Family Pool (6)

VI

“It’s a pity,” said Uncle Daniel, gravely patting John on the shoulder. “She looked like such a lovely girl, and with so much promise! She would have looked stunning in a mink. Sorry about your baby too.”

John did not answer as he stared at the coffin on its way into the incinerator.

Her pregnancy hadn’t suited Uncle Daniel or the clan at all. There was a certain rhythm in moving up. You needed to adjust to the pace of the family, allow them to educate and cultivate you; learn to appreciate the finer things in life. She had so resisted wanting to learn about Wedgewood, Waterford and Swarovski. The fine marble finishings in the kitchens had escaped her notice, and she had mercilessly sprayed insecticide on them, regardless. And she had so very much resisted quitting her job. No Adams wife ever had to work when it was time to raise children.

He glanced at the gathered clan. The only person present who was in pieces was her father. Old Mr Jenkinson. John felt very guilty at doing this to the old man.

“At any rate I believe you handled yourself very well, John, my boy,” continued Uncle Daniel. “You’ve managed it all with a lot of dignity. I’m proud of you. Surely it won’t take you long to meet another nice, suitable girl – someone a bit stronger perhaps, who can stand her place in the clan a bit better?”

John turned a tired gaze to his uncle.

“Uncle Daniel, surely this is not the place to speak about that. Her body is not yet cold.”

“I would have thought it is, after that dousing,” said Uncle Daniel with a trace of mirth. And then he retrained his face into a sombre expression. “Sorry, my boy. Of course you will be given enough time to mourn them both. Would you say, about eighteen months?”

John sighed. “Years, more accurately, Uncle.”

“Ah,” said Uncle Daniel. “You loved her.”

John nodded and moved off. He approached his father-in-law with caution.

“Tom?”

“John,” said Mary’s father, looking up. “I’m so sorry.”

“And I,” replied John. “I meant to tell you – she wanted to call the baby Donovan. Donovan Thomas Adams.”

Mr Jenkinson nodded and did not comment.

John watched that coffin move through the door to oblivion.

“She should have yielded,” he found himself muttering. “Should have given way on that one little issue.”

*

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