So long, Marianne
It was a year since the last time Laura went to see Marianne when the chimes rang out at midnight. I realised the date when I heard them. Remembered hanging them after the wake, out of respect for Marianne’s grandmother, who gave them to me and said they were protection.
“From what?” I asked.
The old woman simply smiled and said something in Ukrainian that was too fast for me to translate.
Laura laughed at me, when I said I’d heard the chimes at midnight the next morning, told me was being melodramatic. I told myself she was right. It must have been a dream.
The chimes cut through the muggy summer air again the next night. I went out to look at them in the afternoon. The thorns of the rosebush we planted underneath that corner of the house scratched at my hand. I remembered how patient Marianne was. How she planted the cutting given to us by our neighbours in New Lynn when we moved down the island to be able to live near the sea. How she was so alight with the knowledge that it would grow and blossom one day, those waxy blooms of a red so deep it was almost black.
That was before she got sick. But Marianne was also strong. She rallied for a while, to the point where the doctors started to talk about restarting the treatment.
Laura had been there for me and for Marianne from the time of the diagnosis. She went to see Marianne in the hospital quite often. After Marianne rallied, Laura went more often. And then Marianne suddenly deteriorated. Nobody could explain it.
6 months after the funeral, Laura decided we had waited long enough. I missed Marianne every day, but I didn’t want to lose the support. Eventually, I began to love Laura, after a fashion. The rose bush- without much attention from either of us- grew.
The third night, I lay awake, waiting for the sound. I looked out of the window. Saw Marianne in the garden for just a moment. She looked murderously at me, at Laura lying asleep next to me. She made a motion as if to come in through the window, and I started back in fear, but as she moved her hand touched the metal pipes, and they rang out. At the sound, she seemed to come up against a barrier and, sighing, vanished like smoke into the night air. But I knew, somehow and certainly, that she would keep coming back. And that she would never stop. I would’ve done anything to save Marianne. Now I realised I still could.
So you see, your honour, that’s why I had to do it. Now that Laura’s gone, Marianne can rest. But just…don’t let the new owners take those windchimes down. Just in case.