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H. Diggory

She was late. Again. Every month she was never on time. Patricia wished her grand daughter could be more conscientious and realise just how much she wanted to see her. However Sylvia was only fifteen, what sense of time did a fifteen year old have, especially where she was now. Patricia often wondered if Sylvia missed her. Did she think of her often? There wasn’t a day that passed she didn’t wonder about her, if she was being looked after properly, whether she was loved, if she was happy, if she had friends and were they the right sort of friends. Before the accident Sylvia was so different, she was never late; she always rang her on her mobile phone just to let her know she was on her way, now there was silence, no bright voice at the end of the line, no ridiculous text message which her grandmother could never understand.

As Patricia sat, the bench was hard under her legs and back, the bunch of yellow tulips bled water on her freshly ironed cotton skirt; her hands ached from holding them far too tightly, so she loosened her grip and continued to wait. Today was Good Friday and the park was already busy even thought it was only nine thirty. It was promised to be a beautiful day, warm with a gentle breeze which blew the scent of damp grass. Within the cool shadows the dew which had not yet evaporated, it shimmered in the early morning sun, a golden path of daffodils dominated the carefully manicured lawns and the heady smell of hyacinth and tree blossom made Patricia’s eyes water. She sighed heavily and looked at her watch; Sylvia was already fifteen minutes late. A group of excited children ran past her, leaving their parents behind, each child carried a canvas bag crammed with plastic toys; footballs were bounced and the children were filthy, it was obvious that they had ice cream for breakfast as their faces were sticky with bright pink blotches. Patricia frowned at the noise; her brow knitted together until they almost kissed. The mother gave the elderly woman a viscous stare and then took a step towards her, perhaps to challenge her; she was stopped by her husband who placed a hand upon her shoulder.
She glanced at her watch again.

Had she done enough? After the accident Patricia had cared for her grand daughter the best she could, even though she no longer lived with her, Patricia listened to the child’s fears and pain, bought her flowers and a kind smile, However it was evident months later Sylvia became more and more unhappy, the sunshine that once glowed in her eyes was becoming over cast.

‘Nana,’ she said one day, ‘I’m so tired, please I need your help. I want you to go and see him.’
Sylvia held her grandmother’s hand; one was much colder than the other and much thinner. She couldn’t even look at her grand daughter. She could not understand why Sylvia wanted her to go to that boy’s house and knock on his mother’s door and say that everything was all right, that she had forgiven him for what he had done. The fact was Patricia wasn’t sorry, that it was his fault and a part of her, the part that was darker than light wanted him to suffer as much as possible. Patricia had even written to her M.P to try and get Theo’s sentence increased, eighteen months for what he did was not enough, she wanted at least eight years, eight years for him to rot in prison, enough chance for him to be beaten and suffer all the possible indignities. Her request was denied, the law had reached its maximum limit and there was nothing else to be done. Then last week Theo was released after nine months due to good behaviour. Good behaviour after what he had done! Now this Theo, this boy, was back at home, where he was fed home cooked food, drank beer, watched television and ate takeaways and if he wanted to could drink and dance the night away. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair because her beautiful grand daughter was now lost, beforehand, she was stunning, golden haired and in her eyes the moon never rose, there were no dull days, no freezing cold mornings only the sun.

Yesterday – Thursday - Patricia had composed herself, taken a deep breath and walked, head up, one foot after the other to walk down the road to where he lived, her shoes felt so heavy and how her legs ached as she paused at the gate, there she stopped, she could not bring herself to walk down the path to the red painted door. How long did she stand there, long enough for the front curtains to flap open and see his face at the window. They stared at each other, he had lost weight and was pale and she had grown older and less forgiving. So there was no reconciliation, she just couldn’t do it. She had failed.

Good Friday and Patricia had returned to their usual meeting place and waited, now Sylvia was half an hour late. Perhaps someone was preventing her from arriving, perhaps she was watching in the shadows for someone else to take her place; someone familiar. And that other person had just sat down next to her.
‘You asked the Home Office to increase my sentence,’ said Theo.
Patricia wanted to shrink away from him, to be at such close proximity to Sylvia’s killer was more than she could bear. ‘I wanted you to suffer’.

‘I know’.
‘You killed her. See this,’ she pointed at the brass plaque nailed to the back rest behind her – Sylvia, daughter, grand daughter and friend 1994-2009. ‘This is her place’.
Theo inhaled, ‘I was convicted of careless driving, it was my fault I was driving too fast, I didn’t see the other car until it was too late. What do you want me to say? Ask and I will do what ever you want’.
‘There’s nothing I want, except her.’ Patricia glanced at him, she wanted to see a monster; however all she saw a boy, eighteen years old and far too thin.
‘If I told you that I have seen Sylvia every month since she died, would you think I was senile?’ she asked him.
Theo smiled, it was thin and weary, ‘no, what would you say if I told you that for seven months she sat on the end of my bed and cried. And when I awoke this morning she was there, watching me and told me to come here.’
They sat in silence, Theo reached out with his left hand and placed it upon Patricia’s left; she did not shrug it off. They were stared at, mistaken for mother and son.
‘I’m sorry’. He said.

‘I know,’ she couldn’t forgive him, not yet. Nevertheless it was a beginning.

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