Siren Song



by H T Garton

When they sent Ewan to the State Secure Hospital, I thought I would never have to see or think about him again.

Twenty years later, Granddad died. No one but Gran and I turned up to mourn his passing. I had never given much thought to how sour things must have turned for him and Gran since the day Ewan crashed into the jetty with the butchered remains of his best friend on board.

Gran took her time before she recognised me. When she did, joy obscured the grief in her eyes for a moment.

“Alison! I thought I’d lost you forever!” she cried as she clasped me to her. I smelled the salt in her tears and the familiar lavender of her soap. I went back to her home, which seemed even smaller than I remembered it.

While she rattled around her tiny kitchen preparing tea, I studied the photographs all over the living room walls and mantelpiece. I found only one with Ewan and me together with both our parents. In it, I am smiling at the new baby in mum’s arms. Dad looks ready to burst with pride as he stands behind, enveloping us with his brawny arms.  Mum is tilting her head to one side as though distracted by a distant sound.

Gran caught me looking as she came in and set the tray down.

“He was such a lovely wee boy. Easy to love. And always so eager to help with everything. I worried it was because he wanted to make sure we wouldn’t stop loving him. As if! Even after... You always love your children, if not everything they do,” she said as she poured. “There was a lot of whispering that it was our fault.” Her eyes were pale as though shame had drained the colour out of them. “We brought him up, after all. Others blamed your mum, saying it was hereditary. Your mother was always highly-strung, but she didn’t start acting strangely ‘til the shock of losing your dad. You could hardly say it was her fault, but people always want to put the blame somewhere. How is she now?” she asked.





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