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She’s always there. I know she is. She never leaves. I feel her breathing down the back of my neck, making the hairs stand on end, and whispering things in my ear. She wraps herself around my shoulders. I carry her on my back. She is always there. She never leaves.
“Just leave me, Becky!”
It had been a bad day. A long day. I was angry. With everyone. But I always took it out on my sister. She was always calm though. My calm, beautiful big sister. 'If I could only tell you now how much you meant to me. But it’s too late. You’ll never forgive me... You were always so calm.'
“Ferris! Take a breather. It’s okay." She tried to hug me.
God, I wanted to hug her back. So much. But I was a stroppy, foolish teenage boy. I was in a blind rage – I didn't want to seem weak. She grabbed my arms, trying so hard to care, and I pushed her away. How did she stay so relaxed? When she looked so hurt… 'You’ll never forgive me. I left you like that. Ran out the door. You knew where I was going, what I was going to do. You knew.' Everything had been building up to this for weeks...
“Ferris, please…” 'I’m sorry for making you cry that way, Becks. I really am.'
It had been an awful day. Some short, stocky kid, from the year above, egged on by his friends, had decided to pick a fight with some boys from my class. I stepped in, I didn't want to see them get hurt. I was hoping we could stand together. They ditched me, of course. Cowards. They saw an opportunity and ran. He threw his punches... And rarely missed. He knocked out my back tooth. I spent the last two hours of school hiding in the bathroom during lessons, trying to wash away the blood, covering my face from view. My sister was on the other side of the school. She didn't know what had happened, didn't even find out until that evening when she got back. How could she? But I blamed her. Still. For not being there… And it was so unfair. I ran home before the bell, crying. No one tried to find me.
“What’s the point?” I screamed so much that night.
'You’ll never forgive me for the things I said. You shouldn't have to.'
'I stumbled through the woods and down to the edge of the estate where I made my way through the brambles, scrambling through all those holes of cut wire in old, rickety fences, yet you still followed me the whole way, determined to stop me from reaching the tracks. You were more than I deserved – and look how I repaid you. God, you were so beautiful… In every way. I’m so sorry.' “Just leave me alone!” 'I showed you nothing but hate. It was never true. It was all fake. I promise. You were the most incredible person… And sister. I loved you.'
“Ferris! No!” 'Tears where streaming down your face as we picked up pace, you trailing close behind me. I forced on, down towards the railway tracks.' I didn't want to see her cry… So I didn't look. I was the one that was the coward.
“Ferris! Please!” I'd never heard screams so desperate.
“We will make it better. It isn’t always going to be this way!” But it had been since I could remember.
I had lost count of the number of black eyes I had returned home with, ashamed to see the disappointment in my father’s face. I could never stand up for myself. I was a disgrace. Mum never stood up for me either, not even when dad would slap me across the mouth, split my lip, and warn me that the world would tear me apart, tell me I was useless, let me know just how cruel people could be. I was forced to fight my own battles… But Becky never left my side. Even when I pushed her away. 'Only once that night did I look round at you as I ran, only for a second, as we stumbled through the overgrowth. You hadn’t had time to change. You were still in your little grey school skirt, chasing after me. I was first priority. You made me first priority... Your legs had been cut wide open by the wildlife. They were bleeding where they had been snatched at by bramble thorns and red where the nettles had whipped your skin. But still, you pushed on. For me. And I never once stopped to think about you.' Never forgive me.
I tore my sweater as I dragged myself through that gap under the fence. I was caked in dirt as I crawled out the other side. The tracks. 'I didn't want this any more.' I didn’t want to live any longer… I was so selfish. I ran down to the tracks. 'Your screams became so intense but I blocked them out. You came after me.'
“Becky, fuck off!” 'I wanted you gone.'
'I wanted to hurt you. I thought hurting you would turn you away, protect you. I thought it would make you stop and think - realize - I just wasn't worth it ... I didn't want you to see me cry. I didn’t want to drag you down with me. You had a life. You were popular. Friends. Pride. Intelligence and good grades. You had everything going for you. Why did you care about me? Why did you bother?'
'You screamed. And screamed. You didn't stop. I could hear the train in the distance, drowning you out. You were stuck. I heard you kicking to get under the fence. I didn't think you’d have time. You were so desperate to get to me. Frantic. I was calm. I thought I was going to be at peace.' The train was coming. Racing toward me as I stood in the middle of the tracks. She was still squirming under the fence. Her jumper was tearing as she tried to get to me. I wanted to die. Peace. At long last.
'You were so beautiful. You had the most gorgeous eyes. Bright, arctic blue eyes. Like mine. Except, more hopeful. Just... More beautiful. You were amazing.'
Suddenly, my head hit gravel. I felt a rush of air pulling me into the tracks but I was pressed firmly to the ground, far away from the crushing bulk of the train. A fading echo of a high, frightened yelp and an abrupt crushing thud rung in my head as the hot sparks of flying metal prickled over my skin, the ear piercing screech of the brakes on the line cutting through me. 'I could feel the warm imprint of your hands on my arm softening, fading out...' I barely had enough time to realize what had happened.
'You had the cutest freckles. You hated them. I thought you were adorable. I was proud to tell my friends you were my big sister when they used to drool over you walking to school. In those moments I would be able to stick up for you and be a man, like I should've been, be your protective little brother, and shove them away, tell them they didn't deserve you because you were my big sis and you were just too good. I was so proud of you. I loved hearing about your latest test results and your good grades. You made me buzz with admiration and I loved to tell everyone about your success. You were crazy intelligent. You were always going to be the doctor in the family. Too good for any acne covered, perverts from a couple years below you. I always felt it was my job to keep them away. And I liked it, it was the one way I could protect you, look after you. I cared about you so much… I was just bad at letting you know that.'
The roaring in my ears grew strained and distorted. My head was spinning. I tried pushing myself up, only for my elbows to give way and collapse beneath me. There were big bloody holes in the knees of my dusty trousers and small, sharp stones were pressed deeply into my palms. My jumper was soaked with blood… But it wasn’t mine.
'You cared so much about me. You never considered yourself too cool to hang out with your little bro, even though you were. You loved me. You were always there when I needed you, even when I thought I didn't. I loved you for that. I still do. I love you so much. Never forgive me, Becks.'
She’s always there, hanging off my shoulders. I can feel her breathe on my neck and hear her whispering in my ear. At night I listen to her hum the gentle tunes of nursery rhymes – she's like that, cute and childish. She often did that... But it’s eerie. It makes me feel nothing but guilt. Yet, it’s beautiful. When I finally drift off to sleep, my mind is haunted by the sound of screeching train tracks and pools of blood. I wake in puddles of sweat and fear, gasping and panting, tears staining and stinging my face till my eyes hurt, drowning in hate for myself, guilt… But you’re always there. You wrap yourself around me. You sing and you whisper and you never leave. And you are always there for me. I feel your breath and I know your arms are around me. I feel warm, wherever I am. I know you're there. I know you never leave… And it’s killing me.
You saved me that day – but at a cost. Your life. And it was always worth so much more than mine. You should hate me. I want you to hate me for what I did to you but you are always there, hugging me tightly… And I know you forgive me.
I don’t deserve it.
You shouldn’t forgive me -
But you do.
I love you.