by C A Fisher
Stowing the heavy rucksack safely under her chair as she sat down, Sarah stared intently at the cafe door and reminded herself that there was nothing to be afraid of. Danny’s best friend Mike would drop him off here at twelve. All she had to do was remain calm, friendly and patient, and try not to take things too fast. It seemed mad, all of this anticipation just to have lunch with Danny (or Dan, as he now preferred). Sarah wondered if they’d ever be completely relaxed around each other again. Surely they would, with time? But it wouldn’t be the same.
There wasn’t long to dwell on these thoughts before the bell over the door tinkled and Mike led the nervous young man in, scanning the room through the shock of dark brown hair that obscured his left eye. Sarah caught their attention. Mike smiled at her before dismissing himself, patting Dan’s shoulder as he left. She stood up as Dan approached, her heart sinking considerably as she refrained from throwing her arms around him: he wasn’t ready for that yet.
“Hi,” she offered.
“Hi. Good to see you again.” Again. That hurt. Brave face.
“Did you have fun with Mike?”
“Yeah, he seems nice.”
She grinned and they sat down opposite each other.
“I chose this place because it’s normally pretty quiet and they do amazing milkshakes. Banana is your favourite. I thought it would make a change from the living room.”
“Thanks. It looks nice.”
With that, Dan gave a tentative smile, shuffled a bit in his chair and continued to play with the cuffs of his hoodie.
“We can stop any time you want to, of course.”
He nodded, avoiding eye contact.
“Thanks. I feel I’m more prepared now. I’ve had time to think, not that it changes much. Sorry about last time.”
“Don’t be sorry about anything. I can only imagine what it must feel like. It was a lot to take in all at once, I guess we got carried away.”
“It can’t be easy for you either. Any of you. Having to deal with me like this.”
“It’s been hard, especially for Mum, but we’ve got all the time in the world for you, Danny. Dan. And who knows, it might only be temporary.”
There was a brief silence as they independently, internally decided it probably wasn’t temporary. They’d stopped asking him if he remembered ‘this’ or ‘that’ as it was too distressing to confirm that he couldn’t. He’d not recalled a thing since the accident. Sarah heaved the rucksack onto her lap, removed three large photo albums and placed them on the table between herself and her younger brother, wiping the dust off the top one.
“I thought we’d go through our aunts, uncles, and cousins today. We did you and the immediate family last time.”
Sarah glanced at the approaching waitress and discreetly drew a deep breath, the first of many that afternoon.
“Shall we order now?”
C A Fisher: New to writing fiction, thought I’d give it a go!
Our Reader said:
An engaging and thoughtful portrayal of the changed relationship between siblings. The divide between internal thought and external expression was particularly well presented.