Allow me, if you will, to share with you a strange yet poignant encounter I experienced around five years ago which deeply touched me . . .
Ruminating on my tasks for the day I somewhat wistfully peered out of the bus window, observing pedestrians encumbered with bulging shopping bags, hurriedly heading home to peel parsnips, roast chestnuts and wrap last minute treasures in gaudy paper before safely ensconcing them beneath their Christmas trees. I sighed at the thought of the labour ahead of me, for although it was only shopping, I envied those who were done with such undertakings.
Taking in the sights of festively decorated windows, behind which stood proud conifers adorned with multicoloured baubles and vibrant fairy lights I longed to be finished for the day; spending done, food refrigerated, gifts swathed in tissue and ribbons.
The bus slowed to a stop to allow more passengers to alight and my attention was suddenly caught by a familiar figure, inside a tanning salon I spied Stacey, an old fried from my youth! I marvelled to myself about how fantastic she looked, her coal black hair expertly coiffured into unswept spikes, her still slim and girlish physique encased in leather and lace and a stack of silver bangles glistening on both of her bone white, slender wrists. Back in the day we both competed to be queen of the Goth scene and although on that particular day Stacey would have won hands down I couldn’t help but giggle to myself – a Goth with a tan? what was she thinking? No self respecting Goth would be seen dead in a tanning salon surely!
Continuing on my journey I couldn’t help but muse on the sighting of my friend, the years hadn’t treated me too badly, but she had looked a total knock out, she didn’t seem to have aged at all.
Later that evening, my chores complete, I mentioned the encounter to my fiance. He laughingly suggested she had discovered the elixir of youth and I had to agree with him! In a subsequent phone call to a mutual friend I discussed the experience at some length bemoaning the fact of the passing years as together we pondered what Stacey’s secret could possibly be.
Just as I was intending to retire for the night my phone beeped shrilly, indicating a late night text from my aforementioned pal.
Rather ominously the message read ‘Check Facebook.’
Thinking she could only be referring to out earlier conversation I logged in and tentatively typed Stacey’s full name into the search bar. Upon reaching the page I read the most current post and my blood ran cold… It was a heartfelt message from her beloved husband, lamenting the sad passage of his beautiful wife who had been cruelly taken from him by cancer.
It seemed she had been ill for some time and had lost her battle with the dreadful disease only the day before.
As I brooded on this tragic state of affairs, experiencing the bitter sweet remembrance of out friendship and epic nights out together an unexpected recollection hit me like a bolt from the blue; Sundaze Tanning Salon had previously been an insurance brokers with a cozy flat above, a flat where Stacey and her then boyfriend Michael had resided for a time, a place where we had all shared some fabulous times and made some very wonderful memories.
Deborah Contessa 🥀