Lost in the Swaying Corn: Part 2
She could still hear the corn and their laughter late that night. They were things she would forever associate with Jack, things that forever made her smile.
She couldn’t sleep for him being on her mind.
An empty feeling had appeared just behind her stomach, characterised by a slow vibration which seemed to hum whenever she thought of him. By loving Jack something had gone from her, something she never knew was there and now in its place this hollow vibration.
Emily hadn’t eaten anything since morning. The empty feeling had consumed her appetite and it seemed also her ability to sleep. She tossed and turned in the heat, her sheets ever dampening under sweaty skin, sleep staying well away.
She had no idea Jack lay on the other side of the village in the same predicament and both watched the sun rise with the other in mind.
Starting a new school had been difficult for Emily.
She was rather closed mouthed, spoke only when spoken to and shied away from noise. It seemed the whole notion of school was set against her and moving to a new one only complicated things but she had no choice.
Her high school had no sixth form and her parents felt college would lack discipline so they found another school, a new school.
New buildings, new teachers, new pupils.
New anything worried Emily She didn’t know how to deal with such things. That she setteld in so quickly at Birchwood High was a coincidence and credit had to go to Lizzie.
Elizabeth Andrews was confident. Some people have the ability to live comfortably in their own skin. They can deal with the things life churns up and move swiftly on to the next. Lizzie was such a person. She could also talk to anybody, without reservation, about almost anything and it was in this way she met Emily.
Their friendship was ten months old as they laughed together beside the corn. Their first year of sixth from was drawing to a close and yet it seemed like only five minutes to Emily since they met. She remembered the relief when addressed by Lizzie’s voice and how quickly she recognised a friend in this new face.
‘Me? Yes, Emily, right.’
‘Well Emily, I’m Lizzie.’
‘Lizzie, right. We have History together.’
‘We do, but you have loo roll on your shoe, I thought you should know.’
Then they were friends.
Emily was mortified at first but offending tissue removed and blushes past, the pair spoke. As they did, Lizzie’s first act of friendship struck Emily also as an act of remarkable kindness.
Most pupils in the sixth form would have spotted the tissue, told their friends and waited to see how long until the poor girl spotted her misfortune. Emily didn’t think Lizzie had told anybody else. She had come straight away, righted the predicament and saved her new friend from great embarrassment.
Emily now trusted Lizzie.
It had taken days, not weeks, for the two to discover the other’s secrets, their wishes and even some dreams. By June they were at perfect ease with each other and with Mark and Jack.
Lizzie had introduced Emily around, held her hand so to speak, and guided her into a comfort zone within the new surroundings. After a time Lizzie recognised her work was done; hand holding stopped and Emily was there in her own right, not just the new girl under a protective wing, but one of the group. The pair were equals and Emily had her own voice, she wasn’t just Lizzie’s understudy.
Emily’s sleepless night and drowsy sunrise was followed by school. Monday morning came around, with it the sun to heat up all that had cooled in the night. Emily hadn’t felt cool for days.
Her bedroom was in the sunshine most of the day, gradually heating up. Sleep was difficult most summer nights, last night was impossible.
‘Jesus you look tired.’
As greetings go it needed some work but Lizzie was perceptive. She knew when something troubled Emily, even when less obvious than heavy eyes and dragging feet. ‘You look even worse than him,’ nodding towards Jack, ‘What’s wrong?’
It was dark now and outside the wind rushed. Sounds from next door had lowered and every so often Emily heard guests leave. Voices would raise through the wall with the exchange of good-byes before the opening of the front door. More good-byes on the doorstep, followed by headlights and the noise of a car starting.
The sound of the engine was soon eclipsed by the wind and the Christmas calm would descend again
Emily turned on the light.
Her parents stared, still smiling, from atop the television. The photograph seemed a fraud.
They hadn’t smiled like that for ten years or more so why should Emily have to see them like that every day?
She felt angry.
It was fine for them. They were gone. They could look down on her with shame and all she had were those stupid smiling faces. Why couldn’t they frown for once? Why couldn’t they look as they really would, with derision and shame? It wasn’t fair they should torment her, looking one way and feeling another. They died ashamed of her, nothing could change that and yet the photograph gave an impression of happiness and love. Whatever love was there had gone. They as much as anyone were to blame, yet Emily shouldered it all.
She stared at their smiling faces and cried.
Outside the wind blew.
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