I saw her. I saw her clearly play out the whole thing. She was so courteous and considerate right up until we all gave testimonies. She was the quietest of the 13 cousins. Could hardly recognise her in a line up. She blended in through blood, but she was of another family, a more insidious familial branch than ours. She came from my mum’s brother’s bunch. I’ll call her Pip, for now, cos she stuck in the mouth and would grow to become much more than she let on.
This was our family’s last Melbourne Cup BBQ. Everyone gathered at the home estate that backed onto the banks of the Yarra. A table was lavishly spread out with rock-bottomed platters of prawns, porkpies, and pike pâté for all parties. The long white sprawl angled toward the daredevil waters.
All four of six living siblings showed up, one had died due to fatal injury, the other death by hollow jury. Their near 3 a piece nuclear progeny showed in tow, two here, five there, there was about a baker’s dirty dozen of us. Some were lawyers, doctors, musos, some writers, cooks, a baker, and crystal candle stick maker. Each had their hand in the hierarchy, it wasn’t always who was out first.
My uncle had been in a car accident. He left his two daughters to a sickly wife. My aunt-in-law couldn’t stomach sunlight, so she kept different hours to the girls. Pip was the older sweet one, while Posey was the sour batch kid you didn’t want to cross paths with. Pip started to wear a chain blue glass heart necklace after her father died. Posey began a crusade on the world soon after.
At the far end closest to the bank sat that bird-brained uncle who never knew when to quit.
Uncle, ‘Are you seeing anyone yet? At your age you should be designing your dream wedding to be.’
Pip, ‘No, uncle.’
‘You’re always spending time with your friends. You should try harder at meeting boys.’
‘I’m trying my best, uncle.’
‘Your best! That’s pathetic. You should be the best, stop being a try hard. You’re just like your dad, a try hard full of excuses. He’s full of excuses now why he can’t be here with you today…’
‘Yes, uncle. Let me top up your glass.’
‘What, so you can spit in it!? I think not, I have a better breed of kids to trust with my drink.’
‘But uncle, I’ve watched you for all my life now, and I know how you like your drink: Stiff.’
‘Ok, get me on the rocks this once, I’m parched.’
Pip came back with his drink. He gulped her bluff and spat out the last. My uncle stared into his wife’s eyes and fell into the river. The current took him 5k’s till rescue picked him up. They found no known traceable poisons or illicit substances. That’s when I noticed, right as they split us up and began interrogating us all, that’s when I saw, Pip’s heart was no longer blue, but clear.