Smoking is unbecoming in a woman, he thought. But nothing was unbecoming on her, as she made him a perfected roll-up and pulled a Benson from the packet for herself. He worshipped the ground she walked on, though he was not a man given to emotional outpourings- of that kind, at least. And she, in her turn, loved him- quietly on the outside, but underneath the surface with a depth and an intensity I had not yet experienced by then. We loved him, too. His outbursts of singing and dancing. His inability to watch TV quietly (ah, see your man there). And we loved her. She was gentler in her moods, her behaviour, her feelings, but we mistook that not for a lack of passion. She protected us fiercely in her way. She still does. Though he has passed on now, like the melting snow of that old song he was prone to singing loudly on birthdays or at christenings, we do not mistake his goneness for absence. I carry his name as one between mine. I carry (in my mind) the books he insisted I read. The Crock of Gold (read, crock of strangeness). The Picture of Dorian Gray (a portrait of true evil, he said). We all carry the songs and the stories. I know some carry photographs, mass books from the funeral, memories of arguments and jokes and quiet talks. Though he was not one given to quiet (on Halloween: see yer man there, he stage-whispered. He doesn’t even need a costume, sure). Most of all, we carry her, honouring the unspoken promise that we would look after her when he no longer could. And she carries us, more than we probably appreciate, and more than we probably know. More, too, than she probably realises. She knocked the cigarettes on the head after he died. Takes the occasional half-Guinness (women dont drink pints- though they may drink double the halves). It can’t help but remind us (and her, we know) of him. And the stories and the songs carry on, long into the nights of this dirty old town. On nights like those, we channel and chase an energy we hold in us like water. On nights like those, we know he never died.