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Let Me Weep
Wendy Arthur (Macquarie University, Australia)



The call came at 3am. Slicing sleep, dismantling dreams.

‘I waited ‘til you were up.’ My sister, Ria, strained and maths deficient. ‘Dad has had a turn.’

I curse the British prison of her tongue. I gag the phone, silencing the dispatch. Whispering the standard questions: time, weather, is he still alive?

Marty, sleep soured, sheets roped around her torso. I want to stroke the softness of her paintbrush eyelashes, kiss where they caress her freckled skin. I want to see her coffee eyes, doe-like and enticing. I don’t want my dad to die.

‘Bloody Ria,’ Marty protests. ‘What time is it there?’

‘Dad’s poorly.’ Ria and I are split from the same egg, but Marty knows the catch in my voice.

Brown eyes flare. The sadness: sleep tempered. The understanding, the goodbyes.

A flurry of calls, booking the next flight home. Still home. The one-way ticket paint stripping my savings. Should I wear black? I don’t want to be unprepared like the Queen. We settle on Marty’s crepe cream Valentino blazer with black lapels, and she drapes a black scarf over my shoulders.

‘I’ll take care of them,’ I say.

‘I want everything safely returned,’ says Marty.

Maybe my home compass is at magnetic north.

First flight, Perth to Dubai. Stickers for do not disturb, wake me for meals. I want to scrawl “my father is dying” onto my eyelids. A grey Daphne hunched at the window with crumbly, stinking cheese in her purse. It is like a set of evil smelling salts each time she opens it. I curse the middle seat, the perils of wearing Valentino in economy; of flying solo. A chatty, nervous flyer, improbably named Dolrida on my right. She is choking the arm rest with her pink taloned fingers, weighted with rings. I contain my answers to yes, returning to see relatives, and no, not staying for Christmas. Dolrida’s protests become too much: but the lights, the pantomimes, the presents, the joy! She slips off her kitten heels, in case of an emergency.

‘And leave your baggage behind as well.’ Dolrida’s nail grates the safety card.

Eleven hours to go.

Transiting at Dubai. I check my messages, slipping and sliding on marbled floors. Dad is sitting up; he knows you are coming. See you at the airport, Ria. A red pulsing heart from Marty: With you all the way babe, haste ye back.

The second flight is empty. I have the middle seats to myself and stretch across four, pretending to sleep. My thoughts drown in a sea of dizziness, and I am eating pretzels over Romania, binging back-to-back War and Peace. I put on all four screens, but they are slightly out of sync, Andrei’s hand slipping around Natasha’s waist in a miniature Mexican wave.

Seven hours to go.

A bouncy touchdown, the A380 wilful in the Scottish winds. Walking alone down the love-dense tunnel of reunions, but Ria isn’t here.

Blinking, reborn, into the watery, midday light of Glasgow airport. I catch a glimpse of Ria’s platinum blonde hair at the zebra crossing. Straightened, tightly bobbed, with Mum’s garnet sparklers at her ears.

A Ria all in black. Lascia ch’io pianga. Let me weep into orphanhood.



W. J. Arthur was born in Scotland. As a child, her thirst for stories became insatiable, searching to remember the obscure, the forgotten and the overlooked.

On migrating to Australia, Arthur developed a fascination with understanding what anchors people, to the land, to each other and most importantly to themselves.

Arthur is currently undertaking a Masters of Creative Writing at Macquarie University.

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