Until Harry(2)

By: L.A. Casey

Reading that godforsaken letter was the second time in my life that my heart broke into a million pieces. The devastation that dwelt within me was a familiar emotion, but this time it was due to a completely different person, in relation to an entirely different situation. Once more I was overtaken by the kind of sadness that seeps into your bones rather than explodes in a cascade of tears. The misery that I felt filled me from head to toe, and I couldn’t escape from it.

I tried, though. I tried to think about something else as I booked a flight to London. I tried to think of something else as I landed in Heathrow Airport and took the Heathrow Express train to Paddington Station. I tried to think of anything but my Uncle Harry’s face, and I did well until I got a taxi from Paddington Station to King’s Cross Station and got on the final train in my journey to York. After I stepped foot in Coach B – it was the quiet carriage – my Uncle Harry’s voice broke through every single thought I fabricated to cover him up. His voice stuck with me, and I found both comfort and sorrow in that.

I was pulled from my thoughts when the train came to a sudden stop. I blinked my eyes a couple of times and looked out the window. I was no longer looking at the countryside; I was staring at the busy platform of my final stop. York.

Welcome home, Lane.

After exhaling a deep breath, I nervously got to my feet and shoved my phone back into my coat pocket before grabbing my small suitcase from the storage compartment above my head. I was walking along the platform a few minutes later, pulling my suitcase behind me. I got a taxi from the station to the Holiday Inn, a small hotel roughly ten minutes away from my parents’ house, and checked into the hotel, settling into my small but cosy room. I was freshening up when my phone pinged. At the sight of my brother’s name, I groaned.

Lochlan was looking for confirmation that I was coming home for my uncle’s funeral. I didn’t blame him for checking in – I’d never replied to his letter. I just read it and acted by booking the next flight out of New York.

I’m here, I thumbed out. Where is he laid out?

I swallowed the bile that rose up my throat as I impatiently waited for his reply. I had so many questions, but I didn’t want any answers. I wanted to know why my uncle was dead when he had been perfectly healthy. I wanted to know why he had been living Monday night and was dead Tuesday morning. But if I got the answers my mind sought, then it would be like I was accepting that my uncle was gone, and I just wasn’t ready to do that yet.

I jumped when my phone pinged with a new email.

Mum and Dad’s house. We’re all here.

A lump formed in my throat. It made sense that my uncle would be at my parents’ house; my uncle adored my mother, and she cherished him in return. She was his little sister, his partner in crime and his twin.

I rubbed my eyes when they began to sting.

I’ll be there in 20 minutes.

I grabbed a pair of black fitted jeans, black ankle boots, a black long-sleeve T-shirt and a grey blazer. When I was dressed, I turned to the full-length mirror and stared at myself. I looked the same as I always had, but noticed the subtle differences others would see when they looked at me. My chocolate-brown hair was longer now, almost to my waist. My breasts were fuller, and hips were a little wider, giving a curve to my body that now showed me as woman, and not a girl. My porcelain skin had a splash of light freckles, and my emerald-green eyes were still hidden behind the glasses that sat atop the bridge of my nose.

I adjusted my blazer and blinked. I didn’t know why, but I didn’t want to dress down to see my family for the first time in six years. I wanted to look put together, even though inside I was falling apart.

I plaited my hair back into a French braid to keep it out of my face, and didn’t bother with make-up, because seeing my uncle would open a floodgate of emotions, so it would get ruined anyway. I picked up a pale blue scarf from the bed and wrapped it around my neck before grabbing my phone and key card.

As my parents’ house was close by, I decided to walk. It wasn’t raining out, for once, but being the middle of October, it was already pitch-black by 6 p.m. and starting to get really cold. I folded my arms across my chest and kept my head down as I scurried past my nanny’s café. It was closed as expected. I saw no lights on out of the corner of my eye, but just in case, I kept my gaze averted.

The walk to my parents’ place was quicker than I remembered, and before I knew it, I stood in front of the door of the house I grew up in. I blinked as I took in my childhood home. It was mildly adorned with some Halloween decorations – reminding me of the upcoming holiday – but that aside, it looked the exact same as the last time I’d seen it six years ago, just like nothing changed . . . or happened.

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