Un-Fading by Julian Edge
Sally was ill for so long she faded out of the pattern of our lives. Her contours blurred and the pigment washed out. Now, they tell me she’s died and suddenly that crisp outline is back again, sharp against the grainy leftovers of mostly irrelevant events, with her colours as vibrant as her laughter was loud.
It was that time I completely lost it. You know. I ended up stuck in that half-way house for addicts of various kinds and I was howling. She came. She took the trouble. She didn’t talk about how far or how long. She just turned up and helped me pack. She put me in her spare room and cooked bangers and mash with an onion gravy. Those sausages were my first step back into the world of making sense. I wouldn’t dream of eating sausages now, of course, I’ve learned better, but I don’t know if I would have made it out of my dark kennel without those Cumberlands she cooked for me back then. Or without her.
I thanked her. That now seems such a paltry thing to have done. I thanked her. Did she want more? She never said. I never asked.
She painted in those days. Proper canvases, big ones, images contesting a borderland between landscape and abstraction. I wish I had one now, to watch her stride away over the brow of that unlikely hill.
We never completely lost touch, but we partnered apart and grew in different directions and then she fell ill and stayed ill and, over time, I let her fade. As I must have faded for her, mustn’t I? But now she’s dead and her me doesn’t exist at all, while I see her so vividly. No more thanks, then, Sally. But there are still things to say. To tell you.