Kim's band had no more gigs until February and only a week into the new year this was already the longest chunk of time she had spent at home since last summer. She had the classical channel on the radio and they were playing Haydn's 89th symphony. Lots of tunes were stolen from classical pieces, sometimes without any cosmetic changes at all. The right lyrics and bingo, an ancient melody hits the charts. Kim had never seriously looked into it but she guessed that the best classical tunes had probably been used for several different songs. She didn’t want to steal one, she wanted to be inspired, she wanted something in her mind to be switched on by a quality piece of music. She liked the Haydn a lot. It didn’t trigger anything off but it was oozing with talent and stature. When it finished she wanted more of the same, but it was a commercial station and a torrent of adverts came grating out. She pressed the mute button on the remote. Now might be a good time to get out of bed and have the pee she'd been holding in.
On the toilet she made up her mind to go straight back to the warm bed. But then the heating would still not be on. Switching on the heating meant going into the kitchen and if she went into the kitchen she would want coffee. Now that she had thought of coffee she definitely wanted it. She was not going to stand around naked waiting for the kettle to boil, so that meant going back into the bedroom to get her robe. If she went back into the bedroom she would dive back under the duvet. She looked around the bathroom at the towels, they were all small ones, the bath towels were all in the washing basket in the spare bedroom. She couldn't go in there because the curtains were open and the room was overlooked by neighbours’ windows. Perhaps she could put one small towel round her waist and another one over her shoulders, that would take the chill off while the kettle boiled.
Ten minutes later she was back in bed with heating on, coffee at bedside, and she had even picked up the mail from the doormat. Two small towels, a green one and a pink one, were on the floor. She un-muted the radio but it was a soprano being very forceful with something dramatic, so she muted it again straight away. Opera singing had never quite clicked with Kim.
There was a letter from Greg. He was worried about a poem Roy had written. He had wanted to talk to Roy about it but just couldn’t find a way of bringing it up. Then he wanted to re-read it but couldn’t find it and was afraid Roy had thrown it away. Then he felt guilty for searching Roy's room. He had resolved to write to Kim about it but needed to show her the poem. He explained a few more points of concern because he wanted to get them down while they were in his mind, but then repeated he couldn’t send the letter until he found it and copied it for her. A gap of three days had elapsed after this paragraph but eventually he’d found the poem and resumed writing. A handwritten copy was with the letter.
Kim read the poem and immediately saw why Greg was in a state. Her first reaction was to connect it to Stephanie's death. She remembered all the well meaning but trite comments that children are tough and adaptable and Roy would soon get over it. Kim never believed that, but wanted it to be true, and only a few months after the tragedy Roy did begin to show a tenacity about getting on with his life. Greg had many conversations with her during the first couple of years, along the lines that Greg was nowhere near recovered from Stephanie's death, so how could Roy be? But he seemed as if he might be, so Greg needed Kim to say he could be. They were bizarre interchanges of reassurance that skirted round the truth but Kim knew she’d always stopped short of saying that Roy was fully recovered. She also knew that Greg stopped short of convincing himself Roy was recovered. They both knew he wasn’t. But they both hoped that one day he would wake up and be more recovered than damaged.
Greg's letter revealed that he seemed to have let himself think that the recovery had finally conquered the damage, perhaps over the last year this thought had taken root. Their lovely Christmas probably nurtured it a little more, but then he’d discovered the poem.
Greg explained that Roy didn’t know he’d found the poem and insignificant as that detail might be compared with the issue of Roy's emotional welfare, it was proving a stubborn obstacle to deal with. For Greg to instigate any discussion of the poem would unavoidably reveal that he had looked at personal stuff in Roy's room. That could cause damage before they got anything off the ground. Greg had to be Roy's friend over this and rummaging secretly through the contents of his room was not a good place to start from.
The rest of the letter was Greg being confused about what to think. Kim finished it and put it down. It seemed clear that Greg would have to talk to Roy about Stephanie's death; find some excuse to mention it as delicately as possible, choose his moment, and hope that Roy was open to it. Try to steer the conversation round to methods of dealing with grief, just hope that something would connect with how Roy felt when he wrote the poem, and perhaps he would feel comfortable enough to speak up about it.
Kim's thoughts flowed easily to this solution, but she felt she’d better mull it over a bit before launching it at Greg. There might be other ideas that would come to her if she gave it time.
As she was mentally changing gear back to her own endeavours, a rogue thought flashed from nowhere: she could put a melody to Roy's poem. The recoil from this cognitive intruder was physical; her spine straightened and the fingers of both hands splayed out. She was appalled at herself. She reprimanded herself and tried to kill the thought before it lodged in her memory. Her conscience chased it round her head like a wasp being pursued with a swatter. She screwed up her eyes and shook her head. It was a truly hateful thought and nothing would induce her to accept it. But it wouldn't go away.
Okay, so there it was. It had now existed for several seconds so, short of reversing the flow of time, there was nothing she could do about it. It was another reason to hate herself. Not only was she incapable of writing a decent melody and was seriously considering stealing one from classical music, she was now also deluding herself that the heartfelt grief of her nephew could inexplicably inspire her. Insensitive, disgraceful, and pathetic.