I stood looking out of the window and I could see my face in the glass and through my face to where the gulls were squabbling in the drizzle-grey sky. Then suddenly whatever it was one of them had that they were fighting over dropped from its beak and as it fell and they all went tumbling, squabbling down after it.
Then I heard the crack, hard and sharp, as her hand struck his face, struck it with such force that it swung his head round over his right shoulder.
The gulls were tumbling screaming silently as they fell out of the sky.
I could see his check already a bright, burning red marked with the imprint of her fingers and I saw too the look of rage and fury in her face, a lost hopeless look of everything unravelling and coming apart, her face coming apart and something horrible writhing in the darkness beneath it.
Tumbling screaming tumbling.
I heard the crack and felt it, hard and sharp, and my head swung round away from the window and my brother was there again sitting beside the bed. Sitting where I’d been sitting. He was stroking her hand but looking at me and with that mocking smile on his face.
Then he was gone and she was sitting up in the bed propped against the pillows and she was asking me what was going on.