I pocket the priest’s condolence and usher him into the crowded living room. My pockets are full. Full of ‘sorry for your troubles’ and ‘I’m so sorrys’. I find a shoe box, ‘Size 12 Brown Brogue’ and tip the sorrys into it.
Placing it on the laden table, I re-join the mourners offering them tea, coffee, whiskey. People circle the coffin whispering. An old woman touches John’s waxen face; pats his frozen hand. The mood lifts as the whiskey hits. The chatter bubbles as people reacquaint… and speculate.
More people arrive. I accept their sorrys, moving my hand over the box each time, a slight wave, a silent drop.
There’s a commotion as a woman crashes in, her cries stilling the mourners.
Shrouded in black; lines of mascara trace a waterfall down her face. She touches my arm.
‘Sarah, I’m so sorry.’
I don’t put her sorry into the box. I flick it into a soiled saucer. Jameson sears a path of fire down my throat.
When the mourners filter out, I put the box in the coffin at John’s feet. I pull his letter out of my sleeve.
‘Sorry,’ it says.
I crumple the note; push it into the box.
A movement in the garden; Judith is leaning against the wall, one hand clutching her stomach. Snatching the box, I step outside.
Drowned eyes mirror mine, I see the friend she once was, the wretch she is now.
Touching her arm, I hand her the box.
Linda Walsh lives in the Dublin mountains beside a library and has written stories in her head since childhood. She is finally putting pen to paper and has fallen in love with Flash Fiction. Twitter: @francaisanna