'It is Margaret' a new story by Elizabeth Harrower

Before the ceremony began, the woman with hairy legs and an air of having just abandoned a cigarette wandered as though at a party to the coffin where – though it was impossible and not so – Clelia’s mother, Margaret, was. Three days ago, four days ago, Clelia had said to her mother, ‘Come and see the blossom I’ve brought back.’ She had just returned to Sydney after a three-week absence in the mountains.

‘Can’t it come to me?’

‘No,’ she said gaily, insistently, not thinking really, never wondering. ‘No, you’ll have to come out here. It’s so tall. I can’t move the vase.’

So her mother left her chair in Clelia’s sitting room and walked through to the kitchen, where the bower of japonica and peach and pear blossom was.

After the two-hour weekly visit permitted by Theo they said goodbye beside the car in the black soft night.

‘I’ll hear from you before you go away next week?’ her mother asked, knowing, saying nothing.

‘Of course. Naturally.’

‘I do feel old tonight,’ her mother said, knowing.

‘No.’ She smiled and hugged her. ‘No, you’re not.’

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Published in October 2015, no. 375
Elizabeth Harrower

Elizabeth Harrower

Elizabeth Harrower was born in Sydney in 1928. She moved to London in 1951. Her first novel Down in the City was published in 1957, and was followed by The Long Prospect a year later. In 1959 she returned to Sydney where she began working for the ABC and as a book reviewer for the Sydney Morning Herald. In 1960 she published The Catherine Wheel, the story of an Australian law student in London, her only novel not set in Sydney. The Watch Tower appeared in 1966. A new short story collection A Few Days in the Country has just been released by Text Publishing (October 2015). Elizabeth Harrower lives in Sydney.