“His Good Fortune”

For his wedding we dressed him in the finest linen, combed his hair and oiled it flat, strung a garland of flowers around his neck and sat him in the seat of honour. She was more difficult, never mind that we’d paid good money for her—her lips thin, her cheeks sunken despite the rouge—so we brushed her hair until it shone and gave her a veil to hide her ruined face. Since her dress was too large (we’d had to guess) we pinned it tight, then sprinkled it with rosewater until the air around her was sweet.

His father spoke for him, I for her, then we carried the groom and his bride through to the feast and sat them at the head of the table while we ate. How we cried with joy: he’d never be alone now, for a wife is a comfort and companion for all eternity, and when the dishes were empty and the wine drunk, we sealed her back in her coffin, still damp with earth, and laid him in his, and though we wept, it was with less sorrow than before. Soon night fell and we buried them beside each other high on the hillside.

Gerri Brightwell

About Gerri Brightwell

Gerri Brightwell is a British writer living in Alaska with her husband and sons. She has two published novels: Cold Country (Duckworth, 2003) and The Dark Lantern (Crown, 2008). Her writing has also appeared (or is forthcoming) in The Guardian (UK), BBC Radio 4, Redivider, Camera Obscura, Camas, Word Riot, Bound-Off, Bartleby Snopes, BLIP, the Dirty Napkin and The Long Story. She teaches in the M.F.A. programme at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

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