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THE WHITE LILY
THE WHITE LILY
Being a fifteen year old teenage boy who’d just moved into town, you would have expected me to have social life. Well, I didn’t. And that would explain why she was my first…and only friend. In the two weeks I’d known her, the first thing I discovered was that she was a total whack job of a person. I had met her in the park one day. She had, well, fallen out of a tree. Literally. ‘Bird watching’, apparently. I had helped her up and then we, correction, she began talking and I had made my first friend. Like I said. She was born crazy. And that was maybe why I wasn’t half as surprised as I should have been when I had been woken up in the middle of the night to find her grinning at me across the room. ‘Come with me. We have to go somewhere.NOW.’ All useless protests and questions regarding what-in-thw-world-she-thought-she-was-doing were hurriedly brushed aside.
After speeding along the main lane and a few other twists and turns, I found myself walking along a beat up, forgotten old path, leading into the woods. I had never been in this deep before. ‘Where are we going? Couldn’t this have waited till the morning?’ I asked groggily. ‘No, it has to be today. I don’t have enough time.’
The woods were getting thicker. The trees themselves were huddling together from the cold. We went around a bend and I was surprised to see a white river gushing from between the rocks. It was cold and unforgiving, threatening to rip apart anything that dared to obstruct its path.
‘Here we are’
Teresa stopped short. She froze as though the sight of the river had brought back bad memories. ‘Nick, see that flower on the other side?’ There was pain in her eyes and resolve in her voice when she next said-
‘I want you to get it for me’
Under normal circumstances, I would have flipped out. But now it felt like the one purpose I had been born to achieve. The night was suddenly silent and the trees held their breath as I slowly made my way into the river in a daze. Deeper and deeper. The freezing cold sent chills down my body. The water, weighing me down, was almost up till my shoulders. The violent river threatened to pull me apart. My body was doing all it could to fight against the current. And then, suddenly, I lost my footing. The river was tossing and throwing me around. There was no way to fight it. I was going to die.
Vague images flashed through my mind. The river. A girl. She too was being ripped apart by the water. And then I went down under. I had always thought that drowning was a painful way to die. But this was oddly peaceful. That was it, I was going to die.
A calm voice laced through my mind. Teresa.
‘No.Not yet. Not you too. Open your eyes, Nick. FIGHT BACK!’
At that I broke out of the oblivious trance I had gone into. I felt the water gushing into my lungs. I couldn’t die. Not here. Not now.
I gathered the last reserves of energy had and fought my way back up to the surface. I grabbed at a rock on the bank and pulled myself up. I collapsed on the ground, hardly thinking and breathing as much as possible. It was almost light. And then I saw the white lily.
We were standing in front of a small building a little way off the woods, Teresa had told me about. She had asked me to give the flower to a girl called Lori. The breeze was as calm as the river had been after I got the flower. I didn’t ask Teresa why she didn’t come in. I somehow knew that I had to be doing what she asked me to.
There was a small signboard driven into the ground. ‘Ellen’s foster care’ it read. After introducing myself to the warden, we talked for a while. I realized startling truths then. When she brought in the six-year old, she had tears in her eyes.
Holding back my own tears, I knelt down and handed the white lily to her. ‘Mommy’s favourite’, she managed to utter before breaking into tears. She sobbed while still clutching the flower.’
‘It’s from your sister. She told me to tell you that she loves you and that you will never be alone’.
She looked at me ; a little confused and then quietly let out a sad smile. ‘She never broke a promise. Never’
Later that day, I was at the cemetery, having finally found the headstone I was looking for.
TERESA ANNE GALVE
BORN: I5 October 1996
DIED: 1 January 2012
I lay on the tomb the newspaper article the lady at the foster care centre had given me.
RAVAGING RIVER CLAIMS LIFE
Saturday: Teresa Galve, a fifteen year old school girl lost her life after accidentally drowning in the river in Warlod Woods while trying to cross it. She and her sister had been orphaned after their parents died in a car crash.
They were residing in Ellen’s foster house under the care of Miss Ellen Hardy…’
‘You could have told me you know’, I said to the figure which emerged from behind the trees.
‘Then you would have called me a ghost and ran for your mommy’, she replied cheekily.
Her eyes became distant. ‘Mother used to like them a lot. White lilies. I promised Lori I’d get them for her when we saw it across the river’. She looked up at the sky.
‘A promise you kept’, I said. She smiled.
‘Thanks Nick. For helping me keep it. And now… I can leave’
And then, she was gone. I would never see her again.
I met Teresa Anne Galve after she died. But that didn’t stop her from changing my life.