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The Price Of Milk

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But for a long time already she had known that sooner or later she should do something of the sort.

Certainty and comfort quickly faded with the ink on his notebook’s yellowing pages. Not long after the party – birthday or funeral – she was getting looks but losing friends. They ran or moved away. She was still here. Sometimes she saw Karen, glaring at her in passing.

“You never understand anything, Effy, do you?”

Eura waited for the milkman with his clinking glass bottles.

Effy went to Tesco’s for a milk carton.

In their entire sunny world, she wanted but one thing: A clean slate with her own face on. But somehow through silver and tin, Effy had inserted herself between herself, looking for a hand similar to hers. It came attached to a girl with two buns of braided blonde hair. Ox horns. She said her brother’s name was Tony. Their black eyeliner was smeared just the same.

“I understand that I'm so psychotic and so ill that if I were able to tap into that I could do something really interesting,” Effy smirked.

Eura frowned and went into the kitchen, made some tea, put milk and sugar in it.

Suddenly abandoned, Effy desperately yelled after her, “I understand that you are not real!”

But there was no reply. A wave of anxiety washed over her. She held her eyes half closed, waiting for the creatures to come for her. Where was her mother? Instead her reflection came back.

“You know, they are going to put you in a clinic? Unless I stay here to lead you back into salvation!”

(Something she had done for Tony once or many times before.)

Effy nodded and shook her head in answer, sucking sweet tea through a straw. It was a chilly day. They put on raincoats and gloves and went out.

“Why did they turn away from me?” Effy asked, numb.

They looked down on the River Avon and she held her hand.

“Because they don’t know what to do with it. Or how much it can cost to just be,” Eura explained. “Once they realise they cannot help, they leave. I know. I didn’t speak for a while because I had nothing to say. They thought I was crazy.”

Blankly, Effy stared into the grey waters beneath her, thinking about Tony mostly and the shed, of course the shed, fearing she never left there. Not mentally anyway. And she asked herself if and when she was born once and died thus. One should be able to put a date on such things.

Obsessed with the thought, her gaze fixed on the horizon; Effy violently pulled her hand away. She wanted to jump with joy off that bridge and die without leaving a name or a story. But her hand was stuck in a tight grip, pulling her down, making her fall. Her head smashed against the cobblestone.

“Life resembles death most closely, like you resemble me,” Effy whispered while Eura, surprisingly detached, supported the back of her head, sticky blood on hair and hand.

The damp wind, the dirty stream, the excitement of the fall had to be different from the sterile bathroom and the razorblade. Hence, Effy always thought this, all of this, would impassion her for once in her life.

From a distance she could hear the sirens of the ambulance. It had been a nanny with a pram who had called them.

“You are entirely made of glittering mint,” Effy slurred on the verge of passing out. “Too bad you are not real. But Tony – he understands the price. I want him to say he loves life.”

When Effy closed her eyes, Eura looked down on her mutely and wouldn’t scream.