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Tabitha Heaton

Brighton, Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College

It has been ten years since I was last here: the house we grew up in. As I drift through the rooms, everything is somehow familiar and yet alien, as if I’m looking at memories through a slightly distorted lens. Stepping out into the garden, I hesitate before walking any further. When we were children, our favourite game was to run down right to the end of it where a high oaken gate stood between the trees, and push through it into fantastical places of all descriptions. We visited caves filled with gleaming treasure behind thundering waterfalls, climbed through the colourful canopy of the Amazon amidst a cacophony of birdsong and the chattering of chimpanzees, and traversed freezing Arctic waters in a boat beneath an obsidian sky twinkling with constellations. Once, we jumped into the basket of a hot air balloon and sailed through the skies over our town, watching the busy crowds swarming through the market beneath us. The best adventure was when we shot through the stars in a rocket to explore the surface of the moon and gaze down at Earth, a sphere of mesmerising swirling white over midnight-blue ocean. At the time, I didn’t know it was to be our last.
            The gate wouldn’t open for me any more after you were gone. It just led out onto a field, a cold, brown expanse of grass cut harshly across by the leaden line of a river.
            Slowly, I make my way down the path through the old familiar ash trees towards the end of the garden. Rippling rays of sunlight dance patterns across the ground. Suddenly the gate stands tall in front of me, oak planks a deep, soft brown in the hazy autumnal light. After a moment of hesitation, I reach forward and curl my fingers around the handle. A final push and it swings wide. The field is still there but this time it isn’t empty. A smile breaks across my face. I lift my hand and you wave back to me from across the stream.