Isn’t Anything

ISN’T ANYTHING

 

Saturday December 26th

11:18

Notes taken by PC Rhiannon Rees 25/12/07. Found by Gina Davies 26/12/07

Home of Sion Rhodri Davies (45), Myfanwy Gwenllian Jones (49), Seren Cerys Sioned Jones-Davies (6), and Rhys Royston Bleddyn Jones-Davies (5)

Only body of IC3 male present. Cards in wallet identify body as Sion Rhodri Davies

No-one else in the house

No sign of forced entry

Bags packed in hallway

No external marking to the body, no outward signs of trauma

Celtic band tattoo, upper left arm, Polynesian tattoo upper right arm

There isn’t anything else important. Ambulance called.

 

Letter found at 345 Portland Road, Canton by PC Rhiannon Rees 25/12/07

Why didn’t you come and see me, yesterday? Was it the misunderstanding? You know I love our time together you randomly quoting Rochester between Velvet Underground songs and me skinning up how can you know so much, but so little about me, or about anything? You said you would and you didn’t and I needed you and you weren’t and now, I’m not. This is my vitriol. Ignore it all, it doesn’t mean anything anyway. The only way to fight the pain is to inflict more pain on me on me deflect it from you get in the way because I am already in the way. Now is the time to let it be to leave it all drop and move swiftly on. If I punch myself in the head maybe I‘ll start thinking in straighter lines and start being me again rather than this pale imitation (that’s a joke – you like jokes). It is embarrassing – I am an embarrassment you know me as well as me, so I have to just let me be. Here and now has become is there and then a gossamer spider web and I am trapped; I try tried to wriggle free but I only geot tangled further. The problem with learning the lessons of my past is not that I haven’t learned them well – I’ve studied hard and these grades prove my mediocrity – I’ve learned the lines too well that I have forgotten how to act. Repeating someone else’s script, stripping words of nuance, subtlety and meaning…I stand before you going through familiar emotions and moving no-one least of all me. I can’t change me. They can all see it now I need to write the next play myself, shape line, character, and space. I need to make this my own – shadows are good for hiding in, but suffocating to live in now how comfortable is this pre-fabricated pied-a-terre. It is time to resurrect a familiar favourite, but there is no light, not even a spot. I can’t stand another second in my company! Time to say goodbye and move on like a roadrunner…roadrunner once…roadrunner twice. It isn’t anything for you to worry about is it? Is it? I need to feel happy in my skin, but you can’t, not yours and never mine. You did it, but you didn’t need to, one day you’ll see I’ve sent you a letter I got eighteen years ago.

THIS WAS ONLY GOING TO BE THREE FUCKING WORDS LONG!!!!!!!!!!

Freedom is just another word for when you have no-one left to hurt…but my soul isn’t on fire – you know where that comes from, you played it to me and I listened and said nothing as you closed your eyes and cried inside and outside and then left before I could say anything; it is burning, twisting, self-aggrandising, selfish, and soulless me. I thought that I could find the answer within and without, but all that I found was a hollow vacuum where my heart once was. There is nothing left. There is truly no-one left to hurt there is no more damage to do apart from to me. Where do I go from here…ever onwards, ever forward, further and deeper into the heart of darkness. There is nowhere left to run, every time I turn I am just facing in the same fucking direction facing the same thing, confronting yesterday today. If you can’t trust your mind, your feelings, and your instincts, what is left? Nothing. The end, only the end; nothing and everything. I feel everything, every knife cut plunging deeper and further until it disappears inside me and then it is done, but it starts again, I turn around again, but I still cannot see. The fog just thickens and obscures, consumes and constricts until I have to rely on all the other senses. They are supposed to compensate, right? Well come on then, just fucking do it, just fucking bring it. JUST FUCKING BRING IT.

One love forever, Cariad mawr Sioni x

 

Monday December 21st

11:19

Gina swiped to unlock her phone, she needed a new one, but had already read the message preview.

21 Dec 2007 10:25

Its because of me that your there isn’t it? Its because of you that I am here and not there and that Jez is wherever Jez is doing whatever Jez does and not there with you today I wanted to be there with you I told you last night I texted you this morning You DON’T have to do this. You really DON’T have to do this. I DON’T want you to do this please don’t do this. You DON’T have to! I’m hungover, but I’ll drive down there, now. We could have a coffee. I’ll buy. I need to talk to you. xxx

 

Monday December 21st

11:18

 

She sat down again, the faces around her formed back into recognisable shapes, each of them different, but the eyes were all the same. Only women. No men. Each holding a form and avoiding eye contact. Where were her parents, probably still outside smoking, well he would be, her mother wouldn’t. They could stay there. She needed a fag. She needed a drink. She’d taken the bottle with her. He had put a stopper in it.

She tried to cross her legs and rubbing her stomach realised that she was hungry. She hadn’t eaten since…there was no vending machine there and no one else was eating, so she looked for her book, Therese Raquin. He’d given her that too, but she hadn’t started it. She got out the crossword instead, sat it on her lap, and looked again at the form. She hadn’t revised. She had filled them in, but she didn’t know the answers.

‘Excuse me love.’

‘Excuse me love.’

‘What, yes, oh, sorry.’

‘Would you mind moving your bag so I can sit down?’

‘Er, yes.’ There were plenty of other seats, so why sit by her. She saw a name badge hanging behind a crucifix swathed in bandages. A lab coat and hair scraped back beyond the grey roots.

‘Er, yes.’ she said again

‘Can I have a look at your form please?’

‘Is something wrong?’

‘Nothing’s wrong. It’s just a formality you all have to go through. Dr. Jones is a lovely man, you know.’

She felt her phone buzz in her pocket and wanted to pick it up, but the nurse was still smiling and talking, talking and smiling.

‘Don’t forget to turn off your phone,’ she said. ‘You’ll be done within the hour.’

She felt her stomach and then reached for her phone as Nurse Mary MacDonagh moved to the next in line.

‘It’ll be fine love,’ she said. ‘It isn’t anything to worry about. That’s what I always say.’

 

Monday December 21st

11.17

‘You won’t be needing that any more. Sit down, be quiet.’

Gina’s head span. The room span. She wanted to sit down. Nothing made sense. The room was filled with wooden cabinets and drawers. Paintings and prints hung on walls so thickly covered in dust that their subjects went unseen. The large leather sofa, a Chesterfield maybe, she on was sat on had long since lost its padding and, now, Gina tried not to squirm as the springs stuck into her flesh. It would be rude to show how uncomfortable she was. Just sit quietly. Try to smile; they’ll like you more if you smile.

‘Why are you sat there? Do you think you should be sat there? Someone else wants to sit there. Move.’

She got up, apologising. Moving over to a chair that faced the wall she quietly apologised to an empty room. The moment she sat down, she regretted her choice. She would now had her back to the door staring at the skirting board and the pattern of the wallpaper. Strangely fascinating. She couldn’t turn around, she didn’t want to impose her curiosity on the people who weren’t there but might be at any minute. Focus on the wallpaper. Ah yes, she saw a river in a blurred line and the way it was slightly misaligned, there could be a cave in which a secret might be buried. Fascinating. To be fascinated by the world that they can’t see makes you intriguing, he had said.

‘Why are you sat there? Do you think you should be sat there? Someone else wants to sit there. Move.’

She stood. This time she would choose the right chair. Right for them, right for her. Maybe. Searching the room she could no longer see any chairs, while her back had been turned they’d moved everything. Silently. Empty. There was nothing left to sit on, nothing to lean on. Two steps towards the window, she could at least look out at the trees. Would this be okay? How long would they keep her here? Could she just leave?

Sit down.’

She put the paper she’d been holding on the windowsill. Stepping away she looked back and pulled it slightly closer to the edge. It might catch their attention there. They said she didn’t need it any more. Did they want it or did they just not want her to have it? She didn’t know and there was no one to ask.

She crept silently, apologetically across the room. Her temperature rose so high she thought she wanted to sit again. Reaching out for the door handle, stooping and sweating, she stopped.

The tannoy crackled into life again. The voice so calm and compelling was clear.

‘Sit down. You can’t leave that there, pick it up. You won’t be needing it anymore.’

 

Monday December 21st

10.57

‘What time you on till Mary?’ Staff Nurse Jill Reiffel asked, stirring her caffe latte with a wooden stick, before adding three sugars.

‘Till the clinic closes, Jill. They changed my shift yesterday. Jenny Smith’s off with gout again.’

‘Gout my arse. You should stand up to them more. You care too much.’

‘I just come in when they tell me. It isn’t anything Jill. It’s my job. They’re the ones who have it hard,’ Mary said checking her watch and putting the loose auburn curl back through the Alice Band. ‘I’ve got to go. See you tomorrow.’

‘See ya.’

Monday December 21st

10:50

 

‘It’s different to last time.’

‘It looks the same to me – the desk, the nurses, the doctors, I’m sure that stain was there too,’ Helen said.

Everything was grey, the calming pastels of the waiting room, the seats, the people, the staff.

She held his hand, his good hand, stroking his ring finger as they waited; her eyes flicked across the room and back to the desk, reading unwritten tales of lives strewn before them. They waited, again.

‘Where were you that day? What took you so long? We needed you. Our daughter needed you. Fflur needed you’ she said. ‘Where were you?’

That was in another place…and besides…’ His thought went unfinished. He could not say it; thinking it was harder. If you ignore it, it doesn’t exist, someone had once told him. It was Fflur.

‘It was a long time ago and you know it wasn’t my fault,’ he said.

‘I miss her,’ she said.

‘I miss her too,’ he said

‘How long have we been waiting?’ she said, looking at her watch and the reception clock. Another time. ‘You need to speak to someone. Those two: her with the hairdo and the fake nails and him with the red shoes, they got here after us and they’ve been seen.’

‘I don’t mind waiting. They were probably emergencies.’

How do you know?

‘I don’t, but they have a system, they’ll call my name and I’ll get seen. I am a patient man, I don’t mind waiting.’

‘Fflur was an emergency, wasn’t she? I think they’ve forgotten you. Go and ask them’

He got up without looking at her. ‘I need a smoke. If they call my name, come and get me.’

She said something, but he was between the mechanised doors as a girl on a trolley, police officers at each side came the other way, clipping his arm as they did.

Only two people stood outside the door, only one smoking. ‘Alright Mike. Long time no see. The wife gave those up years ago. Never felt better,’ said a man in comfortable shoes and Crombie. Casual conversation in the cold, damp air he could do without. ‘It’s not easy, but it gets better,’ the man’s wife agreed. ‘We’ve just brought our daughter, Gina, in. She wanted us to wait outside. Haven’t seen you since, well, you know Fflur…Gina and Fflur were such good friends.’

He stubbed his tab, walked through the doors, and kissed Helen Jones on the cheek.

‘They’ve just called your name,’ she said

 

 

Monday December 21st

10:25

21 Dec 2007 03:20

Where are you now? I’ve been playing the vals this morning, Isn’t Anything, of course soft as snow (but…) ;o)) xx

21 Dec 2007 03:30

Are you up? I need a drink. Spanish Country red that’ll have to do. xx

21 Dec 2007 06:03

I’m trying to read Therese Raquin
What are you reading for? Waffle Waitress? It’s a joke. You just left last night whered you go Laterxx

 

21 Dec 2007 06:04

 

21 Dec 2007 07:00

It’s not that funny though, is it. I’ve got to get changed. My parents are coming in ½ hour

21 Dec 2007 07:02

Where? What time? I’ll take you Gina. I said so last night. You really don’t have to do this. You know I don’t want you to. I’ll come round. We didn’t talk properly last night? xxx

 

21 Dec 2007 07:25

We talked enough you did anyway my dads early. Ive got to see bernadete on way. Ill call later xx

21 Dec 2007 07:25

Why did you ask your dad. Why isn’t Jez there? You didn’t tell me last night. I can still pick you up. I need to talk to you. X Bernadette???? x

 

I’ve got to go now. I need a pint. I’ll ring you after xx

21 Dec 2007 07:30

21 Dec 2007 07:50

A pint now Why? x

 

21 Dec 2007 10:11

Just because I do! Meet you in town at at 12 xx

21 Dec 2007 10:13                                                                                               21 Dec 2007 10:13

What’s the point I might – depends how I feel

 

 

21 Dec 2007 10:13

I’m going in now xx

 

21 Dec 2007 10:25

Its because of me that your there isn’t it? Its because of you that I am here and not there and that Jez is wherever Jez is doing whatever Jez does and not there with you today I wanted to be there with you I told you last night I texted you this morning You DON’T have to do this. You really DON’T have to do this. I DON’T want you to do this please don’t do this. You DON’T have to! I’m hungover, but I’ll drive down there, now. We could have a coffee. I’ll buy. I need to talk to you. xxx

 

 

Sunday December 20th

The children were getting ready and it would start in about fifteen minutes, so they should feel free to help themselves to tea and coffee, the headmistress had said. They’d worked so hard on their class assembly she said. They’d used Edward de Bono’s thinking hats in this cross-curricular production, she said.

Myfanwy had watched her, sitting on the upturned balance beam, in the Junior Hall behind the semicircled infants’ chairs. The other parents, stood comfortably, danced their dance, glancing to left and right,

Oh yes,’ woman with trainers and leggings.

Laughter, half-smile and move on,

What was that?’ man with polished brogues and maroon waistcoat, bottom button done up

Oh, yes, did she?’ woman in high heel boots and large floral print.

Peek left and right and move on. Men, women, all.

The conversations peaked and troughed in front of her, but Myfanwy just sat on the beam not looking at her phone, not drinking coffee, not talking. She hadn’t talked to her then, but had thought that she might. That’s how they’d all met – weak coffee and weaker conversation. They talked, standing on the edge of the playground, watching the half-three disco, different people, same conversations, same children.

‘Fancy a drink?’ Myfanwy had asked her.

‘Yes,’ she said. Phew!

‘Where?’

‘Wherever. I don’t mind’

‘Do you want to come to mine, now? I’m Gina. Gina Ashe’

‘I’m Myfanwy. It’s Tuesday, Sion should be home about 5.30, so I could meet you in The City Arms about 6.

Make it 5.45 and you’re on.’ Their children thrust paintings and paper, lunch boxes and clothes towards them, and ran off as their coats fell to the floor.

She had told her about the time, the night before; she knew Gina couldn’t make it, but wished she had, with its lipstick faces, smeared with the Tuesday Special and five house reds.

Every Tuesday they met, 6 o’clock in the Blue Serpent.

She came over then. Sion had met her then and Jez. He liked Jez, but talked to Gina. The next week they were all skanking to Ranking Roger and Rancid. She’d fallen asleep. He’d fallen asleep. They’d stayed awake.

They sat, weeks, months later, either ends of his bed; she blew smoke rings through smoke rings towards a full-length mirror. The smoke spread to the sides then disappeared to who knows where. He rolled his own. Her hands smoothed her hips and circled her stomach. The light caught her golden band and framed them in chiaroscuro. Their hands together, the contrast obvious, yet together.

He fought with the corkscrew and the bottle fighting back. She’d bought it with her it wasn’t house white. He had two more in the fridge.

‘Give it to me it’s not hard,’ Gina said. He handed it over.

‘What time does he get here?’ Sion asked her, holding out his glass.

‘He’s not coming, today,’ Gina said.

‘Tomorrow?’ he said putting the drink away first gulp

‘He’s not coming.’ She refilled his glass and sipped her own.

‘What time do you have to go?’ He finished his second.

She sipped some more.

‘Why are you doing it again?’ Sion asked her, his glass refreshed temporarily.

‘9.30. Tomorrow. And you know why.’ She put down her half-finished glass in front of a picture of Seren and Rhys.

‘Are you sure you want to drink tonight?’ Sion asked her, refilling himself this time, putting a roach in the end of the spliff and lighting it.

‘If he was with me now, I wouldn’t have to go. I wouldn’t need a drink. Look at us, just look. I have to go,’ she said, she didn’t look at him, but stayed. ‘Sometimes your just like Jez, I know you’re not, but sometimes you are.’

‘Do you want me to come?’ he said to his reflection and inhaled.

He would tell her tomorrow.

Friday May 14t1990 10:33

 

Cumana Health Centre

Toco Main Road Cumana Village Cumana

Trinidad & Tobago

670-8720

 

Dear Sion,

Following your physical examination, we have received the results of your five semen analysis tests have been received by the surgery. We are writing to you to inform you that, as suggested during your examination, you have azoospermia (your semen doesn’t contain any sperm). As such, I am very sorry to inform you that there no chance that you will be able to father children.

I know that this must be very difficult news for you, so please ring the surgery (on number above), after 8.30 a.m. Weekdays to book an appointment with Dr. Jaanimagi. At this meeting, Dr Jaanimagi will be able to answer any questions you may have and to suggest the best way forward.

Yours Sincerely,

Dr X Jaanimagi MD, FRCGP, PhD

Gwefus Melys Glwyfus

‘You know that you should never drink alone when you’re feeling sad or lonely,’ he said.
‘Says who?’ she said, not bothering to look.
‘Ayurveda,’ he said. ‘Mind if I sit down?’
‘Mind if I sit down.’ It wasn’t a question.
He leant on the table between them. ‘Do you want my autograph? Don’t you know who I am? ‘If I scratch my name on your arm with this fountain pen, it will prove that you have really met me,’ said a whiskey-fumed voice. Wisps of white covering a sunburned pate, waistcoat, watch-chain and yesterday’s once-white shirt; the top three buttons undone.
‘Would it? Why would I want to do that?’ Anwen Rhys said, pressing the send button.
‘Because my faith in love is still devout,’ he said, sitting down beside her on the panelled bench. ‘The name’s Gwydion Griffiths. I write. What do you do?’
She knew all the half quotes and misquotes; this skipping between generations, the snarled shock of yesterday and today, twisted together, shapeless, forming indistinct pictures before them… She checked her phone.
‘I write,’ Anwen said.
‘Do you?’ he said, looking in the mirror above her. ‘What do you write?’
‘Words,’ she said.
He flicked a cheroot tip from its gilded holder into the Abertawe night and opened his monogrammed silver case. Two left. He thought of home and his first time away. He had written of Ystalafera here forty years, a lifetime, ago (‘Y Deffroad Rhywiol,’ everyone knew it, they taught it in schools, men of letters had written books about it, once) sitting there by himself, watching the blonde at the bar with the Myra Hindley hair. It was different then, you could smoke inside.
‘We’ve come from Newtown. It’s my mam’s birthday, she’s sixty today, March 15th – the Ides of March,’ Anwen said. ‘She came here when she was twenty, she wanted to come back. It’s my first time.’
Gwydion put down his drink, rubbed his throat, and looked to the bar again, but this time beyond it.
Anwen could hear music, the words faint, flitting between them:
“Well you run from your reasons as you slip on your soul,
Now, you’re keeping a hold of something you’ve never known.”
‘…and I knew Jeffrey Bernard, or rather he knew me,’ he said. ‘He called me a part-time minstrel, prophet-poet, and thief. I told him to fuck off.’ He laughed, looking at her.
‘Did he?’ Anwen said checking her phone again. Where was she? Where is she? She said she would be back in ten.
Anwen saw her at the bar, laddered tights and lipsticked teeth. Viv Nicholson hair and scuffed heels, dangling, almost kissing the polished floor.

—————————————————————————————————————-
Rhianne Griffiths looked about her. Everything in place, just as she had left it. Her stockings laddered, too late to change; she should have worn her other shoes. Butterfly lashes and saffron-ruby lips. Sweet bruised lips. Arthritic knuckles smoothed her skirt beneath her knees. “Time takes control; you might as well accept it,” that’s what her Nana had said. She remembered a time when she hadn’t had to beg for compliments. She looked at her shoes, not long left for those; her feet had never reached the floor. She liked them still. Her fingers, liver spotted and ringless pulled down her skirt again.
‘Hello,’ Rhianne said to a woman with died pink hair, wiping glasses as she passed behind the bar. Her badge said, ‘Gwenllian.’ Rhianne tried to smile. She did that often. She smoothed her skirt and asked Gwenllian. ‘What time is it?’
Hold up your head just like your dead mother said.
‘Twelve-thirty,’ she said and jangled past.
Rhianne saw her, there, on her phone. A man, his prime long since flushed, spewing honeyed words beside her. She was sure that she had met him.
—————————————————————————————————————
The music again; the words clearer now:
“You’re tying your mind claiming life’s on your side, yeah
You’re dying alone, you should’ve known it be cold yeah, cold yeah, cold yeah.”
‘Life’s a crime passionel,’ Gwydion said to Anwen, seeing her t-shirt
Anwen checked her phone again, and without looking up said, ‘Yeah, I know…designed for direct action,’ she said.
‘The Dogs d’amour, the hounds of love, the dogs of war. People don’t know anything anymore. You see her at the bar? I know you do. You haven’t stopped looking at her.’
‘Yes…’
‘I think I knew her once, but don’t worry, we weren’t lovers like that and besides it would still be all right…’
‘So many words and none of them your own,’ Anwen said. His eyebrows were black over burdensome blue eyes, like her mother’s once were.
‘What?’ he said.
‘Have you never heard Cemetery Gates? Weird lover Wilde is on mine?’ She pulled her skirt below her knees. This was fun.
He scratched an earlobe and looked to the door. His wave unreturned.
Anwen looked beyond him to the bar. She was there still, drink in hand, unlit cigarette between her lips.
‘Words don’t belong to anyone. You can package and buy them, but they are never yours, they are ours, they belong to everyone and no one,’ he said.
‘And?’ was all she said.
‘Do you want a drink? I do. Buy me a drink and I’ll tell you why,’ Gwydion said, sitting straighter, and then leaning in closer, his lips now moistened.
‘I know why already,’ Anwen said. She looked at her hands; the damson polish echoing the statement walls framing the exposed bricks, endless mirrors, and corporate art. ‘I just need the loo. I haven’t been for hours.’
Back through the door, as she walked the steps from table to bar, her heels echoed behind her. He followed.
She had gone; her drink unfinished. Anwen spoke to the barmaid, her badge said, Gwenllian. Gwenllian told her she’d gone back to the hotel and would meet her in the Cross Keys, on St Mary’s Street. Five minutes away. ‘Daffodils everywhere this time of year,’ she had said.
‘Why didn’t she tell me herself?’ she asked.
The barmaid smirked a half-smile and shifted her gaze. Anwen turned to leave.
‘I know where it is,’ Gwydion said, ‘Dylan Thomas used to drink there. So did Vernon Watkins.’
‘Him with the mobile chippy?’ Anwen said.
‘That’s not funny,’ he said, smile hiding the harshening tone.
‘Nor are you,’ she said.
‘I drink there too. This is my place, but they know me there, too. I’ll walk you there, it won’t take long. I know this city, I’ve written it twice, because it’s never the same,’ he said as he tried the smile again. ‘I can take you anywhere.’
She saw him grinning and bought two whiskeys – Penderyn. ‘Iechyd da.’ They skulled them and left.
He took her arm as they walked through the entrance and turned left. She stopped to take off her shoes. She liked to feel the ground beneath her. He bent down with her.
‘Forty years ago that was a brothel, he pointed above. I took Rhys Ifans there when he was sixteen. I’ve not seen him since,’ Gwydion said.
He’s so full of shit.
They passed the shop where she and her mam had bought skirts that morning. They had talked, for the first time, about why they were there and the last forty years. It wasn’t what she had asked for, her mam had told her. Her mam needed her to know that. Anwen recognised the same Starbucks that they hadn’t gone into earlier and the bookshop beside it. ‘Established 1843.’ But under the dim glare of the streetlamps, everything had changed. Everything was changing. Everything changes.
‘There was a riot in 1843, the people would not pay tolls to travel around their own city; they printed the pamphlets there. I bet they didn’t teach you about the ‘Rebecca Riots’ at school. I bet they didn’t teach you about me. But, you know me don’t you,’ Gwydion said, still looking ahead.
He had quickened his pace, Anwen stumbled to keep up. They stood at traffic lights waiting to cross; a car slowed and split their shadows, then sped off casting reflections about them.
They walked to the street end. The sign said ‘St. Mary’s.’ It wasn’t far. The last two streetlights had gone; Anwen looked about her. She’d not seen the pub. Her foot hurt when she trod on something sharp. The night enclosed them. She looked at her phone. It was half-past-one. Two new messages – she couldn’t read the previews. The streetlights flickered the further they went. Her eyes scanned, unfamiliar but knowing: an empty packet of condoms, an advert for the ‘Dylan Thomas Literary Pub Crawl,’ through this ugly lovely town, the sports section from the Western Mail, flip-top bottles of beer. No one looked at them, heads down, hearts elsewhere. It was Saturday, now.
Anwen wondered if she should turn back. Gwydion said, ‘When I was young, I used to busk on that corner, where that woman is standing, waiting for the sun to come up. The number 151 used to go past to the docks, before they pedestrianized everything. They said it would spoil the view. I like walking. Keep up for fuck’s sake or we’ll miss her.’
‘I’m the one looking for her and don’t swear at me. Is the pub still open?’ Anwen asked.
‘It’s always opening time at The Cross Keys,’ he spat back
He sped up again and crossed the road. Princess Way into Salubrious Place – she laughed at the irony – up an alleyway and as his hand gripped her tighter they took a right at the end and an immediate sharp right into another they had collected the recycling that morning she had heard them from her room seen their fluorescent jackets clashing with the green bags they clearly hadn’t bothered here she dropped a shoe he pulled her onwards. The tour was over.
‘I think I should just go back to the hotel,’ Anwen said. ‘She must be back there by now.’ She tried to turn and free her arm. Gwydion’s grip tensed further.
Another alley almost running now but this one had no end the smell of stale piss mingled with stale perfume – she thought she recognised it the perfume not the piss – no trees, and no end he kept on keeping on driving forward he looked up for the first time since Starbucks above the shadows and Anwen was there her head bowed inside her jacket.
‘You look cold,’ he said, between stertorous breaths. Anwen could see rivers of sweat springing from his wispy hair, streaming down his forehead, converging and cascading, from nose and chin. She hadn’t realised how cold it was.
‘Ffyc off,’ she said, those were her only words, said the Welsh way.
‘Fuck you!’ he said and pushed her in front of him, up against the wall. A dead end. The arse of the bag.
Cold, clammy wall, words written too close to read, she closed her eyes as his hand gripped her throat. They smelled of fags and chips. She couldn’t speak, but he couldn’t take her thoughts. His fingers interlinked around her neck and she gasped as she shuddered into his palms she wanted a drink she looked and saw only the stone wall and its indistinct graffito toadflax and maidenhair spleenwort breaking through, her nose cold and wet like a spaniel’s his hands clasped tighter she knew he wanted to squeeze harder his thumbs on her jugular. The smell of weed and the last notes of Higher States of Consciousness then nothing.
‘Springes to catch woodcocks,’ he had whispered.
Sour, musky, beeriness, halitosis passing over in waves, one hand released, she could hear a zipper, a fumble, then nothing. Fat fingers relaxed their grip and the stale fags and fries gave way, once more, to yesterday’s perfume and last week’s piss.
‘This is what you’ve asked for,’ she whispered between gasps.
‘The Ides of March,’ her mother, Rhianne said, holding the point of Anwen’s discarded shoe against his Adam’s apple, her other hand gripping his balls; chipped-polished-nails dug flesh and squeezed tighter and harder. They almost touched. Gwydion whimpered; he could not speak. No words.
Rhianne did, ‘‘The Ides of March,’ that’s what you said. You remember me, now. Oh yes, I think you do – hair like Hindley, you said, and hands like Hepworth. You’re not about to forget me. You know what’s coming.’
His eyes closed, his face like paper, he held up both hands, as she dug her nails deeper. The ‘Imperfect Enjoyment.’ Anwen’s phone flashed again – a message from Gwenllian.
‘Forty years, forty fucking years, you took from me here, you fucking piece of shit, now Gwydion Griffiths you will know what it feels like…to bleed forever. Why me, you fucker, why fucking me? I was twenty, I’d bought a new dress, I’d had my hair done, and you took me here and you left me here, and you fucking…you…fucking, you fucking know what you fucking did. You fucking left me with nothing, you cunt.’
‘Apart from me, dad,’ Anwen said.