I am looking at my right leg, my hand stroking upwards from ankle to knee in search of stubble. My index finger lingers on a scar just below my knee.
I am in Mark Smith's garden with his sister Janice and Joanne and Wendy. We are all running through the long grass, jumping over bike parts, crates and Janice's old pram. The chain link fence that separates his garden from next door hangs loose, twisting away from its posts.
Pop! Snap! Mark fires his cap gun. I am near enough to smell the gunpowder. I love that smell and sniff the air, little sniffs in.
"You're dead," Mark said.
I sink to my knees intending to die dramatically. My right knee lands on a sawn off fence post, slicing a triangle of flesh.
I limp home to show my mum. I feel a bit sick, but it's worth it for the drama. Mum looks concerned, mentions stitches. I've never had stitches.
I sit on the sofa, raising my leg. Mum brings hot water mixed with Dettol, wads of cotton wool, the plasters and a towel. She deftly bathes my wound, washing away the blood and rust. She gently pulls back the cut flap of skin to reveal a triangle of white. I was expecting my insides to be red, the white was a shock. I feel faint.
Mum carefully puts me back together.
"They need to cut their grass", she says.
I work out that this scar has been with me for over thirty years. Even after all this time, whenever I notice it I am transported back to Mark Smith's garden.
What about the scars you can't see? What about the emotional scars?
Apparently time heals all wounds.
I don't agree. Yes, grief changes over time, the outpourings are less frequent. But once you have lost someone close to you, that loss is always there. That pain is not healed by the passing of years. It is just beneath the surface, waiting for a trigger to release it all over again.
I expect I won't be able to watch the film Gladiator again without mourning a friend who passed away earlier this year. I will see him, not Maximus, walking through the fields and I will weep as I am weeping now.
I only have to hear one of the songs that we had played at my brother's or my father's funerals to feel utterly bereft.
I still pick up football tat in shops and wonder whether I should buy it for my brother. This week I picked up a pack of Panini World Cup Stickers. Then I remember that Peter died in 1997.
Six weeks before Princess Diana.
So time passes.
This post was written as part of the Sleep is for the Weak Writing Workshop. This week I chose prompt no.5: Time.