At the market, you stumble upon something that definitely wasn’t on your grocery list. A young woman, her eyes the colour of the honey in the jar she is holding. Just like yours. A waterfall of dark, gleaming ringlets caresses her back. Just like yours, should someone look under the chequered head kerchief that you are wearing.
The silken smoothness of the blue stone you found that day by the river.
You are awoken by the slightly putrid smell of ripe cheese being pushed under your nose. The woman at the stand you stopped in front of says something about goats and sheep and you realise that you should go, before she sees you. Too late. Amber melts in amber as your eyes meet. A flutter of hands, the jar falls and spills. Honey is also your name on the tip of her tongue.
The mesmerising way the pebble reflected sunlight once thrown on the ground, reminding you of the bottomless sea.
Tucking your head lower between your shoulders, like a tortoise, you turn and leave. You pull your headscarf tighter, until the knot under your chin becomes a bolt, locking your words in the roof of your mouth.
The fading outlines of the hopscotch court, after it had begun to drizzle.
That hasty trotting pursuing you beats like a hurried drum, echoing your thumping heart. The tears in her voice seep with every word, every time she calls you the secret names. Your heart is shattered glass.
One foot in the air, you held your breath. One jump and you would have reached ‘Home’.
The tarmac is quicksand, menacing to stop you with every step you take.
But she gave a piercing shout, and you fell. You rose, ready to exact revenge. Then you saw the beast too. Cherry eyes, spittle running down from the corner of its mouth, coming towards you at full speed.
She grabbed your arm and you ran, ran, ran.
Your safe haven is almost in your sight. The place where normality will be restored. You will flip through the family albums, with its butchered photos confirming that you never, ever had a sister.
At home, you remembered your stone, glinting on the asphalt. Your rivulets of tears matched the furious rain outside. She went without a word.
But then, hushed steps will lead you to the desk you used to share as children and you will look at the bottom of the left top drawer. You will run your fingers across the spongy paper clipping. Your tears will darken her beaded wedding dress and perhaps a little from the man standing beside her.
When she returned, she was drenched to the skin. She came to you with a wide smile and opened the palm of her hand.
Her cries have now ceased and she has sunk once more into non-existence. You reach for your pocket and grasp the stone. You begin turning it over in your hand, repeating in a whisper, like a forbidden prayer to a pagan goddess, what you told her on that day, when she brought it back to you. ‘I love you, I love you, I love you’.
Sophie van Llewyn is a writer based in Germany. She is currently editing her first novel, writing short stories, experimenting with flash-fiction and reading for the literary magazine Bartleby Snopes. Her fiction has been published/is forthcoming in AdHocFiction, ZeroFlash, 101 Words, Paragraph Planet. You can find her on Twitter @sophie_van_l.