The heart fails without warning, by Hilary Mantel

– An exclusive short story by Hilary Mantel in the Guardian

“September: when she began to lose weight at first, her sister had said, I don’t mind; the less of her the better, she said. It was only when Morna grew hair – fine down on her face, in the hollow curve of her back – that Lola began to complain. I draw the line at hair, she said. This is a girls’ bedroom, not a dog kennel.

Lola’s grievance was this: Morna was born before she was, already she had used up three years’ worth of air, and taken space in the world that Lola could have occupied. She believed she was birthed into her sister’s squalling, her incessant I-want I-want, her give-me give-me.

Now Morna was shrinking, as if her sister had put a spell on her to vanish. She said, if Morna hadn’t always been so greedy before, she wouldn’t be like this now. She wanted everything.

Their mother said, “You don’t know anything about it, Lola. Morna was not greedy. She was always picky about her food.”

“Picky?” Lola made a face. If Morna didn’t like something she would make her feelings known by vomiting it up in a weak acid dribble.”

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