This place, so empty, so dead. The crows snap branches as they depart their houses in search of better days, and as I watch them flap away into the snowy mountain side I wish silently I could do the same. Life has never been so silent, so lonely. The grass sharp like glass as they cut into my knees whilst I kneel in this solitary segregation, swiping a soft and gentle hand over the concrete slab that is my dearly departed sister, Krystal-Lee Coleman. There’s no one in sight and with a quick glance around i am reassured of my accusations. Discarded flowers, daisies if I had to be exact, blow over in the breeze landing at my feet. I didn’t exactly come prepared, so I’m grateful for the silent gesture. Bundling them up In soft hands I replace the flowers mum brought up weeks ago, now unrecognisable in the small glass vase stained in dirt. As I stare at the lifeless circular picture set in the concrete of all that remains of my twin questions rush through my still recovering mind.

“What happened to us? Why’d you have to go so soon?” The trees rustle in the background as the wind kicks up a notch. The wind pounds an unsteady rhythm in my ears. For a second I thought I heard a voice. I must’ve been mistaken. Memories of us bombard through my quietest thoughts; us laughing, singing and dancing around the house to the stupidest fights we’d have in the school grounds. The smile of reminiscence departs as tears fill my eyes, clouding my vision almost instantly. One thing I love and hate the most is people always change but the memories don’t.

Clara, I never left.

My head snaps around scaring a crow off in the bush. I heard it clear this time. A female voice. I couldn’t make out the connection without natures interruptions, but swear on it I heard it. Looking back at my sister’s headstone I can’t help by feel alone. Her picture stares back at me, same eyes, same hair, same facial shape, she was my twin. The shadows dance over nearby graves as i continue to crouch by hers thinking about all the good times we had. I’m captivated by her laugh, it echoes deep. Almost as if she was right beside me, only not. I smile once again we had that connection. The shadow of a tree dances its way over to her grave, darkening her grey tombstone as the sun begins to set. Staring once more at her picture I feel the presence of someones watchful eyes. With a rapid dart around the perimeter I turn back. The shadow of the tree turned to a hand, reaching for me but never quite touching, just lingering, waiting. Gasping I stand in shock as my heart skips a beat, pounding rapidly as if to catch up on the beat it had just lost. As suddenly as it appeared it reverted back to just a tree. Was i going mad? I could almost swear she was still around, still watching over us. I must leave.

Can’t ever leave me.

...

My stomach hollows out once again as I plunge back and forth on the tyre swing, strung up by a length of rope hung tight against the highest branch of our willow tree. With each creak of the slowly fraying rope against the steady tree branch, I launch myself higher and higher into memory lane. Deeper and darker. I can still hear her, still see her. The doctors say I shouldn’t be able to, but there she stands before me. What do they call it? Grief. Slap another label on it, pop another pill and call it a day. On an odd swing, the breeze blows me higher and as I watch the neighbours children play tag in their yard I hear her call my name.

The tone was eery, almost forced out in propulsion in order to be heard. My feet grind into the bark below as I force the swing to a stop, rocking side to side with the sudden decision to still. The voice appeared to come from our two story American Townhouse, blue in exterior with paint stripping from its 1977 panelling. We’ve called it home for all of our 18 years. My Grandparents brought it as a wedding present for my parents so that they could start a family. My eyes raise from the back door up to my bedroom window on the second story, last bedroom to the left hand side of the house. A shadow dances behind the curtain before drawing away to nothing but the shadow of my chester draws. Five days had gone since the first anniversary of my sisters passing, five days since I visited her. The six o’clock breeze blows in as the sun begins to set in the east, tumbling leaves at my feet with each steady blow. The sudden change in temperature raises goosebumps on my arms and legs, sending a cold chill down my spine as the clouds begin to darken through the woven branches of the willow tree, swallowing the sun that once was.