Thursday 4 April 2024

‘love you lots’ by Mari Phillips, flat fizz

She sent me a text saying love you lots’, with a smiley emoji. I responded, ‘love you lots too. See you soon. xx’. I didn’t think it was unusual. It was only later I discovered that she’d sent it to all of us. Some didn’t respond. Just smiled. Dismissed it, and hit delete, thinking it was another Sally-ism. That's what we called them. Her random texts, one liners. Daily boosters, she called them. Sometimes we teased her. She laughed.

We met at infant school, in Miss Baker’s class, exchanging whispers in the sandpit. We shared teenage tantrums and adolescent dreams at high school. She grew. The tall, chatty blonde. I was the chubby mouse. ‘You’ve great parents,’ I said with twinges of envy. She laughed and waved her hands about. Our friendship group widened. We drifted. Different universities. Different cities. Other lives. For those years, our lives diverged. But she always texted ‘love you lots’. She was always cheerful. Always? 

After the text, I received flowers; red and white roses delivered to my doorstep. The message this time was, Please forgive me. Forgive her for what? I racked my brains. We hadn’t argued or fallen out. I rang to thank her, and her phone went straight to her tinkly voice mail. ‘Hi, this is Sally. Can’t come to the phone right now. Please leave a message and I’ll get back to you. Love you lots.’

But of course, she didn’t. Wouldn’t ever.

Everyone asked why? Everyone’s friend. Her parents cried - and smiled - and thanked us for our friendship with Sally. They spoke about her highs and lows. We saw the highs; shiny, smiley, and sometimes silly. And occasionally the lows; the days when the demons took charge and rattled her brain and bones into submission. She called them her gremlins, and we’d laughed. We laughed too much. In the end, she couldn’t bear the laughter. Love you lots, Sally.

About the author

Mari lives in Leeds, writes mostly flash fiction, with several published in CaféLit, and is working on a couple of ‘longer’ short stories. She also occasionally dabbles in poetry. She is a keen singer and sometime traveller.

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