• Friendship

    Here

    This was where we first met. Right here on this bench. You were watching the cars, counting them, you said. Sneaking a glance at the driver, wondering who they might be and where they were going. You found it hard letting go, retiring. I had just had a fight with my girlfriend, my first long-term one. I was in the wrong as usual, and you helpfully pointed that out to me. After the fourth time of bumping into each other here anyway. It was right near where my bus stopped, and it was on your way to the village shop. You told me exactly what I did and what I…

  • Friendship

    Words

    I can’t get any words out. My lips seal as soon as the emotions rise in me. When you feel something, words travel with that feeling, and together they communicate what’s going on in that person. But words don’t seem to travel with my feelings. So, the emotions soar around inside me, and I sit there in silence, longing to communicate, scraping for something to say. But the words aren’t there. And the pressure builds in my head. My heart rattles around. I feel exhaustion take over and all I want to do is shanghai those emotions. So, I drink. The scrambled vowels and consonants darting in my head drop…

  • Childhood,  Family,  Friendship

    First Class

    ‘How long?’ I breathed down the phone. ‘Weeks,’ Martin’s voice choked back. The day after, at four o’clock in the afternoon, I popped around to the red-bricked house next door. Jenny was setting the table, and the smell of home-cooked cottage pie filled the air. She kindly put a teapot on for us while young Sophie played with her ice blue princess castle. ‘Does she…’ I asked, narrowing my eyes. Jenny shook her head. ‘We need to. But I just…’ Her cup shook against her saucer. ‘Let me help,’ I offered, placing my aged hand over hers. Her skin was so young. ‘How?’ Her eyes were lost, strong, and full…

  • Friendship

    Beauty

    Cocooned in an expensive, beige coat, adorned with enough gold to make a Christmas tree happy, and masked with the perfect colour palette for my skin tone, I almost laugh out loud at the absurdity of each tear that drips down to my Jimmy Choo ankle boots. Click-clack. Click-clack. No one seems to notice as I stride through the heaving crowd over the bridge sheltering the river. The water glistens as every ray hits it. Click-clack. Click-clack. The scars beneath my clothes. Imperfect lines burnt into my skin from the months of growing a baby. Boobs shrunk to the size of flying saucer sweets from the months of that baby…

  • Family,  Friendship

    Logan and Lucy

    Lucy entered my life when Logan exited it. He’d been unwell for some time. We’d had many years together, our whole lives really. We met in primary school, and despite the bumpy road, we finished in our sixties. He slipped away peacefully, although can anyone really know if a person died peacefully? It was a Tuesday. A sunny day. I’ll never forget wrapping my hand around his cold fingers like a scarf that terrible morning. I wanted to keep him warm. I had barely shed a tear when a deep barking sliced through the stillness. For a second, I thought it was an awful mistake, and Logan was alive. When…

  • Family,  Friendship

    One Olive or Two

    The salty tang of olives would hang in the air, sun cream, sweat, salami and cheeses. Picnics with the girls. The sun hanging over our hot heads like a cot mobile. No one knew the time, no one cared. On the weekends, we were free. One positive pregnancy test later, everything changed. The weekends blurred into weekdays, the sun was too strong for a baby, and a watch ticked on my untanned wrist. Round the clock feeding. All the time. If I didn’t check the hour, the baby would remind me. And olives? Cabbage leaves were the new olives. One summer night later, everything changed. The baby burned as hot as the…

  • Friendship

    Just a Piece of Furniture

    He sat on me every morning with his black coffee and newspaper, every afternoon with his cheese sandwich and lemonade, and every evening to watch the six o’clock news. He read to me, stories of adventure and wonder. He talked to me when the loneliness grew heavy and thick like a raincloud. He sang to me, sombre lyrics, jolly lyrics. Some rare days we didn’t see each other at all. He was my companion, and I was his. One afternoon, after a few bites of his cheese sandwich, he slumped so far into me, I could feel the weight of his entire life. He didn’t finish his sandwich. He sat…

  • Friendship,  Romance

    Beauty in the Beach

    I met Kym at AA. She was a slim woman, with sharp cheekbones, dark velvety skin, and a soft smile. She captivated me. It wasn’t only her appearance, though. Her heart was good. Flawed, maybe, but good. The first week I met her, she told us her story, and I remembered that AA was a safe space, a space to heal. I could hardly walk up to her and ask, “would you like to join me for a coffee?” Of course, a woman like her never would’ve looked twice at a man like me. I wasn’t unattractive. I had hair the colour of dry sand, swept to the side, as…

  • Friendship,  Romance

    Love Lock

    We ate cheap bread. We moaned about lecturers. We said we’d jog at the start of each term. We didn’t. We drank too much. We worked through the night. We slept through the day. We ran on medicine. We travelled home with bags of dirty washing. We kissed. We argued. We made up. We fell in love. We said it would be forever. We didn’t do well at the end of our second year. We fell out. We spent time apart. We made up. We flirted. We danced. We cycled. We raced. We got warning letters from missed lectures. We argued. We ate noodles. We drank coffee. We were worn…

  • Friendship

    Following in Footprints

    I heard that story once. The one where the man dreams he’s walking along a beach and is puzzled as to why there is only one set of footprints when God told him he’d always walk alongside him in the lowest points of his life. And then God told him that when there was only one set of footprints, he was carrying the man. It was a young guy on a bus that told me years ago. I never thought much of it. Beach. Footprints. God. Dream. Too much philosophy for me. But now, sitting on a hot beach in Cornwall, watching a young man carrying someone who looks old…