Standing at the bus stop, there’s a strange hue in the air that has her tilting her head and reaching up to clean her glasses. Glasses clean and hue still present, she wanders down the street with curious intent. Turning the corner, she is approached by a couple she recognises, a couple who have been long since gone. A friendly, knowing smile and a polite tip of a hat while he passes her a newspaper is their only greeting. She follows them with her eyes as they move by her and continue on down the street, her eyes only glancing down to the newspaper once they are out of sight.
“Tuesday 8thJuly 2008”
She stands motionless for several moments, blinking at the date. Her eyes move once more to the street in front of her, feet propelling her forward. Looking around and taking in the house in front of her, she comes to the conclusion that this is all just a vivid dream.
The house is in darkness as she stumbles in through the back door. Walking through the kitchen to push open the living room door, her head peaks around it, unsure of what she may be walking in to. The room is full of people, people she recognises. Her aunts, cousins and grandfather are all asleep on various chairs and sofas, in what looks to be the most uncomfortable positions. ’Oh’, she thinks, ‘I know why I’m here.’
Quietly walking through the living room, she hovers near the staircase. The red patterned carpet causes her to become sentimental and tears spring to her eyes. A hand is suddenly loosely around her wrist and she fights back a yelp of surprise, turning to see her grandfather’s bright eyes. “It’s okay”, she tells him, “It’s okay.” His hand leaves her wrist as he nods, a very slight incline granting her his permission to proceed. Her feet start to move her forwards, climbing the stairs much slower than she can ever recall climbing them.
As she enters into the bedroom, her eyes automatically glance to the mirror, startled eyes meet with the warm blue ones reflected back at her from across the room. Making her way into the room and turning to face the figure in the bed, she pauses. Her mind repeating the words she had not so long ago spoken to her grandfather. ‘It’s okay. It’s okay.’
“It’s okay,” the lady’s voice is light and hopeful, comforting in a way that has her feeling emotions she has long since forgotten the strength of. She moves forward, stepping into the light, slowly lowering herself onto the chair at the side of the bed.
She looks up, making eye contact with the lady, her Nanna. Eyes misty, she sees the deep intake of breath and the almost whispered words, “There you are.”
Sitting in the chair, hands in her lap, unsure of what to say in this situation. Wanting nothing more but to reach out and gather her Nanna into her arms, she instead sits motionless. Her Nanna lays there, swallowed up by the huge double bed, an all-knowing glint in her eyes as she smiles and tells her, “I’ve been waiting.” A frail hand reaches over to a pale sweaty one. As soon as contact is made, the tears start silently falling, “I…”.
Taking a deep breath, she starts again, “I got better. I fought hard and worked even harder and I did it.”
“Tell me, sweetheart.”
“I got better. I moved away and I’ve made a life for myself.”
“And you’re okay?”
She smiles sadly, “I am…”
“…but? What is it, sweetheart?”
“I’m ok. Losing you… it was like you took a part of me with you. I feel like a jigsaw with permanently missing pieces.”
“Sweetheart. There is nothing in this world that would make me leave you permanently. You’re my Sophie, our bond is much too strong, not even death itself would break it. I will always be with you, somehow. Please, know that.”
“I do know that. I feel it. I’ve always felt it.” She smiles with wet eyes, wanting nothing more than to stay, “I have to go now, don’t I?”
“You do. So do I soon.”
Bringing her hand to her lips, she leaves a kiss on her thin skin before leaning over to place a kiss on her forehead, “Nanny” her voice cracks, “I love you.”
“I love you too, poppet,” and with a final squeeze, she lets her hand go.
She rises, walks to the door, their eyes meeting once more in the mirror before she turns and heads back down the stairs. Her movements are quicker now, a little panicked as she can hear voices, her family are awake. Looking into the living room, she sees nothing but vacant space, the voices travelling through from the kitchen. Walking quickly, she aims to reach the front door without alerting anyone of her presence. As she steps outside and pulls the door shut, she notices a car pull up. Her feet start to move towards it, as though they have their own motivation. As the door opens, a young girl steps out, a terrified look in her eyes. They stand and look at one another for a few seconds, before she moves closer, lays one hand on her younger self’s shoulder before heading back down the street.
Walking back towards the bus stop, she sits down on the seat underneath the shelter. She places her head in her hands and takes a breath, energy suddenly drained. The feeling of another presence is sudden and startling, as she jerks her head up, she is met with stunningly familiar, bright blue eyes, “Mummy, what’s wrong?”
She smiles, content, “Nothing, it’s okay. Are you ready to go?”