Mornings were…are always the hardest. I often refuse sleep because I don’t want to go to sleep, and forget him, only to wake up and remember he’s not where he should be.
It had been six months since Arthur had died. Mycroft had not said a single word since I had told him. A deep, unerring vow of silence that penetrated his thoughts. His face would be so very still, unmoving – and I often wondered if I looked like that when I thought about him.
I was in the kitchen, waiting for my husband to come through the doorway like he did on the night of my mother’s debutante ball. Any doorway brought up a memory.
I was supposed to be talking to a young man called William who was studying law. I had become cornered on the balcony. All I could think of was how boring everything was. I had just turned my face away from him when…
A shape appeared in the doorway.
“Well, how about a dance, then? Even if it’s just to appease our parents…”
William turned when he felt a tap on his shoulder.
“I’m sorry, lad. She’s spoken for.”
And there he was, Arthur Holmes. The only man that could ever speak for me. I don’t remember how we came to be standing so close together, but we were.
“Get me out of here.”
“I was thinking earlier – before I fell asleep at my desk – that you might like to see where I met the Doctor?”
“Oh, Arthur. Arthur Holmes, I would love to.”
“Well – Helen wait we can’t just —
“Mum, are you all right?”
I look up. Sherlock is standing in the doorway, he’s frowning hard. “Yes, I’m fine, darling. Thank-you. Just dreaming.”
“You haven’t eaten since yesterday.” He was good at deductions. He would know by the number of plates used. He began to busy himself in the kitchen, and I continued to dream.
Torchwood, in Cardiff. The smell of coffee, chemicals and slightly damp paper is overwhelming. Arthur is sleeping on a separate bench. I plan to wake him soon. Jack was sitting across from me, his legs kicked outwards. We had been talking for a while, over coffee.
“He’s the best, and the wisest man I’ll ever know.”
I smiled. Amongst a mix of charisma, sex jokes and smiles Jack had lightening-flashes of utter devotion and loyalty.
“Jack, I’m pregnant.” He was the first man besides Arthur to know.
“Really?” His eyes are bright – he’s happy, and also about to say something wildly ‘inappropriate’. “I was pregnant too once, I can give you a nice remedy for the morning sickness…never again, though.”
“You’ve got some cheek on you.”
“Here, Mum. Eggs. Salt and pepper, sunnyside up,” Sherlock sat beside me, long limbs spilling over the table and chair. He was tall and lanky even then. Growth spurts.
“Oh, thank-you. They look lovely. I always had a hunch you could cook.”
“Did not.” He was feeling combative. He had every right to be.
“Did too.” I ate, I didn’t even realise how hungry I must have been.
“You’re dead, too, you know. He died, and now you’re dead,” Sherlock kicked a chair under the table. “You’re just, dead.”
I took him in my arms and held him, fiercely so. He was right, in a way. I wasn’t dead, but I was dying.
“I will always be his wife,” I smothered his hair in kisses. “But I will always be your mother.”
“Have I been expelled from that school yet?” That school.
“No, you left voluntarily. We’ll find you something else.” I paused. “How do you feel about the violin?”
“Really?” I raised an eyebrow.
“Yes. Hate it hate it hate it hate it. It’s stupid.”
“What if I taught you how to play?”
“I’d still hate it.” But I had him. That look in his eyes. I’d caught his curiosity. We practiced and played so much, Mycroft came down to listen. The look on his face had softened.
“I like the name Holmes. Helen Holmes. Has a nice ring to it.”
He swallowed. “Helen Holm– Oh. Oh. Yes. It’s lovely.”
“So is that a yes, then?”
“I could never say no to you, Helen.”
When I kissed him, he tasted like vinegar.
“Hate Beethoven. Beethoven’s stupid.”
“Sherlock, please. He’s a masterful composer.”
“He was DEAF!”
“Only before he died.”
Sherlock always had a wonderful way of bringing me back to reality, and making me laugh. I only hope that in the years to come, he can do the same for someone else.