Anne Lawrence Bradshaw’s fiction and poetry appears online at Tincture Journal, The Nottingham Review, The Good Men Project, and elsewhere. Several of her poems have appeared in UK literary magazines. She lives with her husband in a run-down Northumbrian cottage, and gets most of her ideas whilst walking the dog. You can tweet her @shrewdbanana.
My sister is here again, standing at my graveside in those killer heels. They must be six inches at least. Why does she keep on coming back?
Today she’s wearing a tasteful little designer dress, black silk probably, cut to flatter her non-existent curves. The pearl necklace is a nice touch, very Jackie O. (verging on classy, hah!) and the pearls are shining almost as much as the teardrops on her cheek and chin. No mascara today. I’m thinking she must have planned this. The “grieving sister” must be a new thing because she never looks less than perfect. Her face is a touch pouchy too. Lack of sleep, or has she been hitting the bottle again? Maybe both. Even her hair is a little off-point though, and that’s a surprise. Considering she’s always washed those red locks twice a day, it should look better than that.
What is she doing now? She’s tugging at something on her shoulders—surely not the pearls?—no, not them. (She wouldn’t want to break them.) It’s her head. She keeps pulling and twisting her neck, it looks quite painful in fact, and . . . wait, she’s ripped it right off. Unbelievable! She’s just torn her fucking head off and placed it on my grave, right where the flowers used to be.
So now there’s blood on her dress, and blood on those pearls which have slipped off and caught on the side of my headstone. Great. I always wondered if the real thing would feel any different from costume jewelry. Now I know.
This is so like her though. No half measures. One-upmanship has always been her thing, right from when we were at school together and her grades had to be a notch higher than mine. No, it obviously wasn’t good enough for me to go ahead and die on her. I mean, whenever she knew I liked a boy, there she was, and with one toss of that red mane he was Play-Doh in her hands. I got used to it, made it into a kind of dating barometer in the end. After all, if a guy goes for your sister, you know you can’t ever trust him again.
Her head feels kind of weird there though. I imagine it pressing through the dirt and weighing on my solar plexus. If this weren’t so ridiculous, I’d say it was making it hard for me to breathe.
So now she’s standing and turning around, and I think she must be going home like she always does. I can hear those heels tap-tapping down the graveled path as she walks away. Tap-tap-tap, like the sound of rain on the leaves of that old willow tree.
I don’t have the breath to call after her: Come back here, you bitch. You forgot something, didn’t you?—and it’s quiet now. All I can do is wait, see if she comes back again. She’s never missed a day yet. Usually she looks back when she reaches the cemetery gate, but she doesn’t have to do that now.
If I were given to paranoia, I’d say she planned this just to make me feel uncomfortable, but that’s probably what she wants me to think. See how she feels when it gets dark, when the only thing that stirs around here is the sound of roots that creep, ever closer, through the earth.
In the morning, the frost will have dusted her hair into a pale imitation of what it once was.
In the morning, perhaps we can talk.
Image, Creative Commons: https://pixabay.com/en/users/TheRokon-1953055/