My headache was getting worse…making my vision blurry…damn these migraines! I walked into my apartment in a zombified gait, toppling things over – I finally found my room and just fell onto the bed shoes and all.
A noise startles me awake; my brain reawakening from its deep slumber, my body feels heavy as I try to sit up so I proceed to roll out of bed. I fall onto the floor with a crash, dragging the pile of books stacked up against the wall with me. I struggle to stand up as I hear heavy banging in the background – someone was banging on my door?
I manage to get myself out of the room – without bothering to check through the peephole I open the door.
“What the fuck John?!”, shouting greeted me. Through my screwed up eyes I see a familiar silhouette – Branson.
I grunt back a “what?”, as he pushes past me and walks in, “Where the fuck’s your phone?!”, another question spat at me, “We’ve been trying to get to you since last – you look like absolute shit”, he said.
I looked in the mirror next to me on the wall, I definitely looked like shit. My hair was an absolute disaster; the left side was matted to my head while the other side was sticking out in all directions, my face looked the worst it has ever looked, my eyes were red and puffy – I needed to shave. I run my hands through the mess on my head, “What’s happening?”,
“What’s happening?”, Branson repeated in a mock voice, “What do you think? A body was found in the lake!”
I sat on the one piece of furniture in the living room – my trusty armchair – I watch TV, eat and sometimes sleep on it. Branson was wearing his clothes from last night; we had parted ways at the station as I can remember, he was going through some paperwork – I hated paperwork. This meant he never got home, so…probably found the body early this morning? My foggy brain tried piecing the clues together…
“Some kids had been playing the fool at the lake when one punk had felt something touch his leg when in the water”, Branson went on to explain, “body has been recovered and identified, this is going to sound crazy but it’s the kid from next door to yours – we tried contacting you…”
Kid next door… Kid next door…? It kept playing in my head, my senses now fully alert. “What kid next door?”, I ask.
“Nefer…or something I think – the girl from the gypsy family”, Branson said trying to recall.
I sat there eyes wide…I didn’t know what to think – what to do…her face kept appearing in my head and her name kept replaying like a broken record…Nefer – Nefer – Nefer…
“Uh…you ok?”, Branson sounded far away.
I put my face in my hands, “They aren’t gypsies…”, I tell him.
“John…ya knew the kid? I’m…I’m sorry…I never knew…”, his voice dropped, “you never tell me anything…”
Her face…her voice was the only thing I could think of…Nefer Lyght…
I knew her – too well – beautiful and wise beyond her years but with a touch of innocence. She was so young…just 18…how come her parents didn’t come to me? I got up from my seat and walked to the door. It was chaos on the corridor, uniforms moving up and down, almost all the neighbours on my floor were trying to pry in on the Lyghts – shock on their faces.
I walked towards the Lyghts door which was wide open – an officer guarding it, Branson was close behind me. I stopped just outside the doorway, Eli was sitting on the couch, eyes blank and staring at nothing as a lady officer questioned her. Raul is looking out the window a few feet away from the couch – expressionless. I walked in; the lady officer looked up, “John”, she acknowledged me with a look of distaste, all the while the torn parents did not look my way.
“You can leave now”, I said to the officer looking at Eli.
“But…I’m not done questioning her”, the officer didn’t look too happy. These uniforms hated us.
“You can question her later”, I walked up to her, and stared her down. The officer finally gave up with a sigh of exasperation and left.
I sat down on the vacant chair in front of Eli; I had no idea what I was doing. It all felt like a dream and I did not have any conscious control over anything I was saying.
“Eli…I am…awfully sorry…”, was all I could manage, with those words it sealed the fact that Nefer was gone.
Eli looked at me then. A look that said a million words, questions were heavy on her brows but also acceptance swam in her tearful eyes. Eli was a strong woman that much I knew, some of that resilience is what Nefer has – had…
I could only look at her blankly, I realised I didn’t really know the details of the incident. I looked at Branson; he approached Eli as I got up and walked towards Raul. He didn’t look at me; I asked him where the other kids were. The question made him come back to reality from wherever his mind had wandered, his head turned towards me and nodded towards the hallway next to their kitchen. His eyes looked tired, as if something inside had given up, I patted his shoulder as I turned away.
The kids’ rooms were down the hall, there were five Lyght children…now there are only four. Nefer was the eldest and the oddball of the family. I knocked on the white door; it opened to a tiny woman who looked exactly like Eli standing in the doorway. Her eyes were puffy, she rubbed her nose, “Yeah?”, she asked, I introduced myself as a neighbour, “Just here to check on the kids”, I said.
“Right…I am Eli’s sister – Rose”, she extended her arm which caught me by surprise. I shook her hand. “Well…they are ok…I think”, she said folding her arms and looking behind her, “they’ve been silent all morning”
I realised I didn’t know the time, I looked at my cracked watch, it said 10 o’clock. I walked towards Nefer’s younger siblings. The second oldest – Mia – was the only one who was awake, the others were asleep – their long dark hair sprawled over the pillows. Mia looked at me, there were tear stains on her cheeks, “Hey kid”, I said kneeling down in front of her as she wiped her eyes with her hands. They all looked like different versions of Nefer, almost like Nefer in different ages of her life. “She’s gone isn’t she?”, Mia asked, her eyes brimming with tears.
“I’m sorry…”, I said, she hung her head as she began to sob…little gasps, she leaned into me. I didn’t really know what to do. I stroked her hair as the last tears of her childhood seeped into my shirt.
I was back at my apartment, brushing my teeth. I still didn’t ask Branson the details of the incident – I still didn’t know how to react. I stared at myself in the mirror…I couldn’t save her…I felt…guilt…I shook my head, washed out my mouth and went back to the living room. Branson was on a call as I walked in, which reminded me – where was my phone? I began rummaging in my coat pockets and pant pockets, couldn’t find it. I went back to the bedroom and found it on the floor under the pile of books. It was dead. I looked around the room for the phone charger when Branson walked up to the door,
“Coroner just ruled out drowning”.
Photo from Pinterest
This is a story I’ve begun writing. It’s called ‘One for Sorrow’, which I’ve named after the nursery rhyme. However, I may change the title in the future.