Thursday, 29 July 2010

Simulacrum (writeclub submission)

joey donovan

MARTIN watched Helena running away from him along the cliff path, momentarily paralysed by indecision. He wanted to follow, but he had to call Bennett. He looked at the phone, then at Helena, then at his phone again. Helena’s dark hair was dancing in the strong sea breeze as she shrank into the distance, tracing a clumsy zigzag along the cliff-top. The further she travelled the closer she seemed to drift to the edge. Martin needed to make a decision. Why could he not? Because he was weak: in spite of his myriad accomplishments, Martin was weak. Taking he deep breath, he announced Bennett’s name into his mobile and started to run, waiting for Bennett to pickup.

Once Martin made a decision, he was committed. Already his powerful strides were cutting Helena’s lead. He was still in good shape- his trainer had assured him he was fitter than most men half his age. But weak nonetheless... why hadn’t he noticed? How had she found it? He cursed quietly as his call to Bennett was transferred to voicemail. Martin left a breathless message.

Martin had failed, again. A trip to the Dorset Coast was not going to elevate Helena’s spirit: she knew.
She knew. To his right loomed a near vertical fifty metre drop onto jagged rocks and foaming surf. It was all very familiar to him.

“Helena! Stop! I can explain!”

Helena tripped over her wildly flailing legs and went tumbling to the floor. Martin dived on top of her, smothering her fragile form with his heavy frame. He felt the heat of her soft face against his, his eyes almost touching hers, wide like a frightened animal. They were full of tears; he could taste the salt on his lips.

“Get off me! Get off me!”

Martin wrapped his thick arms around her, shielding Helena from the strong gusts battering the coastline, from the unpredictable violence of the world beyond the one he had created for her. She continued to scream for him to release her between; her voice gurgling with phlegm. He rocked her from side to side, doing his best to soothe her, whispering into her ear:

“I’m sorry, sweetheart. I’m sorry.”

Martin did not stop until her howling quietened to a gentle sobbing. He sat up beside her, the two of them returned to the same position they had been in at the picnic moments before. Martin allowed himself the luxury of cautious relief. He handed Helena a handkerchief: she accepted without meeting his eye.

“I never meant for you to find out like this.”

Helena dried her eyes, straightened her dress and took a deep breath. Her gaze met Martin’s: she was an elegant creature in repose, he thought, mentally comparing the beautiful girl before him to the ungainly beast he had been pursuing along the coastal path. He hazarded a weak smile. Helena was not so easily comforted:

“You never meant for me to find out at all.”

Martin looked down into his lap in shame, shaking his head from side to side for longer than was necessary. There were no words for him to utter now, not yet. He had to let her speak.

“I didn’t want to believe it. I don’t want to believe...” Helena’s voice was already cracking. Glancing up Martin saw that she was already looking away from him, back over the cliff edge, towards the sea. “I didn’t even think it was possible.”

Martin attempted to place his hand on her shoulder.

“Don’t touch me!”

Helena pulled herself to her feet, the anger once again welling inside her. Martin rose too, pleading with her to be careful. They were too close to the edge, he said, they should go back to the car, talk about it there. It was dangerous-

“This is horrible, I can’t handle this...”

“Of course not, darling, it’s so much to take in...”

“I found a picture of her- in your study. I don’t know why I was in there. I looked in the bottom drawer. The two of you. Standing in front of the MG. I felt sick. When I looked at her... her face... she...”

“She looked just like you.”

“She looked exactly like me. It was like looking in a mirror. I tried to remember when it was taken, but it just didn’t fit. I couldn’t remember. I couldn’t remember because...”


“... because it never happened.”

Martin shook his head.

“ At first I tried to shake it off, that sick feeling, that horrible vacuum. Suddenly there were holes everywhere, inside me... in my memories. My whole life seemed to have happened to someone else, my whole life... where does that leave me? Me! Who am I, Martin? Who am I?”

Martin tried to comfort her. “You’re Helena Congrave. You’re my daughter. You’re my daughter and I love you very much.”

Helena turned round, to face the sea. Her blue summer dress flapped in the breeze, her arms held against her side.

“I’m not though, am I? I’m neither..”

Helena took a step forward. Once again Martin was overcome by a sensation of paralysing indecision. Once again he watched his daughter drop silently from the cliff, down towards the rocks, powerless to do anything about it.

His phone rang. It was Geneva.

“Sorry to disturb you Martin, it’s Bennett. He says you rang him and it sounded urgent- shall I put him through?”

Martin consented with a low grunt and waited patiently for Bennett to be transferred. He explained everything to Bennett; that it had happened again, that the same flaw had manifested itself, that he’d been so positive that it would work this time. Bennett made a brief attempt at consolation before assuring him that “the necessary arrangements would be made”. He continued to talk, but Martin had stopped listening. He was watching the receding tide caress Helena’s broken body far below him, loving her more than ever, willing to do anything within his power to bring her back.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Distance (writeclub submission)


STEVEN’S Mercedes drifted into the fast lane almost silently. From the corner of his eye he could
YOU really did it- not this I mean, not what you did to bring you here, not that catastrophic crazy
see the barrier to the central reservation flashing past, the once glistening galvanised steel coated coal-
bastard selfish idiotic fucking aresehole ill-conceived ill thought out act of self destruction. I mean
black from the exhaust fumes of tens of thousands of vehicles speeding by them every single day.
you wrote it down. I had forgotten about that morning. Tens of thousands? Is that right? Did you
Beyond the barrier the verdant foliage swayed as his vehicle swept past; the sudden sensation of déjà-
count? Did you google it? Well I know all about déjà-vu. I had that sensation when I got the news.
vu overcame him. Only it wasn’t déjà-vu- that was a precise medical phenomenon. He had read
Via text. How contemporary. I thought of that morning. I was seven years old. I was “helping” you
something about it- something to do with blood clots passing over the brain. He had already seen this,
take the bottles to the bottle bank. Over the brain. What’s left of it... you used to talk to me then. Why
of course: he drove this way every day. The route was hard wired into him. First, a short drive down
did you confide in me? Because I didn’t understand, because you thought I wouldn’t remember. Your
towards Eastwood and on to the arterial, then the long, dull drive towards the A12 that would then
secret, frustrated ambitions. I’ve only started to realise now how much I’ve become you. I don’t
take him through Barking, Wanstead, Leyton and Hackney before he’d turn off at Victoria Park Road
drive, of course... familiar territory to me now: the east. Never associated it with you. Never thought
and battle the traffic into Bethnal Green. He had been driving to work for seven years; the route was
much of what you did. What did you do in Bethnal Green? Something that required a suit. And a nice
as familiar to him as the faces of his own children.
car. How familiar were our faces? I mean now. I’ve grown a beard and cut it off four times since that
Within the leather interior of his s-class Steven was completely entombed. Beyond the laminated glass
Christmas. Huh. You were showing off the s-class. Entombed. It didn’t quite become your tomb.
bubble of his windscreen lurked an almost silent world, a world he observed impassively. The faint
You’ll probably die in this bed, a silent world you’re only dimly aware of, if at all. I can hear the same
whirring of engines as he overtook other vehicles was the only hint that anything was real. But this
noise as I sit here beside you, not of passing cars but of ventilators, monitors, unreal apparatus to
was rare: the road was more or less empty, an interminable strip of black asphalt tapering into a wet
keep you connected, to keep you close, to stop you from drifting. Galvanised steel, asphalt... I forgot
grey sky. The road cut tore through a lifeless patchwork of wheat fields, cut back to stubble and bare
that you wanted to be an engineer. And a farmer. You used to tell me lots of things. The morning with
earth. The fields were divided from the road by intermittent strips of hedgerow, bereft of foliage,
the bottles, you told me about your story. About a commuter: every day the same journey, the only
skeletal hands groping limply from the earth, dead and grey and cold. Everything was dead and grey
colour in his life that verdant strip of wilderness dividing the opposing lanes of traffic. Dead and
and cold.
grey. Good imagery. You’re building up to something. I remember now. I remember why Concrete
A steady thudding pulled Steven from his reverie. He had drifted away at the wheel and the car had
Island had felt so familiar. Nothing wrong with plagiarism. But you’re no Maitland and you’re
slid closer to the central reservation, the wheel on the right hands side bumping over the cat’s eyes
certainly no Ballard. You’re another tragic middle aged man; baby-boomer; disposable income;
beside it. He took a deep breath to wake himself, make himself more alert, but the torpor that had
bumping up the ladder; living the dream... shards of glass, a shattered windscreen scattered across the
overcome him was not so easily shaken. It had been growing inside him for a long time now: making
arterial. Whatever was growing inside you has been released. You released it. Your art was never
this same journey every single day, drifting further and further from himself, from what he had once
cathartic, instead you continued making the same journey, drifting further and further from yourself
each day. You were never the same after mum threw you out. Everything that allowed you to maintain
The median was an oasis of life in a grey desert. Tall grasses swayed in the cold winds that swept
a steady speed, keeping you in the centre lane, eyes fixed firmly on the grey, indefinite horizon. You
across the barren landscape. It was a new world, a new life, a new beginning. He placed his foot upon
father, found yourself without purpose, without life, without self deception, hurtling into nothingness.
the accelerator: eighty, eighty five, ninety...
Unfinished. Now your journey has ended. I place the manuscript on top of the night stand beside your bed, then- thinking again- fold it neatly in half twice and place it in my breast pocket. The machinery that breathes for you whirs as your rib cage slowly rises, then falls. The artificial rhythm is hypnotic, I study it for a long time. I have just noticed I am holding your hand, I’m not sure why. This is the closest we have been to one another for many years. But you are not here- whoever you were is scattered across the central reservation, picked up by winds and blown like dust across the Essex countryside.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Killing Time (WriteClub submission)

Killing time

“Don’t you fucking speak to my son like that you little shit!”

Angie had taken issue with Daryl’s decision not to allow her son, Justice, to join us on our Saturday bike-ride. Daryl had a strong case: Justice did not have a bike. Daryl also hated to be told what to do. But Angie was a proud woman and was not about to let a pikey estate kid tell her that her son wasn’t good enough. The unstoppable force had met the immovable object.

We were stood at the centre of the road spiralling off from the estate’s main avenue; the surrounding clumps of cheap, low-rise housing stock commanding clear views of our absurd vignette. The whole estate seemed to be hanging out the little windows of their flat-fronted houses, watching us. Three weeks previously a young girl had collapsed in some kind of fit at the same spot. A dumb crowd had gathered to watch her gyrating uncontrollably. She had regained consciousness- probably nauseous and confused- surrounded by strangers pointing at her crotch and laughing. The girl had wet herself. Three weeks later and the same mob were watching a woman in her nightdress castigate a twelve year old boy for not taking her son on a bike ride.

Justice was sat on his doorstep, looking utterly distressed. His pudgy eyes were close to tears. I gave what I hoped was a sympathetic grin, wondering if he too was recalling the epileptic girl wetting herself in the middle of the street. His mother was yelling at him to fetch his bike. He pulled himself to his feet and ambled lethargically through the gate to his back yard, Angie staring angrily at the spot where he had been sitting moments before, tapping her right foot impatiently. Daryl’s furious countenance was fixed on Angie; his small, screwed-up face crimson with indignation. I took care to position my bike between the adversaries as a shield. The cry of a seagull caused me to look up; I watched it crossing the clear sky, not without envy.

Justice reappeared from his yard with a red racing bike. The front wheel squeaked as he pushed it tentatively towards us. Daryl was unimpressed:

“It hasn’t- got – a fuck-ing chaaiiin...”

Daryl’s sarcastic retort was met with a sharp slap about his head. Instinctively he launched a hopeful fist towards Angie’s face; she caught it deftly with her left hand. She had fought many battles- not just for her children- and was not about to be defeated by an impertinent pubescent boy with bum fluff on his lip.

“Right, that’s enough, shitbag. You’re taking him. Tie his bike to yours and tow him.”

Daryl struggled, enraged, but was utterly impotent. He was strong but not strong enough for Angie.

“You’ll tow him. If you get tired you can swap. Or your little mate can tow him.”

She did not look at me. I muttered a feeble “Yeah, sure”- but it was a command, not a request.

And so Angela held on to Daryl’s bike as he ventured back to his house to fetch some rope. Justice wheeled his bike up beside mine.

“Alright?” I said, to Justice.

He looked down at his new trainers without answering. His mum ran her hand over his light-brown afro hair, studying me carefully. I smiled at her. She did not smile back.

The three of us made our way through the estate in a neat line. Daryl led, Justice slouched uncomfortably in his saddle behind him, and me at the back. We passed occasional groups of older boys, bored and bare-chested on their narrow strips of front lawn, pointing and laughing at Justice’s corpulent form. The late afternoon sun was heavy; with Justice’s additional weight Daryl was tiring rapidly. When we reached the edge of the estate I took over Daryl’s duties and he raced ahead on my lime-green mountain bike. I could only carry Justice so far; eventually we switched places and Justice towed me.

It was a liberating feeling, the world rushed by me without any effort. I thought of how I used to hang my head out of the window of my dad’s car as we wasted another access Saturday hurtling towards some inconsequential destination at the end of an a-road . I yelled something loudly as Justice peddled swiftly along the endless lo-rise homogeneity of the Hornby estate dissolved into the flat expanse of the south Essex countryside… fields of rusty-yellow wheat or bright yellow rape were all that lay between us and the infinite possibility of blue sky.

Daryl hung a sharp left, tearing into a wheat field. The ground was baked hard as tarmac, we laughed loudly as our bicycles cut narrow scars through the landscape, racing towards the pillbox. Daryl was first to arrive. He threw his bike to the floor, climbed atop the pill box and watched us sternly as Justice and I approached. Justice broke sharply; I hadn’t been paying attention- my bicycle ploughed into the back of him. We fell into a heap on the floor, giggling manically.

If not for Daryl we would have probably stayed like that for a while, an orgy of velophiles- Justice beneath Daryl’s bike, me beneath Justice’s… but Daryl was not impressed. Cupping his hands about his mouth, stood atop the pillbox, he released a massive cry:


We were silenced. Justice’s grinning visage swiftly folded itself into a frown. With angry intent he heaved himself up to the top of the pillbox. I hurriedly scampered after him, fearing that he was going to attempt to punish Daryl for this insult. I was mistaken. Just as Daryl had done, Justice cupped his hands over his mouth and yelled as loud as he could:


I joined in:


There was no-one for miles. Our grating, adolescent yelps took on increasing authority and confidence as we yelled expletives at our absent fathers, continuing until the sun started to sink, casting long shadows from the poplars lining the far side of the field. Utterly exhausted we each laid ourselves prostrate on the roof of the pill box. The swifts were darting across the clear sky, releasing their shrill calls, almost in mimicry of our own cries earlier. The sudden smell of cheap tobacco smoke pulled me briefly from my reverie- Daryl had lit another of the Superkings. When he eventually passed the cigarette to me, I wondered if this was how it was after men and women made love, staring into nothingness with a feeling of utter content, smoking silently.

Once More (WriteClub submission)

Once More

“Great stuff guys, great stuff! Now, once more: this time with feeling!”

Murat shuddered as he recalled the words of the band leader. He lit a gitane. He hated the fatuous irony of the young. Everything was tongue in cheek, nothing was ever really meant. And when did guys become an acceptable term? Probably the eighties. Murat attributed everything that was wrong with everything to the eighties. But then the eighties weren’t a good time for jazz... muzak and soul-fusion and Miles Davies trying his hand at hip-hop... It was a sentiment he’d thought most people shared. 1980-1989: terrible clothes, terrible music, terrible politics. Memories are short, thought Murat. At some point in the recent past the terrible clothes, terrible music and terrible politics had made a comeback.

Murat considered the notion that everything was cyclical, steadying himself against his car as the world span around him. He hated repetition, especially in music. This talk of getting into the groove... the record going round and around and around... it did nothing for him. What was a groove if not a rut? He exhaled. He had been in a rut for a very long time. A sudden slam of the car boot jolted him from his self pity.

“Okay?” Jorge had managed to squeeze Murat’s bass in to the back of the car by dropping the rear seats. Murat smiled at the rigid face of the Brazilian drummer. Jorge did not smile back; he always carried the same determined, slightly stupid expression. Murat thanked him and Jorge ambled toward his own vehicle; Murat drove home through the sticky summer evening alone.
Jorge and Murat played together in a competent but unexceptional gypsy jazz band alongside a pedestrian violinist and an interminably smug guitarist. It was the guitarist’s project: it was the guitarist who had exclaimed: “Once more- with feeling!” at the rehearsal. For Murat it should have been another low-rent outfit in which he could somnambulate through rehearsals and collect ready cash at weekly gigs. Should have been… but Jorge made that outfit different. The drummer could play. Murat knew that. He had been around long enough to recognise that Jorge was blessed with unparalleled technical ability. He had already accrued years of experience playing with respected musicians all over the world, despite his youth. But Jorge disturbed Murat: that blank, passionless countenance was not the face of an artist; it was the face of a plebeian. Jorge thought but Jorge did not feel.

Murat left the upright in his car and slowly ascended the steps to his front door. The geraniums smelt very strong. It was the heat. London was getting warmer, he thought, as it seems to every summer. Some of the flowers would need to be dead-headed.

From the moment Murat placed his key in the lock he could hear the cat mewing. Calmly he made his way to the kitchen, retrieving his secateurs from the drawer beneath the draining board. The cat had followed him from the hallway to the kitchen and back again, mewing the whole time. Murat was oblivious to the cat’s demands, instead concentrating on removing the spent heads of his fragrant pelargoniums. His work was complete, he placed the secateurs into the breast pocket of his jacket, walked slowly to his living room and collapsed into his armchair. The cat padded in shortly after, still mewing incessantly. Murat struck it with a sharp kick of his left foot, and it scurried into the kitchen. It would have to wait. He pushed the living room door shut. He sat in silence, his mind dwelling on nothing, until he fell asleep.

The following evening Murat drove to the venue, a large private house in North London. Jorge helped him with the bass. After a brief sound-check they launched into their usual repertoire of Hot Club de Paris gypsy jazz, the room slowly filling with hedge fund managers and equine women in expensive ball gowns.

The band were struggling to compete with the increasingly loud murmurs of the crowd. Murat, angered, looked to Jorge for support. But Jorge’s expression was unchanged, rigid. Murat turned away in disappointment, but for a moment thought he caught sight of the slightest of snarls forming at the corner of Jorge’s mouth. Jorge began to hit his drums with a much greater ferocity.

The band leader shot a sharp glance back towards his rhythm section. Murat met his eyes briefly before turning to face Jorge. The tempo increased. Murat began playing with a renewed aggression. The violinist glanced at him nervously, the pace was not what he was used to, and he was out of his comfort zone. But he played: harder and faster than he had at any previous practice.

Murat’s pulse quickened: they were approaching the drum solo. Turning to Jorge he found the drummer staring hard at him: he was seeking his permission. Murat did not hesitate.


Jorge launched into a fierce drum solo. The clockwork perfection of his previous performances was forgotten, usurped by a primal force that ripped into the kit. It was powerful and angry but beneath the raw energy lurked spastic control, a terrifying autism that could bring the noise to a sudden stop, then a start, and then another sudden STOP. Building layer upon layer of complex rhythms, fluctuating in a miasmic blur of sight and sound he became a whirlwind of flailing limbs and machine gun bursts of percussion.

Jorge swept through the room like a hurricane. When his solo came to its cataclysmic conclusion all the air had been sucked out of it. Murat exhaled through his long nose, as quietly as he could manage. He had no desire to break the silence. It was time for his solo. From his pocket he produced the secateurs with which he had dead headed the pelargoniums.

One by one he cut the four thick strings of his upright before releasing the neck. It crashed to the floor.

“There it is!” he said, making his way across the room of astonished hedge fund managers, “there’s your fucking feeling.”

Dig (WriteClub submission)


“Am I beautiful?”

Sun is talking to me after too long quiet: staring down with her single nonchalant eye, humming fuzzy discord, occasional spluttering when odd smoke-dragon from chimney stack interrupts her staring... it is good it is good it is good to hear her voice again and I smile wide. I answer her question by beaming back at her, a staring idiot man-mirror.

“Stop smiling. You look like an idiot.”

I obey; she gets back to humming. I pick out a rhythm with the mattock hoe, turning the static hiss of her dumb utterances into music. Pick end digs hard, dry ground- I hear dull, blunt thud. Small stones and dust fly skyward- comedown earthward like hot rain on a tin roof. Pick comes back across the ground- is a scratch on dry metal, a rasp, a washboard. Again I strike. The thud, the rain, the scratch. I modify the tempo, sun’s drone intensifies. I break the earth: beads of sweat on my forehead weep for the dry ground, making more music. They are harp-strung arpeggios and high-pitched glockenspiels. Filling my atrophied lungs with hot, dry air I tense my diaphragm, and issue a long, low note. It is an F.

The sun’s voice meets me an octave lower. We have a shared purpose. Music has demarcated a patch of common ground upon which the two of us can sit comfortably, side by side. We are two old friends, two lovers: a sister and a brother. Her low rumbling descant is joined by a sweet, long high note, pitched at the interval of a major sixth. It soars above the bass tone, slides to the fifth, and up to the sixth again, oscillating between the two notes on every second mattock strike. Encouraged by this simple melody the sun lets her bass-drone crawl to the second interval at the turnaround of every fourth bar. Our song triggers a buried memory- as music is want to do- and I recollect the lyrics of a simple song that once we sang in a summer not so uncompromising, years ago.

You can’t see me in the sunshine
‘coz I am the colour of the sunshine
...i am a yellow fly...
...i am a yellow fly...

I remember a beautiful day. The hum of the sun was not so abrasive, a quieter noise lurking on the periphery of hearing, felt through skin and seen with eyes. Between comfortable silences lurked quick sharp words and laughter, or else drawn out narratives, all happy and bland. Friends whose names escape me, distant figures now, flitted behind the curtain of my closed eyes. One voice rose above the others. It belonged to Sarah. She was singing

I am a yellow fly,
I am a yellow fly...
You cannot see me in the sunshine...
‘coz I am the colour of the sunshine...

I recall picking out that same simple melody of sun on a nylon strung guitar. It had been left outside a charity shop downstairs by some thoughtful/thoughtless individual and Sarah had brought it out with her onto the roof terrace.

I am a yellow fly...

Sarah stopped. I strummed an A major 7, and there was a brief pause. Everybody clapped and Sarah was looking at me: all beautiful wide mouth and wide eyes. A hand patted my shoulder and I turned to receive kind words from some now forgotten companion. I felt Sarah’s hot breath on the back of my neck, before she did something I thought peculiar. She put her arms over my shoulders and kissed the back of my head. It was strange because I had never thought much of that insensitive lump, that part of my body only acknowledged when inadvertently caught on a mantel piece or table corner... she kissed me there and that was when we fell in love.
Seems funny to think of Sarah now. I have tried to bury her, tried to hide that wide mouth, those wide eye whose colour I can’t now recall. I have buried them in dark earth and dust, buried the past with the present.

The sun has stopped singing. Like a broken record she is caught at the interchange between the root note and the second interval, the high melody has halted. Instead I can just make out an angry staccato, gradually rising in amplitude, accompanied by a new percussion instrument. It is a marching drum: trip-trap, trip-trap, trip-trap, louder and faster. My own drum track has faltered, the mattock hangs pathetically at my side. It is not funny to think of Sarah, it is dangerous.


The staccato is right behind me. Suddenly I remember the stairs and the bicycle. I shudder as it builds to a crescendo. A thud and a blunt pain in my back and suddenly I have the disorientating sensation of being pushed and pulled in opposite directions. My consciousness is being dragged too quickly from the depths of memory; my body collapses in on itself. I am unable to sustain its own weight. I am aware of my weakness. I am aware of my dry throat. I am aware of my taut, blistered skin. In the broken ground where I have attempted to bury my memories I have unearthed more recent, rawer experiences. Like striking a water main, it bursts suddenly and violently and drenches everything that it touches. It does not bring relief, it is no balm for my wounds. It is pain. It is the memory of the oubliette, the smiling interrogator, the incomprehensible foreign tongues and all too easily understood rifle butts. And the bicycle and the stairs.

I had not slept in for several days. They saw to that. I had eaten nothing but rancid bread and the occasional locust. The smiling interrogator was sat opposite me, gently toying with a glass of water. All I had to do, he said, was put the bicycle at the top of the stairs.

“Then you can have some water “

But the stairs and the bicycle were beyond my reach. The interrogator was holding a photograph of a bicycle at the bottom of a staircase. And that was when I broke.

The sun is talking to me. She is not asking me if she is beautiful. I do not understand her anymore. I think she wants me to climb out of the pit I have been digging. The sun is shining on the face of a young soldier. His mouth is not beautiful and wide: his narrow lips are pursed in a hateful pout. His eyes are not full of love: they are squinting in the light, at once angry and afraid. But when he signals me to turn around, I do so.

The shot is a kiss on the back of my head. I fall face first into my memories, back into Sarah’s arms.

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