Mark Hibberd

My dim-witted Sister, Anne

I was at dead uncle Arthur's funeral. The service had just finished, and I was sat outside on one of the
benches, having a fag. A figure came shuffling over towards me; it was my dim-witted sister, Anne. She came
and sat down next to me. She’s so thick that she’s forgotten over the years that she is supposed to hate me
like the rest of my family do.
“Hi.” She said. I smiled and nodded, but didn’t say anything; it’s always been more fun just to let Anne do all
the talking. “Poor uncle Arthur eh? Where do you think he’ll be now then?” She asked.
“In his coffin, being burnt.” I replied. I looked at the end of my cigarette as I pondered on dead uncle Arthur's cadaver.
“I didn’t mean that. I meaned (sic) where do you think he’ll be now like, his spirit and that?” She explained.
“I haven’t the slightest.” I stated.
“Because I was watching this programme the other night, and it said about a lot of people getting MBE’s
 when they die.” Said Anne. I looked at her, slightly confused, and wondering what relevance this curious statement had to do with the whereabouts of the spirit of our dead uncle.
“Oh, you mean posthumous recognition of their contribution to society?” I asked. “I don’t think that dead uncle Arthur will be getting one of those,” I said, “unless the Queen starts giving MBE’s out for outstanding contributions in being miserable, aggressive and vulgar.”
Anne had a far-away expression that always signalled deep confusion.
“I don’t understand what you mean.” She said.
“Posthumous MBE’s. I don’t think uncle Arthur will be getting one off the Queen.” I re- iterated.
“What, the Queen causes people to have MBE’s?” Asked Anne.
“Well, she doesn’t cause them to have MBE’s, she awards them with MBE’s.” I told her.
“What? As they die?” She asked.
“Well, no, not as they die, but when they’re dead.” I replied. “What happens is that you’re   recognised for some sort of outstanding contribution to society after you’ve died and are given a posthumous MBE.” I was now beginning to doubt what I was actually saying; was there even such a thing as a posthumous MBE? Suddenly, I wasn’t sure.
“It didn’t say anything on that programme about the Queen giving them the MBE’s.” Stated Anne. “It just said that they started getting the MBE’s as they died.” I began to feel that we’d gotten our wires crossed somewhere down the line when she said this.
“Anne, did they say ‘MBE’s’?” I asked.
“Yes.” She replied, firmly.
“Not ‘OBE’s’?” I asked.
“Yes, that’s what they said. OBE’s.” She told me.
“You mean ‘out of the body experiences’ then? Did they mention that on the programme?” I asked.
“No. They said about NDE’s.” Said Anne.
“Near death experiences.” I said.
“Yes. That’s what I’ve been saying all along. NDE’s.” Said Anne, pathetically. I took a deep, deep drag on my cigarette and sighed, hoping that she’d read it as a signal to just go away. She didn’t.
“I’m getting some new binoculars in a few days time.” I said. I couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“Ooh, that’s nice. Where are you getting them from?” She asked.
“I’ve ordered them off the internet, from some place in America.” I said.
“Is that where it is then?” Asked Anne, cryptically.
“Is that where what is?” I asked.
“The internet. Is that where it is then? In America?” She said.
“Well, yes, I suppose so. But it’s not just exclusive to America.” I pointed out.
“But that’s where it’s run from? America?” She asked.
“Anne, you do know about the ‘World-Wide Web’ don’t you? You do understand what it means?” I said.
“Yeah, I do now. It’s like you say; it’s in America.” Said Anne. I despaired.
“Well, no, not exactly. The internet isn’t just in America, Anne. It’s all over the world. That’s why it’s often referred to as the World-Wide Web.” I explained. Anne had that far-away expression again.
“So is it over here in England as well?” She enquired.
“Yes.” I said.
“Then why didn’t you just order your binoculars from this country instead of travelling all the way to America to get them?” She asked. I didn’t even bother trying to explain.
“They should get here soon. In about three or four working days.” I said.
“Does that include weekends?” She asked. I didn’t respond. There was no point. It was all hopeless.
         I could have been there all flippin’ day trying to explain the difference to my stupid sister Anne of ‘working days’ and the weekend, so I swiftly changed the subject.
“How’s Archie?” I asked. Archie is her husband. Like Anne, he isn’t very bright, so they’re perfectly suited. “Is he not here today?” I enquired.
“No, he’s back working on the oil planet.” She replied. I had visions of Archie in an astronauts suit, all on his own on some blackened world at the edge of our galaxy, many light years away, drilling for oil, with a UFO flying by somewhere in the distance.
“Don’t you mean ‘oil plant’, Anne?” I asked.
“Yeah, that’s the one. It’s under the sea.” She said. Now I had an image of Archie in a deep- sea scuba diving outfit, drilling at rocks on the bottom of the ocean floor. There was an octopus floating past him, and several Stingrays were fleeing the sound of his drill.
“What? Archie is working underwater?” I asked.
“No, stupid.” Said Anne, with outrageous audacity. “The oil. It’s under the sea. Archie works above it.”
“Then you mean he’s working on an oil rig? Not an oil plant?” I asked, seeking clarification.
“Yeah, that’s the one. An oil rig. It’s in the West Sea.” She stated, very knowledgably.
“Anne, there’s no such thing as the ‘West Sea’. I think you mean the ‘North Sea’.”
“Yeah, that’s the one.” She said. I rolled my eyes and dragged some more on my almost finished cigarette, wishing that I was somewhere, anywhere else... 
 

 

All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Mark Hibberd.
Published on e-Stories.org on 25.08.2008.

 

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