Sunday, January 16, 2011

PS, I Love You [Part 3]

PS, I Love You

Part 3

HOLLY WAS WALKING THROUGH AN entire field of pretty tiger lilies; the wind was blowing gently, causing the silky petals to tickle the tips of her fingers as she pushed through the long strands of bright green grass. The ground felt soft and bouncy beneath her bare feet, and her body felt so light she almost seemed to be floating just above the surface of the spongy earth. All around her birds whistled their happy tune as they went about their business. 

The sun was so bright in the cloudless sky she had to shield her eyes, and with each brush of wind that passed her face, the sweet scent of the tiger lilies filled her nostrils. She felt so . . . happy, so free. A feeling that was alien to her these days. 

Suddenly the sky darkened as her Caribbean sun disappeared behind a looming gray cloud. The wind picked up and the air chilled. Around her all the petals of her tiger lilies were racing
through the air wildly, blurring her vision. The once spongy ground was replaced with
sharp-pebbled stones that cut and scraped her feet with every step. The birds had stopped
singing and instead perched on their branches and stared. Something was wrong and she felt
afraid. Ahead of her in the distance a gray stone was visible amid the tall grass. She wanted to
run back to her pretty flowers, but she needed to find out what was ahead.
As she crept closer she heard Bang! Bang! Bang! She quickened her pace and raced over the
sharp stones and jagged-edged grass that tore at her arms and legs. She collapsed to her knees in front of the gray slab and let out a scream of pain as she realized what it was. Gerry's grave.

Bang! Bang! Bang! He was trying to get out! He was calling her name; she could hear him!
Holly jumped from her sleep to a loud banging on the door. “Holly! Holly! I know you're there!
Please let me in!” Bang! Bang! Bang! Confused and half asleep, Holly made her way to the door to find a frantic-looking Sharon.

“Christ! What were you doing? I've been banging on the door for ages!” Holly looked around
outside, still not fully alert. It was bright and slightly chilly, must be morning.
“Well, aren't you going to let me in?”
“Yeah, Sharon, sorry, I was just dozing on the couch.”
“God, you look terrible, Hol.” Sharon studied her face before giving her a big hug.
“Wow, thanks.” Holly rolled her eyes and turned to shut the door. Sharon was never one to beat around the bush, but that's why she loved her so much, for her honesty. That's also why Holly hadn't been around to see Sharon for the past month. She didn't want to hear the truth. She didn't want to hear that she had to get on with her life; she just wanted . . . oh, she didn't know what she wanted. She was happy being miserable. It somehow felt right.

“God, it's so stuffy in here, when's the last time you opened a window?” Sharon marched
around the house opening windows and picking up empty cups and plates. She brought them
into the kitchen, where she placed them in the dishwasher and then proceeded to tidy up.

“Oh, you don't have to do it, Sharon,” Holly protested weakly. “I'll do it . . .”
“When? Next year? I don't want you slumming it while the rest of us pretend not to notice.  

Why don't you go upstairs and shower and we'll have a cup of tea when you come down.”
A shower. When was the last time she had even washed? Sharon was right, she must have
looked disgusting with her greasy hair and dark roots and dirty robe. Gerry's robe. But that was something she never intended to wash. She wanted it exactly as Gerry had left it. 

Unfortunately, his smell was beginning to fade, replaced by the unmistakable stink of her own skin. “OK, but there's no milk. I haven't got around to . . .” Holly felt embarrassed by her lack of care for the house and for herself. There was no way she was letting Sharon look inside that fridge or Sharon would definitely have her committed.

“Ta-da!” Sharon sang, holding up a bag Holly hadn't noticed her carry in. “Don't worry, I took
care of that. By the looks of it, you haven't eaten in weeks.” 

“Thanks, Sharon.” A lump formed in her throat and tears welled in her eyes. Her friend was
being so good to her.

“Hold it! There will be no tears today! Just fun and laughter and general happiness, my dear
friend. Now shower, quick!”

Holly felt almost human when she came back downstairs. She was dressed in a blue tracksuit
and had allowed her long blond (and brown at the roots) hair to fall down on her shoulders. All
the windows downstairs were wide open and the cool breeze rushed through Holly's head. It felt  as though it were eliminating all her bad thoughts and fears. She laughed at the possibility of her mother being right after all. Holly snapped out of her trance and gasped as she looked around the house. She couldn't have been any longer than half an hour, but Sharon had tidied and polished, vacuumed and plumped, washed and sprayed air freshener in every room.

 She followed the noise she could hear to the kitchen, where Sharon was scrubbing the hobs. The counters were gleaming; the silver taps and draining board at the sink area were sparkling.

“Sharon, you absolute angel! I can't believe you did all this! And in such a short space of time!”

“Ha! You were gone for over an hour. I was beginning to think you'd fallen down the plughole.
You would and all, the size of you.” She looked Holly up and down.
An hour? Once again Holly's daydreaming had taken over her mind.
“OK, so I just bought some vegetables and fruit, there's cheese and yogurts in there, and milk of course. I don't know where you keep the pasta and tinned foods so I just put them over there.

Oh, and there's a few microwave dinners in the freezer. That should do you for a while, but by
the looks of you it'll last you the year. How much weight have you lost?”
Holly looked down at her body; her tracksuit was sagging at the bum and the waist tie was
pulled to its tightest, yet still drooped to her hips. She hadn't noticed the weight loss at all. She
was brought back to reality by Sharon's voice again. “There's a few biscuits there to go with
your tea. Jammy Dodgers, your favorite.”

That did it. This was all too much for Holly. The Jammy Dodgers were the icing on the cake.
She felt the tears start to run down her face. “Oh, Sharon,” she wailed, “thank you so much.
You've been so good to me and I've been such a horrible, horrible bitch of a friend.” She sat at
the table and grabbed Sharon's hand. “I don't know what I'd do without you.” Sharon sat
opposite her in silence, allowing her to continue. This is what Holly had been dreading, breaking down in front of people at every possible occasion. But she didn't feel embarrassed. 

Sharon was just patiently sipping her tea and holding her hand as if it were normal. Eventually the tears
stopped falling.

“I'm your best friend, Hol. If I don't help you, then who will?” Sharon said, squeezing her hand and giving her an encouraging smile.

“Suppose I should be helping myself.”

“Pah!” Sharon spat, waving her hand dismissively. “Whenever you're ready. Don't mind all
those people who say that you should be back to normal in a month or two. Grieving is all part
of helping yourself anyway.” She always said the right things.

“Yeah, well, I've been doing a lot of that anyway. I'm all grieved out.”
“You can't be!” said Sharon, mock disgusted. “And only two months after your husband is cold
in his grave.”

“Oh, stop! There'll be plenty of that from people, won't there?”
“Probably, but screw them. There are worse sins in the world than learning to be happy again.”


“Promise me you'll eat.”


“Thanks for coming round, Sharon, I really enjoyed the chat,” Holly said, gratefully hugging her friend, who had taken the day off work to be with her. “I feel a lot better already.”
“You know it's good to be around people, Hol. Friends and family can help you. Well, actually
on second thought, maybe not your family,” she joked, “but at least the rest of us can.”
“Oh, I know, I realize that now. I just thought I could handle it on my own–but I can't.”
“Promise me you'll call around. Or at least get out of the house once in a while?”
“Promise.” Holly rolled her eyes. “You're beginning to sound like my mom.”
“Oh, we're all just looking out for you. OK, see you soon,” Sharon said, kissing her on the
cheek. “And eat!” she added, poking her in the ribs.

Holly waved to Sharon as she pulled away in her car. It was nearly dark. They had spent the day laughing and joking about old times, then crying, followed by some more laughing, then more crying again. Sharon gave her perspective, too. Holly hadn't even thought about the fact that Sharon and John had lost their best friend, that her parents had lost their son-in-law and Gerry's parents had lost their only son. She had just been so busy thinking about herself. It had been good being around the living again instead of moping around with the ghosts of her past.Tomorrow was a new day and she intended to begin it by collecting that envelope.

to be cont'd.....

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