The ground took Mother a year ago, swallowed the desiccated morsel of her body in one gritty gulp. On the day of the funeral, I stood in woody silence, veil shielding my dry cheek. I thought how strange it was she would no longer turn those fish eyes onto my needlework, the crabbed pages of my journal, my private, never-private space.
Then this morning I found Father, quite still over the morning paper, his face a silver grey, the colour of my half-mourning gown.
He will not be my first subject and I regret so many sweet creatures had to die for me to refine my art, but they shall accompany his long rest – the leverets on his knee through the week, the clutch of drowned kittens brushed and beribboned for Sunday.
But first there is much work to be done. I shall fetch my knife.
The Victorians imposed quite a complex system on women to denote the stages of mourning after a close relative had died, starting at black through lilac to white. See here to learn more.