Lady Margaret’s daughter Alice heard but appeared to ignore people. Her mother’s funeral was on a hot sunny day. There were only a few attending.

Alice didn’t care that they thought she was strange. They already thought that.

Alice was upset but couldn’t cry. She tried to upset herself. She imagined her mother in the coffin beginning to decay. She still couldn’t cry.


Walking on her own Alice saw something white, an animal struggling in the bushes. She went to look more closely. Not an animal but two people fighting.

A woman she knew. An old woman with a mark on her cheek. The other person looked at her. Her father.

Simultaneously it seemed he was shouting something at her while he fought the old woman, that Alice stood staring at him, that Alice was running away through the woods to hide somewhere, that her father stood heavy hairy and white.


Alice talked to a boy she knew called Henry. They wondered what it would be like to be disfigured or die in a fire. Henry watched her face closely.

Henry’s eyes looked strange. The way they had a month ago when he had talked with Alice about marriage. He knew that he would marry. Alice said she would never marry and never have a child.

Henry touched the back of Alice’s hand. She moved her hand and walked away. He apologised but she ignored him.


Alice swam in circles in the river. She felt the water hold her body. She felt light. Especially so in comparison with other women her age.

Later she sat naked on a large slate at the edge of the water. It was already warm from the morning sun under her arse. Water trickled and gathered and ran back to the river as though she’d pissed.

Alice felt just as free as when she was a child. In some ways more. She had obligations to nothing and no one.

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