Long-Dead Friend

I saw the sister of a long-dead friend in the alleyways behind the market. She stood underneath the awning of a fish-stall, ice melting around her feet, her reflection beaded on the bland eyes of red mullet, tilapia and grouper. We had known each other when very young, and I still remembered her as a child, wearing a sober school dress, with its square neckline and shoulder straps worn over a rust-coloured jumper. As she paced the market, she wore a black roll-neck, and black jeans, her black hair resembling a helmet with its severe fringe, although she carried a blue carrier bag bursting with the stubborn green leaves of a huge pineapple. I remembered how I had once fished with her brother, how we had caught a small chub, but rather than throw it back into the water (as is the angler’s code) we had gutted the fish with a small penknife, and left it out to rot. I noticed the scars on the sister’s cheek from the car accident that had killed my friend. Rather than fading with time, these scars had become more pronounced, stretched and ragged, a perpetual reminder of her loss. Now, whenever I imagine this woman, it is to marvel at her necessary endurance through grief.

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