She used to say ‘Oh, stop it’

She used to say ‘Oh, stop it’ and smiley frown hit his chest with the side of her fist, sometimes thumping it once as if to open a stuck shut suitcase, sometimes drumming on his sternum to shock his heart back to life. He would laugh and the clouds would darken then clear from her face and she would turn and walk away, he hoped hiding a smile.

The one day she turned a corner and when he got there she was gone, not hiding behind the hedges or disappearing on a bus. Just gone.

Stand smiling like an idiot.
Think about calling.
Turn around in circles, both ways.
Call quietly.
Go back to the corner and look up to the sky.
Perch on the low brick wall where the hedge ends and check your phone for messages.
Look around again.
Let time pass.
Look at the pavement, look around the corner, look at the sky.
Walk home and close the door quietly.

Years later, after the tears, the police, the almost forgetting then the sudden remembering like lightning cracking the sky, years later, he wrote his story and put it on his blog.

Days later, when the story had been and gone and there had been only one click, there was a single sharp knock at his door. In the silence it knocked at his heart like a small clenched fist. He went to the door and listened.

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