You wake up one day and she’s gone. It is not that she’s gone on holiday, or gone for a walk, or gone to the beach. You wake up one day and she just doesn’t exist anymore. She is not in the kitchen rearranging the spices into alphabetical order, or kneading her own pizza dough on the countertop, or yelling about the cheese spatters on the inside of the microwave, which nobody ever owned up to. She is not in the hallway, talking into everyone’s rooms all at once, telling them all about that boy that she met at that party and how nice he was, no boy had ever been so nice to her before. She is not in the bathroom putting on your nude lip liner (which she never gave back, in the end). She is not at her mirror cutting her fringe as short as the width of a finger. What’s the point in having a fringe that you can’t even see? It’s too short! you had said, every time, but she would always reply it’s not short enough. It needs to be shorter.
They will have cleaned out her room of the ashtrays, the crocheted blankets, all of her postcards. They will have taken down the fifteen copies of ‘The Blue Boy’ that she had spent years purchasing off eBay because she had never loved a painting so much. He’s my little angel, she used to say, laughing.
You will find yourself trying to find her. You will do this in the lounge when you have just started to drink red wine – the cheap stuff in the box that you used to drink together on Monday nights. You will do it when you are reading Virginia Woolf or Janet Frame so late that you begin to go cross-eyed. You will do it on the walk back home from every party, drowned in smoke and someone else’s sweat. The not finding her, and the remembering that you will never see her again, will hit you each time like belly-flopping into the ocean.
There was that time you both stayed up until sunrise talking about how hard it is to say what you really mean. There were the midnight cigarettes on the rooftop with the wind almost blowing you both away. This is my favourite thing, she would muse, beer bottle in hand. You never knew if she was talking about you or the beer. You never knew just what she was trying to say. But you did know that there was always you and she, and she and you, and she was always there for you, always.
You will never really know how it happened, in the end. You keep expecting her to emerge from some obscure hiding place in the house that you didn’t check thoroughly enough before. There you are! you would say, when you finally found her, I have been looking for you.
Sinead Overbye is a writer and part-time visual artist. She is currently enrolled in her Masters of Creative Writing at the IIML.