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It’s a perfect day, summer 2010. My mums old (sorry vintage) bike shudders a little as I pass by sheltered woodland and open fields. I can just imagine your face when you see me turning up with helmet hair and cheeks on fire. “Honestly, what are you like!” Shaking your head in mock disbelief. Has it really been 3 months since I last saw you? I remember when we used to talk twice a week on the phone, once on a Wednesday after you finished work, where you’d b**** and moan about every customer who caused you grief and you’d laugh at how awful they looked in their costumes. Only you could work in a joke shop. You specialised in the ridiculous, so it suited you perfectly. Where else would hire a girl with hair like fire and lashings of red lipstick? You’d ring again every Sunday afternoon at 5pm, perfectly punctual every week, so as to annoy your mum as she watched songs of praise. I used to hear the theme music as I picked up the phone. Kind of soothing really. It was also around the time you’d be awake enough to talk on a Sunday. Saturday nights were what you loved best. I remember when I stayed at your house, I’d be up by 10, cups of tea with your mum and gran, while you wouldn’t surface until around one, or until I was sent to drag you down to socialise. We’d talk for hours, you and me, sitting cross legged on your bed, you holding Bear close to your chest so you could hide behind it when every shocking detail came out, me tracing the patterns on the bed spread. We’d sit, analysing every little thing, “Yeah but he said he thought I was fit, not pretty, so that must mean…”

I pull over for a little while, lean my bike against a tree and take a sip from my water. No need to rush, I have time. I check my basket is secure, inside nestled on fragrant petals are my lilies, your favourite. You always asked why you could never be named after something so beautiful. I always told you you were beautiful. He never told you enough. Sighing, I sit down. He’s the reason we stopped talking so much. He didn’t like me, I was just some stupid little kid who got in the way,. you don’t need friends, he’d say, “You’ve got me babe” And of course, you lapped up every word, you loved him, your not to blame. You were always the romantic, I was the cynical one. “He’s my one” you’d say, beaming, as he’d snap his fingers for you too come. You were blind to him, blind to the way he controlled you, the way he dictated where you went, even what you wore. I watched you and your wardrobe become gray. Then came the poisons he fed you. I remember the first time I saw you out of it, a Saturday night at the social, I could tell something wasn’t right. You told me to relax, that everyone was doing it. You were different from then. Like you were older, like you’d seen more, experienced more. I was left behind. You wanted to do things with him now, he provided you with the fixes you needed. You became distant, even your family noticed. There’s only so many questions I could answer.

I’m nearly at the gates now. The black wrought iron looks newley polished and gleams in the late afternoon sun. I dismount less than gracefully and chain up my bike, making my way through the park. There’s a cool breeze, blowing the scent of freshly cut grass. I laugh to myself, you used to hate that smell, complaining how it played up your hay fever. That’s what you’d always blame your tears on, hay fever, and lately, it seemed you’d been crying a lot. Or maybe just this change made it seem that way. Your eyes always pink and your once bright skin now sallow. When I last saw you, I barley recognised you. I was worried about you. You stopped talking to your family, you stopped talking to me. We shared everything, You insisted you were fine, that you were happy, and we shared a cup of weak tea. He came up in our topic of conversation, you protected him as usual. We both said things we didn’t mean. It hurts me now. Its time to put things right. I look up, and smile, I see you there. Making my way over gravel and grass, I sit by you. Your borders neatly kept and your words newly inscribed onto granite. I lay down the lilies and kiss the stone.



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