by Morbane

A/N: This piece came from an assignment to write something and include these keywords: milk bottles, muddy shoes, H20, dirty dishes, Ophelia. Broken TV optional.

I walk in, closing the door behind me, and you are here in the kitchen, Ophelia, smiling at me. You are holding milk bottles, as you would when we were little, and Dad was a milkman; you used to help, or as much as he would let you. And between two fingers, awkwardly but carefully held, because you liked it, a small dark spike of rosemary.

...Your muddy shoes. You got them from wading down by the beach, alone, where you always knew you shouldn't; Mum always scolded you. You were forever getting into trouble - like the time we had a new picture book at school and you liked it too much. It was a myth, about a girl who weaves inside out, making everyone think she's a witch, and she tries to warn them that their gods are angry... But they don't listen, and a volcano erupts, and they try to say sorry, but she's gone. Her eyes in the clouds and her smile in the earth... You stole that book, and I found out and stole it back to school, and then you were so angry, and that smile disappeared for a while.

That smile - you were a golden girl, with that smile, and you loved to swim, even though you weren't allowed to, so sometimes you sneaked out of school and walked to the beach. For you, it was such a long way... and when I came home and saw that smiling cloud on the horizon, warm against the blue, I almost knew... Ophelia.

But your name was Laura.

At the funeral Mum read to you, from Shakespeare's Hamlet, about Ophelia - she loved Shakespeare, and she wanted us to love it too. And after that I never thought of you as Laura, but Ophelia. And Ophelia, too, drowned. That was all I knew about Shakespeare.

I wonder if I wanted to forget you, because I was older then, and I didn't want to be like Mum, breaking down, at first, just at the mention of you... later, only sometimes, at odd things - remembering your special nickname for a neighbour's cat. Once I came home and found her rocking, rocking, leaning over the sink and the dishes... her tears silently falling into the sink, splashing so softly into the greasy yellow dish-water; she wouldn't answer me.

But you didn't go, anyway, you stayed... Ophelia. With flowers, drifting, and always smiling. Your smile in the earth and your eyes in the clouds.

...I turn, and walk past you; you're there still, I don't need to turn my head to know. I go into my room, which is like a timeline of all the ways I've changed, and all of myself that's the same. I don't look back at you. Perhaps, when I return, you will be gone.

For all blocked writers, and for English teachers, especially Zali.

For the real Laura, whose story is not this one, but to whom I feel I owe this.

I'm really grateful for the reviews I've had. Thank you. No, the characters in this story are not directly related to real life characters. Most of the ideas came from Zali's keywords. In this story, the span of time between the death of "Ophelia" and the current time is only about four or five years. Yes, the picture book here is real, but I read it in primary school and can't remember what it was called.