OF BERNADETTE CYNTHIA HEALY
The bus curves the streets of London, meandering between the commuters who are no doubt counting down the hours until their weekend begins. I appreciate the sentiment despite missing the long hours I worked for Jonathon, especially when we first opened the firm. It was just the two of us working together. We specialised in property and family law, I advocated the pro bono cases because I couldn't stand the thought of justice being for the rich.
Jonathon had a relatively sound business plan to balance my idealistic one and because of our more lucrative clients we were able to help some people who were in need, and I know I've forced this issue with Keith. I don't want the firm to lose its morality just because the older generation have moved onwards, or upwards.
I reach my bus stop and climb down the single step on to the curb. It's a beautiful spring morning, and I relish the feeling of the sun on my face. The bus drives away and leaves me to continue the last few hundred metres of my journey by foot. I enjoy the walk, I haven't ventured this far away from home or the office in months, and it's pleasant to notice the few changes; some misspelt graffiti, a different variety of flowers are beginning to bloom and a few houses seem to have gone on sale.
Walking down a short street on a familiar route, no one takes any notice of me. I open the gate and, close it as instructed by the sign. There are a few other people in the graveyard with me, paying their respects. I continue walking down the perimeter of the graveyard, until I arrive at a crypt.
I read the inscriptions.
Mrs Edith Susan Crowe 1889-1957 Beloved mother and wife
Mr Hugh Benedict Crowe 1886-1958 Beloved father and husband
My father had made it quite clear that living without my mother was intolerable, and no one had been surprised when he'd died within months of my mother's death. The experience my parent's had lived through were incredible, though they always said their greatest achievement was having me, mainly because I was such a surprise, but also because I could be a handful.
I visit their crypt as often as I can, bringing both Polly and Jack here when they were children. One time, when Polly was a teenager, we'd bumped into each other at this very spot, neither of us knowing the other had plans to visit the tombstones. We'd spent a wonderful afternoon together, and it solidified our relationship as a mother and a daughter, even though she would always be her father's favourite.
It helps to clear my mind as I sit on a bench opposite their tomb. I have that woman's letter in the pocket of my coat and I plan to reread it, along with the Last Will and Testament and the information about her brother. I have already made up my mind; I know I'm going to do as asked and look for Bernadette Cynthia Healy's sibling, but I want to do it to clear my conscience, to be the better person that she accuses me of, and not to satisfy her curiosity.
I open the letter, the sunshine warming my skin as I turn it over and read it for the fifth time, knowing it won't get any easier.
Jonathon was the love of my life and I envied every second you were able to spend with your husband, because it meant that I was in the side lines.
Silently I agree with her. In the side lines she belonged, and because I stayed with my husband I forced Bernadette Cynthia Healy to always be number two, to my first place. Of course, the fact I'd had to fight for my position left a bitter taste in my mouth, but coming second wasn't an option.
Jonathon and I may have had our differences but we were meant to be together, we were soul mates. I can't help but still feel some sort of antipathy towards this woman, even though she no longer plagues the earth with her presence. That she had the nerve to write this letter only a few days after Jonathan's funeral irritates me, though I cannot quite put my finger on why.
I try to ignore the more emotional paragraphs of the letter and focus on the information she's supplied me about her brother. Goodness knows how accurate the information is, and if it's over a decade old I'm not sure how useful it will be. I don't blame her anonymous brother for not getting in touch with his sister; maybe he had some sort of inkling as to what kind of woman she'd turn out to be.
It seems I have a brother who was born the year I was evacuated.
That makes him either 63 or 64. I pick up the smaller envelope that has sat, unopened, within the Last Will and Testament and unseal the back of it. Inside I'm greeted by the handsome face of a young man. On the back of the photo is a date, a name and a school. At least Bernadette Cynthia Healy knew what she was doing.