Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Bestie (05/22/14)
TITLE: Going back
By Ellen Carr
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The flight from Singapore to London was an excruciating thirteen hours, and that was after the eight hour trip from Sydney. Though she'd scored a window seat, her space was restricted by the invisible line that divided her from the stranger beside her.
Sleep eluded her hour after hour so she turned on the movie screen to watch whatever was on offer. But her thoughts were elsewhere. She was thinking about Rosie - Rosie her childhood friend, who she hadn't seen for fifty years. How she would love to meet her again.
She and Rosie had been girls together in Sorosham. Her thoughts drifted back to the grey village school, the prim, navy-blue skirted teacher and the crowd of scruffy children. She saw Rosie Campbell, her best friend, who was always sitting next to her, always her playmate in the playground. They were inseparable. If she wasn't at Rosie's house, Rosie was at hers. They climbed trees together, walked their dolls, bought lollies at the corner shop and roamed the village, as they could back in those days.
When Claire was ten her family had emigrated to Australia. At first she and Rosie wrote regularly. Claire would listen for the postman's whistle and race to the letterbox looking for an envelope with a British stamp and Rosie's writing. Then, the letters stopped. She couldn't remember who stopped writing, Rosie or her. She wondered what had become of Rosie. Had she married? Where did she live now?
The man next in the seat next to her started to snore, so Claire rummaged through her bag to find her ear plugs. He sounded like her husband used to sound when he snored; how how she missed Malcolm. They should have been making this trip together but they had never got around to it. Now she was going back to her childhood village alone; the trip they had planned together. Claire pulled her cousin's photo from her bag. Rachael was coming to meet her and they hadn't seen each other for at least forty years.
She must have slept eventually because the loud speaker woke her abruptly: "We will be commencing our descent into Heathrow Airport in a few minutes. Please ensure that your seat is in the upright position and your tray table is locked into its slot.” Claire rearranged herself, sat herself upright and started pushing things into her bag. This was it; now to meet the cousin who she only knew from photos and emails, and distant memories.
It was a long trail through customs but eventually she emerged to the sea of waiting faces. She scanned the crowd, looking for someone holding the promised sign: 'Claire Sargent'. Someone moved forward and she saw her name, but the woman holding it was not Rachael, not the Rachael from her photo. Claire waved and moved towards the woman. There was something familiar about her but she certainly wasn't Rachael.
"Claire Sargent?" asked the stranger.
"Yes, I am," Claire ventured. "But who are you?"
"You don't recognise me, do you Claire?"
"No, I'm sorry, I don't." Claire was perplexed. There was something familiar about this woman, but who was she?
"I'm Rosie Campbell! Rachael wanted to surprise you. I've moved back to the village. I'm really Rosie Morgan now, but that wouldn't mean anything to you..." She was going on and on.
Claire's mouth dropped open. She put her bags down, and spread her arms for a big hug.
"Rosie! My best friend from so long ago! What an amazing surprise! How absolutely wonderful to see you again." As the two friends hugged she felt tears trickling down her face and her tiredness melted away.
"You look wonderful! I can't wait to hear what's happened over all the years since your family left," Rosie said. "There's so much to catch up on."
They linked arms and headed for the luggage carousel. There would be so much to tell.
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