Monday, 20 February 2012

Marie by James Apps

When we heard the news there was silence.
                Marie was dead!
                I felt a cold grip on my heart and tears came easily.  The whole village stopped for a moment, shocked, people whispered.
                Marie’s dead!
                The bright girl behind the Co-op counter.  The lively voice in the gaslit shop with its stacked goods and filled shelves. The smell of her scent was a honeysuckle bloom in a kerosene heated room with clean sawdust on the floor adding to the musk magic aroma.
                I saw her laying pale on the road.
                She was surrounded by young men, frightened young faces and two sobbing girls. I saw her from the bus seat and I knew. Death has a way of saying ‘I am here mortal’.  Death and funerals bring rain. It was raining, a fine rain that drenched with its persistence, wetting everything under lowering clouds. The bus eased past moving down the hill on the wrong side of the road and there was not an eye that didn’t look at the sadness on the wet road.  We looked at each other before the bus pulled in to the last stop. Daft Colin was at the terminal waiting to direct the bus.  He wore a slickered raincoat and Al Jolson gloves and as soon as the bus moved from the stop to turn around he began his hand waving. 
                The driver stopped the bus and spoke quietly to him. Colin visibly slumped and with his hand folded across his chest he walked slowly off. I watched him go and walked quietly with my mother across the road and on up the hill.
                Marie was dead.
                Later we found out what happened. She was riding with a bunch of cyclists down Brake’s hill and her front wheel hit something, they said, and she wobbled across the centre line at high speed. She bounced off the unforgiving side of a car crawling up the hill and flipped over the top to smash against the tarmac. Her friends tried to help her but it was too late.
                Marie was dead.
                She was going to be married to one of the young cyclists. Had all her life before her. What a lovely girl! Such a shame that one so young should.... The whole village talked about her, said how they had last spoken to her. So unexpected, tragic, a loss.  The village mourned and so did I.
                But I didn’t know her.
                And yet I will never forget that pale face on the wet road.
                Marie was dead.  

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