I gripped the lily tightly as I climbed down the steep grassy verge that led into the field. I stopped, pausing to catch my breath. The long summer grass rustled gently in the wind and in the distance I could hear birds singing merrily. Had it not been for the small arrangement of flowers, soft toys and plaques, it would have been idyllic.
I sat down on the grassy bank, daring my memories to make an appearance. I had become quite adept at hiding the past. I had almost tricked my mind into forgetting what had happened, at least whilst conscious. My nightmares had become reality, as I tossed and turned in my sleep. Reliving that night, every night since it happened.
It has almost been seven years since my brother died. The last time I seen him we were sat side by side, trapped within a car, in this very field. This was only the second time I had been here; the first was not by choice. We had hurtled over the side in a flash of lights, the scraping of metal as the two cars had collided and bounced off each other, the screeching of breaks and tires as the drivers tried unsuccessfully to regain control of their cars. Both cars went over the seventy foot drop that day, it was so far from the road that it took rescue teams hours to find the two vehicles.
It had been a beautiful night; he had a passion for taking photographs of sunsets and we had drove for hours looking for the perfect location. Like most twins we were inseparable, we did everything together. We were seventeen; both of us had just recently passed our driving test and we were in that phase were we loved driving. We shared a car and were constantly arguing about who would drive. That night had been no different, he had always been a soft touch and as I jumped into the driver’s seat shouting “shotgun,” he got in beside me, sticking out his tongue.
We headed home, driving steadily along the road. It was nightfall now but the moon was full and it cast a silver glow across everything in its reach. He sat with his camera aimed out of the window capturing the moonlight, his last memories of life trapped on film.
It happened in slow motion, the car came towards us, headlights full beam, blinding us, the impact was sudden and we were thrown forward, the camera hit the window causing it to crack. As we plummeted over the edge, I couldn’t hear anything. It was like a silent movie. I closed my eyes.
I could hear him calling my name, my eyes flickered open and he reached over to touch my arm. I couldn’t move and I couldn’t feel his touch. I felt numb. I glanced at my leg, it was trapped and there was blood everywhere. Panic set in. I turned my eyes to him, looking for comfort. He always knew what to say. He looked so calm. Blood covered his beautiful face, it poured from an open wound on his head and as I moved my gaze lower, tightness gripped my chest. Something had impaled his side of the car, and gone straight through him too. “It’s not as bad as it looks,” he managed between feverish breaths. Blood ran from his mouth.
My eyes began to sting; he was always a terrible liar. Slowly he reached between us and picked up the camera, pain etched across his face. “Promise me one thing? Have these developed, they will be worth it.” He smiled though the pain, placing the camera in my hand.
“Of course,” I replied, wanting to say anything to stop his pain, if even for a second. It felt cold. I shivered. The moonlight shone into the car, I gazed at him. His lips were parted; his big, green eyes looked glazed, no longer reflecting the moonlight. I screamed, pain running through me, physical pain as I tried to move and emotional pain as every feeling I ever had rose through me. Anger, love, loss, manifesting as tightness in my chest, crushing me from the inside. Unbearable.
I opened my eyes. Brushing the tears from my face. I brought the flower to my face, inhaling deeply. Letting the smell bring me a different memory. A happy memory. Lilies were his favourite. We have a picture together. His face covered in yellow from putting his face too close to the pollen, his shirts were always stained. I smiled fondly though my tears. I had become quite adept at hiding the past. So adept that I had blocked all memories of him. I forgot that there could be good memories too.
I didn’t go all the way down into the field that day. I sat on the bank and let the memories wash over me. Before I left I pulled the photograph from my pocket. It featured a bright, perfectly oval, orange sun, across a pink sky, dotted with the silhouette of birds, taken almost seven years ago. I laid it on the grass and placed the Lily beside it. I closed my eyes trying to imagine his smile. I felt cold and I shivered, as I slowly turned to walk back up the hill. I took a deep breath, recognising the familiar feeling but I didn’t look back.