I was asked to write about a true experience but from a different point of view, as part of the grieving process when my younger sister died, I chose to write it from her boyfriends point of view, it’s a very sad story, but a true one. I’ve had it tucked away for quite sometime, I’ve only ever showed it to my partner Nikki. I’m hoping that by sharing it with you guys it might help me some how, I never got to show it to the grief councillor I was sent to as I was only allowed a couple of sessions and I didn’t manage to actually write this until a few years later. I’ve called the piece June Baby.
I’d always meant to go get the ring on Thursday morning, but stuff happens, you know? So by the time I got to the jewellers it was shut, half day closing. Who does that any more? We don’t do that at the super market, we went 24 hour last June, so now there are shifts round the clock. I do a lot of night shifts now, its quiet here at three in the morning, no one to bother me down here in Home and Leisure. I try and stay down the front of the store, don’t go up the far isles towards the back, although I can see the signs on the back wall, pictures of cheeses and salami to show the shoppers that this is the deli section. I can see them over the shelving as I restack the CDs and DVDs. That’s where my Jeannie worked, slicing the meats, cutting the cheeses. I’d see here talking to customers, letting them try before they buy. But I can’t go up there any more, can’t stand to see it, they offered me a transfer after it happened, thought I’d be better off working in another store…not so many memory’s, less awkward all round for me and for them too I suppose. But no, I couldn’t leave, sometimes the memory’s help, I go over and over it trying to change that night, turn back the clock, wind it right back. My life is full of what ifs now. But how far would I wind it back? To the staff meeting perhaps, that made me late? It made me get there after one when the staff had locked the small shop and Jeannie’s engagement ring was trapped there inside until the morning, the morning of her eighteenth birthday. My plans were in ruins, I wouldn’t be able to turn up at her house early with it. I would have to change my plans. Maybe if I had come up with a different plan, a better plan, any plan other than the one I did come up with, I long so much to not have phoned her, to not have told her I would be busy all day, couldn’t give her a lift home that night and would meet her back at her parents house at ‘sixish’. She was upset, understandably so, I’d kept the ring a secret you see, we’d told our family’s we wanted to get engaged, but they said at eighteen we were far too young. I’d hoped the ring would prove to them all that we were serious. I have a suspicion she knew I’d got her something special, because I remember how disappointed she was when I handed over the oversized card while she was working, across the deli counter, and apologised again for her having to get herself home. If only she’d managed to get that shift swap, not had to work on her birthday, they have introduced that as policy here now, it’s a perk of the job, you get an extra days holiday because you automatically get the day off. I’d like to think its because of what happened but its just good PR really. So when I finished, off I raced to get the ring, glad to be in the car, it was poring with rain, I was thinking that we would have to have the fireworks I’d bought on another night although tonight was November the fifth. There’s another what if, maybe if she’d been born in summer, not been a bonfire baby? But no, I can’t turn the clock back that far, can I? I wish, oh how I wish I could, then it would have all been alright, everything would be alright, we’d still be together. Maybe if the train guard had let her take her bike on the train, instead of refusing her, it was wet, the train was packed. So instead she set off to cycled the seven miles home. She loved her bike, had bought it with her first wage, had always wanted one, and cycled everywhere. If only I’d got there before half day closing, I go over and over and over that day, that pointless meeting, that train guard, no one swapping the shift, the tanker driver, not seeing her, I freeze frame when ever I come to that part. I know from the inquest, he didn’t see her, he says he even rolled down his window to see better at the junction, he looked both ways and there was nothing there, no traffic. No she was cycling in front of his cab, he didn’t look down. He never saw her. If I could turn the clock back at all, that is the time I would alter, the time I would change, it was all fixable up until then. I’d got the ring, and was at her house with her sisters waiting, we’d rigged up a banner, I’d showed them the ring. A policeman came to her house, we were all so happy up until then, we’d come up with a crazy plan to all hide and jump out on her; knowing she would be cold and cross at having to cycle home in the rain, but the ring and the banner and the cake would make up for all that. But someone at the door brought us out of hiding, stopped all our smiles dead. She was dead, we stood there. Time stopped. If only I could rewind it, play it over again, start a fresh. Maybe this time make her a June baby.