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And I want a moment to be real Want to touch things I don’t feel, Want to hold on, and feel I belong. (Goo Goo Dolls-I’m Still Here)
The clanging of the school bell signalling the end of the school week was the sweetest thing Liz had heard all day. She picked up her books and shuffled to the door with the rest of her class, ignoring Jeremy’s attempts at casual conversation. That feeling of uneasiness that had been plaguing her all day wasn’t going away even now. As she exited, Liz thought she’d caught a glimpse of a tall boy with caramel hair, a friendly, natural smile on his face with sparkling eyes that could have been anywhere between grey and green. Then he was gone. Just like that. Swallowed up by the crowd? Or was he ever even there to begin with? He seemed vaguely familiar, but Liz could have sworn she’d never seen him before. If she had, the two had definitely never spoken. By the time she got to her locker, his features were fuzzy in her mind, like she was having trouble remembering. What he looked like. Instead of catching the bus home, Liz decided to walk. The noise of the idiots on the bus wasn’t going to help her confusion over the afternoon’s events. She didn’t really want to go home anyway. Too many problems there. She ended up at a grassy field behind the local primary school. Despite the makeshift bike track that had been set up by a handful of the towns more skilled BMX riders had put together. “It feels familiar here,” Liz muttered to herself, leaning on the short fence that divided the path from the railway tracks. It felt as if someone important had brought her here. Jeremy? Lee? No, it hadn’t been either of them. Again, a blurry image of that boy appeared in her mind, though this time it was like a TV channel getting bad reception, hazed with static. Liz couldn’t remember his name or any of his facial features except for that easy going smile. For some reason she couldn’t explain, she felt a strong connection to that smile. That smile was warm, comforting and friendly. She had the feeling that smile had meant the world to her. “Why can’t i remember?” she screamed hysterically into the sky. Callum felt exhausted. Worse, he felt ancient. It hurt to even exist now. He’d been warned about the physical pain he’d no doubt go through if he lingered longer than necessary. What they’d neglected to mention was that he was going to fade away. The sheer agony of watching his friends forget about him, as if he’d never met them, was tearing at his mind and his heartstrings. People he thought he’d known his entire life acting as if he’d never existed. Getting on with ordinary life. It was beginning to feel like he didn’t even make an impact on the world now. He could hardly feel himself now, and no one had acknowledged him on the way down. It was why he’d come here. This was the place he’d come whenever he needed to get away from everyone and think. The field was his spot, and it seemed like the ideal place to go from. If he couldn’t fade in the presence of his friends, then the serene view would be the next best thing to have as his final memory. Except there was already someone else here, a short, red haired girl curled up in the fetal postion. Callum couldn’t see her face but she could tell she was crying. He could feel her distress. “Liz!” Callum half gasped, half whispered. “Liz...” He knew that she would be the one he’d miss the
most, if he’d be able to miss at all. The memory of her kiss in the cinema pooped into place and involuntarily, and Callum fought back tears. He staggered over to her, the aches and pains increasing exponentially. He collapsed on the grass beside her, his body leaving no imprint on the grass beneath him, and put an arm around Liz’s curled up body. Liz probably couldn’t see, hear or feel him. Tangibility was leaving him behind. “It must be near the end then.” Callum choked, his words as much to Liz as to himself. “I’ll be gone soon Liz. P...properly g...g..gone” He bit his lip to prevent the tears coming and continued. “I refused the Alchemist’s help, you see, valued my freedom more than life. That means I...I’m going to fade away, and n...no one will remember I existed. Remember me Liz? Please?” As the last sentence slipped from his lips, the tears began to flow. Liz dried her face on her sleeve. She felt odd. For the briefest of seconds she could have sworn she’d heard a voice. It sounded sad, yet unused to the despair it dripped with, and somewhat familiar. But t the same time, it was distant, like a scattered dream or memory that clung to the fringes of her mind. There was a name and face attached to the voice, but neither would come. “I just want to remember...” she whispered, her voice trembling and threatening more tears. Come on Liz. Starts with a C The words came from nowhere, in the same voice as before. Faint memories emerged, of a goofy, relaxed teenage boy who laughed easily. Liz felt a surge of relief flood through her. She wasn’t going crazy. Still, she felt sad. Relived, but sad, it was a hard emotion for her to rationalise. She stood, turned her back on the setting sun, and left for home, blades of grass and Callum’s hand falling from her body. Callum watched her go. He didn’t want to leave this placed. He definitely didn’t want to leave her. To see Elizabeth Lamprouge walking off into the distance tore his heart asunder, but it was necessary. If she moved on from Callum’s not-life, then it would be worth it. As much as he wanted her to remember him, He didn’t want to hurt her with half questions about someone who never should have existed. He turned his back on Liz’s retreating back and watched the sun. The colours of the world were brightening with every passing second as Callum’s imaginary body broke apart, no longer sustained by the memories and belief that had sustained it. Even as the Homunculus that had been Callum Jenkins ceased to exist, Liz stopped at the top of the slope leading from the field and a single tear rolled down her face. “It starts with C” she muttered to herself. Liz smiled sadly as she nestled onto the couch between Jeremy and Anna. She rested her head on Jeremy’s shoulder and he put an arm around her. Lee entered from the kitchen and passed out cans of coke to his guests and opened one his own, taking a sip before lounging casually in one of the armchairs opposite Liz, Jeremy and Anna. Renee sat on his lap. Liz had organized this after she’d gotten back from the biketrack two days ago. Lee had offered to host them because of the size of his house. So here they were, sitting around the coffee table upon which sat a single black candle. Liz opened her can and took a large gulp of the liquid inside before putting the drink down. “Do any of you guys remember someone I think used to go to school with us?” She finally asked, breaking the friendly minor chatter that was circling through the group. The sad look deepened in her eyes and Jeremy gave her a tight squeeze, running a hand through her hair. “I can’t remember much of what he was like. Just that he... he was kinda tall and had really messy brown hair.” The group went quiet. After a minute of which the only sound was of aluminium cans being placed gently on a wooden table, Anna spoke up. “yeah, I think I do. Really soft spoken wasn’t he?”
“And friendly. I think he gave me a hand with homework once or twice” Lee added. “I don’t remember anyone of the sort guys” Jeremy said. “Me either” Renee agreed. Liz lowered her eyes. She felt relieved that she wasn’t the only one with half memories and shadows, but at the same time she still saddened by the fact that she couldn’t get a better picture of this boy. She glanced at a photo on the wall. It was the group picture they’d taken during their New Years party in San Remo. It was the five of them plus Glen. As she looked at it, Glen changed into that tall boy with the easy smile and the messy caramel hair. Then it was Glen again. She fought back tears. Now was not the time. Someone squeezed her hand tightly in their own. It was Anna. She raised her can into the air and smiled weakly to Liz. “To the guy we can’t remember and the friends we have; those we know and those we don’t.”She toasted. The others repeated her toast and conversation returned to normal. As Jeremy and Lee started arguing about what they were going to do on the holidays before year 12, Liz felt the last vestiges of something slip from her mind. She smiled for the first time all week. It starts with a C. But now she knew she wasn’t alone in her thoughts. It starts with a C... Her eyes settled on the photo, that group photo with her, Jeremy, Lee, Anna, Renee and Glen. It starts... “Hey, guys?” Liz piped up cheerfully. “San Remo again this year?
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