Memories

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.

Closure

Jose stared at him. He was, in her mind, an incredibly beautiful man and he was having one of his ‘famous’ house parties. Her mind drifted back to how things used to be. They used to have ‘a thing.’ Short but sweet; they used to do everything together. She liked being around him. She couldn’t put her finger on it. Perhaps it was his charismatic presence, or the way he remembered everything about her, or maybe it was that he didn’t want her the way she wanted him.

It wasn’t that he didn’t care; she truly believed that he did care for her. They had remained friends after all, he insisted. Over the summer they had gone their separate ways. Promising to rekindle what they had when they returned from their travels. However life never turns out the way you expect it to. While he had been backpacking he had met a girl. He was infatuated with her yet when they finally met after that long summer he was hesitant to tell her that he had met someone.

As he told Jose about his summer love, she had smiled, nodded her head and whispered how happy she was for him. On the outside she appeared calm and accepting. “Let’s stay friends,” he’d said. “Nothing will change. It will be just like before.”

“Sure,” she replied. How could things possibly be the same?

That night when she arrived home, she closed the door and instantly crumpled to the floor. It was like her legs could no longer bare the weight of what had happened, as she lay on the floor of her apartment she finally let herself feel. All her unspoken thoughts finally surfacing. The tears pooled and ran down her face, her breath heavy, came out in uncontrollable sobs. How did this happen? How could she have fallen so deeply for him, when he clearly felt nothing for her?

In the morning, the sunlight made her stir and for that brief moment between dreaming and waking she felt calm. However as she moved she realised that she still lay on the cold tiled floor of her apartment. Her muscles were sore, her eyes swollen and red. She glanced at her phone. She had a missed call and a message from him. He wanted to go for lunch later this afternoon. She couldn’t meet him. She couldn’t be friends. It was too hard. “We can’t be friends,” she typed.

Half an hour later her doorbell rang. She knew it was him. She opened the door, he looked angry. So she took a step back and folded her arms across her chest. He took one look at her and his expression softened. He brushed a stray piece of her from her face. “What’s wrong,’ he asked, his voice shook a little as he realised he already knew the answer. He pulled her into a hug and she began to sob. “I like you,” she cried, “I really like you.” Again her legs gave way but this time she didn’t fall upon the floor. He lifted her to his chest and placed her on the bed. “I didn’t mean to make you sad,” he whispered. “What can I do?”

The answer she gave and the answer she wanted to give varied completely. “I can’t be friends with you.”

“You’re sure that’s what you want?”

She nodded her head, not trusting herself to use words. “I’ll always be here for you, you know.” He kissed her on the forehead and held her close. She didn’t want him to leave, her tears poured down silently from her eyes leaving wet patches on his shirt.

He got up, and without looking back he walked out of the room. This was the last time he would walk through that door. The thought filled her with a heavy weight across her chest. It felt tight and everlasting.

Of course it wasn’t everlasting. One year on and things were the way they used to be. It had been hard initially and they left many things unspoken. Her feelings for him eventually began to fade. They were friends. Like he said they would be.

She gazed past him; there at the other side of the room flashing her his sexy white smile was her man. He tipped his head gesturing for her to come over. “You never dance with me,” he teased.

She smiled up at him, this incredible, patient man had made her realise what she wanted. For a long time she had held on to what she had thought she wanted. A friendship with the man who broke her heart but deep inside she knew she had always wanted more. As she searched his face she knew.

Sometimes you have to give up the things you want, for the things you want more. And everything she wanted more stood before her now.

“Let’s go,” she smiled, and without looking back they walked out of the room. She knew this would be the last time she would walk through his door and as she walked out she felt the weight finally release from her chest. Now she definitely had everything she wanted.

Lead me not into temptation, I can find my own way.

It had been a painfully long, cold and particularly dry winter. Ethan felt like he had spent the last decade of his life in solitary confinement. He couldn’t remember the last time he had felt the warm caress against his skin, the dewy glow of warm bodies, the excitement and anticipation of what was to come.

He had been waiting for this day for a long time but he knew it would most definitely be worth the wait.
But he couldn’t rush it. An event this monumental had to be planned. Every little detail had to be perfect.

When the day finally arrived he unpacked the lotion from the fridge and lay it beside the hamper. He smiled as he thought about the tingling sensation of the cool cream as it was poured across the heated body of another.

Next he removed the strawberries and neatly placed them, along with the cream, in the basket beside the other delicious snacks he had lovingly prepared the night before.
His mouth began to salivate as he imagined the sweet cream dripping from the plump, luscious strawberries, ravenously being devoured by the lips of another. The though was almost too much. He closed the basket quickly, he was getting too carried away.
‘Good things come to those who wait,’ his fathers words echoed through his mind.

Swiftly he continued the preparations. He grabbed his Grandmothers giant patchwork quilt from his closet. Even after all those years it was still softer than ever. He placed it beside the picnic hamper along with the umbrella, after all, they were going to need some privacy and protection for when things got too hot.

He loaded everything into the car. His lips began to curl at the edges, the promise of what was to come filled him with a preadolescent frenzy he hadn’t felt for years. The thought of the never ending golden beauty, the sheer joy and heat, the satisfaction as he finally dove into the wet depths and submerged himself completely in the salty wonder.

Suddenly Ethan stopped in his tracks, pulled from his fantasy, he cursed. He had forgotten the most important thing. He ran back to his apartment and several moments later reappeared. He couldn’t believe he had almost forgotten this. On the first real day of summer, no trip to the beach would be complete without an inflatable Lilo!
To an outsider perhaps it sounds like a lot of preparation but for Ethan, a picnic on the beach was worth it.

For arguments sake

‘I don’t fucking care,’ he yelled. I knew he didn’t care, so why did his words create such a sharp pain, that slowly spread, making me feel numb?
Maybe that was the moment that I realised. The moment when things became clear. He really didn’t care. Not what strangers thought of him, not what friends thought of him. He didn’t even care what I thought. His lack of caring was so transparent now. So evidently obvious. He didn’t care, about anything, and I, like everything else fell into that category.

A small part of me had secretly hoped that maybe, just maybe this was a mask. He had to care right? Everyone, no matter how tough, cared about something or someone.
Well, the exception perhaps being psychopaths. They are Biologically wired in such a way that it wasn’t physically possible for them to care. And these people have a breaking point, a trigger, something that pulls them away from the restraints of civilisation and the rules and laws, that keep us safe, that keep us human.

Criminal investigation units create profiles on these people. They know what they are capable of, their limits and their triggers. But without a profile these people can be time bombs.

I felt numb from head to toe, with four little words, I had created a monster in my head. The careless man before me had gone from being a major jerk to a potential mass murderer.

But I composed myself, brushed the thought to one side and looked him in the eye. ‘Well I don’t fucking care either,’ I replied, ‘just bloody pick, Macdonalds or KFC…’

So okay, perhaps the numbness had been caused by hunger but nevertheless, I’m creating a profile, just in case.