She called him John. Everywhere she went, John followed and was never left behind. She was 20 years old, but felt more like 30, although She had an air of fresh youthfulness surrounding her. Her nose was slightly crooked, Her eyes slightly too far apart and Her face was noticeably unsymmetrical framed only by Her long muddy blonde hair. To John, none of this mattered. He stared at Her with such brave naivety that She found herself completely under John’s spell.
This particular spell was cast shortly after Her father died, in a time of such overwhelming sadness that She would spend hours upon hours staring sleepily into the mirror. She was looking for her Father, believing that She may be able to find Her father’s face in her own. Alas, She never did. Instead, out of that mirror a magic so violent pushed its way into Her head and has stayed there ever since. It was at this exact time when John appeared. Each feature of his was so well defined, precisely carved and shaped to be exactly what She yearned for. And from that very moment John and She had been inseparable.
It was a Wednesday; yes it was definitely a Wednesday when it reached the scorching temperature of 38 degrees Celsius. Every pore in London oozed. Everyone who had remembered to put on sun cream was feeling smug while all those who hadn’t were not. Everyone raided the sunglasses stalls in every market street. And whilst the sweating city bumbled about its business as best it could, She was laying on a red checked picnic blanket with John’s head resting clumsily on her stomach. She was wearing a sweater. He was not. She had beads of water dripping down her forehead. He did not. She had her eyes closed. He did not. John’s eyes stared deep into the blistering sun without batting an eyelid, while others stared; She smiled gently and ignored them. But at 14.05, with the sun peaking in the cloudless sky, an incessant laugh began to grate on Her nerves. She looked to John for guidance but received nothing in return. She turned, only to see a group of melting 15 year olds snorting and watching Her. She scowled. But they just laughed harder and She could not understand why. She was sat innocently lazing in the sun with John, enjoying the much awaited for summer, which England almost certainly never delivered.
After 10 extremely long minutes of tortuous adolescent sniggering She felt a tap on her shoulder. Stood before Her was a short, mildly tangerine coloured pubescent girl who was chewing a piece of gum irritatingly loudly. In her left hand she held a small bottle of cheap Tesco vodka (only half full) and in her right a box of fairly battered looking matches. This girl stared at John and Her. ‘Is this your boyfriend?’ the girl asked giggling before glancing back to her group of apes and giving them a thumbs up. John remained motionless. ‘Sorry love but you need to get a life’ and with that she emptied the cheap Tesco bottle of vodka all over John before striking the match with force and flinging it onto his chest. An eruption of flames tore up John’s body and billowed out into the air, tearing into him and encasing him in a feast of fire. She leapt up, no sound escaped her lips but her eyes filled with pools of salty water. The girl snorted again before strutting back to her friends where they howled much like hyenas after a successful hunt.
She patted out the flames with the checked picnic blanket and sat staring at the burning embers and blackened ash of John. In front of her were the remains of Him but She only saw Her Father’s ashes lying on the cool grass. She began picking at the pieces of wood John had left behind and placed them in her leather handbag. Now She had lost Her father and John. Her father would surely not be angry with her for losing his last gift to Her: a small wooden figure of John Travolta.
© Copyright 2017 Alex Watts. All rights reserved.
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