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“The stars are not wanted now, put out every one; pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,” quoted Emily Rutherford softly as those who had congregated at the graveside slowly made their way along the street outside the church.

“Oh quit it with that dreadful poem, Emily,” her cousin, Alison Wallace, snapped. “It’s so morbid.”

“Funerals are morbid occasions,” remarked Emily dryly.

“Not necessarily,” retorted Alison. “Anyway, nan wouldn’t have wanted us to be all morbid.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Oh be real, Em. Nan was always the first one to remind us life goes on. And I should know,” she added, almost to herself.

“I was only thinking of Gramps,” Emily murmured in reply.

 

The two glanced a little further up the road to where their grandfather was walking with Alison’s younger sister, Joanna, her arm tucked through his as they chatted easily. Not for the first time Alison felt a pang at the close relationship that the two had. She had pushed herself away from everybody in the aftermath of first her sister and then her father’s deaths and it was always at times like this that she wished she could have done as Joanna had and found someone to instinctively comfort her.

 

“Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood,” Emily muttered.

“Emily, stop it!” snapped Alison, ignoring the sharp glance her Aunt Alice suddenly threw in their direction.

“What are you two arguing about?”

 

Neither Emily nor Alison had realised that with their quicker pace they had caught up with their grandfather.

 

“Em’s being morbid, Gramps,” mumbled Alison.

“It’s a funeral,” returned Emily defensively.

“She’s quoting that awful Auden poem.”

“She was my North, my South, my East and West; my working week and my Sunday rest; my noon, my midnight, my talk my song – that one?” Colin asked.

“I thought love would last forever: I was wrong,” added Emily, finishing the verse.

Colin shook his head in reply. “Auden was wrong. You don’t stop loving someone just because they’re dead, Emily.” He reached for Alison’s hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze. “I raise you ‘Death is nothing at all… I have only slipped away into the next room. I am I and you are you. Whatever we were to each other that we are still’.”

Emily shrugged. “I s’pose.”

“No matter how much I’d love it to be like Auden wanted; I feel much more comfortable with Holland. ‘I am waiting for you for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well’.”




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