Sister, by R.J. O’Donnell
Bad luck that Emma saw me lying there. It was the warmest spot in the station.
‘Emma died intestate,’ said pin-striped Mr Jenkins of Regan-Jenkins, solicitors. ‘You’re next of kin.’ He dodged my glance, like Emma had that day she saw me in my comfortable spot.
My ragged clothes looked comical in his plush office. He scowled at the glass-topped mahogany that I was leaning against.
‘My little sister,’ I sighed. ‘It should have been me.’
He didn’t need convincing. He rose to usher me out before I dirtied anything else.
‘How?’ I asked, as he held open the door.
‘…truck … jack-knifed…instantaneous.’
Mr Jenkins’ words faded into the fog of the rest of my life.
A real find it was, that spot at the station. Dry, under the glass roof, it was better than the open sky. And I got used to the neighing trains.
By her eyes I knew Emma that day.
They hadn’t changed after all the years. Little Em, I used to watch out for her, brush her blonde curls.
Her stiletto heel got caught in the fold of my blanket as she ran. Her kind smile smartly changed to glower on recognising me. She stopped mid-reach to her purse. Charity is only for strangers, not for drop-out family members.
Radiant, skin flushed with verve, flowing hair, loosening her heel’s entanglement, she vanished into the train.
How fleeting the flesh is, how decomposed her shame of me is now.
I slinked away, leaving the Regan-Jenkins brasses gleaming in the sun.
I was all buoyed up with the courage of new prospects next time I saw Mr. Jenkins. He looked funny here, his stripes out of place in the homeless hostel.
‘A will was found,’ he said. ‘She left everything to her partner. Sorry to have to tell…’
I leaned against the door. His patent steps grew fainter on the tiles, the sun drew a triangle on the wall, someone was whistling.
R J O’Donnell is an award-winning freelance journalist. She is author of France, the Soul of a Journey. She is currently working on Home Place, Heart Place, Journeys around Ireland.