It's my 16th birthday today. Sweet 16. Of course, you already know that, yours was only a week ago. I celebrated with all my close friends. Only you weren't there. Again.
What's your earliest memory? When asked, most people would recall their parents, family or a holiday. Mine is of you. And your Mum. She's removing a spider out of our tree house. Spiders, I hate the things. You would laugh at me, tell me not to be stupid, it couldn't hurt me. Now, everytime there's a spider in the house, my first reaction is to panic, the second is to think of you.
Do you remember that tree house? We spent hours in there. Making up stories, pirates and princesses, like children do. We sold it years ago, but I still have the photos. All of them with you trying to hide your face. You hated having you picture taken, you still do I hear.
My 5th birthday. We're all sat around a large table. You're pulling faces at the video camera. Your Mum is telling you off and saying how lovely my dress is. I hated that dress. All the red and lace made my head hurt, but I kept quiet because my mum loved it. We play pass the parcel. When you win the prize, you give it to me, saying "Rosie's birthday, she gets the presents." The last picture I have of that day is the two of us together, with your arms wrapped around me. Do you remember that day? You've probably forgotten, but I remember. Of course I remember.
My 6th birthday party. I've started school by now and made loads of friends. The music is up loud. All my friends are dancing and singing. My mum is making a record of it all, as she does, with her new video camera. I'm at the table getting a drink; I hear your voice in my head. I turn, expecting you to be there, but of course your not. I haven't seen you in months. Your family had to move expectedly, when you Dad was transferred. It's not your fault, but I'm too young to understand. I'm angry with you.
When I've finished my drink, I dance with a new friend called Jamie. Over the next five years I will be told countless times how perfect we are together. Even though I smile to be polite – yes, I'm still perfectly polite – I couldn't disagree more. All I can see is your face. It's been five years since I've seen you, but I still think about you everyday
I'm ten years old when I come rushing home to tell my mum that I have done well in a practise exam. I'm preparing for KS2 SATs. I'm working hard and barely have time to remember you. Mum has some good news she tells me. I think maybe she has a holiday planned. I'm dreaming of hot sun and sand when I hear your name. I stop daydreaming and ask her to repeat what she said. I listen hard. You've moved back. Your mum missed her home, her friends and her family. You're attending a nearby school. My mum bumped into yours at Tescos. You're coming to visit next week. Next week. I can hardly believe it. After all these years. Over the next week I am constantly told off for not concentrating at school. All I can think of is you. What you look like now, how tall you are, if your hair is the same dark brown.
You going to be here in half an hour. I'm not a girly girl, so I don't normally bother with my appearance, but today I am upstairs picking an outfit and doing my hair.
When you arrive, the atmosphere is tight. We hardly know what to say to each other. I sit opposite you on the floor and wonder what it is that I'm feeling. When you leave, I am happy to have seen you again. We've made arrangements for the summer. I'm excited. I can't wait. How young and naïve I was.
Do you remember our first day at secondary school? I was so excited. I had been barely a week since I had seen you. That summer was good wasn't it? Lazing around and getting to know one another again. We never saw much of each other in school did we? But you always knocking on my door in the evening, bringing homework or DVD's to watch.
It was my 12th birthday when I realised I loved you. Yes, I loved you. You were sat, as you did years ago, opposite me at our table, hiding your face from the camera. I managed to get a picture that day, you were only distracted for a few seconds and I was quick. I am sitting here now with that photo in my hand, it's the last picture I have of you. Four years have passed and we've only spoken a handful of times.
A few months after my 12th I fell ill. Do you remember the day I told you? Do you remember that day with pain, like I do? Those days, full of operations, treatment and constant pain were the hardest of my life. Not just because of what I was suffering, but because of you. Does that hurt you? To know that you caused me pain. Or does it make you feel powerful?
When I needed you most, you deserted me. I never understood why you disappeared from my life. I don't suppose I'll never know why you ignored my calls, why you didn't answer my texts, why you never returned any of my emails. Was it because I couldn't chase you down the road anymore? Did the sight of the tubes and my pale face scare you away? I'll never know, because you haven't talked to me for years. Everytime I pass you in a corridor in school, you turn your head away from like you don't even know me. Is it the wheelchair perhaps? Are you ashamed? Embarrassed? Why? Why did you leave me?
I stack the photos of you back into the shoebox. Yes, I have a box. A box of you. Every note you gave in class. Every photo. All my diaries that have you in them. I stopped writing about you in my diary. It hurt too much to even write your name. Every memory I have of you is in this box.
Your Mum still pops in to see me from time to time. Did you know that?
I turn 16 today. Something I thought I would never achieve. But the day has arrived. I hear my best friend Ally climbing the stairs. I close the lid on the box. This detail may seem insignificant to you, but it's not to me.
Today, on my 16th birthday, I am closing the lid on you. On all the memories I have of you, of all the hurt you caused me. Ally comes into my rooms, smiles and asks me if I'm ready. I smile back, tell her yes. She passes me my crutches. She doesn't have a problem helping me. Is that what it was? You didn't want to become my carer? You wouldn't of. I wouldn't have allowed it. I slowly get to my feet, I pass her the box; ask if she would mind carrying it for me. She doesn't mind, of course, she never does. I get my coat. We are going to a party at the local youth centre.
Today is the day I turn 16. The day I move on, forget about you, find someone else who will love me for who I am. I can't change what I have become, so I'm not going to try. Ally asks me if I'm ok. Yes, I tell her. I am now. Now I have put ghosts to rest. She looks at me quizzically. I just smile, she doesn't need an answer. The box? I put it in the nearest bin. It's gone, just like you. It's the first time I smile while thinking of you gone. I used to cry. It's my 16th today. This is the day my life will change. The first time it will change for the better.
A/N – Another of my short stories. The first part of the story was intended to feel childlike. Not sure if I pulled that one off so please review and let me know what you think!