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Remember Remember

It was still vivid. Her heart pounded. Kelly sat bolt upright, striking her head on the metal framed bedhead in her haste to block him out of her head. She closed her eyes, blinked, squeezed her eyes tight shut and blinked again before she looked around the darkened room. He was not there, but he was there - in her head. She felt his breath on her face. His fingers caressed her hair. She looked deep into his smoky grey eyes beneath the black bushy eyebrows - eyes that pleaded with her for she knew not what. At that moment he was as familiar as her husband of fifteen years, her father of forever, and her son of eleven years, but she did not know him. His features were imprinted in her brain: the high forehead, the square dimpled chin, the dark shadow of a days’ growth, the black dishevelled shoulder-length hair, and the protruding ears, the single feature that marred his beauty.

Slowly, slowly his face faded from her mind but she would never ever forget it, and she knew that his visit in the night was not without purpose. Kelly closed her eyes. She needed her sleep, as did her husband who lay unstirring beside her. Outside the wind blew and brushed the bare branches against the bedroom window. ‘He’ was not going to let her rest.

He was there when she cooked breakfast. He was there when she kissed her husband goodbye. He was there when she drove her son to school. He was there when she returned home and made herself coffee. He followed her everywhere - a dark brooding shadow reaching out to her. If anyone had told her that she was soon to spend her every waking hour in search of a man she had seen but once in a dream, she would have told them that they were crazy.

It is Saturday. Kelly is in the supermarket with her husband and son, the weekly shopping piled high in the trolley. They are at the back of the queue at the checkout.

“Who’s doing the cooking tomorrow?” Kelly hears her husband’s voice but her mind is racing and she is on the balls of her feet and breaking into a sprint. He is there at the front of the check-out, his shopping bagged and he is about to leave.

Kelly barges through the queue and grabs the man’s arm. “It’s you, isn’t it? What do you want?” She shrieks as the man turns to face her. It is not him. He does not have the man’s thick bushy eyebrows; there is no dimple on his chin.

“I’m sorry,” she mutters first to him, and then to the onlookers in the queue and those who have put their shopping on hold to watch the commotion. “Mistaken identity. I do apologise.”

“Kelly, what the hell? Are you alright?” she hears her husband calling, angry, concerned and embarrassed at the same time. She walks back towards the family, her head hung low. He is still there. She cannot explain it to herself, let alone to her family.

It is Wednesday and Kelly is picking her son up from school – a day like any other day. She is parked kerbside, waiting. She is early. As the minutes tick by Kelly watches as other parents stroll towards the school gates and pass the time of day one with the other. Her heartbeat surges as a man dressed in long overcoat and cap appears from nowhere and leans casually against the gate. She cannot see his face but she knows that it is him. Even from a distance, she can see the black dishevelled hair that fails to disguise the protruding ears. She creeps up to behind him. She will not scare him off. It is past time that he explained his presence.

“I know it is you,” she stands on tiptoes behind him and whispers loudly in his ear, “you owe me an explanation.”

He turns, narrows his eyes, and glowers at her. His eyes are brown. It is not him. “I thought you were…. so sorry,” she mutters, whipping her head back in the direction of the car to hide her embarrassment.

He shrugs his shoulders and continues leaning on the gate.

It is Friday, November 5th. It is a cold and starry night. They are well wrapped up against the elements as they walk briskly down to the park for the bonfire night party and fireworks. The bonfire will be lit at seven thirty and the fireworks will go off at eight. She has put the man out of her mind – back in the box in which he lives in her mind – and is determined for the evening to be a success.

“Wow, Mum,” she hears her son say to her, “look at the Guy on the bonfire. He looks real. Cool.”

Kelly follows her son’s eyes. She does not see the Guy on top of the bonfire. She sees the man. It is him, down to the very last detail. His eyes beseech her. Her heart hammers as she sees two marshals, clad in their reflective jackets, walking towards the bonfire carrying lit torches.

In a flash, she releases her son’s hand, ducks under the barrier and sidesteps arms that reach out to stop her. “No, stop! Murderers!” she cries out, but it is too late. The bonfire is ablaze and the flames leap and dance toward the Guy. His clothes are on fire. The black dishevelled hair sizzles to nothing with the heat. His face melts in front of her eyes. Strong arms hold her back from the bonfire as she struggles one last time to free herself and save him. She hears her husband’s voice close by. “Kelly, it’s just a Guy. Are you crazy?”

Kelly sits up in bed. The curtains are drawn back and outside the night sky has a red hue from the bonfire. The firework display finished over half an hour ago. A solitary rocket soars past the window high into the sky and explodes in a dazzling shower of light. In it, she sees the man’s face. He is laughing at her.

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