An old lady sits on her chair rocking in an unconscious rhythm. Long are the days of loneliness. Her eyes wander around her sterile white hospital room before glancing at the landscape that is captured between the rain that cascades down her window. Fragments of images are pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle that was once loved. Grey, cold buildings stretch up out of the pavement like a plant searching for the sunlight. This is the picture of modern times. These people knows no different. But she does. Looking down at her hands in sorrow her fingers trace the line of a lilac scar that weaves it way down her arm to her hand like a river.
Bright green forests stretch as far as I can see as I cup my hands around my eyes like a pair of binoculars. The trunks of the old trees hug each other tightly as they weave their way higher into the endless sky. Birds flitter in and out of branches. I climb these trees imagining I'm in a different world. Me and my friends are not children today we are monkeys. Grabbing low hanging ivy that has escaped the clutches of the trees, we swing through the forest. Climbing higher and higher I break the surface of the canopy. Sunlight touches my skin and warms me. “I can see the whole world from up here!” I yelled down to my best friend Meredith Cartwright as I giggled . “Help me up Clara” she squealed impatiently, “I want to see the world”. I grabbed her hand and pulled her onto the branch that I sat on looking out at our kingdom. “This is amazing Clara, Look at the sun shining on the lake. It looks like a fairytale!” Meredith’s happiness echoed throughout the woods and ricocheted back to them. “It’s an enchanted kingdom Mere, we are the Queens and that is our palace! I am never going to forget this moment!” I said pointing my finger in the direction of a tiny hill that looked out over the town. “There can’t be two Queens Clara, don’t be silly!” Meredith replied as she nudged me in the ribs playfully. The innocent gesture sent me off balance as I teetered on the edge of the branch that was the only thing between me and the forest floor.
Grasping her hands together the old lady winces as if she can still feel the pain from the fall. She looks down once more at the scar that defines her arm and holds such beautiful memories before pulling down the rough wool of her shawl. It is times like these that the old lady wishes she could still visit Meredith. Or remember her name for more than a few precious moments. She wonders if Meredith still thinks of her or remembers. A tear escapes the corner of the old lady’s eye as she suppresses the thoughts of Meredith Cartwright. She wipes it away with her old handkerchief that she always keeps close but cannot remember why. Embroidered in the corner of the once beautiful piece of material is a set of initials, S.H. Running her hand along the gold thread that spells out the initials she combs her memory for a thread that will connect her to a name. Green eyes the colour of serpents haunt her thoughts. These eyes are the key to her locked away memories. The old lady struggles to stand as her trembling legs strain against her weight. Her brittle frame hunches over as she shuffles across the tiles towards the window pain and looks out at the city.
Lights illuminate the night as they cascade down from the street lamps that hold them above like a million little shining stars. Music plays from a distance accompanied by a chorus of laughter and joy from the townsfolk. The night is warm and the moon is bright. Meredith leans against a brick wall that encloses the show grounds as she calls at me and waves her hands above her in a wild manner. “Clara dear, over here!” she bellowed. “I have been waiting ever so patiently for you to arrive! You would never guess who I just had the pleasure of meeting!” she squealed as we linked arms and walked towards the entrance. “Why I have not an idea at all Meredith, but please do share” I said sounding as interested as I could manage, “Why if it was not Mr. Norbury himself! And my does he look handsome!” she exclaimed. I stifled a reply “You mean to say that you find an older man attractive?” I looked at her with a disapproving look “Not to say that he is married with a family!” She stopped mid stride and looked at me with bewildered ice blue eyes “Clara do you really think so little of me? I meant his son, Niles” Meredith said turning a beautiful shade of red. “He and his friend who I did not have the pleasure of being introduced to” she tried not to look agitated “saw me waiting and asked me if I was here alone and after I told them that I was waiting for the company of the magnificent Clara” She winked “They invited the two of us to meet with them at the Ferris wheel at nine o’clock!” Meredith took me by the shoulders and looked me in the eyes “We have to go! Oh and by the way his friend is no eye sore.”
The old lady barks out a violent cough as she settles back down onto her hard hospital gurney.
We walk hand in hand down the tree lined lane that leads out of town. Street lamps flicker in the wind as their flame is blown around. “Clara-“ he began hesitantly “since I first laid eyes on you back at the fair I have not felt right” he managed looking into my eyes with a deepness that seemed endless. He bent his head and took my hand within his, turning it over and examining my palm “I have felt like this with no other, and it scares me, it scares me that when I leave you tonight I may not be the same when I return from the war” I looked at him with a quizzical look “What do you mean? I am sorry if I have done something wrong, did I hurt you? I’m so sorry Seb-“ It was then that he cut me off. He looked up from below his lashes as they cast shadows down his cheek. “Clara no, not at all. You would never! What I meant was that you have stolen my heart, and if you leave tonight I fear that I will miss you a great deal too much.” It was then that his eyes swallowed me into their mysterious green depth. My reflection swirled in them, my brown hair and eyes a scrambled image. There was an invisible force connecting me to him, a tiny thread that tethered my soul to his. With the moon silhouetting us from behind, shadows painted hallows beneath his eyes and cheeks, making him look breathtakingly beautiful and equally mysterious. His hands held my face, steadying it before him. The wind picked up and tangled my curls around him, twining us together. Despite the cool of the wind, a flame flickered within me, vulnerable to his touch. I closed my eyes and melted away. “Kiss you now?” He asked. I couldn’t speak, a pathetic whimper was my reply. His mouth found mine. All hesitancy had left him, and he kissed me with his own fire, deep and possessive, consuming my body, my soul. “I love you” he proclaimed as he held me in a tight embrace, I was not taken aback, I had felt it to “I love you, I always will. You are mine and always will be. Don’t you ever forget that”. My mind reeled as I committed this moment to memory. It was then that it felt like a million little stars had just aligned. His armour had fallen. He placed a soft fabric into my hand and placed it on my heart “Keep this close, for it is a part of me, if you always have this you will always have me. Until the morning Clara” he bowed his head and at that he turned and left. I stood there and watched as he briskly retreated towards town carrying with him a piece of me that will never be the same. I looked down at the lacy fabric that was enclosed in my fist, and unfolded it. The two sparkling gold letters, S.H, threaded its way through my heart. Sebastian Hayes.
The old lady sits on the end of her gurney wilting away like a rose that was once alive and beautiful. All colour drained from her face as it lay in her palms. Her shawl fell off her shoulders as she struggled to stand. Stumbling upright she wanders aimlessly over to a medical cabinet where mementos from her past lay strewn out across the surface. They are her only belongings. Taking a silvery wrinkled hand splattered with age spots she opens the lid of a trinket box that sits hidden behind other objects. The contents hold a vast array of objects meaningless to others, but sentimental to the old lady. Her powdery fingers shakily pick up a small gold band that is somewhat beautiful in a subtle way. In scripted in fine link are two words “Never forget”. It seems the old lady has forgotten what this once meant. She runs her hand across the fine indentations that are strategically placed around the band to form an intricate pattern. Her mind ticked away like an old grandfather clock as she pressed on trying to figure out where this ring was from and why she wasn’t wearing it. She looked down again at her crippled hands. Arthritis ridden and bent beyond repair it resembled an old willow tree whose branches had twisted with sorrow. She tried with what energy she could sustain to put the ring on her left hand. Frustration and anger flickered upon her face in a montage of emotions. Fighting a brick wall that was built inside her head she trembled with an unknown emotion that was always felt when she could no longer remember her past. Who she was, what she was, who she loved and who loved her were gone. Hidden away. It seemed that everything that the old lady once knew was gone. Like her life had been erased from a canvas that once glistened with colour. She had forgotten and people had forgotten her. She held herself upright by the corner of the cabinet. Sometimes the old lady struggled with her breathing.
"Clara, do you remember the day we wed?" Sebastian asked with a smile so wide it seemed to reach from ear to ear "do you remember the day like it was yesterday? I do. It is one of my favourite memories" he coughed. I reached my hand out to his as we intertwined our fingers. "Dear, how could I forget?" I smiled taking my hand from his and removing the gold band that lived on my left hand. "Never forget, Sebastian. You said it then and I say it now. I will never forget. Never forget the moments we shared. The sunsets, the early mornings, the secret kisses, the children, our midnight promises and our love. I will never forget, not in this life and not in the next" I whispered only wanting Sebastian to hear my words. Replacing the ring I kissed each of his fingers and placed my hand back in his icy hold. "Clara, I know the end is near. We both know and I need to-" his words were lost as he wheezed his way through to his next breath. "I-I-I need you to know that I will be waiting for you on the other side. In a place so beautiful that it will leave you speechless, a place where we can be together forever, for this life has not been enough. I need you to know that you will be cared for by the children until you meet me again." Croaking out something else unintelligible Sebastian rolled onto his back and pulled my hand close to his heart "Clara dear, feel my last beats for hey are limited and know, please know, that they are for you and our only. They have only ever bet for you, my love." Tears escaped both our eyes, tears that were shed for only us. Because in that moment it felt like no one else existed, just the two of us, Sebastian and Clara Haye. An ominous beep echoed throughout the hospital room and quickened as Sebastian's breathing became shallower "I love you Clara Elizabeth Haye" Sebastian said looking into my eyes with his green eyes that after all these years still had the power to surprise me with their mystery. It was in that moment that the nurses, accompanied by doctors entered the room at a hurried pace. The atmosphere changed and the mumbles of their worried voices echoed throughout Clara's otherwise occupied mind "what's happening?" She exclaimed sick with worry "He hasn't got long" a man with a lanky frame and tired eyes replied, he wore an indifferent mask of emotion. "I would advise you to say your goodbyes, we have done all we can but there is no going back now. It is the inevitable, I'm sorry" he proclaimed with such certainty, and with that they departed and left us alone. Sebastian was laying stif with only his chest rising slowly with every last breath. "I love you Sebastian" I whispered in his ear as I pressed my lips to his. One last stolen kiss. His eyes met mine and in that moment I knew it was true. His eyes glittered with sorrow "Until we meet again my love, my life" he breathed. "Never forget." And with that the monitor beeped and a straight line followed.
An old lady sobbed herself to sleep holding an old tattered handkerchief to her heart. Her wasted away body was hollow and limp as it lay motionless under a dirty stain covered sheet. Her chest was rising ever so slowly as if each breath was a great feat to be accomplished. Her eyelids flickered as strange dreams etched their way through her mind. She dreamt of a happy place, a place long forgotten. As she became more unconscious the pain stopped and her grip on the handkerchief loosened. It feel onto the hard mattress and opened to where something was folded ever so carefully in a cradle of fabric. There lay a golden wedding band that contrasted with the initials on the handkerchief. On the dresser lays an envelope which encloses a long handwritten note addressed to the family that forgot her. Words how little they mean when there a little to late. In the darkness of the night the cold wind sweeps the old lady's spirt away. A forgotten lady with forgotten memories. Taken to a place where she will always be remembered.
An old lady awakes to a gentle breeze caressing her cheek. She sits upright and is blinded by the beauty of the scenery. A glistening blue lake splashes the fields from her childhood home. Arms embrace the old lady from behind taking her aback. A soft familiar voice whispers two words in her ear "Never forget".
Courteney Sinclair-Baker Year 12