his face. Barney winked at him and locked the door behind them. They wriggled deeper into their coats, turning their faces from the wind, and then Jim pointed:

            “Oh, look!”

            The fair-haired boy was crouching at the corner, his arms hugged over his thin chest, and him bare as a baby. He turned when Jim and Connie came out and moved towards them with his knees close together.

            “The b-b-b-bastards left me.”

            He sniffed hugely and wiped his face.

            “I thought they were going to throw me in the sea! I’m fuckin’ freezin’ . . . give us a jacket for God’s sake, will you?”

            Jim looked at Connie. She was laughing, her eyes going up and down the pale, shivering figure.

            “Is it your birthday?” she asked. “Where did they go, your friends? God you’re a hoot, isn’t he Jim?”

            “I’ll get my fuckin’ death out of this, an’ me ma’ll be waiting and I’ve no phone.”

            The boy’s voice went up and up.

            “Oh Jesus God I’ll kill the poxy bastards. Give us something to put on for fuck sake!”

            He began to dance around like a boxer, swinging his arms, and then he remembered to cover himself. Connie turned to Jim and he backed away from her, shaking his head. His chest hurt in the cold air and he coughed. She can’t make me, he thought. I’m not going to. For a moment the three of them stood there, until bolts were shot in the door behind them.

            “Quick,” Connie said. “Charlie’s still around, cleaning and that. Go on, knock the door.”

            And then she turned and knocked it herself.

            “What’s your name, boy?” she said.

            “Frank.”

            “Frankie Pankie,” Connie laughed. “Isn’t that right, Jim? Frankie Pankie! God, he’s a hoot . . . Charlie!” she roared, banging on the door.   

            “There’s a bare-assed bird out here. Let him in. Come on, we know you’re there, we know you’re not gone yet.”

            There was no sound from behind the door and then the lights went out. The wind rose with a cruel nip; the sea rolled black and oily beyond the wall and the first drops of rain were blown over Frank. He ran against the stout door of the pub and shouted for somebody to fucking well open up, and then he ran up and down the street listening for a car, for his friends to come back. Connie watched him and Jim stood well behind her, his coat clutched tight.

            “Poxy bastards! Frank screamed into the wind.

            “Make your man let me in,” he said to Jim and Connie. “Yous know him better than me. He must have heard us knocking – they’ll have put him up to it, the fuckers. How am I to get home? Lend us the taxi-fare will yous?”

            Jim felt the rain on the back of his neck and turned up his collar. Poor bugger, he thought. He looked at the boy’s thin legs, white as milk in the dark night, and his arms like strings wrapped around his chest. Jim was cold himself; he wanted to go home to his quiet bed and lie against the warm bulk of Connie’s back.

            And then he saw Connie taking off her own coat and his breath puffed out in a snigger. What was she at now? She threw it around Frank’s shoulders and he seemed to sink under it, bending his knees, trying to get his feet into it too.

            “Come on now.” Connie marched him quickly away.

            “You come home with us, boy. We’ll mind you, won’t we, Jim? Sure you’re only a little chicken. Are you sure you’re eighteen?”

            She belted Jim’s ear and he staggered.

            “Some husband you are,” she said.

            “Letting your wife give up her coat and you walking there wrapped up like a teddy-bear, much good it’ll do you, I’ll deal with you later.”

            Jim knew Frank was looking at him, expecting him to say something, to fight back, but he stared at the ground and coughed his hard, tight cough.

            Frank turned after Connie. She walked fast with her face up to the rain and the pleats of her long skirt swung from side to side below the coat. Every time a car passed Frank stopped to look but it was never his friends. Jim wondered what they meant to do. They wouldn’t know where he was if they came back. He thought of saying that to Connie but his ear smarted. He fixed his eyes on the bare feet under the long brown duffle-coat. They were wet and splashed with mud and they moved quickly.

            Connie put her key in the door and shoved it open. She grabbed Frank by the arm and pulled him inside and he stood in the dim hallway pushing one foot over the other. His face was pale and damp and he didn’t look drunk any more.

            “Come on, come on,” Connie said, and he followed her.

A review: The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant.

This is a very short, short story, but memorable. Matilda is married to a minor clerk in a government office in Paris. She is pretty and charming and believes deeply that she was born for a better life. De Maupassant says:

“Women are dependent neither on caste nor ancestry. With them, beauty, grace and charm take the place of birth and breeding.”

She views her own modest house and her little maid with dismay and moves through her life in a constant state of “frantic yearnings“.

“Details which another woman of her class would scarcely have noticed, tortured her and filled her with resentment . . . She had no pretty gowns, no jewels, nothing – and yet she cared for nothing else.”

There is very little mention of her husband who is content with his state in life and appears to be devoted to the the unhappy Matilda. One day he comes home with an  invitation to a party at the ministry he works for, expecting his wife to be delighted, but she pouts and says she has nothing to wear. The kind, obliging husband gives her his savings to buy a dress but then she has no jewellry to go with it. Her husband, to the rescue again, suggests she borrow something from a friend and this she does:

” . . . a superb diamond necklace . . . her heart began to beat with frantic desire.”

The night of the party arrives and Matilda is beside herself with joy:

“She moved as in a beatific dream, wherein were mingled all the homage and admiration she had evoked . . . all that complete and perfect triumph so dear to a woman’s heart.”

But when the couple arrive home, Matilda realises she has lost the necklace.

Her husband goes to moneylenders, he raises loans, he compromises his entire future until there is enough money to buy another necklace. Matilda gives it to her friend but says nothing of the deception. Herself and her husband move to a garret, the maid is dismissed and Matilda goes out to scrub floors. Over the next ten years she and her husband work at every extra and menial job they can get to repay the loans, and they make it. They manage to get themselves clear of debt, but by this time Matilda has lost all her looks and charm:

“She had become the typical poor man’s wife, rough, course, hard-bitten. Her hair was neglected; her skirts hung awry; and her hands were red.”

A day arrives then when she meets her old friend by accident and she decides to tell her the truth about the necklace. Her friend is shocked and greatly distressed by this disclosure:

“Oh, my poor, dear Matilda. Why, my diamonds were only imitation . . . “

Because of the denouement, the story is memorable, and there are echoes of O Henry here. Matilda is presented as an empty-headed, silly girl, unable to realise that she has a good life – a loving husband, a maid, a nice home. And yet . . . a certain sympathy . . . I’d like some diamonds myself, and a green velvet coat, an apartment in Venice . . .

And what about her husband who did his best and lost everything on her account? Was he resentful?  Did he ever blame her for her vanity and greed? How they communed together I can’t imagine as Matilda lived entirely inside her own head. So I’m left with two questions:

What happened next? I’d really love to know. And why had they no children?

From “Siblings”

The kitchen was too warm, and it was quiet except for Sarah’s occasional tobacco cough and the rustling of thin white pages. Sarah read quickly, stopping sometimes to laugh silently, her shoulders shaking. A bluebottle buzzed in the heat and flew to the pile of dirt in the corner. Tea-leaves, eggshells, bits of porridge – Sarah no longer noticed them, no more than she noticed the thick oily grime on the shelves and window-sills, or the matted clumps of dust on the floor. Her thin hand stretched from the sticky sleeve of a black cardigan as she read and her skirt, once a pale grey, was patterned with dribbles of tea and porridge.

            The sudden, small noise in the hall made her look up. She waited, listening for her brother’s key, frowning, her eyes searching the floor and the walls and then she rose from the chair. Barney’s pipe lay on the mantle-piece; she stuffed it with tobacco and lit it with the long matches he always used, and after puffing and coughing she opened the door and peered out into the hall.

            The postcard was bright against the dark linoleum. It looked new and neat and strange beside the pile of old newspapers. Sarah’s breathing filled the hall as she smoked faster. She bent awkwardly and picked it up, a picture of mountains and a lake. Her fingers trembled over the address. It was addressed to them all. To Barney and Martin and herself.

            Sarah kept her eye on the door, listening for Barney but the only sound was the bluebottle buzzing in the corner. She sighed deeply, looked to the door, and then read the card but the words made no sense to her. She read them out in a loud whisper.

            “Hello my dear cousins. Just a quick word to say I’ll be back from overseas in a few days and I`d like to call and see you all on the 20th – I`ll be bringing my new wife!! I`ll keep all the news until I see you. Love and hugs, Richard.”

            “Bringing new wife . . . Richard,” Sarah read again. “Oh, what does it mean?”

            And then the front door opened and closed and Sarah subsided into her chair. Barney came in rubbing his hands together, bringing with him a taste of salty air and a whiff of beer and whiskey from the pub.

            “Well then, Sarah,” he said. “Is the porridge ready? What a morning we had, a crowd from the city, you should have seen them, down for some party or other. I never saw people so nice about themselves, looking at the chairs before they sat down, looking at the tables. What do they expect in a public house – polish and perfume? I don’t know what the city pubs must be like. And Charlie hounding me to dry the glasses and bring up crates of beer, more beer every ten minutes.”

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FREE! One Scene . . . and a taster!

From “We All Die in the End”.

Scene I3: May

There was still thunder in the sky but it was far off now and the rain had stopped. The smell of the earth was strong and Henry breathed it in deeply, liking it. He didn’t mind graveyards; it was nice smoking in the dark with no one around. Not for long though – they’d be coming out soon. He might have stayed at home and let her walk. She’d think there was something wrong with him, coming to get her but he had to think ahead. If she had to walk up the shore road in the storm she’d be whinging and complaining; salt spray on her good coat, boo, hoo, hoo, and Henry wanted his dinner early. Was he to be left waiting just because May wanted to trot along to the church with all the other craw-thumpers? Twice a week she went, and money every time.

            Henry leaned in close to the grey wall of the church and listened to the singing. He could pick out the odd word – father, soul, heaven. He moved away, back among the graves. He didn’t want to be seen when the fools came out and he could hear shuffling now; the singing had come to an end.

            A sudden burst of light shone from the main door and people began to come out slowly, talking and stopping and starting. A group of women stood near the porch looking at the sky to see would it rain again and Henry squinted, trying to pick out May’s green coat. He felt a spit of rain and wondered if he could get to the car without being seen.

            “Godallmighty! Is that you, Henry Toal?”

            He heard a laugh behind him.

            “I thought you weren’t the praying type. I thought you’d go up in a ball of smoke if you were anywhere near the church!”

            “Very funny, Barney, very funny. Did you see May about? Is she saying extra prayers or what?”

            “Couldn’t say, I wasn’t in there myself, just taking the short cut. Will you be over for a pint later?”

            “Aye, after my dinner.”

            “See you so. Say one for me while you’re at it!”

            Jesus! Henry spat his cigarette to the ground when Barney had gone. He’d be the talk of the pub now. That gobshite would be saying all sorts, he’d make a production of it – Henry in among the graves, saying prayers! And where the bloody hell was May anyway? Leaving him like an eejit to be seen by the whole congregation! He stared up and down the street and turned back to the churchyard but it was empty. He took out his phone and rang her but only got the message minder.

            “For fuck sake!”

            He looked at his watch and stood helpless for a minute. Where could the woman be? Well, he’d soon see what she had to say for herself, and if she said nothing, a few belts would loosen her tongue.

            Henry drove home to a dark, lightless house. He turned up the heat and went into the kitchen; the kettle was stone cold. He lit a cigarette and thought about filling it but it wasn’t for him to do it. His stomach roared with hunger as he paced the room. What was May at? She must have lied, and she’d got money off him too.

            Henry stopped pacing. Maybe . . . maybe she had done this before. How would he know? Money for the collection! By God, he thought, I’ll give her a collection. She’ll be fucking well collected when I’m finished with her. He began to relish the thought of smacking her good and hard. It was months since he’d hit her; she’d be getting careless; time to sort her out again. She always cried and said she was sorry afterwards. She’d be sorry all right, sore and sorry. Henry closed his fists slowly, watching the muscles jump, but he’d wait till he’d had his dinner.

            He put out his cigarette and lit another and then he heard May’s step and the swing of the gate. The key was in the door and there she was, pulling off the green coat and patting her hair the way she did. She moved quickly, hardly looking at him, and there was a half-smile on her face. Henry felt his fists curl.

            “I suppose you’re starving.”

            May went into the kitchen.

            She felt the kettle and threw Henry a look over her shoulder.

            “Wouldn’t kill you to put it on, you know. You could have had a cup of tea anyway.”

            She laughed a giddy laugh.

            “Do you have to stand there staring, Henry?”

            Potatoes thick with dirt thudded into the sink. The smell reminded Henry of the graveyard and himself standing there, waiting. And laugh, would she? He moved nearer. Who told her she could laugh like that? She was making it very hard for him to wait. Liar! Well, he had her now all right. His eyes began to water. Don’t hit her yet, he told himself. But he couldn’t help it – he pushed her shoulder and she staggered. He saw fright jump into her face. Oh, he’d fix her! He stood over her with his arm raised and she hunched away from him.

            “What’s wrong with you? You leave me alone.”

            She straightened up and threw half-washed potatoes into a saucepan. Defy him, would she! Henry poked her between the shoulders.

            “Tell me more,” he said, “about the holy church and the holy priests and all the holy people.”

            He went round the kitchen after her, turning to meet her, trying to stand in front of her when she put the steaks in the frying pan.

            “I like to know where my money’s going,” he said. “All those collections.”

            “It was just the same as usual, Henry, that priest that’s visiting, Monroe, he’s called. Isn’t that gas? Do you think he’s related to Marilyn? He gave the sermon, better than the usual oul stuff, love your neighbour and all that. There’s nothing to tell, Henry, not a thing, unless you want to know what the neighbours were wearing.”

            Oh, but she had plenty to say for herself, lickity spit, lickity spit, galloping on. Henry slapped her hard; he felt the sting on his palm and she stumbled, reaching out a hand to the sink.

            “By God!” Henry caught her by the arm.

            “I’m going to find out what you’re doing with my money.”

            He shook her until the permed curls hopped and jumped and tears splashed from her eyes. Behind them the potatoes boiled up and water hissed on the ring. Henry’s fingers bit deep.

            “I went to the church, May. What do you say to that? I went to say a prayer alongside my wife, but my wife wasn’t there. And I phoned my wife but I got no answer. What’s up with you now? Speak up, woman! You had plenty to say a minute ago.”

            He grabbed the wiry curls.

            “Ah, don`t. Ah, don`t!” May cried out.

            “I went there in the storm,” he said into her ear, “to bring you home so you could make my dinner and not be whinging about getting wet.”

            Henry could feel the heat in his chest burning hotter and hotter. He forced May to her knees, still with his fist in her hair and he never even saw her arm swing up with the saucepan. It cracked against his head and he swayed there with his arms loose.

            “Jesus . . .  ” he said.

            When the second blow landed he fell against the table and slid onto a chair. He stared with dopey eyes at May. She’d gone mad, was all he could think.

            “Now! Now! Now! Now!” she said. “I’ll tell you where I’ve been if you want to know, not that I could go far on the bit of money you dole out to me.”

            She laughed suddenly.

            “And did you wait there long? I can just see you lurking around and squinting up your oul face. Well, I was in Dinnie’s, Henry. Me and your Irene, yes, your sister – we go to talks in the ladies’ club, and after that we go to the pub, and after that we get fish and chips and go down to the harbour, and we sit on the wall and eat them. So now you know what the collection’s for. It’s for me! But you can stuff it up your arse in future because I’m going back to the Civil Service and I won’t need your oul money. The girls are gone now and I don’t have to be here all the time to cook you steak for your dinner and wash your dirty clothes.”

            Henry didn’t move. He sat there with his fingers twitching and blood coming from his head. He couldn’t take in what May was saying.

            “You bloody men,” she said, “with your big swinging fists. We’ve been learning things, me and Irene. Did you know that men have to invent things so they can think they’re grown up? Rituals Henry, rituals. But not us, Henry. We’ve got periods!”

            May shouted the word at him.

            “And having babies, and yous have nothing! Did you know that? All over the world men invent things. They cut their faces and their willies and God knows what else to draw blood.”

            Henry half-lifted a hand against the spit from her mouth.

            “If men had periods,” May took a quick breath, “all the oul fellas would be running around the place with bloody sheets – my son is a man, my son is a man – but yous have nothing.”

            Henry tried to sit up straight, to get his head right. May was smiling fiercely at him. She swung up the pan again and he flinched.

            “Now I’m going round to Irene’s,” she said, “for a cup of tea, or a drink if she has any for I think I need it. You can put up your own dinner, and by Christ, you big gormless shite, you, if you ever touch me again, you’re dead.”

            When the door banged behind her Henry put his hands to the table and pushed himself up. He groped his way to the sink and washed his head with shaky fingers.

            “Jesus, God! Jesus, God!”

            How could May talk like that to her own husband – about things – she’d no right to talk like that. What sort of a woman was she? He turned off the cooker and lifted the steak onto a plate, and then he drained the potatoes and heeled them out. He tried to eat but when he chewed the cut on his head opened again and he felt a trickle on his face. He lit a cigarette and watched blood drip slowly onto his dinner.

Scene I4: Thelma

“I wonder if I should wash . . . Thelma, do you think I should have a wash?”

            Thelma dithered beside the bed, moving from one wee foot to the other, waiting to heave Thomas to his feet. The top of his pyjamas hung open and his belly bulged over the bottoms. There was a line of sweat where the bulge began and another across the back of his neck when he bent to look at his feet.

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“Wee Sadie” an excerpt from – We All Die in the End

Sadie checked the plates, shifting bits of cheese and cherry tomatoes. She ate a crust of the bread and put the kettle on and then she stood with her ear to the door.

            “It’s a grand, wee flat above the shop,” George was saying.

            Sadie squeezed her eyes shut and held her breath. Madge was asking how many rooms there were. The kettle hissed behind her and she turned down the gas to hear better.

            “And I’d expect a bit of meat, you know, and maybe a drive on a Sunday. You can have that oul car, parked out there, teach Sadie to drive it.”

            Sadie raised the gas again. Her hands trembled as she filled the teapot. Calm, she told herself, be calm. But the tray shook when she took in the tea and she couldn’t look at either one of them. The knives and forks clattered and the teaspoons rattled and Sadie couldn’t swallow.

            “Have some more bread,” Madge said. “Fill the man’s cup there, Sadie. More cake, George?”

            George ate everything he was offered and kept saying everything was lovely and when the last cup of tea had been drained he asked Sadie to come and look at the flat above the shop with him.

            “Ah no, George,” she said, and backed towards the kitchen. “There’s too much to do – “

            “Go on,” Madge said. “Off you go. Can’t I tidy up? I’m not helpless, am I? Us old people are useful too, isn’t that right, George?”

            George agreed with her and offered Sadie his arm. She went with him although she knew the dishes would be sitting waiting for her when she came home and Madge would have had another couple of gins and she`d still have to make her a fry too.

            George put the key in the hall door beside the shop and stood back to let Sadie in first.

            “It’s up the stairs,” he said.

            There was a strange smell, the smell of somebody else’s house. Sadie held the banister and then let go of its stickiness. It would take her a month to clean the place, she thought. She stood in the middle of the living-room and looked at the fawn-coloured floor and the fawn-coloured chairs and walls and the photographs of George’s family.

            “Will you sit down, Sadie,” George asked.

            Sadie looked at the couch before she sat on it and George sat down close beside her.

            “Could you live here, Sadie? With me? What do you say? Will we set a date?”

            Sadie couldn’t speak. She hardly knew how she had got herself into this position. She remembered the first night when George had asked her to go for a walk, and after that it had seemed impossible to stop. And she didn’t want to stop really . . . only . . .

            She clasped her hands together and nodded once. And then George leaned over and kissed her hard and his hand clamped onto her leg. Sadie let out a squeak and got up, pretending to look  at the photographs. George laughed and slapped his two knees.

            “You’re the very best,” he said, “you’re a great, wee girl. Look around, Sadie. You can do what you like with the place, make whatever changes you like. I`ve done a lot of work already, replaced all the tiling myself, so I did.”

            He got up and led the way to the white bathroom. Sadie stood inside the door and looked at the new electric shower. There was a smell of plaster. George patted everything, the bath, the shiny taps, the cistern, the shelf beneath the mirror.

            Sadie put a hand to her forehead. Impossible to think of being here with him, to stand here in her nightdress and clean her teeth and George in his pyjamas – waiting for her to get into the bed – no! no! She wanted to go home, to tell George she had changed her mind, but he had his arm around her, squeezing her shoulder, saying he’d look after her, and her mother.

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We All Die in the End by Elizabeth Merry

(the first few pages)

Scene 1: Arthur

The first day I saw Lydia I knew that here was a woman I could help. Of course I didn’t know then her name was Lydia. She was just a small, fair-haired woman carrying a doll – one of those great big baby dolls. I was quite annoyed when I saw her actually. There’s never anybody on that part of the beach; there’s no sand, you know, it’s all shingle, and I like to have my head to myself. I was just standing there having a smoke and watching the waves when she appeared. Freezing, it was that day; when I blew out smoke, I didn’t know how much was smoke and how much my breath in the cold air.

            I usually walk there for an hour or two – that’s what I do in the afternoons. My days are carefully measured out – one of them head doctors recommended that and it works fine for me. So many hours for resting, so many for exercise, and then there’s mealtimes and going to the shops, and there you are, another day got through safely.

            Although, mind you, I often stay out just to escape Jennifer – that’s my neighbour. She has these dogs, and she’s all over you – you have to lean back when she’s talking to you. She takes an interest in me – that’s how she puts it – I’d put it another way myself; I think she has her eye on me for a fancy man, living with dogs as she does and no man to herself. Ha! And I have another neighbour wears yellow all the time, a young one, she is, nothing but yellow, and drives a wee, yellow car. But there you are, sure there’s mad people everywhere.

            However, as I was saying, it’s the routine; I need the routine, it keeps me from gathering up the pills and buying that final bottle of booze. I know, I know, mustn’t mention that word – mustn’t even let it form in my mind. It’s gone, there – I’ve forgotten it.

            I avoid going past my old local of course, Dinnie’s that was, Julia’s now I suppose. That’s the daughter, but everyone still calls it Dinnie’s. Ah, the warmth of that oul pub, the smell, the craic, myself and Eugene Curran and the Grimley brothers, my old boozing buddies – I try to avoid them too but that’s not easy here in this wee town – half a dozen streets and the very long and very twisty Hunter’s Lane where I live myself and that’s the whole of it – sure you see everybody. And what was so terrible about that old life after all? Now, now, now, that’ll do.

            So, I watched Lydia and waited for some bloody nuisance of a child to come screeching after her but no child came. Well, that didn’t make any sense but then Lydia stopped and I saw her speak to the doll. Oho, Arthur, I said to myself and I threw down the cigarette. Oho, I said, what’s this? What have we here?

            I walked nearer to her but I couldn’t hear what she was saying without going too close. I saw her point at the sea and brush her cheek across the hard brown curls on the doll’s head. Ah, you poor, m   ad cratur, I thought and I went up behind her. I was much taller and thinner than she was and I leaned over her protectively but she turned and jumped away, throwing me a look as she went.

            What did she want to look at me like that for? Like I was going to bite her or something. It pisses me off when people are suspicious like that. I stood my ground and then I turned and stared after her. Why shouldn’t I stare at her? Hadn’t I every right to stand there and put my face where I liked? I thought about her eyes, small and sad. I was going to follow her that first day but I was tired somehow so I sat on my usual rock and lit another smoke.

            The last few months have been tough, you know. It’s not always easy. You needn’t think it’s easy to motivate myself. I do the mental exercises – say the right words – but it’s like I’m not listening sometimes, and then I just lie around all day. I listen to the radio and I keep the curtains closed. Jennifer knocks but I don’t answer. The thing is – it always passes and I get up again.

And I remember what I’ve been told, that I should try to help others and not be feeling sorry for myself. It’s easy for others to talk, people with families, cars, holidays, all that. What do they know about routine and exercises and watching every word that comes into your own head? Oh, Arthur, I say to myself. Where did you go wrong? Well, I know the answer to that one all right.            Anyway . . . It was two weeks before I saw Lydia again (having gone through a bit of a bad patch) and I said to myself, oho, Arthur, there she is, poor soul, a woman who lost a baby if ever I saw one. It was obvious, wasn’t it? She was holding the doll again, tight under her arm. You see, other people wouldn’t notice a thing like that – they would just assume there was a child with her. But I’m different – I pay attention. I kept my distance this time, happy to be back by the sea. It was a cold, calm day and the sea was blue and quiet. I sat on my rock and stared out at a ship moving slowly against the horizon and when Lydia turned to go back up the street, I followed her. It would help me to help her and that was a fair exchange.

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