Chapter no 31


I’D OFTEN SAY IT TO MYSELF first thing in the morning: Maybe this is the day. I’d say it after breakfast: Maybe she’s going to reappear this morning.

I’d say it after lunch: Maybe she’s going to reappear this afternoon.

It had been four years, after all. Surely she’d established herself by now, forged a new life, a new identity. Maybe, at long last, she’s going to emerge today, hold a press conference—shock the world. After answering the shouted questions from the astonished reporters, she’d lean into the microphone: William! Harry! If you can hear me, come to me!

At night I had the most elaborate dreams. They were essentially the same, though the scenarios and costumes were slightly different. Sometimes she’d orchestrate a triumphant return; other times I’d simply bump into her somewhere.

A street corner. A shop. She was always wearing a disguise—a big blond wig. Or big black sunglasses. And yet I’d always recognize her.

I’d step forward, whisper: Mummy? Is it you?

Before she could answer, before I could find out where she’d been, why she hadn’t come back, I’d snap awake.

I’d look around the room, feeling the crushing disappointment. Only a dream. Again.

But then I’d tell myself: Maybe that means…today’s the day?

I was like those religious fanatics who believe the world will end on such and such a date. And when the date passes uneventfully, their faith remains undaunted.

I must’ve misread the signs. Or the calendar.

I suppose I knew the truth deep in my heart. The illusion of Mummy hiding, preparing to return, was never so real that it could blot out reality entirely. But it blotted it out enough that I was able to postpone the bulk of my grief. I still hadn’t mourned, still hadn’t cried, except that one time at her grave, still hadn’t processed the bare facts. Part of my brain knew, but part of it was wholly insulated, and the division between those two parts kept the parliament of my consciousness divided, polarized, gridlocked. Just as I wanted it.

Sometimes I’d have a stern talk with myself. Everyone else seems to believe that Mummy is dead, full stop, so maybe you should get on board.

But then I’d think: I’ll believe it when I have proof.

With solid proof, I thought, I could properly mourn and cry and move on.

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