Future (noun): Time regarded as still to come
She sits in a tea shop, tucked away in a corner. Baklava on a plate, book in her lap.
I walk in, face masked, heart shielded.
She glances up, smiles.
I look around, trying to blend in. The walls feel smaller back here.
She puts down her book, offers me a seat.
I remove my mask and glimpse what she’s reading: Judy Blume’s, Summer Sisters. Bittersweet. She has no idea what’s yet to come.
She starts talking. She’s chatty. She looks like me, but polished.
I’m curly haired and make-up free. Dressed comfily in some dusty old jeans and a baggy jumper. I wear mis-matched outfits now and the same earrings every day since March. There are bags under my eyes.
She’s straightened her long hair and sports that day’s thoughtfully chosen outfit and matching jewellery. She’s thrown on a blazer: her ‘smart weekend’ look.
She tells a joke – that only we would find funny – and laughs. Whole heartedly, right up to her eyes.
My smile stops short. I know her future.
I’m heavy, she’s light. Both tummies flat. We weigh the same in kilograms, but we carry a different weight in memory.
She’s one year before the event. I’m one year after.
I watch her. And I feel old.
She’s innocent, hopeful. She has a plan.
I’m floundering. I find her naive. It’s heart-warming, but infuriating. I’m only half listening to what she says.
We both roll our eyes.
A song plays on the radio, and she hums along, making up the lyrics. I know the words now and they mean more than they should: “But if I lose the highs at least I’m spared the lows”.
She is high and I am low.
I ponder: One of us here, has more to be grateful for than the other, but which?
She’s tidying up now, preparing to leave. I don’t know if I should stop her. Or warn her. But there’s nothing to be done. Things will play out as they always have, for everything happens for a reason, they will say.
We both offer to pay, not sure who should be treating who.
I sigh. Say goodbye. I’m getting good at that now.
She bounces up, a spring in her step. I look down at my feet. She didn’t even recognise me.
We part ways and I stare after her. Her ignorance is her bliss. For she still has one more year. Just one more year until she attends My Baby’s cremation.
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