“TELL her?” he says.
There’s a long silence. Then he laughs, a low laugh.
“It’s good to see you, Iola,” he says.
It’s good to see him too, even though he’s old and hopeless. It’s good he has no excuses.
When I tell her, she’s sitting in her room in front of the dressing table, brushing her hair.
“I know,” she says, without missing a stroke with the hairbrush.
I watch her face. It doesn’t flinch. I stand there watching.
“Don’t tell anyone will you?” she says to me.
“I already have,” I say. “Sort of. I’ve told Cher. Pigeon’s mam knows, and Pigeon.”
She puts down the brush. “That’s too many people, Iola!” “And Dafydd,” I say quietly. “Dafydd?” she says. “Yep. He found out. He threatened to tell you.” “Threatened?”
She’s looking at me, straight at me. “He’s a nasty piece of work isn’t he?” she says.
“I saw him with some young girl in town the other day,” she says. “All over her, he was.” She looks like she’s going to cry. But instead, she stands and comes to me, puts her arms around me. Her warm arms.
“Out on his ear, he is,” she says quietly, “Out on his ear.” And she goes to the record player which has sat there for so many years, waiting to play our music again. She takes out a black disk, sets it on the turntable and places the needle against it. A slow waltz, ghostly like half a memory, but sweet too, like long-lost Sundays, plays into the room, and we begin to dance together. My sister and me. We dance slowly, and I hold onto this rare time when I feel honest and true and safe.
WHEN he visits her, Pigeon’s mam lies in a cold bed. The bed where the mermaid lies is placed in the centre of the room. There’s no indication which end is which. The bed where she lies has no head and no foot. It’s disorientating, cold; a bed base, mattress, white cotton sheet. The bed where she lies has no pillow.
> Pigeon is the winner of the Wales Book of the Year and the Rhys Davies Fiction Prize. Published by Parthian