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THE MiSERY OF AGE

©  WRiTER oN THe MoON

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13

Cathedral

It happened every day and this afternoon it happened in Totterdown. Mrs Miller was sitting in her kitchen.

Keep

Calm

and

Bake

Cakes

And that's what she did. She was making a cake with chocolate icing for her grandchildren Carl and Adam. She beat the egg whites until they were stiff. The window, wide open so the smoke from her cigarette that she wasn't smoking but left burning so she could smell it, drifted out. She noticed there was a note on the window sill outside.

 

She left what she was doing, wiping her hands with a red checkered towel. At her eighty-one years she walked with uncertainty, like someone holding a tennis ball between their legs, trying to hold it there and not let it drop.

She looked out. From her kitchen window she could see all of Winter Walk and the entrance to the laundromat where that fellow Jack, who had dared to marry a Spanish woman, was trimming the hedges to give them shape.

She took the note and unfolded it, thinking that possibly it was a note of apology from the Lamb family.

She was horrified as she read it. "Those bastards aren't going to tell me I'm dirty and that my time has come! They'll see. I'm going to denounce this and they're not getting out of it so easy. This is clearly a death threat."

Her mouth twisted.

In the living room her youngest son Duncan, who was fifty nine years old and lived with her and off her, was eating his sixth Strongbow accompanied by a trifle that he rested on his huge belly. He heard his mother talking about a death threat and he turned to see what was going on.

"Hey, who is threatening us today, those people from the laundry?"

Mrs Miller took a step back, staring out the window at Jack then walking to the adjacent room to speak with Duncan. She walked backwards, never taking her eyes off the laundry and imagining all sorts of bad things that could happen to those people in the future.

She slipped.

She let out a small cry. For some reason she noticed the cathedral right before she cracked her head on the corner of the table, dying instantly.

The ink of the text in the note she still held in her right hand, disappeared. Duncan came into the kitchen and found his mother in a growing pool of blood and gray matter.

On the other side of the window, in the middle of Winter Walk Street, Jack paused silently with the trimming shears when he heard the scream.

"You, hey you, you! Did you do this to my mother? Did you threaten her, you pig?"

Jack shook his head and proceeded to trim, sensing a bad omen. Duncan dialed 999 with his fat fingers. He opened his seventh Strongbow.

"I need an ambulance. I...I think there's been a murder."