It’s worn, the gold leaf, chipped and washed away in fragments by the years. It bears the marks of handling, of warm hands in pockets stroking like the slow erosion of tides. Almost instinctive, habitual, a gesture inborn in me to hold it close without knowing. You can see the wood now, polished and pleasing to my eye and to my touch; dark red-brown between the glittering islands that remain. A red sea lapping golden shores.
I love to stand in my window and turn it in the light, watch how it flashes, and how the reflections run and spin down the white of my sitting-room walls. It’s my triumph, my prize and the remembrance of my crime.
It sat on her bedside table, caged by the endless bottles of pills and tablets. It was quick with life while she stank of slow death. And she was killing me, killing me with caring and work and misery. She turned the screws with her moans and complaints, tightening and tightening against the grain until the nails inside my head came loose and clattered and rattled like marbles in a jar.
With clean white linen I eased her, pressed it to her dry lips and held it there for an eternity until my hands grew numb and the beating of my heart rang through the room. She was gone when I took away the pillow and I, weightless, almost followed after but my golden anchor held me back.