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Chapter 1 : Sara
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See the butterfly, Sara! See the butterfly!
A butterfly flutters by. It is beautiful. Beautiful and lovely. Colourful and beautiful and lovely. Chase the butterfly! Chase it! Catch it, catch it! Run, Sara, run.
That is me. Sara is me. Sara aged seven and a quarter. Somebody call. Sara, Sara. Turn to the voice and run! Feel grass tickling. Bare feet, bare legs. Dress. Grass tickles my legs. Sun on skin, it is warm. Lovely. Summery and nice. Ow, a pebble. Pain in the foot. Sit down and look: it is fine. Sara, Sara, they call again. Run, Sara, run.
Big white house in front of me. Woman on the terrace shouts. Sara, Sara. Sara, Sara. Sara up the steps.
Mum. The woman is mum. My mum. Angry. Mum is angry. Dirty dress, dirty feet. Shoes gone. Brown eyes filled with wrath.
You’re visiting, Sara. You mustn’t disappear like that. You’re filthy. Mum is angry. Sara is sad. I am sad. Not perfect. Tear. Sob. Mum’s words unclear. Disappears. Mum! Don’t leave me again, mum. Don’t leave me again!
Who cries? Sara cries. Wet. Wet face. It was Teddy, Auntie Ginny. He pulled my braid.
Auntie Ginny comforts. There are balloons. Happy 6th Birthday, Sara, they say. Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Totally wrong. Eight comes after seven, eight after seven, eight after seven. Eight after seven. Not six. Six. Six years old. Six before seven. Not after. Six before seven. It is not right. Makes no sense. I am six years old. But seven just now. So six comes after seven and not before. It does not make sense, it is not logical. Six comes after seven.
Auntie Ginny gets Teddy. Scolds Teddy. You shouldn’t be mean to the birthday girl, young man.
I’m sorry, Sara. Teddy looks sad.
Auntie Ginny walks out, content. Teddy is not sad anymore. Mean to Sara. Sara is stupid. Sara is an ugly dummy. Sara is a tattletale too. Teddy hits Sara’s head. Ow! Sara’s birthday tiara drops to the floor and breaks. That’s what happens to tattletales, Sara!
Sara gets mad. I get mad. Because I am Sara, Sara aged six. I want to hit Teddy but he merges with his environs and disappears. Gone!
A hand in mine.
I am no longer six years old. A boy’s hand in mine. A boy I love. He looks at me; blue eyes. Teddy’s blue eyes. How old am I now? Feels like sixteen. Sweet sixteen. But that can’t be right, five comes after six! Or, five comes before six but now five comes after six. Right? Five comes after six; because seven comes before six and then five has to come after six, that is the way it is. Then why am I sixteen? Sixteen is not after six, five is. It is not right. It makes no sense at all yet sixteen is after six. I am sixteen and in love with Teddy. My Teddy, with blue eyes. Blue eyes. I am taken with Teddy. I am affectionate to Teddy. I love Teddy. He loves me too. I hope. Maybe - possibly - hopefully. We walk together hand in hand. It is fall now. Leaves everywhere. Brown, red, yellow.
I have to go now, Teddy. I let go of Teddy’s hand. He does not like it. He wants to be with me but he can’t. Because school is important. Homework needs doing. Make mum proud so she can love me. She doesn’t, you see. Not good enough not pretty enough not smart enough. Teddy wants to tell me something. Sounds important.
”How are you feeling today, Sara?”
A woman stands in front of me. I see her. She is fuzzy around the edges. Go away, stupid. Teddy wants to tell me something.
”You’re having a visitor later. I just thought I’d let you know.”
Okay. Go away now. I want to hear what Teddy has to say. The woman gives me a look, a little bit sad and pitying. Don’t need pity. I want to hear what Teddy has to say. He loves me. That is probably what he is going to say. He has started to love me.
The woman leaves; I return to the fall, I am with my Teddy, the boy I love and whom I think loves me too. I hope and I think how wonderful that would be.
I love you, Sara. You know that, right? He messes around in his pockets and pulls something out. It gleams in the sunlight. Fall sun. Pale yellow sunlight is reflected off the item. Jewellery. A necklace. With a charm. Pretty charm. Shaped like a heart. Of silver. Silver heart. I turn around and hold my hair aside so he can put it on. It is cold against my skin. Thank you, it’s beautiful. I love you too. And then he kisses me, and it is completely wonderful and amazing and new and familiar and different, because I
am sixteen and in love with Teddy. My Teddy with the blue eyes.
”Right this way, Mr. Lupin.”
Teddy disappears. The woman returns; she brings a man. A stranger; a strange man. ”Your visitor is here,” she says, a little melancholy and even more pitying. Stop it, stupid lady! I don’t want pity, I don’t need it. I am sixteen and in love. In love with my Teddy.
Visiting Sara is always hard.
All I can do is sit next to her. She lies in a bed and stares, her once lively brown eyes empty and glazed.
”Hello, Sara,” I whisper. I caress her cheek; no reaction. I don’t even know if she realizes I’m here. ”It’s me, Teddy.”
It is not easy when the love of your life ceases to be herself. Sara is practically dead. This woman, this Sara I visit every Sunday, does not know who I am, and does not react when I try to make contact. She can talk if she wants, but never more than two words at a time, and she can get up and move, but not well.
All I want is to get my Sara back. The Sara I bothered as a child, the Sara I fell in love with in my youth, the Sara I had decided to share my life with.
I stopped hoping a long time ago, but I still like to talk to her. It allows me to feel a bond that is not really there, and pretend that she still understands. I tell her about my life. What is happening in the world. My work, our family. Just general, insignificant things that nobody really cares about. It helps me maintain a connection that does not exist and in reality died ages ago, but that means too much for me to break.
I look at her, and I remember how she was. Even though she never let go of her mother, and never accepted the fact that she did not much want contact with her, Sara was happy. She was a happy human being who deserved a life. She wasn’t perfect - no person is - but she was right for me, regardless of how bitter she could be at times. She was beautiful too, with large brown eyes and long, dark brown hair. Now she was but a shadow of herself, barely even that.
After a while of empty, one-sided conversation, I do as I always do at the end of my visit. I tell her that I love her, and make sure that she knows this. Just because I have given up hope doesn’t mean I have stopped believing she can hear me and understand. ”I love you, Sara. You know that, right?” I say, and as I kiss her on the forehead, I know she can.
The stranger is not a stranger; he is Teddy, my Teddy with the blue eyes. He looks down upon me with joy in his eyes, no, joy lights up his face. His eyes glow like blue suns, even though he is blurry and unclear I can see him and recognize him. Teddy, oh, my Teddy.
”Sara? Can you hear me?” Teddy asks me and is curious. Curious Teddy loves me.
He says my name! I hear it. It is, but it is not, simultaneously. Is and is not. It isn’t right. But six comes after seven, anything can be right. Sixteen comes after six, seven, six, sixteen. It is and is not, it can’t be right, but it is. He is a little bit Teddy and a little bit not. Not-Teddy. Because I am sixteen and in love with my Teddy, and even though this is my Teddy he is not my Teddy either. It is strange and bizarre. He is not sixteen but he is my Teddy anyway, but he is not my Teddy because he is not sixteen. He is Teddy, but not.
Not-Teddy looks down upon me with the blue eyes I know so well. I know Teddy’s eyes better than the back of my own hand. These are different, they are sadder, older. Hopeful, at least a little. Different, but Teddy’s eyes nonetheless.
He says my name like a question. I know him, but I don’t. It is Teddy but not Teddy and I feel that this is odd and strange.
He smiles wider, and it spreads to his eyes, the beautiful blues I know so well. But then this is not Teddy, it is Not-Teddy, but then it is also Teddy and it is not right and I want my Teddy back. My Teddy! Teddy and Not-Teddy at the same time, it isn’t right, and I want to go back to Teddy and I don’t want to be here anymore, I want to be sixteen and in love and have the boy I love give me a silver heart.
Not-Teddy waits, he holds my hand tight. The blue eyes are hopeful. He waits. I do not know what he is waiting for, could be anything. Teddy is gone, I want him back, even though Not-Teddy is almost Teddy, I want Teddy, my Teddy, not Almost-Teddy because it isn’t right.
I turn my head to the window. Away from Teddy but Not-Teddy but Almost-Teddy. The blue eyes hurt, I know them so well. It is summer outside, the sun comes in. Summer is beautiful.
A butterfly flutters by. It is beautiful. Beautiful and lovely. Colourful and beautiful and lovely.
See the butterfly, Sara. See the butterfly.
A/N: So, what do you think? This was originally my Norwegian midterm, but I translated it and tweaked it a bit. I got full score (6+) but that's just what the teacher thinks - I'd like to know what you guys think ;)
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