Good Enough to Trust(2)By: Zara Stoneley
“Now I’ve got to work out what I really want and that’s the tough bit, isn’t it? Oh, you know all about tough don’t you, Mum, and I really wish you were here to help me, except that’s the point isn’t it? I have to work it out myself. I want him, you know. I always wanted him, but I might have fucked it up. But isn’t that what you’ve taught me, you and Dad? That a real relationship is about being able to do your worst and still be forgiven?”
My feet slip in the gravel as I stand up and the sound does a shimmy around me in the still air. I’m alone, but not, if you know what I mean. I’ve never felt exactly lonely, but I’ve been alone lots. But something tells me it’s shifted.
“I’m sorry Mum, Dad, I guess I only just realised that what you had was real.” I clutch the flower a bit tighter as the ache in my throat gets harder to bear and I can feel the heat welling up behind my eyes. There’s a tight knot where my heart should be. It’s supposed to be easy coming back, now I understand, but it’s not because I miss them even more. And I can’t hate them, I just want them back. I want them beside me, I want them holding me. I want them to tell me it’s all okay, to dry my tears and rock me to sleep. I can’t see the gravestone clearly now, because my eyes have blurred over with the tears I should have let fall a long, long time ago. Burning tears and a hurt I don’t want to battle with any longer.
I might not be alone, but there’s still a massive gap where they should be. I squeeze my eyes tight shut, feel the dampness stain my face, the panic welling up in my throat and I let myself stand, sway for a moment. Fight with the lump in my throat until it isn’t quite as bad. Imagine how it used to be. And it’s strange because I don’t see us, our family, how we used to be. I see him, Ollie. Young and carefree, laughing as I play the fool. I open my eyes again, take a breath and it’s okay.
“It wasn’t always nice, but you did love each other, didn’t you? Holly tried to tell me at Christmas, but I wasn’t ready to listen, I suppose. I mean, loving each other so much is for other people, isn’t it Mum, not people like us?” My fingers are cold from holding the flower but I don’t want to let it go. It’s almost like it’s a part of all of us, of the family I never saw properly. A present from little sis to our parents, and now passed on to me.
Would I be prepared to die for love? Would I ever let myself go enough, let so much passion and want and need into my life? Would I ever trust anyone enough to let them end my life, so we could be together forever without the pain? I can’t answer questions like that, not yet.
I take one last careful look because I don’t know when I’ll be back. Loving is hard, it hurts. And saying it all hasn’t made everything better, they’re still gone.
I walk back up the gravel footpath and the crunch in my ears seems to run through my body until I feel like I’m slowly shattering like a pane of glass into those tiny fragments you see when a car windscreen breaks.
His gaze has never left me, all the time we’ve been here. I swallow, feel the fragments pulling back together. Reforming into something clearer, something without the flaws. I slip my hand under his arm and the rough familiar fabric rubs against my knuckles. Some of the tension eases away.
I nod and try to ignore the tears that I know are threatening to spill. “Thank you.” He raises a quizzical eyebrow. “For coming with me.”
But it’s more than that, so much more.
“So, I take it you’re not going to help then? Even though I tell everyone I know that you’re not just beef burger on legs, that there’s a sensitive, feeling soul deep down under that thick skin?” I stared, and a pair of the biggest, brownest eyes I’d ever seen stared straight back at me. It could have been the look of love, except they were partnered by a big, lolling tongue and a runny nose, and the thick skin was covered in fur, or hair. Or whatever you say cows are covered in, skipping the leather bit of course. Mentioning that would be insensitive.
I dragged my gaze away from the nearest heavyweight, and there was another dozen backing it up. Not good. They had all lowered their heads which made me think of an impending rugby scrum, and an uneasy prickle made its way down my spine – competing with the damp, misty air to win the first prize for what could make me feel most uncomfortable. All the better to see me, I hoped. They were herbivores, weren’t they?