I cannot speak.

When I try, I sound like a 60-a-day showgirl drowning in a sack of oiled clam shells.

Not that I’d know anything about that.

My aunt Culpernia’s body was never found.

Which makes her five children all the more mysterious.

In the Spring, the whole family would go up to the Bodensee. That always troubled me because the translation is absurd. Now I find myself wondering if it will be named in some distant apocalypse of middle class catalogue shopping in which the rivers and lakes of Central Europe are choked with endless glossy brochures.

Culpernia was a Harrods addict; that was part of why we hated her.

Every year, she’d buy us each a randomly-selected single item from the Harrods list. She was vastly rich. One year she got me a diamond earring – just one – and then the year after, a paper clip.

The winter she disappeared, she bought my sister one of a pair of ultra-large silk stockings. Jessie robbed a bank in her despair, and I think that was when we snapped.

Anyway: I can’t speak. When I do, I sound like armoured Volkswagens dancing on glass before the annual mating.

It’s dull.

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