At first glance through the glass hatch that frames his face, I overlook the glint of goldplate. The arched figure is actually two fused, creatures, a woman one with a minotaur, her lips pressed to its neck. There is a hint of condensation where the two touch.
The brooch altogether outshines the dull sheen of the tie pin. He hates ties. He flops the end over his right shoulder to signal ‘parent incoming.’ We laugh until he cough snorts. We plan to move in together as soon as we have a deposit on a place.
Madam rattles the glass lid of his coffin. His mouth signals nothing. On patrol feet, she circles the low-slung box. The pallbearers cough and gauge her girth. For a moment the well-oiled procedure stutters.
A good son is his mother’s, someone says from the crowd. There is a murmur of agreement.
While I watch, Madam’s chest rises and falls. Her headtie trembles with the effort of breath.
It’s Madam’s idea to have him lie in the yard. We leave the late-season avocados uncollected when all the trees are in glut. He hates the liquid muck they make.
I stare at the brooch until my eyes swim, really try to see into the chunk of costume jewellery.
The lid is unsecured. Fingers would slide through the silk lining. I could snap the catch loose.
The way the shadows of lashes curve against his cheeks undoes me.
‘Wasted on a boy,’ Madam said to him when he was six.
He’s smooth-skinned, the moth dark sheen of his cheek is wasted on a full-grown man the way he is wasted on the casket.
He stares like a fool when she wears the brooch. Madam lets him try it on sometimes. He pinky swears he will never leave the house with it pinned to his lapel.
He waits till we are alone and pins it on me instead.
‘You can’t see where one starts and where the other leaves off,’ he says.
He never wanted the brooch for himself. I never wanted it for myself. If I’m seen, no one will understand.