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This article is taken from PN Review 267, Volume 49 Number 1, September - October 2022.

Heritage Psychosis Joseph Minden
I was sitting on the sofa, sweating. The electric fire was on. Models of bi-planes swung from the ceiling. A goldfish flinched in its tank.

‘It’s not someone we can work out who it is, really. No family connection or anything. We just found it at a car boot sale, felt it worth preserving.’ Henry looked on eagerly as I turned the brittle pages of the photo album. Page after page of young men, one man present in every photo. That man killed at the Battle of the Somme.

‘And this is a Luger P08,’ Henry went on. He pushed the album off my lap and handed me a gun. Heavy, black and empty, it absorbed my attention for a moment. I had played with models of guns like this growing up.

‘And a fragment of a panel from the body of a Westland Wyvern, found in a ditch next to Fishbourne Roman Villa.’

I laid the Luger on the sofa arm and received the buckled piece of metal, incredibly light in comparison. I bobbed it up and down a couple of times.

‘Barely any of them left – most are tinfoil. We luckily managed to get our hands on this when they were digging it up.’

I looked at Henry, hoping I’d be able to meet the need his eyes expressed. ‘Amazing,’ I managed, with a meaningful extension of the middle vowel. ‘Amaaaaazing.’

Henry nodded, satisfied, and turned to pick up what looked like another dusty photo album from the side table. He opened it ...

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