by Cindy George
Gavin was thinking about his first love. He was four and she was in his class, the lovely Corinne Turner. She had been born with an extra toe on each foot and sometimes she would take her socks off and let you look. Gavin thought this made her exotic and magical and showed his devotion by sitting quietly near her wherever she went. It didn’t seem to bother her any more than toes eleven and twelve did, he was just there.
“Haven’t you got a mind of your own?” That was his mum. “You don’t have to do everything that Corinne does, you know. Tell you what, let’s go to the park.” He loved those afternoons in the park with his mum, almost as deeply as he loved Corinne. There were swans to feed and if you chased them they would flap their giant wings at you and chase you back. He wasn’t allowed to chase the swans but sometimes he did it anyway. Just to show his mum he did indeed have a mind of his own. She was long gone now, of course, he was fairly certain of that.
Remembering his mum made him think of when he was older and had a proper girlfriend, pretty Marianne who was exquisite but had less brainpower than a catnip mouse. She left him in the end for someone more exciting. Steve, Gavin remembered; he had had a car and very nearly a moustache. Gavin didn’t even try to compete with that. He remembered wondering what had happened to Marianne, where she was now.
But the real love of his life had been Ellen, clever, kind and beautiful, with dark hair and light eyes and a smile that made him realise everything was well with the world. Had there been anyone before Ellen? He couldn’t quite remember. But he knew Ellen had been beside him from the day they married in the crumbling sandstone church of her remote northern hometown. She had borne his child, or maybe children, and he could picture her face perfectly, cradling a crying baby, shushing it and wiping away a tiny splash of milk with a soft pink bib with flowers on it. Must have been a little girl he had then, thought Gavin, that’s nice.
Ellen was there on their holiday to Florida, and oh, they had two little girls by then, and they squealed and ran away from the pelicans just like he had done with the swans only minutes ago. “This has been the most fun I’ve ever had, ever ever!” Ellen had told him. “Well it must be very boring most of the time being married to me” he’d laughed. She said if she’d wanted excitement she would have married an astronaut and they’d laughed for ages, even though it hadn’t been as funny as all that.
The girls had married as well, what beautiful weddings they’d been, he could still see Katie in her off-white gown with the lace-up bodice her mum hadn’t been too sure about but in the end it was perfect down to the scent of the bouquets but the best thing of all was her smile.
And when he was in hospital they were all there, so tender and loving.
But then there was nothing, just a cold damp darkness.
In one last tiny flare of consciousness, he realised he wasn’t Gavin Mason at all. Just a lucky graveyard worm digesting the memories from Gavin’s dead brain. The thought flickered and went out.