• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 08
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The Trip

You’ve come back to me over the years, come back often, that bright, blazing light of yours never quite dying in me. And always there are colours. Come back as you come back to me on this train: the newly vamped carriage all orange and purple and blue, the over elaborate patterns on the seats. Trippy! you’d say, with that wide toothy grin of yours. Gawky. Not pretty. But beautiful. Like no other face I’ve seen, before or since. I’m travelling there today, going back to see my mother. My last visit – at least to see her alive. Hope I make it. And suddenly I want you with me. How mad is that?

So long ago. But I long to have you beside me now. You. No one else. I should come with you, my wife said, Support you. No need, I told her, I’d like to do this alone.

It was my wife who brought you back to me this last time: a couple of days ago, just before I heard about Mum going down hill. Several years had passed without you entering my head until then, until Suzanne sashays in wearing this new dress of hers, twirling around, the pink, purple and orange silk swirling in a kaleidoscope of colours, me thinking, Too bright, sweetheart, while seeing you standing there in that tie-died T-shirt. And I missed you. I suddenly missed you so much I wanted to howl, Come back to me! Come back! Lovely, I told my wife, Looks lovely.

My mother loved you too. Admired your energy, the zany colours you used to wear. Wish I’d been a bit more like that in my youth, she’d once confessed. But then, they didn’t have teenagers in my day. That was before, of course. Afterwards . . . well, afterwards neither of us said much. Our world had lost its colour, one black day after another eventually segueing into a grey monochrome. Like living in a permanent pea souper: no energy, gasping, lost. Mum mentioned you a few times later on, but angrily, not saying your name. It’d be: That bloody girl! That crazy, stupid girl! That idiot!

The Trip

It was almost dark, dusk turning to night. Escaping from the others we’d climbed the cliff to be alone. Try some! you’d said. A magical mystery tour of the mind. I dunno, I said. Come on, you said, Let’s do this together! Then you speeding past me, your hair flickering like fire in the sooty night. I’m going to live forever! you shouted, disappearing into the darkness. Then silence. I running after you, looking down, your limbs akimbo on the rocks, the luminous glow of that T-shirt, my mouth opening to call for help, but hearing only the waves lapping the shore and McGuinness Flint’s When I’m Dead and Gone blaring out from Christy’s transistor, down on the beach, he, Pol and the others joining in for the chorus.