The Way We Lied


Ooh, yuk! Uncle Nick, that’s a bit grubby even for you. I always thought you were good fun, though I remember Mum and Aunt Sarah ticking you off about some of your jokes. But I really never thought you were this crude. I don’t want to touch your letter any more. I push it away. It feels dirty.
You’ve paid for your sins though. How long have you been in that nursing home? Fifteen years? That’s a cruel punishment, whatever anyone says. A stroke, wasn’t it? One moment that robbed you of movement and speech. You, the life and soul of the party, condemned to sit in a chair, unable to laugh, joke or kiss. Sarah visits, I know, but not often. She says she can’t bear to see you cry when she leaves. You, a big bear of a man, cry? Or are tears the only message your brain can muster?
Oh, Nick, I shouldn’t be so harsh. I’ve seen you now and then. It isn’t pleasant. I must visit you again. You may be my wicked old uncle, but you were never unkind to us. And your life must be so painful to you now. You don’t deserve to end your days like this.
I pick the letter up again. You silly old fool. Why are you so resentful? You were big enough in those days to shrug off slights. What did she really do to you, I wonder. What hurt the most? Rejecting your advances or the commission you wanted her to take?
There is something at Dover Court, I think. A fountain. But it’s pretty standard, not an original. I must say, you did some good work there and at your other developments. They always had style and they’ve held up well. You may have profited from them, but you’ve left a legacy of good housing and good design. You’re an old rascal, but not a criminal.
I read the letter one more time. You’ve given me some clues, Nick. So she was a sculptor. Tits, you say. Now, does that sound familiar?
I look at the unopened envelopes. Just three more to go. Will they answer all my questions?


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