Conversations like that one played on her mind now. She couldn’t remember where his hands had been. She hadn’t been paying attention. She’d probably just assumed they were on the desk because that’s where they would normally be, and if they had been anywhere else it simply hadn’t registered with her.
She was distracted from looking at Jonny’s last message to the world when she heard her mum get home. She put the picture away carefully in the drawer in her desk. Her mum disapproved of her looking at Jonny’s suicide note. She said it was morbid and would do nothing to help her move on. Reluctantly, Imogen decided she should go downstairs. She didn’t feel like talking to her mum, but she found people were more inclined to leave her to her own devices if she made an effort now and then. If she shut herself away they started to get worried; they started to think she might go the way Jonny had.
When she walked into the kitchen she found her mum making a cup of awful-smelling fennel tea and Imogen wrinkled her nose in disgust. Her mum loved her weird teas, her superfoods, her herbal remedies and horoscopes and tarot cards and helpful anecdotes. Imogen had the sense that to her mum nothing was so catastrophic as to be permanent, not even death. She spoke a lot about the world having its own wisdom and its own designs. Apparently Jonny killing himself was part of some design for Imogen. Her mum said that people weren’t sent any tests they didn’t have the strength to deal with, and that one day the grief would make Imogen stronger. Imogen had pointed out that Jonny had clearly been sent a test too big for him to deal with, but her mum had simply said, ‘Jonny was too good for this world,’ and that was apparently that.
‘You know,’ Imogen’s mum said, ‘I was talking to a woman today who met her second husband on one of those dating websites.’
Imogen rummaged in the cupboard for a jar of instant coffee and started to make her own, more appetising beverage. ‘Is that right?’ she said, careful not to show any emotion.
‘She said the whole thing was a much better experience than she expected. Not creepy or anything.’
Imogen sat down at the kitchen table. There was a stack of books in the middle- one about herbs, one about mindfulness, one about eating for better mental health, and one about the healing properties of gemstones. Her mum had given her a gemstone last week. Amethyst. For grief.
While her mum babbled on about dating sites, Imogen looked down at the gold wedding band and sapphire engagement ring on her finger. Both were second hand- Jonny wasn’t keen on buying new things. He’d said the meaning was far more important than something new and shiny, and that the fact these had been owned by somebody else meant that their lives and their marriage were linked to the past, to the larger world. She’d suggested that perhaps they’d been owned by someone who had got divorced. ‘They weren’t,’ he’d told her, ‘I asked the man in the shop. They were owned by a woman who was married to her childhood sweetheart her whole life.’ Imogen had never been sure how he could know this for certain, but Jonny never told lies. Maybe the man in the shop had, though. That wouldn’t have crossed Jonny’s mind. He thought everyone was as honest as he was.
‘I had a look at a few myself,’ her mum continued, oblivious to Imogen’s disinterest, ‘some of them don’t seem quite right for… for you… but there are others that match you really carefully, you just fill in a personality-’
‘I don’t want to talk about this,’ Imogen said.
‘Gennie,’ her mum said, ‘listen to me. I know it’s hard, but all the signs are that it’s time-’
Imogen shoved her chair back and stood up. ‘Jonny wouldn’t want me to go on a dating site,’ she shouted, ‘he wouldn’t want me to put up an advert for myself and try to sell myself to people. He… he hated advertising!’
For a moment her mum was too astonished to speak. Imogen stood frozen to the spot for a second longer, then, before her mum could open her mouth again, she ran from the room.