The Silver Lining

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Chapter 20 - Zoe

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

By Mary Elizabeth Frye

Without a body, there could be no poem more fitting for Vivienne’s funeral. Seven years had passed since Viv walked out of her house and never came back. In that time, the police had many red herrings; possible sightings, people claiming to know Vivienne, and even some demented souls that said they had killed her. All turned out to be false.

In the first weeks of her disappearance, all I wanted to do was drink, sleep, repeat. After I recovered from my initial drunken slumber some weeks later, I decided it was time that I tried to help.

During that first year, I moved into Viv’s house and gave up my own - just in case she did return. I joined search parties, made door-to-door enquiries, and held vigils in her honour. The outpouring of love and support was monumental. There were times I genuinely felt hopeful. Then there were days I just didn’t want to get out of bed. In all honesty, I had more bad days than good.

My father tried to reach out to me several times, but I just dodged his phone calls and knocks at the door. At times, I saw him lurking in the distance within my peripheral vision. I’d be out on a jog and I’d catch him sitting on a park bench at the top of the hill, or I’d be on my way home from work and I’d see him sheltered in a bus stop across the street. Once, he called after, once I saw him wave. Neither times did I respond.

Then the letters started, messages of love and sorrow. I couldn’t bring myself to keep opening them week after week, and eventually, they too stopped. I shopped at different supermarkets, hung out in different neighbourhoods, avoided anywhere that linked me back to him, but it was no good. The saying out of sight, out of mind is bullshit. I thought about him every time I closed my eyes before I slept, and then every morning when I woke, alongside Grace and Vivienne. He seeped his way into my thoughts like a virus, like a poison, tainting and infecting the beauty of those I held dear. The anger and resentment inside me were toxic. I knew I could not keep holding onto the past. The proximity to him and living in Viv’s home were daily reminders of my torment. He’d never leave Haxby, but I could. As hard as it was to leave Viv’s house, I knew that my only chance at happiness was to finally take my mother’s advice on board:

As my dying wish, please obey this instruction. Rid yourself of him and start a new life.

So that’s what I did.

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