The Moment  You Were Gone

The Moment You Were Gone by Nicci Gerrard Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: The Moment You Were Gone by Nicci Gerrard Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nicci Gerrard
feel responsible for everyone and worry if it’s going OK, and what if lots of gatecrashers come and throw bottles around? I would have preferred to go out with a few friends, something more intimate. Or just with Alex for a meal.
    They’re right, it is a big day. Not in the way that they mean, though – or maybe that is what they mean, deep down, but they can’t bring themselves to say it out loud. We don’t talk about it. We talk about everything else instead, so many words to cover up what’s not being said. Sometimes I think one of us is going to mention it – my heart starts thudding away in my chest and my mouth gets all parched – and then the moment passes.
    Mrs Sadler would say I should talk about it and I know she’s right. She would say that things are less scary when you talk about them and I know that’s right too. I don’t know if it counts, writing this letter to you. It’s more like a diary, anyway. I’m kind of talking to myself by talking to someone else.
    If I tell you all about me, so you know me, maybe that’ll mean I know myself. Whatever Alex says about the self not really existing at all.
    It’s starting to rain at last, so heavy it’s like someone’s throwing gravel against the windows. It’s dry here, the earth all cracked after the summer and the grass yellow, but in the morning everything will feel fresher. I wonder what it’s like where you are. I wonder where you live. I’ve always loved being inside, in the dark, and listening to the rain. When I was nine, Dad took me camping, just the two of us and George, and just for one night. I’d been pestering him for ages and finally he gave in. We cooked sausages on the little throwaway barbecue and played cards by torchlight. I was cold and wore my socks to bed and my jersey over my pyjamas. There were mosquitoes buzzing about and when I lay in my sleeping-bag I could hear them whining next to my ear. That night it rained and rained and rained. I remember lying in the tent, with Dad snoring by my side and George snoring at my feet, and listening to the drops falling on the canvas over my head and feeling completely safe. ‘Safe and sound,’ as Mum would say.
    Mum also says that it’s better to regret the things you do than to regret the things you don’t do (although I’m not sure if she believes it: she’s pretty cautious herself). I’m not going to send this letter. It’s not really written to you anyway. How can you write a letter to someone who’s a complete blank, an absence? This is probably a kind of diary, a diary that’spretending not to be. I always promised I wouldn’t write a diary, full of all those stupid, embarrassing, nobody-knows-who-I-really-am thoughts. It’s four in the morning now, and outside it’s dark and windy and wet. It’s easy to imagine that not a single person is awake except me. Real diary-writing time, real nobody-knows-who-I-am time.
    But I’m going to try to get in touch. I’ve decided.
    I don’t really know how to sign off. In Keats’s last letter, which he wrote to Fanny’s mother not to Fanny herself, because it made him too upset to write to her, he said, ‘I’ve always made an awkward bow.’ Isn’t that incredibly sad? I’ll just put my name.
    The last four lines were at the top of a page, under which there was a blank space. The woman hesitated, then turned it over. The writing was not as neat. It looked as if it had been written in a hurry, or in distress. Words were crossed out violently.
12 September 2005
    I’ve done it. I took the day off school (the
first time I’ve ever truanted, and I only missed physics and maths because I had lots of free periods – that’s what I’m like: I do a life-changing thing, but I make sure I only do it on the one day I don’t miss many lessons). I was surprised by how easy it turned out to be. Ridiculously easy, after all these years. So now I know who you are. And in a few days you’ll know who I am, or my name,

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