Fragments Of Time

Entry by: Nae Bother

8th October 2022
You know the saying. That you go out of this world as you come into it. Alone. It's not true.

My memories are with me, some of them complete, some of them misshapen, haphazard. Fragments. Some soft like pillows, some jagged like broken glass but they surround me and keep me company.

I remember my school, the smell of polish and plimsolls and ink spills. The bell at the end of lessons, the bell at the end of the day. It's ringing now. Time to go home.

I always loved 3:30. Would hold hands with my best friend, Rachel. We'd skip to the gates to meet our mums, promising each other eternal friendship. My first love.

Home. The garden. Hollyhocks, sweet honeysuckle growing to hide the ugly concrete post securing the washing line. The bees buzzing in the warmth of the summer sun. Trying to make perfume from rose petals. Snapdragons. Squeezing their bases so the flowers moved like jaws.

There's a gate I cannot enter. No matter how many times I approach. Again and again. I want to go through it. Loved ones are there. I keep trying but an invisible force pushes me back to where I began. I want to scream: either let me through or leave me be. It feels like torture.

I'm in the kitchen. The pressure cooker is hissing and there's a steamy smell of stewing beef and suet. I hope we've got crumble. Just apple. Not with blackberries. The pips stick in my teeth.

Mum is upstairs but I can't get into her room. She's crying. Let me in mum. Please.

And then you're there. On the beach, in the dark. A party, with a bonfire and lots of cider. Students home for the summer with some or other reason to celebrate. It didn't matter. Any reason would do. Sitting on the shingle with a good friend, two boys sitting behind. A boy we knew and you. My best love. The one.

A party for us. A car with tin cans and ribbons, balloons tied to the bumper. I don't remember who caught the bouquet. Nothing mattered. Only us.

A tiny fist. Our only child. Reading Winnie the Pooh out loud while legs and arms kicked and waved. The first crawl from one room to the next. Pride at every step, at every stage. The growing of roots, spreading of branches. The knotty mass of emotions. Gut filling. Love, hope, fear, anger, forgiveness, love, love and love again. Beautiful. Honest. Ours.

Here's the gate again. Still can't get through. I don't want to be out here any more. I'm cold and afraid. The memories are fading. I don't want to be alone.

I can hear mum's voice. Time to go home now. Time to sleep. It's been a long, long day. I'm so tired.

Is that my brother? He sounds annoyed. Always late. Always keeping us waiting. I say, I'm trying. I want to come through but I can't.

A voice says, it's not time. You can't go through. A warm voice, your voice. I feel a hand in mine, squeezing gently. An urgency. Can I open my eyes? Can I wake up?

There are tubes everywhere. An oxygen mask. And you, smiling.