Bright Air by Barry Maitland

By Barry Maitland

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34 Bright Air text 34 16/6/08 10:26:16 AM Bright Air ‘Thanks, Damien,’ I beamed, surprised. ‘And now I really must get back. Great to talk to you both again. You look as if you’re working too hard, Anna. Maybe you should do a bit of climbing with Josh, now he’s back. ’ We watched him leave, and I took a deep breath. Anna gave me a tight, expressionless look and said, ‘Now I’d like a vodka tonic. ’ I made to get up, but she waved me down. ’ ‘One of our residents worked there for thirty years. ’ I shrugged.

One of the bridesmaids particularly caught my eye, a slender girl with 36 Bright Air text 36 16/6/08 10:26:16 AM Bright Air flowers in her short bobbed blonde hair. She stood very erect and was self-contained while everyone around her twittered and fussed. When she smiled her face came tremendously alive, and I thought from the economy and poise of her movements that she might be a dancer or an athlete. After the ceremony we retrieved our shoes and went to the reception at the nearby surf club.

Oh, by the way, I ran into one of your old mates the other day. ’ ‘Oh yes? I didn’t know him well. ’ ‘Passing through. ’ I felt a chill deep inside me. His voice was casual but he was watching me closely, and smiling. ’ * * * 47 Bright Air text 47 16/6/08 10:26:17 AM BARRY MAITLAND After he left I sat on the terrace with the report. It weighed heavily on my lap, hundreds of pages, tens of thousands of words devoted to Luce’s last hours, but I just couldn’t face it. What was I supposed to make of all that?

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