Touching Freckles, by Susan Bennett
“Okay…sheepskin? Or…velvet? Oh—pressing your fingers down hard onto a hedgehog!”
There’s a snigger.
“Where would I even get a hedgehog who’d let me do that? Seriously, you’re shit at this!”
She’s frowning now, I can always tell. I can feel those knitted brows as if I’m holding onto her pretty face, spreading my fingers along her forehead, like old times. Know what I miss most of all? Her freckles. My clumsy fingers stroke and press but…nothing.
She sighs, leans into me. “Sam,” she says.
Disease is fast, until it’s slow. Falling over is funny, until it’s not. Sally is no longer frowning, I know this, like I know my heart still beats. Her freckles. A sky full of stars, I said once, and we fell about laughing. “Stars!” Sally shrieked.
We saw our long future up ahead, the path clear and lined with flowers. Not for us, the thorns that would prick, the darkness that would swallow.
What did we know?
“Blind as a bat?” I asked. The doctor frowned (they never laugh, do they?). We held hands the whole way home. What else is there? Darkness descended, slow and heavy and soundless. I live in the dark. But the light is fuzzy around the edges.
Those freckles. Stars.