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untouchable
by louise hurrell

The sun weaved between branches as we sat in the rock garden, our blanket tucked beneath a cherry blossom. We ate mini sausage rolls and crustless sandwich triangles, followed by white chocolate mice for dessert. I thought this was a feast as I ran across the lush grass green with envy. I ran and ran, fuelled by adventure and sugar, squealing and laughing while you watched from our usual shady spot. I ran into your arms, you saying my name a warm breeze in my ear. I felt secure in your strong embrace, protected by your care and love. We were invincible, then.

*

We sit at opposite ends of the dining room table. Me, eating my sad little lunch. You, staring through me, lost in thoughts. I finish the last of my crisps and begin to suck the cheesy residue off my fingers when you ask:

‘What did you have for lunch? Did you have crisps?’

‘So, I had a sandwi- ‘

‘Oh, so you didn’t have crisps?’

I glance at the empty packet on the table, the tang still on my tongue.

‘Yeah, I did’.

‘Oh,’ you nod and turn away to face the garden. I change the subject, asking about what you’ve been reading, were the shops busy today, have you seen many birds by the feeder? It’s mainly to distract myself from my stomach clenching. It does that every time you forget a word or phrase, stop mid-sentence and grasp the air as though language floated around you, eluding your fragile hands. Every time you forget a name, frequent now, and I have to repeat myself over and over, louder and louder. Every time you forget what has happened before your eyes. 

I ask you questions hoping you’ll remember. Because I do, I remember everything. I remember how I saw you as a child – fearless, protective, untouchable – and though I arrange my face into polite interest, internally I weep.      

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