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his time, to keep it in my mind, and replay it whenever I liked. Was I the only one who realised what that night meant, that I wouldn’t see her again? I had thought so at the time.    Ali wore jeans and a checked blouse. Her top button had come undone during the evening and exposed the top of her bra, the soft dip of her cleavage. I liked to think she’d done this for me. She was still seeing Sean then (they finished a few months later I subsequently discovered). A few went out for curry and chips after closing, but Ali and Sean said they were heading off. There were about ten of us, and I waited in line for a farewell hug from her. She felt so warm, her body slight and delicate against mine as we held each other. It crossed my mind to say how I felt, to tell her to forget about Sean and be with me. She whispered something just as the others were laughing loudly at a joke, and I couldn’t make out what she said.    ‘Come on,’ called Sean, and I felt her pull away.    ‘What did you say?’ I asked.    I don’t think she heard me. She just looked to the ground, her hands in front of her, and Sean put his arm around her waist and they left. He must have known how I felt. It must have been obvious to everyone.    Like a scattering of birds after gunshot, we all separated after uni. I kept in touch with Pete but only for about six months. Not deliberately; other things just got in the way. The last time we met up, he told me that Ali had broken up with Sean.    ‘Why don’t you go after her?’ he said.    I shook my head. I wasn’t going to make more of a fool of myself than I already had. She could tell how I felt and hadn’t responded. But by then, I’d started at Harrison’s and had just met Freya.    Even after she and I were married, I often had a few minutes alone with Ali in my mind. I would close my eyes, think of our hug and breathe in the smell of her skin – the scent of soap and lemons. With time it became harder to remember, the memory fading like an old photograph left out in the sun. I wondered what she was doing now, whether she was married, or had any children. Freya and I had two boys, Adam and George, eighteen months apart. Beautiful, lively boys. I see them most weekends now, and for longer during the school holidays. It was difficult for a time, but now I think they have forgiven me for leaving their mum.    I could have married again. I met Katherine at work soon before I left there to try teaching, and we lived together for five years. She wanted to, but I said I wasn’t sure. After Freya. A convenient excuse.    She held me in her arms as she said, ‘Don’t let one bad experience put you off. I’m not Freya.’    I smiled but was silent. You’re not Ali, I thought without wanting to.    She supported me while I trained, and again when I realised I hated teaching and left the school. She was lovely when she said that I would find something else, something I loved. But she couldn’t quite stop 131

LIJLA Vol.2, No.1 February 2014

Profile for Sacred Heart College

LIJLA Vol. 2 No. 1 Feb. 2014  

Short Fiction/Poetry/Visual Arts/Tanka by James Wall, Shanta Acharya, Billy O'Callaghan, Henry Stindt, George Szirtes, Kala Ramesh, Catheri...

LIJLA Vol. 2 No. 1 Feb. 2014  

Short Fiction/Poetry/Visual Arts/Tanka by James Wall, Shanta Acharya, Billy O'Callaghan, Henry Stindt, George Szirtes, Kala Ramesh, Catheri...

Profile for lijla