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Haunting Memories

by Arielle Reid, Year 6 (Silver Award recipient in 2021 WriteOn Competition)

A sixteen year old boy, Aaron, leaned against the doorway, waiting for the clouds to deliver their promise of rain. He stared at the utility pole. The pole. The pole with his sister’s name on it. He forced his eyes away, taking his surroundings in- the tree line, the crossroad and the abandoned houses. Here in the outskirts of Culburra all of the houses were empty, all but his. The grass was so dry it could cut your feet. A smoky flavour hung in the air overpowering the faint smell of eucalyptus. Aaron’s mum tried to make their old, dead house look new and lively, keeping the candles glowing, adding flowers to the places where the paint had diminished and making sure that it was homely- even without the modern comforts of electricity. He crossed his dark arms across his chest, wondering why his mum bothered. His dad was a shell of himself and Aaron was there, trying to escape this place… and its memories.

Deciding that the rain wasn’t going to make much of a show, Aaron walked around the side of the house to grab his old bike. It was a rusty blue toy that was no good for Aaron’s rapidly growing height. He ran his hand through his closely cropped hair and threw a quick glance to the pole. Discarding the idea of a helmet, he sped off towards the rock pools- not bothering to tell his mum. She would know where he was. Aaron sped up, needing the speed to try and leave it all behind. What he couldn’t make right. He sat at the edge of the deepest pool where he and his younger sister Chloe used to swim. Not anymore though. Not since she died.

He remembered that day. He thought about it every second of every day until he fell into the clutches of sleep. After the rain, Aaron had gone into the house and cajoled and coaxed Chloe out. She was as moody as a bear after rain so it had been hard going. He joked about how she had carved her name in the pole when she had just learned how to write. He begged that the pools would be filled to the brim until finally they were on their bikes and riding away. Later, when they were swimming, they started to play tag. When it was Aaron’s turn to tag Chloe, she stopped for a minute to catch her breath. She saw him moving towards her and abruptly spun- trying to escape. But she slipped and fell face first onto the rock. Blood pooled out immediately competing for control of the water. She died that day and Aaron blamed himself for it.

At any time possible Aaron would go back to that pool, knowing he could never make it right. So he remembered. He remembered that day and grasped it tightly to his heart. The only way out was to move forward but Aaron didn’t want to leave her behind. Not ever.

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