Candy was more interesting dead.
It was one of those things so obvious it would’ve been bad taste to just come out and say it, but everyone thought it. She was so measured and unflappable these days. I remember before she died, one afternoon at the park, how badly her hands shook as she opened a bottle of wine, someone mentioned it, and she looked up through her hair in a wounded kind of way.
That was Candy, apologising again. She also had the habit of making every statement sound like a question. Just before the end, she seemed to always talk like this, her hands would shake and her eyes would flit from object to object. The last night we had dinner together she spilled wine on my new skirt and ended up in tears. I made a joke about crying over spilt merlot and made my excuses.
What was it like?
In Paul’s backyard, she tilted her head at him. He was getting drunk and waving the barbeque tongs around while turning the cheap sausages over. She looked almost translucent in the afternoon sun as she stared at him. It was only for a minute, but a minute doesn’t seem like such a short time when you’re being stared down by a milky-white eye.
She was the first one to come back we knew. It had been happening in Europe and America for months. I guess no one really freaked about it. Well, there was that unpleasantness in Tokyo but apart from that it was like the movies and media had been preparing us for this all along.
It’s like death was a daydream that humans once had.
People perched on garden chairs simpered like groupies, but even I had to admit she was never that poetic before.
I crossed my arms tightly over my breasts and walked to the bathroom. I was washing my hands with shitty pink liquid soap, cursing Paul for being so tight when she walked in behind me. I’d already gotten used to her shuffle. I watched her approach in the mirror until her breath was on my neck. I watched her hand slowly lift and rest on my shoulder. She was so pale, her veins looked like they’d been tattooed.
I don’t remember everything from before.
Her voice held no hint of a question but I knew what she was asking.
Her hand was like ice so I looked at her lips. Grey lips once so soft and apologetic against mine.
It didn’t work out between us.
She didn’t move and I waited. I waited so long I felt myself sway slightly like I was on a boat.
She pushed passed to the basin and turned on the hot taps until steam began to rise.
I backed away until I was against the door. She watched me through the foggy mirror and I looked down at my trembling hands. She turned and approached me with the first smile I’d seen since after they found her in her bathtub. When her hands closed around my shoulders they were warm.
I closed my eyes as she leaned forward. Her grip on my shoulders tightened as someone knocked on the door behind us, and my lips went numb as her tongue froze the words resting on the tip of mine.
YT Sumner lives in Melbourne, Australia. She likes lowercase titles. Her cat’s name is Sunday.