Mary was always a wild girl. She wore red lipstick while the rest of us were too timid to veer away from pale pinks and nudes.
Her hair was teased to give her height and her shirts were always just a trifle too small so that the buttons gaped just enough to offer a glimpse of the goods packed inside her push-up bra.
She did her very best to be noticed.
I always wondered what she did on Saturday nights when she snuck out of the window in the bedroom we shared.
There were four of us girls, Mary, Catherine, Margaret and Jane, plain, sensible names for plain, sensible girls. But Mary was anything but.
When Mary died and her body washed up on the shores of the creek that wound its way through the valley, we all suspected the worst,
certain that she had died at the hands of one of those boys she teased so expertly.
You can imagine my shock when I discovered a battered little diary in the suitcase of treasured items she kept beneath the bed and found that I hadn’t known my sister at all.
I never once suspected that she had ever been in love. Not real love. Let alone a love so great she never got over it. This was her last entry.
On Saturday night I’ll put my hair up the way he likes it and wear that blue dress that he told me brought out my eyes.
Is it strange to think this way? Is it normal to visit the spot where we kissed and held hands under the stars, the place where he told me he loved me and I promised to wait for him?
Or is it odd? I think I have become just a little deranged since we got the news. No one knew about him. I kept it to myself. I wanted it to be a secret.
Loving him was one of the only things I could count on as belonging only to me.
He wasn’t the only one to be killed that day. So many of our boys died over there in a bloody battle they had no choice but to participate in. Too young to have lived, let alone to die.
And when my father delivered the news, casually over Sunday dinner, that Tom had died, my heart froze in my chest and I felt a scream well up within me that I thought would choke me to death.
I managed to finish the meal and said I wanted to get some air.
The tears started as soon as I was out of the yard and I ran to the spot where the creek bends and the willow trees hang low as if I could catch him if I got there in time.
I have been going every Saturday night ever since. Today will be my last visit. I hope that he is waiting for me as I believe he will be.
My heart is filled with butterflies at the thought of seeing him again.
Will he hold out his arms the way he always did and whisper into my hair and tell me I’m the one? I’m smiling as I write this. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the only thing to do.