by Gary Duncan

Uncle Colin died while we were having pudding. Not a squeak, just toppled forward, face first into his plum crumble and custard.

“I think Uncle Colin just died,” I said.

Mum and Dad looked at Uncle Colin, then at each other.

“Bloody hell, Mary,” Dad said, winking at me, “what was in that pudding?” He’d never much cared for Uncle Colin anyway.

I got up and had a closer look.

“Maybe he’s just sleeping,” I said. I felt for a pulse, and prodded him.

“Definitely dead,” I said, sitting back down.

“Maybe they were off,” Dad said. “The plums.”

“I don’t think so,” Mum said. “I only just bought them yesterday. Two punnets for a pound.”

“Two for a pound?” Dad said. “That’s not bad.”

He turned to me. “I ever tell you, your gran, God bless her, used to make the best plum jam ever. Plum jam, gooseberry jam, apricot jam, all kinds of jam.”

He got up and poured himself another coffee from the pot.

He sipped the coffee, and looked at Uncle Colin.

“We should probably do something with him,” he said.

Mum nodded. Uncle Colin was her brother and they’d been close once, but that was a long time ago.

“Maybe he was allergic,” Dad said. “To plums.”

“Can you be allergic to plums?” Mum asked.

Dad shrugged.

“Maybe it was his ticker,” I said. “How old was he, Mum?”

Mum thought about it for a bit, and said, “Fifty-eight, I think. Or fifty-nine. Something like that.”

We buried him in the back garden, next to the cabbages.

“You sure he was dead?” Mum asked, later, settling down for the late news.

“Yes, I’m pretty sure,” I said.

I got up. Looked out the window into the darkness. “I reckon he is now, anyway.”


This story first appeared in The Pygmy Giant.