Anemone

A few short days earlier, my brother Neil’s partner of nearly ten years, and the mother of their two small children Kiwa and Ngaire, took her own life. When I spoke to Neil on the day that it happened, a Saturday morning on the other side of the world, when paramedics and police were still in his home in Brixton, I heard a roaring sound in my ears and my whole body seemed to go numb. Then it felt like time stopped. The next morning, when it was night in London and the end of Neil’s first day living with what had happened, I walked outside. I saw a young woman pushing a pram with a toddler inside it, and a dog on a leash trotting beside them. A few cars hissed past, and a cyclist. These were indications that time was continuing to continue. Each indication felt piercing, acute, like the harshest glare of sunlight.

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Window seat

Back in our seats, it wasn’t long before window-seat woman spoke again, and for the next twenty minutes she told me that she’d once been a biker in the Hell’s Angels – had probably been one of New Zealand’s first female bikers – but had got in trouble with the police so had to give it up; that she’d been thrown out of numerous nightclubs as a youngster because her skirt was too short; that once she went to an auction at Lyall Bay and her young daughter had tripped over in front of her, and when she reached out to pick her up she made a particular motion that made the auctioneer think she was bidding, and she ended up buying a big oak table. She told me that it was in Lower Hutt when her real life began, because it was here that she realised she was a healer. A friend had arrived after a long flight and he had hurt his elbow lifting a heavy suitcase, so she put her hands on his elbow to comfort him. ‘I felt this strange, powerful tingling in my hands and arms, and I thought I must be getting pins and needles. After a few moments I had this strong feeling that my friend’s elbow was better now. I took my hands away, and he said, “Gosh, my elbow feels much better.” I said to myself, “I’m a healer, I’m a healer!”’ She said that many years later, she ended up with her own healing practice in Zurich. Her husband earned all the money, so she didn’t charge for her healing services.

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