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We lived in a world of make-believe. Sometimes we pretended to be telling a story and at other times we pretended to be characters in the story. We pretended to be on the run. We pretended to be lovers. We pretended to be dead. There was a lot of pretending going on in those days and some of it was real.

Of course, we knew it couldn’t go on forever but we didn’t care. While it lasted we could say anything we liked and nobody would ever know. We didn’t give a damn about anybody, not even ourselves. Especially not ourselves. A lot of things were said back then that perhaps shouldn’t have been said. Not when you think about it.

We were supposed to be filling in the gaps, connecting the threads and getting down to the nitty-gritty. But the harder we tried to reach for something, the more tempting it became just to make it all up, to keep on going as far as it would take us, never letting on. Somehow this told us more about ourselves than telling the truth. Not about where we’d been but about where we were heading. It was as if the glass pane that separated fact from fantasy no longer existed. It made us invincible. Untouchable.

This is how it goes:

– Tell me. Tell me about your first loss, that first gut-wrenching moment when you realised that something you loved and cherished had gone forever, never to be replaced...

– The snowstorm. I remember my snowstorm. We didn’t have any real snow where I came from so I used to spend hours shaking my snowstorm and watching the white flakes settle slowly on the kangaroo and the red rock. Then one day, we were told to bring our favourite objects to show the rest of the class. I decided to take my snowstorm. I should never have taken it but what could I do? It was my favourite object.

On the way to school, I am nearly hit by a car. I drop the snowstorm and it smashes on the road. A woman finds me crying by the roadside. She takes me in her arms and holds me tightly, leads me back home. I get the day off school.
– Rosebud.
– What?
– Nothing. Let me tell you about Ben. Ben was my best friend. He had golden hair and a smiley face. We did everything together. We went everywhere together. We ate together. We even slept in the same bed. One day, we’re setting off for school and as the car pulls out of the yard, Ben dashes out to say goodbye. I don’t know what happened next – it all happened so fast. Somehow his chain must have got caught up in the car wheels and that was the end of Ben.

I’m standing in the yard, holding Ben’s collar. His head is still attached, eyes closed, quite peaceful, but his body is just road kill, heaped and oozing.

– I lost my cat once. I meant to keep it indoors but somehow I left a window open overnight and in the morning the cat was gone. Everybody thinks I left the window open deliberately but that’s not true. It was an honest mistake.

It was a very wet day, the last day of summer. I stood in the backyard and called her name. I walked up and down the street, calling and calling. Here puss puss puss. I didn’t know what to do. I’d never lost a cat before. I tried to be positive. I thought that maybe she was waiting for the rain to stop before coming home. I said to myself: She’s a sensible cat. She’s sheltering somewhere. She’ll come when she’s ready. I believed it too, although I’m not an expert on cats. To be honest, I never really understood the cat.

It started to rain harder. I put a bowl of her favourite seafood cocktail by the back door and sat down to wait. They say that the waiting is the hardest part. Some time later, I got up to make the tea. I went into the kitchen and guess what? There was the cat, sitting by the fridge, licking her paw. Where have you been, I said. You bad cat. I hugged the cat so hard, I nearly strangled it. Later I found out she had been hiding under the bed the whole time.

She wasn’t lost after all.