He first sees Miriam as a fleeting image, caught between other mourners. She is dressed in a bright red dress, Tracey’s favourite colour. It is like seeing the first bloom of spring, even though this represented the winter of Tracey’s life.
Joshua hangs back, wanting to avoid most of the people gathered here. There are faces from his time in school, and a bunch of people from the art world, and even more who had tentative connections to Tracey’s life.
Someone taps Joshua on the shoulder and whispers that Miriam wants to talk to him. He is led inside.
It was as if the last two years had never happened, and Joshua was her son again. She was more devastated than either Joshua or Tracey had been over the breakup.
She embraces him. He can feel her ribs as he wraps his arms around her.
“I’m so sorry,” Joshua whispers.
She pulls him from her and examines his face.
“Don’t be thinking she did this for you,” Miriam says.
“Rubbish. She quit. For a while. And then, well, she got selfish, is all.”
“Hadn’t she gone to Italy and was clean?”
“Yeah, we lived in a villa overlooking Florence. She was healthy and happy. She went via Thailand on the way home. I picked her up from the airport a few weeks ago and couldn’t believe how ravaged she looked, and I knew there was only one way this was going to end. And now, here we are.”