I used to watch her from across the street. Her waist, the swish of her skirt, the curve of her neck.  She would breeze along the footpath, out of place in our town, as if she were a starlet from a motion picture.  Black curls bouncing around her smile.  Her big brown eyes – a gift to her from her grandmother – told the story of generations of strong, warm women.  When we met in December a bubble of sunshine formed around us that lasted all summer long.  That was the summer I dove deep into the pool of Sophia and swam around until my skin wrinkled and my heart ached.

She slipped into our lives like we had never been without her. She cooked in our kitchen, laughed in our living room, showered in our bathroom and slept in our bed.  In the daytime Shaun would work in the garden with one eye on us and a smile on his face.  Sophia and I would soak up the sun, laughing like school girls on the back porch.  We would talk of anything and everything. Buckets of peaches from the orchard kept us nourished; our conversations occasionally interrupted by sweet peach juice dripping down our chins.  At times our arms would brush together and my heart would flutter.  

In the evenings we would make love.  Sometimes two of us, sometimes three.  Our warm bodies exploring, illuminated by the sparkling moonlight that filtered through the curtain cracks.  The summer air swirling, rushing between us.  Voices and lips, breasts and thighs, heat and love.  Afterwards we would lay together and Sophia would run her fingers across the palms of our hands, exploring every crease and every fold.  She would fill our imaginations with tales of adventures she could see for the three of us.  Cities we were destined to visit.  Foods we were yet to taste. Freedoms we had never known.  We would drift off to sleep with these dreams floating in the air above us.  A future where we needed no-one but each other.  Three souls intertwined.  

When summer ended Sophia was gone.  One news report said she had fallen asleep.  Another blamed the road, apparently notorious.  

Her family arrived.  We couldn’t explain why our hearts were broken into tiny pieces and unable to mend.  We couldn’t explain why the spare room didn’t smell of her or why we didn’t know of any boyfriends.  We couldn’t explain why she didn’t bring friends home or what she did with her days.  We couldn’t explain why she had been here or how we loved her with every inch of our beings.  

When the formalities were complete, and the family had gone, Shaun sat in his chair in the dining room and wept for a month.

The sun had fallen from the sky.  The peaches had turned sour.  The pool I had swum all summer in was drained of water and nothing remained but hard concrete and cold blue peeling paint.  

How I miss the feeling of water on my skin. How I miss the sweetness of peaches.  How I miss the warmth of the sunshine.  How I miss being one of three with our darling Sophia.

By Julia Taylor