This short story was a runner up in the Didcot Writers April competition (500 words on the theme ‘all about me’). It is published on didcotwriters.wordpress.com website. Also featured on-line by the Daily Pulp on 24 May 2019.
I hope that you don’t mind me writing to you. We met years ago. Your brother Sam was my friend. You would be five years old when I last saw you at your parents’ house. Sam and I were eighteen then. We’d gone through school together. I remember your curly hair and your bright blue eyes, exactly like his. You must have grown up to look like him.
Sam and I caught the school bus together. We’d sit at the back so we could smoke and copy each other’s homework. We’d talk about girls, at least until he met Deborah and fell in love.
Do you know how he met her? He’d sat behind her in the cinema and started chatting to her before the film started. Afterwards he walked her home. Then I saw less of him. I didn’t complain. It was obvious that they were suited to each other. She worked at a Hairdressers that we passed on the walk from the bus terminus. He’d dash across the road to see her, give her a quick kiss and fix up his next date. I’d wait for him with our mates on the other side, whistling and shouting to embarrass him. He’d just laugh. He was happy.
I mentioned his hair. It was always that unruly mass of curls. Not even Deborah could do anything with it. His crash helmet didn’t help. Once he’d bought his motorbike, so he could visit Deborah at nights, we both suffered from hairstyle failure. He made me wear Deborah’s whenever I rode behind him to school. Sometimes on a Saturday night he’d drop me at the Disco Bar on his way to see her. We thought we were so cool on a motorbike, Sam wearing a suit and tie under his leathers, me with my jacket buttoned and collar up, trousers tucked into my socks and that crash helmet crushing my hair. He laughed when Deborah complained about the smear of Brylcreem around the inside rim when she put her helmet on. We thought we were cool but in reality we couldn’t have looked it.
I pass the little churchyard as I drive to work. His spot catches the sun sometimes. I stopped and saw your flowers. I always make a point of going during every World Cup tournament. Sam just missed the 1966 final. He’d have loved that game. I tell him what’s happening. He knows about Beckham’s injury and the great win over Argentina in this year’s tournament. He’d have cursed that lucky Ronaldinho goal that eliminated England.
Nineteen was too young. And drowning whilst trying to save someone else’s life… well that was terrible. He should have come home from University instead of going on that summer canoeing course.
Anyway, that’s why I’m writing – to say that we still miss him too. Deborah sends her love. We often talk about Sam, especially now that our family has grown up and left and we have more time to sit and think.
©David Lewis Pogson 2019
Rest in Peace:
This story is fiction. However it was inspired by the memory of my friend Ian ‘Sam’ McKay Blair who drowned, aged 19 years, in the Menai Straits on 21st May 1966 and is buried in the churchyard at Yealand Conyers, Carnforth, Lancashire. He was a good swimmer and I was told that he died whilst trying to help rescue his companion who was already in difficulties.