Holkham Stories Entry - 'The Wake'

Posted: October 02nd 2020

by Erin Ketteridge

The Wake
By Erin Ketteridge

At the wake, there was a window in the corner of the room. Sunshine has never been as bright as it was through that window, leaves have never shimmered the same. It was as if you could open it and step out onto the air, safe and gentle, and no one would see you leave. There were birds flying around the branches, twittering and diving. Sometimes they would look in, and I like to think they were you just checking in. I wrote a note for you on your flowers. I wanted you to know that when I passed my driving test, I’d still be thinking of the promise I made to take you painting.

The day we went back to Holkham was too warm for February. We were wearing raincoats, but there was no rain. The sun was beaming, and there was a little girl with her Grandad. Here were our footsteps on the boardwalk, the burnt gold through the trees. Here is the step to the brow of the hill, the forehead of the beach, breath-taking every time. Here is a world which holds so many people, so tenderly. Mum got down to the beach, got to walking in the muddy sand, amongst the shock of copper and pink, before the tears started to fall. It poured, like we needed raincoats after all.

I could have written you a love letter on that beach, about everything that’s happened since you left. But I took a picture instead, and brought it back to your studio. I used your oil paints, I hope you don’t mind. And I played with the French man on the windowsill even though you told me not to. I even played some jazz for you. Because wherever you are, you’re still listening in.

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