HOLLY WAS WALKING THROUGH AN entire field of pretty tiger lilies; the wind was blowing gently, causing the silky petals to tickle the tips of her fingers as she pushed through the long strands of bright green grass. The ground felt soft and bouncy beneath her bare feet, and her body felt so light she almost seemed to be floating just above the surface of the spongy earth. All around her birds whistled their happy tune as they went about their business. The sun was so bright in the cloudless sky she had to shield her eyes, and with each brush of wind that passed her face, the sweet scent of the tiger lilies filled her nostrils. She felt so. . . happy, so free. A feeling that was alien to her these days.
Suddenly the sky darkened as her Caribbean sun disappeared behind a looming gray cloud. The wind picked up and the air chilled. Around her all the petals of her tiger lilies were racing through the air wildly, blurring her vision. The once spongy ground was replaced with sharp-pebbled stones that cut and scraped her feet with every step. The birds had stopped singing and instead perched on their branches and stared. Something was wrong and she felt afraid. Ahead of her in the distance a gray stone was visible amid the tall grass. She wanted to run back to her pretty flowers, but she needed to find out what was ahead.
As she crept closer she heard Bang! Bang! Bang! She quickened her pace and raced over the sharp stones and jagged-edged grass that tore at her arms and legs. She collapsed to her knees in front of the gray slab and let out a scream of pain as she realized what it was. Gerry’s grave. Bang! Bang! Bang! He was trying to get out! He was calling her name; she could hear him!
Holly jumped from her sleep to a loud banging on the door. “Holly! Holly! I know you’re there! Please let me in!” Bang! Bang! Bang! Confused and half asleep, Holly made her way to the door to find a frantic-looking Sharon.
What were you doing? I’ve been banging on the door for ages!” Holly looked around outside, still not fully alert. It was bright and slightly chilly, must be morning.
“Well, aren’t you going to let me in?”
“Yeah, Sharon, sorry, I was just dozing on the couch.”
“God, you look terrible, Hol.” Sharon studied her face before giving her a big hug.
“Wow, thanks.” Holly rolled her eyes and turned to shut the door. Sharon was never one to beat around the bush, but that’s why she loved her so much, for her honesty. That’s also why Holly hadn’t been around to see Sharon for the past month. She didn’t want to hear the truth. She didn’t want to hear that she had to get on with her life; she just wanted. . . oh, she didn’t know what she wanted. She was happy being miserable. It somehow felt right.
“God, it’s so stuffy in here, when’s the last time you opened a window?” Sharon marched around the house opening windows and picking up empty cups and plates. She brought them into the kitchen, where she placed them in the dishwasher and then proceeded to tidy up.
“Oh, you don’t have to do it, Sharon,” Holly protested weakly. “I’ll do it. . .”
“When? Next year? I don’t want you slumming it while the rest of us pretend not to notice. Why don’t you go upstairs and shower and we’ll have a cup of tea when you come down.”
A shower. When was the last time she had even washed? Sharon was right, she must have looked disgusting with her greasy hair and dark roots and dirty robe. Gerry’s robe. But that was something she never intended to wash.