Where there’s smoke there’s ghosts

If you had to pick a country to grieve in, Ireland was it.

My up-for-anything comrade, Kennedy, was twenty-three when he died. He didn’t mean to, but it was like he knew. In his last weeks he’d even coloured silver streaks in his hair, to see what it was like to have grey hair.

Then on his last day, he phoned me at five am and said in his been-up-all-night voice: Anna, I need to reach out to someone. I’d only seen him a few hours earlier and told him in my crabby let-me-sleep voice: I’m too tired to talk. Thankfully, Kennedy called back at ten pm. He’d wanted me to drive him to a friend’s place, but my rusty Datsun was playing up. So instead we talked for two hours about life, friends and love.

The next day Kennedy’s flatmate found him in their living room, slumped in a beanbag with a trickle of vomit across his shoulder.

Five weeks later, and in numb shock, I left Australia.

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