We’d done the shops, the vast light spacious shiny shops, we’d sat last night and drank halves of amber beer in a bar with high stools and reclaimed tables. We’d walked the long straight roads and felt the endless rain beat our umbrellas and splash our shoes. Sandstone buildings rose around us up into the grey sky and the pavements went on and on until they met the tangle of the motorway.
My sister was faster than me, she walked ahead, her long legs never seeming to tire. She turned around and looked impatient again as I struggled to keep up.
“Do you remember being here?” she asked me.
I shook my head. “I don’t remember anything about this place at all.”
We’d come to Glasgow to touch our family history. It was like it was everywhere here and nowhere at all. Our great aunt Lorna had just died at the astonishing age of 91 and we hadn’t been here since we were kids, apparently. But I couldn’t remember.
The funeral was tomorrow. It didn’t feel especially sad, as Lorna had lived on and on and we barely ever saw her anymore. She preferred to stay up here while most of her family had moved down to the midlands of England. So me and my sister, Rebecca, were sightseeing. It didn’t feel disrespectful or wrong. Why not see something of the city, the big wide growling city, while we were here?
We were on our way to a gallery and museum, up and out of the sprawling centre.
“I want to go to the west end too.” Rebecca said. “Do you think we’ll have time?”
Her energy dumbfounded me. She was older than me by two years and yet I was the one who always tired first. Some people are just like that, I think, some have more fire than others.
We walked through the park to get to the gallery and the moment we entered its railing yawn of green, something felt different. Rebecca looked at me. “You remember being here, Cally?” she asked.
I didn’t, and yet, something about this moved inside me like it had always been there.
Tulips and daffodils opened their mouths to the rain and apple trees spread their arms in celebration. We walked towards a small children’s playground and Rebecca could see I was flagging. We’d walked so much already, I just needed a time out, a sit down with a hot drink and some shelter. Rebecca grinned and ran over to the playground. She started on the monkey bars and then went on to tackle the whole of the adventure playground. I smiled. And something shifted inside me. There behind her, a girl of about eight with long flat auburn hair followed on and completed the course after Rebecca. I watched this girl in her duffle coat and sky blue jeans. It was me. It was Lorna. It was both of us and neither of us.
Rebecca finished the course and took a bow at the end, sending another giggle over my face.
“Did you see that girl following you around the course?” I asked her.
Rebecca looked around. “What girl?” she asked. Then she looked at me again. “Do you remember it now?”
Samantha Priestley is the author of the Folded Word short-fiction chapbooks Dreamers (2014) and Orange Balloon (2016). She’s a novelist, playwright, and essayist who spins words into gold from her home in Sheffield, UK.
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