All About Spike

Feel So Different
By sangga

Response to Vamphile’s Fanfic challenge:

Bring her back – anyway, anyhow

Mention must be made of –
a cranberry muffin
an apple pie
a personal childhood memory

Spoilers: Post-Gift

Rating: NC-17 (and I know - you’ll read it anyway)

Disclaimer: I don’t own any of the characters from BtVs, but I sometimes get ‘em on cheap rental

Feedback: – any and all comers please.

Note: This is a WARNING – this is a real departure from my usual stuff in both style and content. Not only in terms of the heavy smut, but it’s a POV, and rather dark. If that’s not your scene – well, you’ve been told.





Here I am.

I wake in the desert. It’s afternoon, late, and there’s breeze. There’s sand in between my fingers, under my cheek, in my hair – my hair is loose.

I roll over, sit then stand, and shake out the sand. Feels gritty under my nails. Oh well.

I blink and examine myself. I’m wearing the same clothes, the grey pants and loose white shirt. Nothing is dirty or torn, but I’m a little dusty. It feels vaguely comfortable.

No shoes. But the sand is warm beneath my feet and I don’t care. I look around, walk past the boulder and sequoias, and head for the road.

Walking – sand sifts down from my clothes. There’s a little trickle down the inside of my leg, which tickles. The asphalt is hot and hard, so I stay on the sand near the shoulder of the road. Before too long a truck comes – I hear the rumble before I see it – and I flag it down.

The truck driver seems unperturbed by the sight of a young woman walking home barefoot. Maybe he’s seen strange things before, on the run into town, and knows better than to ask too many questions. Still, if he were that smart he would know not to pick up hitch-hikers. He probes a little, can’t help himself.

"You get lost or somethin’?" His lined grey face is curious.

"Something like that." I smile amiably, allaying his concerns.

"A breakdown, huh?" He didn’t see a car, of course, but he’s being polite.

"Mm." Ask no questions, tell no lies.

We travel in silence then for a while – my noncommittal responses have warned him off. The light is fading – there’s a yellow glow in the air. I get the truckdriver to let me off at the outskirts of town.

"Ah, Miss?" I’m half out of the cab when his voice turns me round. "A word of advice? Better to find a place to get in, go back for your car in the morning. This town ain’t so safe for young ladies, after dark."

He seems kind. I smile again, for him, for the kindness.

"Thanks for the warning."

I want to add that I’m local, I can handle myself, but I don’t want to get into a lengthy conversation.

I wave, and he drives off, kicking up dust and exhaust. Then I look at the town, watch the lights come on in houses as the sun sets. Little lights. Pinpoints of brightness against the gathering gloom. I walk in.

I stick to the bushes and alleyways, stick to the dark. It doesn’t take long. The first one comes at me as I’m wandering the streets towards Revello Drive.

"Well…what have we here?"

He saunters up behind me, confident. I stop and turn – he’s expecting that. He comes closer – a jump away. A kick away. Arm’s length.


I don’t say anything. I just smile at him. The smile spreads slowly, never reaching my eyes, becomes a giggle, then a laugh. He jerks back in surprise.

"Hey. Who the hell do you think you’re dealing with?"

The arrogance of him – he can’t believe that he’s met someone who doesn’t run, who doesn’t quake with terror. He vamps out to emphasize his point.

"Who’s laughing now, huh girlie?"

He grabs – I dart away. He tries again, and I whack his arm aside playfully. I’m enjoying this.

With a roar he charges, and I have him totally. The fight is brief, and inelegant on his part. I kick a wooden crate, catch one of the bouncing shards, and stake him with a short, brutal thrust. Then I watch the dust settle.

And lick my lips.

I stake two more before I get home. I’m not usually so busy in such a short space of time – the place must have become over-run in my absence. My energy is up now, and my blood is singing in my veins. I feel stripped back, raw. I’m so intoxicated that when I reach the house I practically bounce up the steps.

The door is unlocked. Strange. Letting myself in, I look around the hall, the rooms off it. It’s cold – the house is in darkness. I turn on a lamp, and try to recapture some sense of the warmth, the hominess of the place, how comfortable it was when I lived here. But that’s gone now, and you can’t bring back what’s dead and buried.

Not usually.

There’s a faint light in the kitchen so I wander through. Signs of vague occupancy – a cup in the sink, dark rings on the benchtop. The garbage smells a little. I’m starving, I realize suddenly, so I check the fridge. It’s largely empty, except for a carton of milk (nearly past the use-by date), a few greasy-looking takeaway containers, and a half-eaten apple pie, still in it’s supermarket aluminium shell. I break off a piece of that and wolf it down. It tastes good, so I eat the rest, then lick the sugar off my fingers.

All the while, I know that there’s someone in here. I can feel it – that little tingle in my bones. Abandoning the pie-plate in the sink, I wipe my hands on my pants as I walk to the stairs. Silent footsteps upwards – everything up here is dark, but I don’t need a light. I know exactly where everything is, and if I shut my eyes I could still feel my way unerringly. I go to my room.

The door is closed, and I quietly open it and walk in. There’s a lump on the bed. I pad over, and stand by the window, look at the stars winking brightly from behind the trees. Then I turn and perch my butt on the windowsill, and wait for Spike to wake up.

It doesn’t take long – my heartbeat is loud, even to me. Blood, thumping through me. Blood, warm and salty. Running wet and savage. He’s heard my blood in his dreams and he stirs, opens his eyes.

He sees a dark shape, standing in the dark, and then, like an animal, he’s wide awake, springing up from the bed, eyes glowing amber, teeth and nails bared to fight. He’s shirtless. His hair is tousled and glints ivory white, like his fangs. Lean muscles bunch under his skin. He’s magnificent.

I stare at him, and his face transforms as he realizes. He gapes at me.

"Slayer?" His voice is hoarse. "Buffy?"

"Hey, Spike."

His blinking eyes widen in shock. He’s still in a fighting stance. He thinks he’s dreaming.

"Buffy?" Like a parrot, repeating itself.

I move off the sill, reach forward and touch him lightly on the arm. He’s still unbelieving, looks at my hand, back to my face.

"Spike, it’s me. You’re not dreaming."

He doesn’t say anything, but his mouth is opening and closing. He still doesn’t get it. This is getting stale. I sigh, then do the only thing that I know will snap him out of it. I draw back my hand, and slap him sharply across the face.

His head turns back in slow motion. There’s no imprint from the slap, because there’s no blood under the surface of his skin.

"Buffy. My god. I’m not dreaming."

Atta boy.

He goes limp then, staring into my face in wonderment. He drops to his knees, like his legs aren’t strong enough to keep him upright.

I giggle at that.

"Silly. No, you’re not dreaming. And yes, it’s me."

Then, to my surprise, his hands move. He’s looking me over in disbelief, his gaze keeps returning to my face, and his fingers are shaking as he touches the material of my pants, touches my hand, feels the pulse under my wrist. There’s a pause. Then, still kneeling, he slowly wraps his arms around my waist, my legs, and gathers me to him. His eyes are closed, and his face is pressed against my stomach. I don’t know what to do. I pat his shoulders, his hair.

He hugs me like this for a long time.

When he’s recovered, he pushes back onto his haunches, and feels his way to sit on the bed. He never takes his eyes off my face. I’m smiling softly at him.

He’s recollected his power of speech somewhat, but his voice is still low and shaking a little.

"What happened? We saw you – I saw you…fall."

I nod. He’s confused.

"So where were…? How did you…?"

"Come back?" I shrug. "I don’t know."

He nods in acceptance. Amazing. Then he blinks at me.

"How long?"

I consider.

"Um, I came to an hour or two ago. I guess. I came straight here."

He nods again. Can’t get his head around it all.

I decide that if this conversation is going to go anywhere then I better do the initiating. And I have questions.

"Where’s Dawn?"

"She’s with the witches. I mean, Willow and Tara."

"At the dorm?"

"No. They’re camped at the apartment. The carpenter’s place."

"Okay." I muse over this. "Must be a bit crowded there."

He shakes his head. "No…er, well, I suppose so. But Anya’s still in the hospital, and her lad stays there a lot."

"Still in the hospital? Is she sick?"

Spike swallows – he’s still looking distracted, the answers spilling out of him automatically.

"No – she’s hurt. Got hurt. In the fight with Glory."

He stops and tries to compose himself. He narrows his eyes at me, wondering how much I know, how much I remember.

"The fight with Glory – it was only a bit over a week ago."

"Oh." I think about that. "So I’ve only been gone a week?" Interesting.

"Yeah – well, a bit more. Ten days. Since you…went."

He can’t bring himself to say ‘died’, which is kind of funny, given who he is. But I don’t laugh. I’m sitting on the bed next to him now, and he’s looking at me like I might explode or disappear at any moment. I’m still trying to figure out what’s been going on while I was away.

"So…why isn’t Dawn staying with Giles? Is he hurt too?"

"Oh." Spike looks like he doesn’t want to tell me, but he does anyway. It’s one of his few virtues. "Giles is gone. To England."

I’m shocked at that, and it must show on my face. Spike hurries to explain.

"It wasn’t him – I mean, he didn’t want to go. It was the Council. Figured out what happened, didn’t they, and got his green card cancelled. He had no choice – leave or be deported. He’s only been gone a day."


That’s not what I was expecting and I’m saddened. Giles gone… It doesn’t seem possible. But look who’s talking.

Spike looks at me again like he’s seeing me for the first time. I’m afraid he’s going to cry, but then he pouts his lips in that way he does, snorts and grins.

"Well, bloody hell. Buffy Summers." He reaches out and tucks a slip of hair behind my ear, something he wouldn’t have dared to do when I was alive. "You’ve been missed."

He looks serious. I guess it’s true.

"You look tired," I say quietly. And he does look tired, haggard even. Like he hasn’t been feeding. He looks away.

"Yeah – well, it’s been rough."

I pat the pillow on the bed.

"Why don’t you rest, Spike? You were sleeping – I disturbed you."

He’s confused.

"But don’t you want to go over and see Little Sis? She’s been crying her eyes out, and Willow –"

"Later," I say firmly. "Soon. But I want to shower and change first – I feel like I’ve been in these clothes forever. And you can sleep a bit more. They’ve waited a week, I think they’ll hold out for another hour."

I push his shoulder, encouraging him onto the bed.


His face betrays that he thinks this is all very strange. But he complies anyway, laying his head down. I heave his feet up onto the covers. No boots – he’s left them unlaced on the floor.

I stand then, and go over to the closet, open it and pull out jeans and a sweater top. I can feel his eyes on me – he’s watching from the bed. Good.

I strip in front of him, at the foot of the bed, in the dark. He gasps softly. The air feels cool on my exposed body -–I look down at myself. I’m unmarked, unbruised, except for old scars. I can see the moonlight gleaming on my skin. I look like a seal just emerged from the water.

I turn slowly towards the bed, letting Spike see me. His eyes are wide as saucers. He’s lifted himself up on one elbow. I walk over to the side of the bed and push into his chest with one hand.

"Lie down."

He lets himself be pushed down. This is the last thing he was expecting. He’s completely bewildered, and I feel kind of bad, but I know that it will be worth it. I lean over the bed. My voice is a whisper.

"Are you ready?"

He swallows drily and nods.


Then I prepare to fuck his brains out.

He can hardly move when I slip up onto the bed and straddle his waist. The skin of his stomach is cold, and my pubic hair tickles against it. I move my hands, stroke my nails up his sides. He gasps and flinches, his eyes still huge and bright, and on my face.

I don’t talk, just let my body sway above him. My hands are tracing the contours of his chest and stomach, and he can’t speak. I press my hands against his shoulders, lean over and let him feel my breasts, small and firm, against his chest. He lets out a little sound, from the back of his throat, and I take my cue and kiss him on the mouth. Softly, teasingly at first, then desire builds, and we’re grinding our mouths together hungrily.

His body is released – he reaches up and grabs me, pulls me into him with a sudden strength that takes my breath away. He’s got his hand at the back of my head, twined in my hair roughly, and his other hand is all over me. The kiss is like an attack – lips mashed together, moving and groaning, tongues slicking. His teeth tug on my bottom lip, and he sucks there for a moment, before breaking away and flicking his tongue down my neck. Then back to my swollen mouth.

My hands are busy. I’m pushing down the black sweatpants he’s wearing, running my fingers across his flank, trickling over his stomach, over that soft skin above his groin. He gasps with pleasure, and I get an immediate visceral thrill. It’s a sound I’ve never heard him make before. I made him make it.

We release from the kiss with a heaving breath, staring at each other. He can smell my arousal and his nostrils flare. Up on his elbows, he reaches up and makes a flat blade of his hand against my neck, where my shoulder begins. He spreads his hand down like he’s spreading butter, over my collarbone, down to one breast, testing the firmness there. He watches to see my eyes darken as he rolls the nipple in his fingers, listens to my intake of breath, then he leans up and takes the spot in his mouth.

His eyes are closed, he’s focussed. Tongue licking, flicking around the nub, teeth pulling gently, harder. Harder. He breaks off, looks up to gauge my reaction, then he grins and moves to the other nipple.

His mouth on my breast, his hands circling my waist below my ribcage, I’ve got my head thrown back and I’m groaning uncontrollably now. God, don’t stop.

He’s mind-reading - he stops teasing my nipples and laps down the valley of my abdomen, between the muscles there, bending me backwards. I’m gripping his hair and shoulders for balance. He’s supporting the small of my back with one hand, and with the other he traces a line of fire from each breast, thumbing my nipples briefly, then down along my side, then around my slim waist to my ass. He cups my bottom with one splayed hand, as his mouth sips at my navel, nips at the skin there. Then he runs his fingers lingeringly up and down my thighs, tempting inwards, closer, closer…

His strength is amazing. But so is mine, and it’s time to turn the tables. I let my fingers tighten in his hair, pull his head up and move my body back to it’s original position, leaning over him as he is forced to half-recline.

I stare deep into his eyes, and let him feel my breath as I come in for another kiss. This one is slow, langorous – his lips are so soft, and I nibble at his mouth, letting my tongue lick inside him more and more deeply, until I’m tasting the back of his throat.

His wandering hands have found my wetness now, and I let him dip his fingers, let him imagine, as I break away from his mouth and kiss my way across that beautiful jawline, pull at his earlobe with my teeth. I wend my way down the column of his neck, lingering there for a moment, then biting hard. He makes an inarticulate sound, and his fingers slick into me with a sudden jerk. I gasp against his shoulder, but I’m on a mission now. Lips gliding down across his chest, I find his flat golden nipples. Then I set to work, licking and sucking while he writhes. My teeth are like nippleclamps as my tongue works.

He has one hand on my ass, and one hand gliding rythmically between my thighs. My knees are clenched around his hips, bunching the sheets beneath us, and I move quickly to stop myself from coming too soon, slapping his hand away and pinning it down. Not yet.

I lift up from his chest and grin at him, let my other hand tease down his body. The skin at the crease of his thigh is incredibly silky. I watch his face – his eyes are changing colour from brown to amber, back and forth, as I stroke him there, and his lips are quivering. This makes me smile. I capture his gaze, fix it firmly as I reach down and grasp his erection, and scratch lightly with my nails. His reaction is incredible – he makes a gasping moan, and his mouth widens as his head rolls back and his eyes close. I like that. I do it again, just to see what will happen.

He reacts differently this time. He growls and lifts up, pushing me backwards, onto his thighs. His eyes are yellow, and he looks dangerous, his jaw clenching. It’s like he’s lost all measure of control. One hand under my back, arching me up, and one hand spreading my legs. I have to grab again for his shoulder. His mouth is on my stomach, biting down my body until he reaches the crease of my groin, where he licks and nips, then a small devotion at each thigh. Then he parts my wet curls with his nose, and plunges his tongue into me.

I don’t think. Stars burst in front of my eyes as he slicks his tongue in and out, then I get a strange feeling as he moves to suck my clit. I’m on fire. My fingers and toes are on fire. I’m gasping and making involuntary moaning noises, calling out to God, cursing. There’s a bubble inside me, building to bursting point, but I can’t, not yet, not yet. Not what I want. God.

He’s sucking and tasting like there’s a hunger in him that can never be filled. I let him minister to me a moment longer, then I don’t think I can stand it any more, and I push him off, begging him to stop, pushing him back. Almost there…

I look into his eyes as I lean over him, breathing heavily. My hair brushes against his cheek. I position myself above him, restraining his hips with one hand. Ready. Waiting.

We are lip to lip, brow to brow, eyes meeting, my breath igniting the air, a drop of my sweat falling on his neck. We are asking each other silently. I need to know. He licks his lips, and gasps out one word.


And with the barest nod, I grab at his shoulder, and ram myself down. He slides into me with a forceful thrust, and we both cry out. Then a slow withdrawing, and then another slapping sound as we rush together. Again. Oh, slowly – we draw the feeling out. Again. And again. We’re building momentum now until we’re grinding together, I’m riding him, and I can feel him deep inside me, and he’s groaning with every thrust of my hips.

I lean forward, grab the wooden bed-head. I’m so close… He is clenching his teeth, growling and whimpering, and we’re nearly there, his hands are grabbing me tight, and I’m so wet I can feel the slickness damping the sheets, and I’m pulling at the bed-head and it splinters beneath my hand. I’m ready, God – he bucks under me, and I cry out as the bubble bursts inside me, and my vision flashes, multi-coloured. He’s heard the sound, cries my name, and thrusts one final time –

And he’s looking in my eyes, and I’m staring into his, as he comes deep inside me, and I raise my hand with the makeshift splinter, and stab it down, into his heart.

There’s no sound. He has no time to gasp. One minute his lean body is beneath me, and then it’s gone. He dissolves, and I fall forward, as I feel his hardness turn to ash inside of me.

I kneel like that, astride the shifting dust, my arms trembling, for some time. There’s no afterglow.

Then I swing my legs over, and get off the bed. Go to the shower, let the hot jets of water stream over me. Wash my hair. Turn off the faucet and towel dry.

I come back into the room, which smells musky and dusty together, and quickly dress again in the clothes I was wearing when I arrived. They’re a little sandy, but I like them. They feel comfortable. Then I wander back downstairs.

The kitchen again. I’m still hungry, so I check the freezer. There’s a frozen TV dinner and an open box of muffins (‘Microwave on HIGH for 20 seconds, or warm in the oven’), which I pull out. My dessert, after the apple pie. I crunch down on a frosty muffin, cranberry I think, and take another one for later.

I chew as I walk over to the hallway, and my eyes travel over the collection of photos in frames on a bureau there. Huh. One grabs my attention particularly. I lift the frame and undo the back with greasy fingers, then pull out the picture inside. I slip this into the band of my pants, before letting myself out of the house.

It’s comparatively early. The street is very quiet, and I can hear my own footfalls as I pad down the street towards Xander’s place. I’m enjoying the night - the thin breeze, the clouds over the moon, the stars. The air is very fresh, I almost wish I’d brought the sweater top after all.

I eat the second muffin as I walk the streets. My damp hair dries quickly, matting a little because I forgot to brush it.

Before too long, I see the lights of the apartment building. I’ve been largely unmolested on my stroll here, which is almost disappointing. I think I saw a vamp around the corner of a building a few streets back, but she didn’t emerge to confront me, just kind of melted back into the dark, watching me go. Oh well.

I rub my face on my sleeve before I go up to the apartment, hoping I look vaguely presentable. Then I skip up the stairs, and walk down to knock on the door.

I can hear muffled voices in the apartment, and I compose myself as the door opens. Tara has her head turned back, listening to someone’s comment, and then her head swings around. She sees me and stops dead. Her face freezes, and she looks like she’s been kicked in the stomach. A sound breathes out of her mouth, but it’s unintelligible.

"Tara, is it Xander?" Willow’s voice from behind. "I didn’t think he’d…"

Then she sights me over her girlfriend’s shoulder and her words fade away.

Tara stumbles back as I take a step inside. Her breath is coming in shallow gasps. Willow is standing closer to the breakfast table, supported by a crutch. She is staring and staring, and she’s gone completely white.

"B-Buffy?" she whispers.

"Hey." I don’t know what else to say.

"Buffy? My God – Buffy?"

Willow staggers forward, her crutch slips, but I’ve moved close enough now to catch her arms. She’s shivering, looking at me. She comprehends that I’m real.

"Oh God, oh God," she stammers, then I draw her into a hug and she clutches at me, her gasping words mumbled into my neck. "Oh God, oh God, oh God…"

She’s crying now, sobbing. Her tears wet my blouse.

"Oh God – Buffy…"

I let her cry for as long as she needs, let her ramble. It’s like she’s delirious. I catch Tara’s eye over Willow’s head – she’s still having trouble believing. Then she approaches me slowly, reaches up a tentative hand and strokes my hair.

Willow’s crying subsides to a slow trickle and I feel her pull away. I hold one of her arms and Tara moves to her other side, and together we stand for a moment, being gentle with one another, and smiling.

The questions inevitably follow.

"How?" Willow whispers.

I shake my head. "I don’t know."

"Are you okay?" she asks, and I’m touched by her considerateness.

"Never felt better."

"Oh God," she laughs, hiccups. She tears her eyes away to look around. "Oh God – um, let me sit…"

We help her into a chair by the table, put her crutch on the floor. Tara stands beside her, and I crouch down in front.

"You got hurt, huh?" I say.

Willow fumbles to answer. "Yeah…oh, yeah. In the fight." She is still gazing at me, awe-stricken. "Buffy, I can’t believe it."

"I know," I say. "It’s okay."

Tara looks at me then. She’s still pale, but recovering.

"Buffy, we…we buried you." Her voice is a little strangled.

I nod. What can I say? I examine her face.

"You seem…better."

Tara nods with a quiet grin. "I got my brain back, you mean."

"Yeah." I smile. I’m happy about that.

Willow is still staring at me. She’s wiped off her face with one hand.

"Buffy, Dawn’s here. No, I mean, she’s staying here, but she’s at the hospital with Xander and Anya. And Giles…" She trails off.

"I know about Giles." I touch her hand to reassure her.

"Really? How did you…Spike. You saw Spike." Willow’s eyes are over-bright.

I nod. "I saw him."

Tara looks sympathetic. "I’m sorry – about Giles, Imean."

"It’s okay."

She gestures towards the kitchen. "Do you…want something? Are you hungry? I can –"

"I ate."

"Oh. Okay."

Willow tugs on my hand.

"Buffy, you cn stay here. Your house is all locked up, and Dawn’ll be back soon – anytime now…"

Then I better make this quick. I stand.

"I can’t." I register her look of shock, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I speak as gently as I can then. "Willow, I’m not staying. Not in Sunnydale. I have to go."

Her face changes so quickly I can hardly measure it.

"Go? What do you mean? You have to go?"

"I can’t stay, Will."

Willow looks distraught. "Buffy, don’t say that! You can’t go – not now. You just came back. And we… and I…" Her face dissolves into tears again, her voice softly pleading. "You just came back."

"I-I can’t stay." There’s no more explanation I can give.

Tara’s face is sad too, but it’s like, after experiencing this, nothing can surprise her anymore. She puts a hand on Willow’s shoulder, then looks at me.

"What about Dawn?"

I think for a moment. When I reply, my voice is soft but firm.

"Don’t tell her. Don’t tell her anything."

Tara narrows her eyes.

"Are you sure?"

I nod, with a certain reluctance. "Just let her get over it. It’ll be easier that way."

Tara nods. She’s watching my face.

Willow sniffs up at me. "Buffy – why? Where are you gonna go?"

I’m sad that I can’t give her more answers. "I can’t tell you, Will, I’m sorry. But I need to go."

I bend down to her, and envelope her in my arms. She feels light, and warm, and unhappy. Her cheeks are wet, and she’s sniffling. Wishing I could comfort her, I whisper in her ear.

"I hate to say goodbye. So I won’t. Take care, Will."

Then I break away, and leave her crying quietly in the chair. Tara walks me to the door.

We stop at the open doorway, and I turn to face her. She’s looking mournfully at me.

"Will you be in touch again?" she asks.

"I don’t know. Maybe."

She stares deep into my eyes, then she looks me over once. Her next words are soft. She doesn’t want Willow to hear.

"And will Buffy ever really come back?"

I’m not surprised. She always did have that sensitive touch. I reward her with a little smile.

"Do you know who I am?" I ask.

"You’re the Slayer," she says flatly. Her eyes are hard, but sad. I think she pities me.

I feel suddenly old. It’s time to leave.

"I’ve always been the Slayer," I say. Then I turn and walk away down the hall. Tara stands at the door and watches me go.


I’m walking out of town along the road, back to the desert. I don’t know why – I’m sure I’ll know when I get there. The breeze has picked up, and my hair whips around my face. I’m trying not to think about anything much.

I feel the photo at the skin of my waist, and slip it out. It’s an old photo. A little girl with pigtails, in a blue dress with short puffy sleeves, holds a balloon on a limp piece of string, and looks around the garden where the other children are playing party games. She looks kind of melancholy, although she’s too young to understand what that means. Her fingers pluck at each other, and she looks like she’s about to speak, maybe call out to a friend. Maybe not.

If I could unfreeze the photo, perhaps the little girl would shout, run down the yard with her balloon, jump, play, be carefree again.

But I can’t do that. So I tear the photo into pieces and throw it onto the wind.

I am not that little girl.



‘Finish, good lady; the bright day is done,

And we are for the dark.’

William Shakespeare.

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