The March of the Dead

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26

There she stayed on the bed, swaying, looking out the window.

‘The birds chirp in the morning that is all they ever do why won’t they stop chirping oh the birds stop chirping stop chirping.’

The next day when I came to see her, she was in a coma.

I stayed by her bedside in the hospital.

There were the tubes, and the buttons beside her.

Her mother was too distraught to be there.

Maybe she too would end up in a mental ward.

Then there was one less person left in this world.

And I stayed there, with her, a cold horror, an utter, utter cold horror going through me.

*

The following day I went down to Evie’s beach, and just sat there, and looked out.

*

We had the funeral.

Our entire school was there.

I was near the front. I didn’t cry once nor say a thing. There was simply nothing on the inside of me. Later, as her body was lowered, so too dropped the tears from my eyes but I was still lost, still somewhere else.

Her body sank and sank.

At the wake I spoke to my friends. They spoke to me, put their arms around me.

They erected a memorial for her at school, out the front of the Science classrooms.

‘Kehlani ... Kehlani,’ I said, looking over it by myself at lunch. After school I walked through the Botanical Gardens alone, but Kehlani strolled with me. Her eyes were blue once more, and that beautiful blonde hair streamed down round her shoulders.

She held my hand.

‘Do you miss me, Blinky ... do you miss our romance? Can we still be together?’

I was smiling at the girl with the glowing blonde hair and pale grey eyes. I stopped her, staring into those eyes. Her body was so thin, so lean. That hair glinted in the brightness. ‘I will never, ever love anyone but you,’ I said.

I learnt forwards and kissed those thin lips and there I lay in the hospital, in one of the beds, the door slightly ajar, opening and opening, but that evening, there in the gardens, the sun was bright.

Autumn leaves rustled in the breeze. The girl with the blonde hair had her arm around me. I kissed her, and felt her back, and the gentle breeze pushed against me like a ghost. It was there, finally, I broke down, lowering my head, falling into tears as I stood there.

Lower, lower the sun went, but the tears continued.

‘Oh God ... oh Kehlani ... I’m sorry ... Oh god ... Kehlani ... I’m sorry.’

And I mourned, and wept, and at one moment a man in a yellow jacket came around. Presumably he was going to tell me I had to leave because they were closing the gardens, but he stood and looked at me a while, then just walked off. I stayed there well into the light.

There I sat in the darkness on a bench, tears still coming.

I imagined her next to me. I held her hand.

In her other hand sat a Coke from the shop, and in my other one an orange juice. The next morning, I still sat on that bench. Kel sat beside me, and we both stared out.

She leant against me.

‘Do you ever wonder what you are going to do in the future, Blinky ... do you ever wonder what we may become?’ A grin shone on her spectacular face. I arched towards her. Those few freckles gleamed in the morning sunlight that Saturday, while sunlight struck the tops of the paperbarks around us.

Her hand sat in mine, her hair blonde and curling down the back of her shoulder as I said, ’As long as I’m with you, babe, I don’t care if I end up as nothing at all. As long as we can sit here in this garden together and watch the leaves fall off the trees and the plants rustle in the breeze.

‘As long as we can sit here in the spring and watch the bunnies hopping through the grass and daisies waving in the daylight and feel the warmth of the sun our on shoulders.’

My hands went around her again. I looked into those deep, transcendent blue eyes. ‘So long as I can look you in the eyes and feel like I have with me the most precious thing in the entire world.’

The sun set and we were kissing, and kissing, and by the pond we walked, and she laughed.

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