Brian held Sarah. He didn’t know how long it was, time didn’t seem to be important anymore.
All he wanted to do was to kiss her, to show her how he truly felt – how he had always felt. But he knew that it wasn’t the time.
There was something about the way Sarah clung to him that made Brian’s heart-break. It seemed like she needed to hold onto him, like he was the only thing that was keeping her from disappearing.
Through her thin cotton shirt, Brian could distinctly feel the bones of Sarah’s ribs protruding unkindly through the skin on her back. Her hair, still vibrantly red, was in need of a wash, and the skin of her hands, that held the back of Brian’s neck, was rough.
Brian’s mind started wandering, imagining what Sarah’s life had been like. She gently pulled away from him, “Come inside, I want to know everything Brian.”
Sarah turned to go back into her home, “Now Brian – I haven’t said that name in years – the house is in a bit of a mess, I don’t have a lot of company, so everything is everywhere. Sorry.”
“I came to see you, not your house and I’m sure it can’t be any more messy than what I’m used to.”
Sarah was leading Brian down a dimly lit hall into a living room attached to a small kitchen. It was more of a kitchenette really, a narrow bench with an oven and stove at one end and a refrigerator at the other. Sarah beckoned for him to take a seat at a small round dining table, as she filled a kettle with water.
“Tea or coffee” she asked, although Brian suspected she already knew the answer.
“So Brian, this has got to be the happiest shock of my life. What are you doing here?”
“I wanted to see you.” Brian thought it was best to just get straight to the point.
“So you are here on business or travelling with friends? Or family?” Sarah was working at the bench, shooting questions over her shoulder as she arranged biscuits on a plate.
“Uh, well, no I . . .” he felt like he was some kind of lunatic, sure that she was going to think him insane, “I literally came here to see you.”
Sarah placed a mug in front of him, and cocked her head to the side, “You came to see me?”
“To see me.”
Sarah let the sentence hang in the air, disbelieving it’s truth as she sat down next to Brian. He felt like he would burst just from the closeness of her. She didn’t seem to be ready to continue with the conversation so Brian took a sip of his tea, it was just the way he liked it. She remembered.
Sarah wanted to know more.
“So when you say that you came here to see me, what does that mean exactly?”
“It means that I lost my job, packed my bag, sold my car and jumped onto a plane, so that I could find you.”
“And when was that?”
“Less than a week ago.”
Until this point Sarah had seemed happy but at this a deeply disturbed look crossed her face. “You found me in less than a week?”
“It was more like a day, but I had some help. Why? What’s wrong?”
“Maybe nothing, but maybe a lot.” Sarah was growing more agitated with every passing second.
“What do you mean? I met someone on the flight and her partner is a private detective. They helped me to find you.”
“So you didn’t just find me on your own?”
“No. Sarah, tell me what’s going on?”
“I was so happy to see you I didn’t even think about it at first.” Sarah started chewing a fingernail.
“Think about what?”
Sarah stood up and started pacing the small space.
“Brian when you arrived here, what did you think?”
“I guess I was just thinking about you?”
“Really? You didn’t think there was anything strange about the house? About me?”
“I did. I never imagined you living in a house like this, and I suppose you look a little differently than I thought you would too.”
“What exactly didn’t seem right?”
“Well,” Brian didn’t know what was going on but he still felt awkward explaining his imaginings, “I guess I always imagined you living in a nicer home, with a family. You don’t have flowers growing, you don’t even have green grass.”
“I always loved flowers didn’t I? But things change.”
Sarah walked to the sink and looked out of the small kitchen window, still chewing on the same nail. Brian could do nothing but wait, Sarah was deep in thought. The emotional struggle apparent in the furrow of her brow.
“Brian when we moved away, all those years ago, my dad believed he was taking us to a better life. Well we got here, and it wasn’t better. The job he’d come for was outsourced before we’d been here a year. We had no money, nowhere to live, and I had to quit school so that I could work.”
She turned to him and leant up against the bench, waiting for Brian to respond. But Brian didn’t know what to do with this information, so she continued.
“I started waitressing after school, just to help mum and dad out, you know. But then mum lost her job too, so I had to work full-time, most days I worked for 13 or 14 hours. It was okay, I did it because I had to, it wasn’t so bad. I was saving a little so that I could take a night course. That lasted for three or four years. Then . . .” Sarah turned back towards the window, Brian could see that her shoulders had started to shake. Sarah was crying.
Brian had to comfort her, he moved to her and held one of her shaking hands, “Then? What happened next Sarah?”
“Then, he killed himself Brian.”