Chasing Angels

Chasing Angels by Meg Henderson

Book: Chasing Angels by Meg Henderson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Meg Henderson
simply didn’t matter. She had argued briefly with Aggie over
Peter’s non-appearance, a touch of normality there at least. When it came to the part of the service for taking Communion Father McCabe had glared directly at her, willing her to walk out and
receive the Eucharist, and she’d defiantly stared back at him and remained in her seat. Jessie in her ‘fuck me’ shoes, her face buried in a handkerchief; shades of things to come,
had she only but known it. Harry smiling sadly at her, telling her he was sorry with his beautiful blue eyes, his sister Claire looking blankly, and Jamie standing stiffly to the side,
characteristically unable to express anything, because Jamie didn’t do emotion. And Aggie, dry-eyed as her first-born was laid to rest at the age of forty-two. No mother should have been that
composed at outliving her child. She knew then what she had always suspected, that Aggie had never really liked Lily, though it would take her a few years more to find out why. None of it felt
real, though, and next day she fully expected to see Lily again. It was as though in her mind she thought, ‘
Right, that’s that over. Now I wonder when Lily’s coming
home?
’ And even all these years later, locked away in her mind, fifteen-year-old Kathy Kelly was still waiting.
    The only possession of Lily’s retrieved from the fire was a charred scrap of material from the coat she had been wearing that November morning, identifiable only by the cheap heather
brooch Kathy had bought for her in Fort William two years before. And, of course, there was the bright red satin box from Cockney Jock’s stall, that would’ve been her birthday present
from her daughter on the Tuesday Lily never saw. For years it lay untouched, still in its brown paper wrapping, inside a big, tan, papier-mâché suitcase under her bed. But Kathy
didn’t have the box or the brooch any longer, she had given them to someone long ago.

4
    It had taken everyone at school a while to get back to normal after Lily’s death. The other girls would talk quietly as she passed and look at her from the corners of
their eyes, but it was meant kindly; they were treating her with kid gloves. She noticed it, but like everything else, it didn’t matter. She dropped Art, much to her teacher’s
annoyance. Art, like home economics and shorthand and typing, was usually given to the idiots, to fill the gaps in their timetables left when they were withdrawn from more academic subjects, but
Kathy was actually good at it. ‘But why, Kathy?’ the Art teacher asked. ‘You’re good at Art, and you enjoy it so much. Why would you drop it just like that?’ Kathy
shrugged. ‘Because I want to,’ she replied. ‘I never really liked it anyway.’ The teacher didn’t understand and there was no way Kathy could explain, not that she
wanted to. What no one seemed to realise was that there was no purpose to anything any longer, not to Art, not to life. They had been such a close partnership; Lily and Kathy against Old Con,
against Aggie, against the world. Not only had it ended, but it had done so without a proper, neat ending, without a finale. It remained in Kathy’s life like a loose tie and, having no idea
how to deal with it and proceed, she didn’t. Old Con had settled in to his role as a very public widower with ease, the general air of sympathy being translated into as many free drinks as
even he could manage. Having had no marriage for many years, if ever, his only need was to be looked after, and Kathy had already been doing that for years along with Lily anyway. Only now she was
alone.
    When she was sixteen she left Our Lady and St Francis. The Careers Officer had got her an interview for a job with William Hodge, a printing firm in the centre of the city. He had looked at her
previous school record, noted her artistic ability and decided this was just what she was looking for. She wasn’t looking for anything as it happened, she was going

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