Her hands is the first thing I notice. Pale, some sick combination of light blue and green. She’s lying flat on her stomach, her arms spread out. Like she thought she was flying or something. I am disgusted by the sight, even though I know it’s Claire, my best friend. Her hair is dirty and tangled, and the smell of vomit is obvious. Oh God, I wish someone else had found her but me! Someone who had known what to do. Someone who would have done something else than sitting on the floor, in a corner, too afraid to touch the body.
I can’t believe it. I don’t want to believe it. How on earth am I supposed to continue my life without her? Claire was the strong one of us. Whenever I felt down, she would be there for me. Whenever I had a rejected crush, she would be the one to get me up, to make me face the world again. I’ve had a lot of crushes.
I have known that girl since we were about two years old. I thought nothing she’d do would surprise me anymore. But now she has. In the worst possible way. It’ll never be Ally and Claire anymore. It will from now on be just Ally. How am I supposed to cope with that? I have lost half of me. We were one. And now life’s never going to be the same again.
They’ve taken her body away. And left me here in this smelly place. Do you know what it smells like? Ever smelt death? It’s slightly rotten, a bit tensed and heavy, dusty. There is no joy left in your body, only pain and a great numbness. And now I wonder if I’m ever going to get away from this bathroom. In someone’s house. And I don’t even know who this house belongs to. This is the place where Claire chose to die. And I will probably never see this place again. It makes me sad. And I can feel a warm, salt tear float down my cheek. Another one follows. I don’t bother wiping it away. Because I’m so sad and confused, and things will never be the same again.
I’m lying flat on my bed. My face is buried in my pillow. And I have this sad feeling that I’ll never be happy again. I miss her so much it hurts! I have no tears left, and my face is swollen and my pillow is wet. In this very room we’ve had so many good memories together. So many pyjama parties and pillow fights. So many times we’ve cried in each other’s arms. Over silly things like boys and overprotective mums. I wish we were back in those days, when Claire was here and the worst problem was a pimple before some date. But we’re not, and I know I would have to face the world without her by my side. But it’s so tough to walk out the door, and I just want to stay here in my bed and pretend nothing has happened.
I have nightmares about the night I found her. Her cold body, the sickly green skin. The way she smelt. Could I have saved her? I’m always this nanosecond too late in my dream. And I know for sure that this feeling is going to nag me the rest of my life. That I will never be able to feel happy, because I know she’s there, right behind me, crying, being angry. And my smile will fade away, and I will feel guilty.
I know why she died. She’s been on and off on drugs for so long. But I thought she had control. That we had control. I guess she didn’t get the intoxication she wanted. And mixed a lot of different things. Ecstasy, headache pills, cider and vodka. But I did too! And I’m still alive. I so wish it had been me! How on earth am I going to survive without Claire? She meant the world to me. And still does. I’m going to stop taking drugs now. I will stay clean, to honour Claire.
I just woke from another nightmare. Again it was about Claire. Though this time, her face is black and distorted and angry. Her spirit flies around me and through me and I can hear her scream to me: ‘Why didn’t you come and save me, Ally?’ It’s so horrible. And I’m all sweaty and cold. Please, someone, take me away! Please!
It’s Claire’s funeral today. And I know I would have to go. To make peace with her soul. To let her know I really regret that I came too late. And how much I wish it had been me. I owe her that. But the truth is, it might as well have been me. And it would have been so much better. Because Claire was strong. She could have coped with the guilt and the grief better than I do.
I can see her parents outside the church. Her mother is grey, and I can see that she have no tears left either. I want to go to her, hug her and tell her that I know how it feels. But I don’t have the courage. Claire’s father is standing some metres away from her. He’s grey also, but I can see how much he loves the attention he gets. He makes me sick.
Inside the church it’s silent and cool. The wooden benches are filled with crying people. All Claire’s friends and relatives. I can see her coffin. It’s pearly white, and there is flowers everywhere. It could have been me!
And suddenly I feel this relief inside me. It’s like all my worries are lifted away. Claire tells me she’ll always be there for me. No matter what. And that I shouldn’t feel responsible for what happened. There was nothing I could have done anyway. ‘And, you know Ally, even though you can’t see me, I’ll always be in your heart.’
I can see something white fly past me, her perfume reaches my nostrils, and her laugh fills the air as she’s lifted up and flies away. An angel has left this world and joined a better one. An angel flies up to the light. And I know I will meet her again.