Alexis opens her eyes and quickly shuts them again, the sunshine burning at her retinas. She uses her hand to dim the light as she tries again.
It takes her a moment to realise where she is; cross-legged and leaning on a gravestone. She must have fallen asleep, she thinks, but she doesn’t remember how she got here.
She can hear the faint sound of sobbing nearby, and stands to get a better view of the graveyard in front of her.
Alexis spots her father sitting alone on a bench nearby. He’s wearing a shirt that’s unbuttoned at the neck and half hanging out of his trousers. What looks like a blazer is crumpled up next to him on the bench. She starts to walk towards her father, but her legs feel tight and her movements are slower than she anticipates. The feeling reminds her of walking through the swimming pool in her pyjamas, after her swimming exam when she was 10.
Alexis feels a hand lightly graze past hers, and looks up to see her mother standing beside her. The last thing she can remember, Alexis realises, is singing Downtown by Petula Clark in the car. Mother and daughter on their way to Cornwall for a break away from the city.
“Mum,” she whispers, as she grabs her hand and squeezes it tight. “You’re not going to believe this.”
Her mother says nothing. Her eyes glisten in the midday sun but she doesn’t blink. Alexis squeezes her mothers hand again, willing a response, but nothing comes.
Alexis follows her mothers gaze to the gravestone she had been leaning on. Its shine is bright, as if it’s not long been erected.
She gasps as she reads the words.
Here lies Julie Brown.
Wife to John.
Mother to Alexis.