And She Didn’t Look Back, a short story

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“You two are so alike,” she said folding her arms against the night’s chill. Her coat kept off the worst of the rain but her typically precise hair was a mess. He had never seen her like this before.
“And yet,” he mused, “you never would’ve caught me down at the Bridge. Alone.” That drew a scathing look from her and he was forced to look away, unable to meet her ice-blue eyes. “I don’t blame you though, Cass. She was her own woman. You couldn’t have stopped her any more than I.”
He pulled a pack of cigarettes from his jacket pocket and tapped one out into his hand. When he looked back up a drop had fallen on her cheek, leaving a pale streak in her makeup. In the flickering light of the street lamp it looked like a fresh scar. He held out the box. A meager peace offering.
She took a step towards him and plucked the unlit cigarette from his lips. Shaking it at him she said, “These things will kill you,” before taking it to her own mouth. He tapped a second out of the box as a small flame sparked to life in her cupped hands. She lit hers, then his, and then they both stared out across the shimmering street.
The rain tinkled down on the tin roof of the bus shelter and for a moment it sounded for all the world like that old piano. The worn red one at the bar where they’d all first met. Where Cass had materialised in a cloud of smoke, a spectre in a white dress. She had drifted around the Three Cats like the whole place was underwater and his sister had fallen under her spell immediately.
“There’s a boat leaving in the morning,” her voice brought him back to reality. To the wind, the rain, and the hollow feeling that threatened to claw its way up his throat. The cigarette had gone out in his hand. “It’s heading out of town and I mean to be on it.”
She turned back towards him for what would be the final time. “Just tell me one thing before I go,” that cold stare reappeared and this time he held it, he owed her that much, “did you see her?”
He swallowed as his mind raced back to the buzz of lights overhead and the distant rumble of trucks and cars. Back to the relief on her face when she realised her big brother had come. And the horror when it proved too little, too late. He pushed the image down and refocussed on the question. “Briefly,” was all he could choke out.
Both of them dropped their eyes to the pavement. “I guess this is goodbye then,” she sighed, the steel in her voice replaced by smoke, “take care.”
“Yeah, yeah…” he brought the cigarette back up to his lips and fumbled in his jacket for a lighter, “I’ll see you around.”
“I’m not so sure about that Arty.”
At that he looked up from his lighter to see her already stepping out onto the street. The rain fell and burst in puddles all around her but she didn’t make any attempt to shield her face. Turning for home he kept glancing over his shoulder as the distance between them grew. She continued to walk away. Her figure fading into the storm and the haze of street lights.
And she didn’t look back.

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