The last time Lily and I saw each other it was July.
We decided, like every single year, to take our holidays at the same time. We didn’t go anywhere fancy, just home for a week to enjoy the sea and the warm weather that July always brings to our small town.
My mum was glad to have me over. Although, she knew that the real reason why I came home was Lily.
On the first day I waited for her impatiently. Pacing from window to window, expecting her to turn up at any moment.
She came carrying with her the familiar scent of Salvador Dali’s perfume. Now, when I think about it, she was the only person I had ever known who actually used it.
My first thought when I saw her was that she’d changed again. She seemed taller and slimmer. Her black hair was definitely longer, reaching down to her waist. She had the most beautiful hair in the world. So silky and soft you wanted to look at it and touch it all the time.
Lily was beautiful. She made men fall in love with her constantly without even realising it. Women were jealous of her, but then they seemed to adore her at the same time. Lily was a person who was impossible to dislike: intelligent, funny, caring and smart. To me she was perfect.
During our week together she told me about her fiancée. She said they didn’t argue anymore and she finally didn’t feel trapped in the relationship.
She said she had decided to stop talking to her dad and ignore his desperate calls for money. She had banned her mum letting him in the house after he had beaten her in a drunken fury. She was going to get a lawyer and help her mum to get a divorce.
Lily was surprised how much she loved her job. I always thought that she would be someone rich and influential. I think she believed that, too. As a teacher she began to see the world in a different perspective. She talked for hours about the kids and other teachers.
‘I’m finally at peace, Jo’ she said. ‘I’m finally myself...’
We spent our time like we used to when we were teenagers. She would pick me up in the morning and we would go to the beach. We would buy pastries at the bakery and some women’s magazines at the press stall. Lily loved to hate these. During our long and lazy days at the beach she read the more explicit stories aloud, mocking it and laughing at its simplicity and uselessness.
I remember, for no reason at all, that she bought a new bikini that summer. We always joked that we would never buy new ones until the ones we had would stop fitting us. Lily said that it was the best investment of her life.
In the afternoon we would go home for a dinner and for a little power nap. I loved the way my skin smelled with sea and fresh air. I didn’t mind lying on my bed with my feet still covered with golden sand. I felt pleasantly tired, but also re-energised.
We would go out every night, drank lots of cocktails and danced until the sunrise. I felt like I was 16 again. We laughed until our bellies ached. How I love and cherish those memories!
We spent our last evening drinking wine on the beach. Suddenly Lily started undressing. She ran naked into the sea.
‘I’m a butterfly!!!!!!’ she shouted.
Well, what could I do? I did exactly the same thing. It felt like freedom...just wonderful!
After- we watched the sunrise. My head was pleasantly buzzing from the wine I’d had. The sea was calm with only tiny waves. Its sound soothed me. There were no clouds on the horizon and the sun was getting up slowly, throwing an orange duvet on the green sea. The seagulls were screaming, circling the first ship coming back from a night fishing trip.
Lily was humming and smiling to herself. We both knew that our holiday was over. We had to go to our normal lives.
I was just sitting there, staring at the horizon. I wanted to say: ‘I will miss you; I will miss our conversations and your laugh...’ I was always bad at expressing my feelings, so I said nothing.
Lily died 3 years ago. Some drunken fool drove into her when she was crossing the street. She was gone in a second, just like that...
I went home for the funeral, but I don’t go there in July anymore...
I miss you my butterfly!