Above Us Only Sky

Imagine there's no heaven...

Tom has lots of time on his hands when he falls ill, he looks back at his short life, contemplating and try to fathom out what went wrong in his world when everything comes crashing down.

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9. Chapter Nine

All through this I’ve been indebted to my sister, which is really weird as less than a year ago we were sworn enemies, never giving each other time of day. The illness and the death of our mother brought us closer together, the common suffering manifesting itself in a friendship that would make us realise that we were alone together in the world and needed each other more each day. She took my illness in her stride, helping me physically to cope with what had been dealt me. She was the rock that was by my side most of the time, giving me succour and comfort when I needed it.

Apart from family there’s nothing more important in your life as friends. I’m not talking about those acquaintances that you have at school or in the work place or relationships in the love arena, but those you build up over a length of time, the ones who you rely on. I cherish everyone of them but that’s for later. During the past few months, my sisters friend has become my friend. She’s fun and kind, a nice interlude. She’s spent a lot of time with us over the past few months, helping me but more importantly helping my sister cope.

Not long after the sky collapsed on my world they suggested a trip to the seaside. Physically I struggle to walk and stay alert for long periods, but as it was a nice day I decided that sitting on the front at Scarborough or Filey might do me good. It’s a couple of hours at the most and not too stressful. I should have seen that they were planning something but wasn’t completely with it at the time.

Over the weeks, Alice, my sisters friend had talked to me, got me talking about my flower child. For once here was someone who didn’t bear a grudge against her, someone who seemed to understand how I felt, why I couldn’t hate her. She asked me about the happy times, my regrets and listened as I poured my feeling, my very soul out to her.

That morning we set off, Alice driving my car and me in the back. I fell asleep quickly, not a usual thing for me, but a reaction I think. I wasn’t sure how long I was gone, the rumble of the tyres on the road numbing my mind. It was the best sleep I think I’d had for weeks. I woke up and slowly took in my surroundings. The air conditioning made me shiver slightly, a few goose bumps on my arms. I didn’t recognise the road we were on, I’d been to Scarborough often and this was a new way for me.

I froze when they told me I was about an hour away from where my flower child lived. I was scared, what were they up to. As much as I’d like to see her, I knew she wouldn’t want me, too much explaining, she had moved on and I looked and felt like death. Pleading with them I persuaded them it was a bad idea. However, they insisted we stop at the coast. We parked up and we wandered around a shop I knew my flower liked, had a cup of tea. All the time I was scared I’d run into her. My heart beat faster as I kept scanning the crowds. We wandered around the small town, I struggled at times to walk far and was often breathless but the sun was out and gradually I settled.

After a while they asked if there was anywhere I wanted to go. I hesitated, there was one place I wanted to go. They smiled when I mentioned it and drove the the few miles to the place. They deposited me on a seat and left to go and scout the town out.

I sat there with the suns rays on me, very tired in spite of my sleep. I looked around. To my left there was a small playground with children playing happily on the climbing frames. On the road behind me I could hear the vehicles rumbling past but the hedge and trees took away most of the noise.

Here I was sat in the park where my flower child used to talk to me every lunchtime, maybe on the same form. It was a feeling of being close to her. I looked down at my phone, contemplating phoning her, wondering what the response would have been. I felt emotional, remembering some of those conversations. Weirdly I stroked the bench next to me, another smile coming to my face as I realised what I had done.

The scene I saw in front of me looked much like I had always imagined it in my head. I wandered around the park determined to sit on every form, in the hope that I’d find the one she used to sit on. My minds eye saw her sat there, phone to her ear talking, laughing smiling as I imagined she used to, the weird and wonderful conversations we had. A few tears came out as those times came flooded back into my head. It wasn’t perfect but it was all I had at the time. I longed to look up and see her walking towards me.

It was at that moment that I realised how much I’d lost in my life and I’m sorry to say I broke down completely, the enormity of everything in my world became totally transparent to me. I wept openly unable to hold it back. I wasn’t worried what people might think, I needed something at that moment that I no longer had. I thought of my parents, about my health and my flower child. All things that I had lost and would never get back. It’s kind of sobering. People wandering past must have wondered what the hell was happening, but no one stopped to find out.

I was collected a while later, still in a state. They helped me back in the car and we set off back passing through the town my flower dwelt in. I held my breath wondering if I’d see her, the others wanting to stop and confront her. By this stage though I was feeling worse, my breathing was rasping and I knew I wasn’t well. Urging them to get home I took one last look at the town that I always imagined my fate lay and we headed back up north.

The journey was long and arduous, I slipped in and out of consciousness, my breathing showing I’d got another infection. I’ve never been so happy to see the inside of a hospital as I did that night. I gratefully slumped on the bed and surrendered to the medical care offered. It seems the trip, however well intentioned would bite me back in a big way.

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