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Dead and Breakfast
Author: Emma Hart





Funerals weren’t my thing.

I’d never been particularly good around dead people. In fact, I wasn’t all that good around blood, never mind anything that was no longer alive.

It was ironic, given my historically bad black thumb. The only dead thing I was good with was a dead plant. I didn’t want to think about how many plant souls I’d killed in my twenty-eight years on this Earth.

I wanted to shudder at the prospect of it.

I never knew what to do at a funeral. I’d only ever been to one in my life, and it was at this very same church, but I could barely remember it. I wasn’t sure if it was because I was too young to really understand what was going on when my nana died, or if it was because I’d slowly blocked out the pain as I’d gotten older.

It was weirdly fitting that the funeral I’d just witnessed was that of my darling grandpa.

I hadn’t cried in the ten days since he’d died. We’d known it was coming—he’d moved out of his bed and breakfast five years ago to move in with us, then to the hospice where he’d lived out the past six months of his life, bar the final two days where he’d gone back to our house.

He was ready, he’d said. He’d wanted to die at home, here in Fox Point, but since that wasn’t an option, ‘the shack my parents had bought’ would do.

I’d laughed at it. It was such a Grandpa thing to say, and it was comforting in a way I hadn’t known I’d needed at the time. To know that the man I loved so dearly was still in there, despite his pain and deterioration, brought me so much peace.

Especially when he’d let go. He’d done so with us around him, holding his hands, telling him how much we loved him.

I would never forget that shattering moment of silence when he stopped breathing.

For a moment, it’d been like the entire universe had frozen. The world had stopped turning, the wind had stopped blowing, and even the seas themselves had settled into stillness.

I’d struggled with silence ever since.

There had to be noise now. Music or a TV channel or even white noise whooshing away in the background. Silence brought such overwhelming grief that I couldn’t stand it. Silence allowed my mind to wander, to relive those final moments, and I wasn’t ready for it yet.

It was said that grief came in stages, and perhaps I was firmly in the denial stage. Not denial that Grandpa was gone; denial that I had to face up to the hole his death had left in my life.

Even now, as my father wrapped his arm around my shoulders while we walked away from the church, it wasn’t silent. The breeze that came off the North Sea and filtered through the streets was a little colder than usual for this time of year, and it rattled through the old trees at the perimeter of the church, swishing the leaves together in a melancholy melody that followed us all the way to the car.

Mum stopped there and looked back. Her eyes were ringed with red, and she clasped a thick wad of tissue to her chest as a lone tear slowly slid down her cheek.

I slipped my arm around her waist, leaning my head against her shoulder. “Come on, Mum,” I said softly. “We don’t want to be late.”

She nodded and turned back to the car, where Dad opened the door for her to get in. She did so without a word.

She hadn’t spoken for two days.

I wasn’t sure she knew what to do without Grandpa.

I didn’t know if any of us did.

Being back in Fox Point without him was weird. I’d only ever known this town as an extension of the vibrant, loving man that he was, and those memories were filled with sand and sunshine, with freshly-picked strawberries and his booming laugh.

There was sunshine, sure. There was sand on the beach. There’d be fresh strawberries to pick soon enough when it warmed up a little more, but I’d never again hear his bigger-than-life laugh.

Fox Point was eerily empty without him.

“Mum’ll be okay,” Dad whispered, squeezing my hand. “She just needs time.”

“I know.” I smiled sadly at him and climbed into the back seat behind Mum. We’d arrived in the funeral procession, but Dad had driven over early this morning with an old friend of his. We had to meet Grandpa’s lawyer to look over the will since he was the executor, and Dad thought it would be best to go straight there after the funeral.

Get it over with and all that.

Looking at Mum, I wasn’t sure it was the best idea after all.

She was Grandpa’s only heir, being the last living person of her family. Including me, of course, but we had no reason to believe he’d leave me anything.

After all, I was an only child, and I was there when my parents had drafted their wills.

I wanted to get into the lawyer’s office and right back out again. I had an inkling that my mother needed a stiff drink and a good night’s sleep, something she’d been lacking since Grandpa died.

Well, the sleep.

There’d been a few stiff drinks.

On all our parts.

I stared out of the window as Dad drove through Fox Point. This was the first time I’d been back in ten years, and I was surprised by how similar it was to all those years ago.

The little greengrocer on the high street still had the same green and white awning over the windows, covering the few crates of fruit and veg that sat outside the door to tempt people in. The café a few doors down had updated their logo, but the same pink and white tables and chairs sat on the cracked pavement with the paint flaking away to reveal old layers beneath it. The florist on the other side of the street had seemingly updated their door and window frames to a fetching shade of sunflower yellow, and a couple of other stores had clearly changed ownership, but that was it.

It was like being in a time warp.

Everything had changed, except Fox Point.

Dad turned off the high street and made an almost immediate left at the optician as rain fell from the sky. Tiny little droplets brushed against the car window, and I watched as they ran down the glass in a higgledy-piggledy manner until the car stopped.


We were here.

I got out of the car and went to get a parking ticket from the machine while Dad helped Mum. The building on the other side of the road from the carpark was just like all the others—two to three stories tall with hints of Victorian architecture, grand windows, and a big double door. Next to the door was a plaque with the name of Grandpa’s lawyer and all the little letter combinations that said how amazing he was, and a little doorbell with an intercom.

I pressed the button on the doorbell.

Was that really necessary for a lawyer? Especially one who shared a wall with a sandwich shop?

“Hello?” came a female voice.

“Um, yes, hello, it’s the O’Neil family to see Mr. Porter?” Wait, was that even the lawyer’s name?

Porter? Portland? Just plain old Port?

Ah, crap.

“Oh, of course. Please pull the door and come on in.”


There was a horrid buzzing noise, and I pushed on the door, only for it to not budge at all.

“The other door,” Dad said.


Of course.

She couldn’t have specified which on the little fancy intercom, could she?

I pushed the other door, and nothing happened.

“Pull it, Lottie,” Dad said with a sigh. “She said to pull it.”

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