Blood Bond by Marie Gethins
She wore red shoes to his funeral. The last to arrive, she strode to the empty first pew. Tap, tap, tap, heels striking slate. We watched – a cardinal streak, each step a pulse. Red against black tights, scarlet on grey stone. Glossy and bright. We saw the shoes, smouldering in the muted light. Neck encircled in black fur, eyes dry, face static, crimson lips still. Our whispers sparked, echoing off the hallowed walls.
“Sucking away at his savings already.”
“If he were alive, he’d have put her in her place.”
The priest held out his arms, waving us into silence. A congregation of eyes focused on her stiff back. She didn’t flinch. During the eulogy, her foot began to swing. Forward, back, forward, back. “A pillar of the community,” the priest said. “His deep bond with his daughter evident to all.” We heard her exhale with a hiss. A vein throbbed in her neck.
Sitting in the front row throughout primary school, we watched her neck tense during art class. She drew the same picture: a little girl with large eyes, no mouth. A man stood behind her, gripping the girl’s shoulder. The sky a solid grey. The rest of us created children playing in sunshine: fluffy clouds, bright smiles, stick arms waving “hello.” Miss pinned up our pictures on the classroom wall, but hers went into a locked desk drawer.
Now she stood as her father’s coffin coasted by; a clatter of rollers and it slid into the obsidian hearse. Her limousine followed to the graveyard. Sole occupant, he would’ve roared at the expense. She led us across the dewy grass. Red crushing green, heels piercing the sward. Crows circled and cawed overhead.
The priest nodded. She pulled off her tight black glove, crimson nails against pale skin. A fistful of dirt and gravel hit the mahogany box; stones denting and scraping polished wood. Scarred it descended, darkness swallowing it whole, soon to be covered by a muddy mound. We watched her brush the dirt off her palm and smile. She turned. Her red shoes glowed, becoming blood spots on the horizon.