Fright night ii, p.4
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       Fright Night II, p.4

          
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  ***

  She carries her ghost around with her all the time. Sitting on her shoulder, watching her daily. Every aspect of her day is governed by him. It is the arm she wears her watch on, the songs she sings in her head, the brand of coffee she drinks first thing, the book she reads while eating breakfast.

  She has got up early on a dark winter morning because today, finally, she wants to lose him. He's been there for twenty years now, but she isn't at all sure how she can make him go away. So, for a start she is going to the place where he last breathed.

  So, as she wonders which jacket to choose, while saying a little prayer, she leaves behind the leather jacket like his, and puts on her, very old, duffel coat. She catches the early train to London, and then walks to Golden Square. The tall buildings surround them, it's early, still dark, and looking like it will rain. She sits on a bench, and talks to him.

  ‘Please can you stay here? There are so many people here, especially on a sunny day. You can sit with them on the grass and sing to them. I can come and see you, but you won't need to be at my side all the time. I don't really know if I'm looking after you now, or if you are still looking after me.’

  He sings back: ‘I want to be your lover, but your friend is all I've stayed, I'm only halfway to paradise, So near, yet so far away.’

  She finds that comment deeply unhelpful. She sits for a while, but she can feel him there, and he is starting to weigh down her eyes.

  They go to Wardour Street for coffee, just as the heavens open, rain bouncing off the road, lightning flashing in the sky, and thunder growling above the traffic. The café is playing a mix of 1980s music. That helps, she thinks. Although when she thinks, she is never sure if she is actually speaking out loud. Every song now takes her to a moment twenty years ago and things they did, the parties they went to, the pubs they drank in. Since then her work, and her ghost, have been enough, but now, as the peak of middle-age is in sight, she wants to reclaim her own life.

  They walk on down, past St Anne's Churchyard.

  ‘I don't suppose you want to stay there?’ she asks; she feels it unlikely. The streets are starting to get busy. They walk along Shaftesbury Avenue, and they think how much it has changed, and by the time they have idled their way to Covent Garden the pubs are open, she is soaking wet.

  She goes in for a whisky. He comes along too for a pint. No-one wants to talk to her, and she settles in a corner. She reflects on the changes that have happened since 1989. Somehow she didn't count her whiskies. They almost magically refilled themselves, as her purse magically emptied itself. Half full, half empty.

  She goes out the door and wanders into the street, a little unsteady. Despite wishing to lose her ghost, she still looks behind her, feeling the real person of himself may have appeared to keep her company. She turns, then she is spinning, and she is on the road, and people gather around her, pick her up, and take her to the side of the pavement. A motorbike has stopped further up the road. Now the rider is getting off, taking off his helmet, walking towards the crowd. People talk around her, and then an ambulance has come, a police car. People still talk, and finally she can hear them.

  Yes, she feels OK, a bit shaken, no pain, no, her feet are OK. Yes, she'll try to stand up again.

  Once she is assessed by all as safe and sound the crowds disperse; the ambulance, rider, police, all go, and she is alone.

  Yes, she is really alone.

  There is no ghost.

  The weight has gone.

  Unable to enjoy London alone, she returns to Charing Cross and shops in W. H. Smith. She feels no need to buy a magazine he would like. She buys one about flower arranging. Then she chooses 7UP not Fanta. She heads home.

  She opens the door and she hates every part of her past with a feeling so deep it feels like her heart has been ripped out and thrown onto the streets of London.
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