Lesley hadn’t had many visitors. Not for a while. It was understandable - things were awkward, nobody knew what to say. And it was hardly the environment for small talk. Her family had been down a few times, but mostly her time had been spent alone, writing - trying to get every last detail down: her statement, her penance. Part confessional, part apology, 100% effort to try and make things better.
So Beverley had been… unexpected.
“I just wanted to bring you this,” she said, after a slightly awkward pause, and slid something across the table.
Lesley picked it up and, frowning slightly, opened the envelope that Beverley had given her.
It was a card. On the front was a photo, London at night, taken from the air. The ribbons and pinpricks of light gave the city the appearance of a giant, bioluminescent sea creature, sprawled in every direction with the Thames meandering through it like a giant artery of darkness and light.
Inside: HAPPY BIRTHDAY - thinking of you. Beverley x
Lesley felt the emotion rise, tried to stamp on it, but there was still a catch in her voice when she said:
“It’s next week… You know, I’d actually forgotten.”
“You’ve had other things on your mind…”
“You could say that.”
“Well, I thought I’d come in person. See you got it.”
“Thank you… Thanks.”
Beverley shrugged. “No worries. So, they treating you alright in here?” she looked around the visiting room sceptically, but seemed to find nothing to justify her suspicions - of what, Lesley wasn’t sure.
“Ha. It’s fine. Boring, quiet, but that’s okay. It’s good. Had enough drama for a while, anyway. For a lifetime, really.”
“Yeah. I bet.” Beverley hesitated, and it seemed to Lesley that she was about to say something else, but the buzzer sounded, and the door opened.
“Time’s up, I’m afraid,” said the guard apologetically. “You only get five minutes, not being family.” Beverley stood up quickly.
“Right, yeah - well, I guess that’s me,” she said. Her voice seemed a little high pitched.
“Thanks Bev. For the card, for coming here.”
“Take care of yourself, Lesley.” Beverley glanced at the guard, who was looking away, and quickly leaned over the table and pulled Lesley into a hug. At first, Lesley was too stunned to react, but then the feeling of being held, of closeness and safety in Bev’s arms, overcame her shock and she returned the hug, clinging to Beverley as if to life itself.
“Hey!” Evidently the guard had noticed.
“Whoops,” said Beverley, pulling away. “Better go”. And, as if it were an afterthought, she planted a kiss square on Lesley’s mouth.
Lesley wasn’t sure if it was an accident, or a spur-of-the-moment thing, and Beverley certainly seemed a little startled herself, but recovered quickly enough to deliver a parting shot on her way out, escorted by a somewhat disgruntled guard.
“See you soon, Lesley May.”
A flash of that wide smile, and she was gone, leaving Lesley with the card, and her thoughts - some of them rather more pleasant than the ones she’d woken up with.