She said she would meet me in the old town, so we planned to stop there on the return journey from Italy. Very little had changed in the centre of town. I explained to Sarah that I would meet Mel near my old school: this was after all our old ground, twenty years back. Sarah smiled, letting me indulged in this fantasy. We agreed to meet after an hour, at the nice terrace in the town square, and have dinner there. So it was that I walked those narrow streets again, retracing my life, the life of a younger man, a new spring in my steps, as I approached the old walls. The gate was shut, it was Friday night, and, besides, the summer recess. I saw no one, there was no traffic here, the street was emptier than I could remember. I walked a little up the street, then around the corner, and saw the house where my parents had lived. Then I sensed her presence, well before I saw her. The shop in the corner had been a grocery combined with a bicycle repair shop, and was now gone. In its place was a solicitor’s office, but the little recess I remembered well was there: often I had parked my bike there, and sometimes Mel had been waiting for me there too. And there she was, standing in the semi darkness, hood down on her face, wearing a long dark robe, like a monk’s. I came closer, the dim light showing none of her features. I said: “Tell me you’re real”, and she replied, in a voice I recognised immediately: “as real as you, I have just been dead for longer than you, is all.” I sighed, we were silent for long minutes, images from our past flowing in my mind. Then I could smell her scent. And I was back then, all those years, waiting for her on the steps of the school, admiring her legs, her smile, ignoring the jealous looks of my friends and the other girls’ giggles. She then said: “You have not changed: you always get me wet, even now!” I blushed. Mel had been dead for nearly twenty years, yet she sounded so lively. I took a step towards her, slowly. She laughed, her sunny girl laugh, full of life. I stood now so close. I knew it could be but a mirage, the ghost of my friend. Then I heard Sarah’s voice: “You have been here for nearly two hours, there is nothing in that corner Julian, just you”. And she was right.
all dreams extinct ~