Remember by Lauren Stevenson (NWS/Post competition winner, over-18 category)
‘It’s strange; this square is where we started. These slabs are where we stood.’
He turns around and takes a seat on the steps that surround the market square. The clock of the council building stares at him; he stares back. He studies the white face, the delicate hands, the black lines signifying the time that’s passing, the time that’s passed.
‘Those hands, they always moved ten times faster when I was with you.’
He smiles to himself.
‘Remember that night we stayed up until 6am and you drunkenly decided we had to star gaze? You lay down right in the middle of the square and you pulled me down with you. The silence moved around us and you clung to my hand as if those slabs would open up and swallow you and I was the only thing keeping you there, safe, grounded. And then after what seemed like hours you just jumped up and ran straight through the fountain, disposing of items of clothing one at a time. You were the most beautiful girl in the world. No, you are the most beautiful girl in the world.’ He nods to himself; a tear falls carelessly from his eye and lands on his hand.
‘You remember Christmas when you decided that we had to go skating. You said the rink was in the square every year and you’d never been before so we just had to. You spent most of it on your bum screeching with laugher. You love Christmas. What’s going to happen this year? Who’s going to walk round the Christmas market with me? Who’s going to keep my hands warm in the cold? Who’s going to sing carols at the top of their lungs and not give a damn what anyone else thinks?’
More tears fall. He hasn’t noticed that people are slowing down as they walk past him. He hasn’t noticed the strange looks and the concerned faces. He hasn’t noticed the middle-aged woman who has sat down next to him.
‘Remember that screaming match we had that Friday afternoon? I can’t even remember what it was about now. You wouldn’t talk to me for days after. And then after my begging and pleading for you to forgive me you just burst into laughter and couldn’t get over how silly it had all been. Arguing in the middle of the square in the middle of the day. This place, it was our place.’
The conversation in his head grinds to a halt. The middle-aged woman reaches her arm around his shoulder and pulls him into her. He hadn’t realised he was sobbing. He turns to face the woman.
‘It’s ok’ she nods, ‘There’s a lot of memories in this old place.’