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7 Years Later


I place a fresh bunch of flowers in the vase beside Lola's plaque. It's been too long since I've last visited.

Ever since I graduated from the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, life has been non-stop. I teach piano every afternoon from my home studio, and when I'm not teaching I'm rehearsing with my quintet. Things are busy, but the good kind of busy. 

I live in a cute little unit in central Melbourne with a couple of university friends. It's old and small, but I love it. And I have my very own piano.

I try to come and visit Lola at the crematorium as often as I can, although I wish I did it more. It's nice to sit on the bench beside her in the beautiful gardens and tell her about my life. Sure, I'm no famous superstar pianist, but I'm getting by and I love my work. I'm young, and I'm well on my way to success. I'm happy, and I know Lola would be proud.

I often think about what Lola would be doing if she was here with me. I imagine her working as a forensic psychologist like she always wanted. We would meet up for brunch in the mornings and drinks in the evenings and laugh like old times. I look down at the plaque and smile sadly. Nothing has been the same since I lost her, but I am at peace.

I hear a voice behind me. "Long time no see."

I turn. A familiar man in a crinkled button-down and trousers stands before me. His face is one that I have rarely caught a glimpse of in seven years. "Cam."

He gives me an awkward smile. "Dani, how're you going?"

Cam hasn't changed much appearance-wise, except for maybe bulking up a little. His face and hair are exactly the same, but now he seems to radiate confidence and importance. I smile back. The atmosphere is a little tense. "Good, good. What are you doing with yourself these days?"

He straightens up at my question. "I'm working as a biomedical scientist. I'm working on a research project with a lab in the city. You?"

Impressive. Cam seems to have made quite a name for himself. My little jobs don't sound quite as important in comparison. "Oh, you know. I studied at the conservatorium, and now I teach kids piano. And I'm the pianist for a string quintet."

"Sounds great. Are you...seeing anyone?"

His question is bold, but surprisingly it doesn't bother me. "Not right now. But you know me, I've got my music and I'm happy. Besides, I'm so busy these days I don't know where I'd find the time."

He nods. "I married Kel."

I can't help but smile. Cam and Kel. If anyone can keep Cam in line, it's definitely Kel. "That's amazing, congratulations."

He blushes. "Thanks."

There is a moment of silence as I look down at the ground. I haven't heard from Cam or his friends in years. We barely spoke after the night of the party, when Caitlyn finally crashed. I think about them occasionally, but while I have no quarrels with them, I don't find myself missing them. When I think about it, Cam and I were never friends by choice. We were tied together by Lola's story. I don't dislike Cam, but we were never the type to get along peacefully without argument. And, as I eventually found out, we differed in a lot of our values.

Standing here, looking Cam in the eye and talking pleasantly is refreshing. We've reached a new chapter - a chapter where we are both at peace. Cam and I might never be friends or in a relationship, but we will always remain partners no matter what. Only the two of us truly understand what the other has been through, and even though we are more at peace when we are apart, we will always be linked by Lola's heartstrings. Nothing that happened on that fateful night will ever change that.

Cam clears his throat. "Well, uh, it was really nice to see you actually. I was just going to stay with Lola for a while. I like to visit her on weekends like we used to back in high school."

His words snap me out of my daydream. "Of course. I'd better get going anyway, I have to get ready for a performance tonight. It was good to see you."

I run my hand over Lola's plaque and wonder if she knows that the three of us are here together. I tell her goodbye and set off back up the pathway out of the gardens before Cam's voice stops me. "Dani!"

I turn.

Cam gives me a smile. "Look after yourself, okay?"

I am sure that this will be the last time I see Cam for a very long time. I look back at him and return the smile. "I will. You too."

I walk up the brick pathway that winds through the gardens with the dappled afternoon sunlight scattered across the ground through the leaves. I feel my black dress swirling in the breeze as my lace-up boots carry me along. Lola will always be a part of me - along for the ride wherever I go. We always have been and always will be a team. Caitlyn might have stopped Lola, but she hasn't stopped me.

I pass through the crematorium gates with purpose.

I'm the one who has my life left.

And I am living it for the two of us.

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