I do it on a hot and stormy late-summer's afternoon, shortly after the evening post arrives and some time before the lamps are lit.
It's five o'clock and the air is yellow. Thunder shudders through the sky.
It is not done that quickly. Well, he is a big man - five eleven in his stockinged feet - and I am not a hefty woman. It takes several goes. But I have surprise on my side. He never expects it - he can't believe it. Neither can I. In the end I use my crutches as well. I don't stop till he's down and twitching, till he's stopped shouting and screaming, till he's down.
The room flashes. Rain falls - delicate as needles then thick and hard.
I stand there for a few moments, electrified by what I've done. Funny that the dog-weight's still in my hand. I thought I put it down. The crutch is squeezed so tight under my arm that it hurts. Blood runs fast from his head. The air's hot - sweet and sticky. I need the WC. It is bad timing, that I should be coming on the rag just now.
I should go but I can't. Can't take my eyes off him. He should be dead but his nerves don't know it yet. Is that why his eyes are rolling around and his limbs are moving? Not much but a little.
I put the weight down on the table. Carefully so it's still within reach.
Ewan, I say, leaning on my crutch and bending slightly towards him, Are you all right?
I don't expect him to be at all all right, but what else can I say? How do I speak to him?
Ewan? Ewan? Are you?
He doesn't answer. He doesn't even moan. The little movements have stopped and he's the stillest and silentest I've ever known him. He makes my own voice sound too loud.
I should really light the gas but don't want to. The room's so gloomy, drained of colour by the storm, but I think I'd rather not see it any better just now. His body on the kitchen floor - our kitchen floor - the blood running.
Yes, I am glad of the darkness. Look at me shaking, I'm so tired. My brain is tired, so tired.
I can't believe how much blood is coming out. I think I can smell it. That and something else that is not blood.
It's a terrible sight. No one should have to see this. It wouldn't bother him of course, but I'm not like him. I'm not used to seeing inside people. None of this is what I expected. I wish I'd thought to fling something over his face. I could get something. When I get the energy to think.
The storm's still going - banging fit to crack the sky open. Very lucky actually for it drowned out his cries as he fell. But that sobbing now, is it him or is it me? I hope it's me. Hard to say what I'm doing or not doing and that's the truth - one act so tangled in with another.
I am shocked and choked and squiffy. What I will do is I will wipe my fingers on his mother's best linen tablecloth, ha ha, and sit on the settle a moment and think of what to do next.
Peace. I am sitting here in the thick perfect dark, thinking how good it is to be in a silent room. Just the sound of my own breathing.
So many shadows in this room - his mother made it, with her small black cigarettes and her chipping away at everyone's character. It was a bad place while she was here and it is almost as bad with her gone. Bad dead people leave their history behind them. I expect they have their reasons.
Trying to relax, I see with horror that my skirt is entirely splashed with his blood - and then my crutch, the tip of one of my crutches is clotted with his hair and whatnot.
Clutching the mantel and then the table for support, I get myself round the room holding on to the furniture and douse the wooden tip in the big, deep sink, the one where Verity normally does the turnips. Pump the tap. There - a bright slither of his hair going down with a shred of skin attached.
Reprinted from Laura Blundy by Julie Myerson by permission of Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright (c) 2000 by Julie Myerson. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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