The next twenty minutes were chaos. Adam’s hangover was forgotten, his father’s just beginning. Armed with a hoover, bin bag and duster, he became the general of an aged one man army; waging holy war against The Filth and The Mess. The work was frantic but short. Soon they found themselves sitting across from one another at the dining room table holding mugs of coffee with the smell of Mr Sheen placed firmly in their nostrils.
Silence pervaded as they stared each other down.
There hadn’t been any shouting when the bombshell was dropped. Just an awkwardness. Some Dizziness. Adam found himself sitting down. His mother was dead. He tried to imagine the concept: it escaped him. It was a slippery fish he kept trying to catch with hands covered in jelly. He could have asked the why and how, but they were too abstract and obtuse. Instead he found himself worrying over the real and the present; their situation as they sat in a house of filth, waiting for his aunt and Granny to arrive. They wouldn’t be impressed; all their prejudices against the male half of the species would be conveniently confirmed.
So he solved their problem and now they were left with the original one: the abstract and the obtuse. He thought of interrogating the older, mirrored version of himself for answers. He could have done. All of the difficult questions would have been answered with ease. But he couldn’t.
“I had better get ready.” He got up, grabbed his holdall, and floated up the stairs.
His bedroom remained the same as ever, yet emptier than before. The funeral suit remained in its original bag, recently dry cleaned; the label still safety-pinned on. He put it on half-heartedly and went to check himself in the mirror in his parents’ room (or rather, his father’s room. Singular: parent. Just a father. No mother).
He was a semi orphan. He checked himself, noting that he had lost weight and then he noticed the bed. In fact, he noticed half of the bed, the half that remained pristine and unused; the half that was left null and void. Her book remained unfinished by the side, the queen of hearts still sticking out the top as a forever temporary bookmark. The edges remained straight and the corners unbent. Everything was in order. She was a pristine woman. How could she have left such a mess?
The shrill cry of the doorbell woke him out of reverie and sent him down the stairs. He was greeted at the door by his stern grandmother and prude aunt.
“Hello Granny. Hello Aunt Meg.” Granny grabbed him by the shoulders and rather than hugging him, shook him fiercely.
“Oh, my poor little Addie.” She tutted in a thick Scot accent. An echo somewhere repeated: “poor, poor little Addie.”
“Such a terrible way to go,”
“Where’s your father?”
“Just through there,” he pointed half heartedly. “Granny, what did you mean by-“
“Oh, that silly man, I always knew he would be the end of her.”
“What are you talking about?” He almost shouted out, but somehow managed to restrain himself.
“Oh I’m sorry Addie, how rude of me. I forgot to mention we bumped into that lovely friend of yours.”
“She ‘s finding a spot to park.”
“Granny, who are you talking about?”
“You know, the pretty one. Such gorgeous blonde hair.”
“Hello Adam.” Walking up the path dressed in black, her hair running freely, was his ex-girlfriend.