We’ll walk together towards the house, the street quiet and bright behind and ahead of us. For a fleeting moment we’ll compare our surroundings with our old home in Hackney, the house on Lavender Grove, marvelling at how different things seem now, and how time has moved forward, even when we couldn’t.
Once inside, we’ll take off our shoes and put on slippers – classic charcoal for him, a pair of my husband’s, and for me burgundy slip-ons with pompoms. His face will crumple when he sees them. To put his mind at ease, I’ll tell him they are a present from my daughters. He’ll relax, now realizing that they are not hers. The resemblance is merely coincidental.
From the doorway he’ll watch me make tea, which I’ll serve with- out milk and with lots of sugar, that is, if gaol hasn’t changed his habits. Then I’ll take out the sesame halva. We’ll sit together by the window, with porcelain cups and plates in our hands, like genteel strangers, watching it rain on the violas in my back garden. He’ll compliment me on my cooking, saying how much he has missed sesame halva, though he’ll politely decline another serving. I’ll tell him I follow Mum’s recipe to the letter, but it never turns out as good as hers. That will shut him up. We’ll lock gazes, the silence heavy in the air. Then he’ll excuse himself, saying that he feels tired and would like to rest, if that is all right. I’ll show him to his room and close the door, slowly.
I’ll leave him there. In a room in my house. Neither far away nor too close. I’ll keep him confined within those four walls, between the hate and the love, none of which I can help but feel, forever trapped in a box in my heart.
He is my brother. He, a murderer.