Blood Ties Blue
by Perry McDaid
The crowds waited outside but the prince did not care. The figure hovered over the baby in his wife’s arms cooing at the giggling child while its partner mischievously tugged at the curtains now and then to laugh at the barrage of consequent camera-flashes from the lurking paparazzi.
The prince couldn’t help but join in; the streaming tears a mixture of joy, grief and confusion: a metaphorical Yellow River of lacrimation. Nothing so analogous occurred to him. He was content to soak in the experience.
“This cool or what?” His brother was pacing back and forth, peering into the faces of the visitors, eyes bright with excitement and amusement.
Prince Derek shook his head hopelessly. He couldn’t remember anything fazing his baby brother. Gregory had a knack of finding the fun in the most sombre of occasions.
Her ‘in-palace’, the titled version of ‘her indoors’, so to speak, managed a frozen-smiled “Heh…”; which Derek recognised as a valiant attempt to get into the spirit – equally so to speak – of things. “Er, Dec,” she continued, her voice breaking into a croak.
The phantom solidified. “Sorry, I keep forgetting. It’s so much more comfortable to visit in semi-corporeal form. Once you can ignore gravity, it becomes tiresome to give into its petty demands. Rather like your father, Dec.” She turned to comically waggle her eyebrows at him. Derek guffawed. “I’m Helen,” she faced the mother of her grandchild again and introduced herself. “You probably don’t remember meeting me on your honeymoon. You were probably as preoccupied as I was…”
Princess Elena blushed.
“… with all the attention, paparazzi etcetera, I meant,” Helen finished, her ectoplasmic face reddening in response.
Gregory made a few quick passes with his hand in a mock martial art display: temporarily disturbing the spectre’s resolution. “Hiya,” he exclaimed and withdrew to the classic Bruce Lee body-pop and stance of readiness. “Hhho…” A grin split his face as the figure turned, folded its arms and rolled its insubstantial eyes.
“Stop that, Greg,’ the female ghost scowled. ‘It’s quite irritating and ill-mannered. Leave Trent alone.”
“And don’t call me ‘Ma’. If you have no respect for your mother, try to respect the dead.” The late Princess Helen always had had a clever turn of phrase.
“Mother,” he amended, faux-abashed, pulling a woebegone mask over his freckled features.
“You’re impossible,” she chuckled.
It was the same deep throaty song of love Dec remembered from his youth. He teared up again.
“Really, son, it’s the mother who is supposed to be all emotional at these times.”
“These times?” The squeak was decidedly unmanly: not at all like his usual modulated baritone.
Trent chortled from the corner. (The/He) wagged a discouraging finger at the playful Greg who had imitated one of Bruce’s shoulder-shifts, teeth gleaming.
“Gregoreee…” Helen admonished.
“Can you stay long?” It’s all Dec could think of to say.
The ghosts exchanged glances before doing some sort of weird communing thing. They emerged from their consultation with looks of disappointment.
“Apparently not,” Helen said as if the ten minute hiatus had not happened. “There is only so much energy on earth and we are bound to periods of high positive emotion. That’s why I couldn’t visit for quite some time after the funeral.”
“Oh? Is that it?” She tapped a wrist which seemed to fade for an instant. “We’re on the clock here.”
Dec lunged into her arms. “I’ve missed you so much.”
Helen hugged him back as Elena looked on, child in one arm, hanky in the other. They were nearly toppled as a suddenly fervent Greg bounded into the embrace like an ignored pup.
“Oooof,” Helen laughed breathlessly – obviously for effect – “I was getting to you, you know.”
“Mum.” There’s a tone of voice which requires neither further words nor expression. Gregory used it.
No-one moved. Even the clock stopped. Only the impotent clicks of the paparazzi cameras disturbed the tableau.
“What’s her name?” Apparently ghosts could choke up.
“He was thinking of Daisy.” Greg teased.
“Don’t you dare,” the ex-Princess Helen faux-gasped.
They laughed. The brothers fell into each other’s arms as she faded from between them. They stared at each other for a wrenching moment before steadying each other. They clasped forearms and released.
“Yes … well,” Prince Derek coughed. “The people await.”
Greg stayed exactly where he was, six inches from his brother’s face. He adopted an air of disappointment. “What? No kiss?”
Dec punched him on the shoulder.
Irish writer, Perry McDaid, lives in Derry under the brooding brows of Donegal hills which he occasionally hikes in search of druidic inspiration.
His diverse creative writing appears internationally in the like of Aurora Wolf; Quantum; Mad Scientists Journal; Runtzine; Amsterdam Quarterly; Stupefying Stories; Bewildering Stories; Bunbury; SWAMP; and others.
His current novel Pixels: The Cause and the Cloud Cuckoo is a fictionalized account of a child growing up through the Northern Ireland “Troubles”.