I fell asleep that night on Josh’s bed, I hadn’t the energy or drive to find somewhere else and I knew that no one be coming in here anytime soon. I guessed his mom was mourning for him and his dad; she wouldn’t be able to face a whole outhouse full of Josh-memories. By the time I woke up the sun was high in the sky and there was little point going into school, I sat up in the comfy bed and rubbed my eyes. There was a rustle and I froze, then I heard footsteps in the den below, I got up off the bed silently and made it quickly, my heart was beginning to hammer its way out my chest. You could go to jail for trespassing. I waited hoping the person would leave but they seemed to be busy, tidying or something. I sat on the edge of the bed listening as hard as I could for any signs that they would come upstairs, there was a pause and then the feet started to ascend the stairs. I began to sweat as I stood up swiftly and dived behind the bed, my face was hot and I was shaking quietly with nerves – what would they do if they saw me?
From under the bed I could see the feet walking around, it was a male’s converse and they were black. The feet turned towards the bed and I took in a deep breath to hold but in the process I also inhaled a mouthful of dust, I felt my nose begin to tingle and the dust settle in the back of my throat. I was going to sneeze, I couldn’t stop it - I sneezed.
The next few seconds happened in slow motion, a face appeared between the bed and the floor and two hands grabbed my arms and pulled me out. I screamed and tried to run away but the voice was comforting,
“Sarah, don’t freak out, it’s me, Josh,”
“But…but…but you’re dead!” I cried stepping away from him with terror in my voice, “you died, in a car crash, you shouldn’t be here!”
“I didn’t die,” Josh said smiling; I was beginning to panic, who was this?
“You did! You died,” I sat down against the wall and put my head between my legs,
“Sarah,” Josh said kindly, “I’m very much alive, feel my hands,” he put them in front of my face, I reached out slowly and sure enough they weren’t a mirage.
“How?” I asked slowly,
“Hang on…” Josh said ignoring my question, “why are you in my house?” I swallowed and looked at him trying to think of a reasonable excuse,
“When I heard you were dead I came here to see for myself,”
“When did you find out?”
“You’ve been here all night?” Josh asked, he was crouching down in front of me,
“I fell asleep,” I told him, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean too, don’t be mad,”
“I’m not angry,” Josh said, “I’m surprised to see you, I’m happy,”
“So why did I think you were dead?” I asked,
“I was in a car crash,” Josh said standing slowly and walking to his bed, “I was with my father,” he sat down on the edge and put his head in his hands, “my…my dad died,” my eyes widened with shock,
“Your dad died?” I repeated dumbly,
“This car came out of nowhere, it smashed into our car…” a tear trickled down his face but I didn’t feel brave enough to go over and comfort him, somewhere deep down a memory was being dug up. I knew exactly how Josh felt, I recalled the emotion of loss, pain and grief, it was exactly the same when my family was killed. I took a deep jagged breath trying to suppress the memory from coming out and haunting me as it had down all those years, I wiped my eyes and looked over at Josh.
“You okay?” he asked me, I nodded slowly,
“I don’t handle death that well,” I said, “as you can probably tell,” I pointed at myself, Josh got up and came and sat next to me, he pulled me into his chest and began to stroke my hair to comfort me. “It should be me looking after you,” I whimpered,
“I’m strong enough to look after the both of us,” Josh whispered into my ear, I furrowed my head into his baggy sweater and tried to concentrate on the present rather than the past.
“I wish I could be braver,” I told him,
“You are brave Sarah, so very brave…”
“I’m not, I barely have the courage to tell the truth,” I admitted,
“You seem pretty honest to me,” Josh rubbed my back,
“You don’t know me at all!” I cried pulling away and looking away from him in embarrassment,
“Give it time Sarah,”
“I’ve not been totally straight with you Josh,” I confessed,
“Why not?” Josh asked sounding genuinely curious,
“Well I’m not the kinda person you think I am,” I trailed off, I couldn’t tell him, at least not now. Josh sensed my reluctance to continue so he changed the subject.
“You want to know something cool?” he asked quietly, “The rumors were sort of right, I did die…”