Blood Song (Chapter 4, page 1 of 13)

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Chapter 4


I sat on that plane, bored and fretting, as we passed over a chunk of Europe. The interior of the jet was all leather and plush carpets, beautiful and understated, and ordinarily I would have enjoyed the luxury and the newness of it all, but today the heaviness of the stone in my chest was all I felt.

I drummed my fingers on the box which I had placed on the seat next to me. Thunkety thunk. Thunkety thunk. I glanced at it thoughtfully. I could open it on the plane, and start looking through its contents, or I could wait until I had arrived and settled in Russia with Marcus and Julia. I looked at the box again, and then I opened it.

There must have been a couple of hundred photos in that wooden box. Many were so old and faded that it was hard to make out the features of the people they portrayed. And they were definitely not in chronological order. Photos of Mark and I running around half naked or in nappies were interspersed with old fashioned sepia portraits of serious looking individuals in Victorian dress, some leaning against horse drawn carriages, others seated in stiff family portraits. I recognised none of the faces in the older pictures. In fact, the only faces I recognised as I leafed through the pictures were those of mine and Mark and an occasional one of Joe. Mostly the shots were candid ones, our grins spontaneous, our postures relaxed. There was even one of Mark in a nappy with his index finger buried firmly in one small grubby nostril. I smirked. I would definitely be keeping that one. And I would have to show Mark. Maybe not immediately. Maybe I'd keep it as a surprise for his twenty first birthday party. Blow it up, put it on a wall. Oh yeah. Serve him right for spending most of his young life teasing me to the edge of madness. I chuckled.

I spent a couple of hours looking through the photos and trying to put them in some sort of chronological order. It was slow work, and I ended up classifying them into three broad groups. Recent, older and really old. Our childhood photos fell into the first category, and the other two contained photos of strangers, some who seemed somehow hauntingly familiar. It took me ages to decide which belonged in the last two categories. Those with horses tended to fall into the really old category, and the faded ones soon followed. Either way, by the end of the flight I'd only managed to work through about half of them.

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