The Appointment – III

– and with the anniversary soon do you do anything?

– No. I spoke to my mum about it the other day. There have been some documentaries repeated, but I. Well. There are times where it’s like a moth to the flame, you know? But just now, what with everything, I’m avoiding them. It’s a bit

– to cope. I meant to cope.

– not really. I’ve been avoiding it.

– Have you been doing anything else?

– A bit of writing. Here and there. It’s.

– I was going to say therapeutic, but it’s the wrong word. Cathartic. Sometimes. Just getting it down. Cathartic.

– And are you writing about what happened? Or later? Or something else, of course?

– It tends not to be about. It’s raw. I write about the telling, about remembering. But I use the second person. Often. It’s easier. Writing in the second person means you’re close enough to know what’s going on in the head, but you

– keep a distance?

– yes. You need to. It’s partly about remembering. What are you remembering? Are you remembering what happened? Remembering it? Or are you imposing now on then? Or imposing another then? Understand?

– Like the phone. When she phoned. When she told us about the plane. The phone. In my head, it’s an old phone. You know? The squat fat phone sitting there, with the curled cord to the hand piece. The? The receiver? Do you remember?

– Heavy.

– Yes, that big heavy phone. And that’s the one in my head. The one we had when I was small. That phone. The old one before we changed the number.

– In my head it’s that phone. But I can’t remember. If I was to go back, it might be the other one. But I don’t remember it.

– She phoned not long after 7. My mum got it. She laughed at first. My granny had asked about the bang, if we’d heard the bang.

– And did you?

– No. Later we learned a friend of my dad, he’d been out for a walk. Saw something. Heard something. He’d thought it was the nuclear power station. We lived near one, you see. And he panicked. But it was. Well, you know what it was.

– Anyway, my sister – well she was clumsy. When she visited my granny she’d break stuff. And so my mum asked what she’d broken now and my granny didn’t laugh. She told my mum there was a plane. It had crashed into the house a few doors along but they were okay. The phone was the only one working in the area. My grandfather had been a GPO engineer. He put the phone in. It was on a different bit of the line from the others. It kept working. Throughout the time. It kept working.

– We put the telly on. Channel 4. For the news. But there wasn’t anything. Nothing. Until later. And he said a plane had vanished. A jumbo jet. It had

– We’d not thought it was something that size. We’d imagined a small plane, a microlight, something like that, but a jumbo. That was. It would have taken a huge chunk of the town.

– We kept watching. Moving from channel to channel. And then there was a call for nurses, for doctors, any medical staff. My mum didn’t drive. She phoned a friend to see if she could get a lift. And they went up. They were stopped by the police and she explained why she was there and had a row with them that if they didn’t let her through she’d walk up – under the railway – and they let her in. Which is lucky. If she’d gone the other way there was a. A crater. An engine I think. She wouldn’t have

– And she

– We were still up when she got back. She’d not been needed. None of them were needed but she’d visited my sisters, my granny.

– Why?

– My grandfather had died that year. They were there to keep her company until my uncle stopped work. I should have

– I should have been there. I made an excuse. Revision. Prelims. I

– I should have been.

– When she got back she stank of smoke. Her clothes stank of smoke. They needed three or four washes to get it out. It was so strong.

– The smoke

– We couldn’t get up that next day. No one could. So two days later we went up. On the bus. It was odd. We couldn’t get in the normal way. We stopped. It was a bit of a walk. And there was press. Just intruding.

– We ignored them. But one

– My uncle. They asked my uncle, “Do you think it’s serious?” I mean. What were they? Serious. Did he think it was serious? A plane. A jumbo. Did he think it was?

– There was  a strong smell. Smoke. Fuel. It hung there. Lingered. You were aware of it.

– It’s still in my nose. Understand?

-[nods]

– We walked up to my granny’s. She stayed near the park. There were rows of houses. There was a row behind hers. A hill behind that. When we walked up you could see the.

– It’s the only time I’ve seen. When she died, years later, I’d had the call two, three times. And I went. And I saw her in hospital. But I wasn’t there when she died. Didn’t see her. But

– On the hill. Orange sheets. Bits. You could

– My granny’s house was at the park. Where we played. When we’d visit in the summer we’d play there. But it had row upon row of stuff. Bags. Clothes. Things. Just filling the park. It was so odd. And the smell. But her house had no broken windows. None. Not like the others.

– We went round the back. You always went round the back. That door stayed open. If you were visiting you didn’t go to the front door, but her kitchen that morning it was different. The curtains were shut. They were never shut. But, she’d pulled them to. They were closed. And her Christmas tree. She usually had it on a little sideboard thing in front of her window. It was there but the fairy wasn’t. It was usually there but it wasn’t.

– Out the back was bad. There was a tree near the bottom of her garden. A body in it. The British press didn’t publish the pictures but the Americans did. It was in Time magazine. My granny’s house. The body. I used to get it for school, stopped. It was

– And the hill at the back. Sheets. Lots of sheets.

– I realised why she’d drawn the curtains. The tree. The

– In the houses at the back there was a chair, an airline seat. It was in the window.

– I could see the left arm, lolling, the head. Like this

– The only time I’ve seen death and it was

– And in the house along the road, the one that had gone there were soldiers, not much older than me, bringing things out. Over and over again. To vans, I think, pulling up outside. I can’t even remember if it was ambulances. But they’d bring them out. Van after van.

– I should have been there on the night.

– Did you have revision?

– Yes, but I exaggerated. I. I didn’t want the hassle. I was sixteen. I was. I should have been.

– Sorry.

– Are you okay?

– Observing you, your voice was calm, kept a clear tone, unflustered But look where you are. When you came in you were upright in that chair, open, not like that. And your hands seemed agitated.

– Are you okay? Do you want to take a minute?

– It’s not your fault that it happened. You didn’t ask for it to happen. You didn’t want it to happen. You couldn’t stop it happening.

– But I should have been there.

 

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About loveandgarbage

I watch the telly and read when not doing law stuff and plugging my decade and a half old unwatched Edinburgh fringe show.
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2 Responses to The Appointment – III

  1. Pingback: Some personal posts | Love and Garbage – some commonplace musings

  2. Chris Higgins says:

    Beautiful and heartbreaking.

    And that word. That vicious, nasty, vile, destructive word. Should. A word that serves no purpose other than to to allow the pain to continue.

    With love

    Chris

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