Ruth didn't want to brush the tear from her eye, afraid it would attract the attention of her other sister. Miriam was holding court in the centre of the trailer, looking so slim and elegant in her tailored black jacket and skirt. It wasn't supposed to be about her coming back with her stories about offices and pensions.
Vladimir, Ruth's husband appeared by the chair she was sat upon and swapped her tea for a fresh cup. His hand reached out and stroked her hair, and with sleight of hand that would have pleased his father he rubbed the salty tear off her cheek. He looked so handsome in his black tails. They exchanged sad smiles before he slipped back into the crowd. She took a sip from the cup. It was far too sweet again, but she so appreciated the gesture.
"Sorry for your loss, Ruthie." she clasped the long bony hand that was offered to her. Poor Marco, forced to stoop inside the confines of the trailer. Such a sweet young man, but already he had to use a cane to support his frame.
Vladimir returned, set a plate of buns on the arm of her chair, squeezed her hand and was away. He had spoken such beautiful words about her sister. His rasping accent painting an aching portrayal of her love for live, love for her friends and for her work.
Lolo and Bolo both tried to hug her at once, bounced off each other and settled for patting her shoulders, an arm around each other's waist. Sad, nonsense words burbled from their quivering lips and their beady eyes in their tiny heads looked so miserable, though they probably didn't quite grasp what was going on. They knew their friend Ruthie was unhappy, so they were unhappy.
Vladimir came and steered them away, gently shoving them towards Miriam, who he knew detested them. He handed Ruth a heaped plate of biscuits. With her free hand she pulled his head down to kiss him on the check, making him wriggle. He put his hand over her hand, pulling himself free, fingers trailing off against her fingers until just their tips were touching and then he was gone again.
"She was a fine, fine woman." Henry's eyes were level with her own and she recognised the moist redness of genuine grief. There had always been stories, rumours about Henry and her sister. He was a decent man, but she wished they had been more open. People would have been happy for them. The opportunity to be a couple was lost for fear of ridicule. Faint heart.
Vladimir reached down to rest a hand against Henry's back, exchanging a silent nod of understanding with him. With his other hand he placed a plate bearing a whole coffee cake on Ruth's lap.
Ruth looked at the cake, stared intently at it for several long seconds. Her whole upper body fell forward, curled into a ball of sobs, her beard bunching in the the cream topping of the cake. She stood suddenly, sending the plate to the floor and the cake with it. She swept biscuits and buns after them, charging through the mourners to collide in a desperate hug with her sister Miriam, who stared daggers over her shoulder at Vladimir.
Her husband started towards her, but Henry's grasp on his coat tail stopped him short.
"Give her a minute," Henry said. "We've all taken Two Ton... I mean... Tessa's death pretty hard" He looked at the pile of food on the floor. "But you have to remember, Vladimir, there's no getting her back."