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New Years Eve
She had to break the silence. It was impossible to stay quiet now. I tried to stop the tears taking the journey out of my eyes, but already my vision was blurring. I squeezed my eyes shut and then looked up at Kristen again. She was watching me with empathetic eyes. She always managed to bring this up.
“I’m so sorry, Anna,” She breathed, barely. But I saw the words tumble out of her mouth. The ones that I had heard too many times. I lowered my head on my hands again and tried to stop the sobs that were gurgling up in my throat. Unsuccessfully.
It was summer. New Years Eve. Fleur, my older sister, and I were running along the glowing white sand of Langs beach.
“Come on Lis, I’ll race you to the swing!” Fleur squealed. She called me Lis more often now, but she was the only one who did. Most of the time people called me Anna, short for Annalisa. The water leaped up from the murky brown stream that wound all the way round to Waipu, as Fleur’s feet splashed through it. Her giggles erupted from her lips, so perfect and pure. I truly admired my big sister.
I sat down on the grey rocks, with patches of white salt. I remember when Fleur told me once that fairies lived here. I would believe anything she said.
I watched as the long brown finger that stretched out from the bank lowered and swayed a little as Fleur’s weight was transferred. The rope hung at its full length now. Fleur’s hands grew paler and twisted as they tried to get a grip on the old piece of wonky driftwood. She screamed in delight, as she fell, gracefully and landed like a cat on the mushy mud and grey sand that was the bank.
That was one of the best memories. The swing. It’s one of the more recent ones. But then, that night.
People all over Langs had come to gather at our old bach. Adults all held cocktails or bottles of beer in their hands. You could hear the joy and laughter ringing out from even jokes too old. The children were munching on chips and had plastic cups of L&P in their hands, hopelessly trying to mimic their parents.
I stood in the corner. Watching. Fleur had gone off to find her boyfriend, Tom. I hadn’t seen her around the party. And then, while it grew darker, so did the anticipation. You could feel the buzz of it all around. The hushed whispers of the crowd diminished to silence when everyone heard the click of the microphone.
“Hello everybody, and I hope you have enjoyed yourselves so far,” I heard my father’s voice boom out, as he raised his glass. Then came the click and the whirl of the projector whizzing into life. The numbers came onto the screen and everyone started to shout.
“10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…!”
Woos and screams and whistles rung out as the first of the fireworks shot up from the garden and exploded into an extra ordinary shower of glittler. More shot off before my father spoke again.
“Since my eldest daughter is 18,” he started. “She will let off the finale for tonight!”
Fleur waved out to everyone, beaming. She lit the firework and it shot up amazingly high and exploded into a flower. I saw Fleur, standing on the opposite side of the firework to us and she caught my eye with a wink. But then, just as the second flower was preparing for blast off, the base wobbled. Then as I screamed, it fell. For the first time in my life, the firework was terrifying. The sound, deafening. No one else had realised as soon as I had.
I looked up at Kristen once more. This time the tears were streaming. A sad looking face, framed with long platinum blond hair appeared for a second over Kristen’s shoulder. But it was gone again all too soon.
“Fleur,” I whispered under my breath, bringing more tears to my eyes.
“I miss you.”