I previously posted this short story in 2012 but the sentiment behind it remains the same, several years on...this is for you, Mum...
Two Steps Behind
Frosty air grates my cheeks as I follow your footsteps. You don’t see me, I’m too far behind. Your black shoes slip slightly against the heel of your stocking covered foot. The pleats on your skirt billow with the light air, swirling pools of colour. Your pace quickens and I struggle to keep my eye on you as shoppers jostle past. You raise a leather encased hand to lift hair from your eyes, hitch your handbag back into position on your shoulder. You almost see me as you push open the door to the supermarket. Then, as the heavy door closes behind you, you are gone. Tears slide across my cheeks, pain marking their descent.
Sunlight licks my skin as I push my sunglasses on. Magnificent stone rises into the cloudless, aqua-marine sky. Tall shadows loom underfoot. Your laugh tinkles and weaves readily around my heart. Feet of air carry me behind you, between the ruins of monarchs passed. Your hair swings with the bounce in your step, you point out a view across distant fields through a glass-less window. I pause to enjoy the splendour, to soak in what brings the joy to your voice. You are far ahead, your footsteps resonate above as I place a first foot upon the stone step. Breathlessly I reach the top but you are not there.
My arm weighs heavy with the shopping bags hung over it. The first drops of rain begin to fall, splattering on my face. You point at a café and rush towards it and I follow. You’re already in the queue when I carry a tray to the selection of cakes. You point at a chocolate muffin and I choose the same. I tell you to find a seat while I order the coffee. I pay and scan the room for you. The table you were at is empty.
My eyes are raw and my head pounds as I lay it on the pillow. Sleep takes a long time to find me, until exhausted I fall into a slumber. Then I see you, I reach out a hand and tap you on the shoulder and for the first time in what feels like an eternity, I see your face.
Written in memory of my wonderful mum, who lost her life to cancer at the tender age of just 48, and of this day which marks the sixth year without her.