TEN YOGURTS AND YOU • by Laura Foulger

I could picture it clearly.

I’d hear her squeaky-trainer footsteps on the landing. She’d put her head round my bedroom door. She’d widen her eyes at me — her version of a smile, an ‘I’m-glad-to-see-you, let-me-take-you-in’ sort of gesture.

She’d say, “Want banana yogurt? They were yellow sticker so I bought ten.”

And I’d probably say something lame like, “Nah I just ate but thanks.”

But she’d huff, “That wasn’t my question at all. Come and eat banana yogurt.”

And she’d look deep into my soul and see there, laid bare, the truth of how much I love banana yogurt.

But still I’d make a noncommittal sound, so she’d go, “I forget you’re doing that diet. What is it, ‘imagine a Mars bar I had a year ago’, some trick like that?”

And I’d laugh and grimace, because she’d be right, and her saying it out loud did make it silly. So then I’d agree to come eat banana yogurt and she’d widen her eyes again, bright with approval.

And then we’d slope downstairs together and she’d announce, “You should move back here permanently. I mean it. So I can feed you and make sure you don’t deliberately starve.”

And I’d tell her, “Yeah, that sounds okay,” while calculating how soon I could make that happen if I called my landlady that same day to give notice.

And we’d get to the sitting room and she’d already have the banana yogurts laid out, all ten of them, on the coffee table, plus two teaspoons, because the fact I’d come down and eat them with her was never in doubt. And they’d be stacked on top of the coasters I made for her in Year 3, the ones decorated with pressed daffodils, because they were her favourite flower.

And Mallow would be flooped on the sofa, so we’d join him, and turn on the TV, and start peeling off all the foil banana yogurt pot tops, gathering them into a neat notebook of lids. We’d do that thing where we’d each grab the zips on our hoodies and make them ‘talk’ to each other, pulling them up and down at speed to get that zhooshing sound, and we’d match it to the dialogue of the chat show on TV: she’d sound hers when the host was talking and I’d do mine for the guest. And that would make us crack up uncontrollably, except she’d be doing that thing where she tries to minimise her laughter, hold in the shaking and putting a hand over her mouth, because she knows Mallow gets spooked by laughter.

And then we’d just lie together on the sofa, her with a faintly soap-scented arm over my shoulder, and she’d tell me the same old story about when I was a baby and wriggled out of my dirty nappy and flung it round my head. And I’d laugh through gloopy mouthfuls of banana yogurt and occasionally exclaim at some invasive question the chat show host is asking his guest.

And when the TV goes off, I’d tell her to promise to never leave me.

But she’d chuckle and sigh, “That’s not a promise I can make.”

So I’d insist. “You must, though; it’s unthinkable to not have you here, the clean-soap smell of you and the wide-eyed greeting of you and the laughter-suppressing kindness of you, and the banana yogurt-buying of you, and all the things I haven’t asked you yet and everything, everything, in between.”

And she’d say, “Oh honey, that’s a little delusional of you, don’t you think? You’re literally staring at a grave.”

And I’d agree that, of course, it was a silly thing to have said. And I’d stay silent for a while, pulling her arm tighter around me, and drinking in the moment.

The wind began to blow more severely, so I pulled my coat tighter around me, laid down my bunch of daffodils and headed towards my car, craving banana yogurt.

Laura Foulger (she/her) is a features writer and creative writing MA graduate living in London. She’s a fan of uncanny, unsettling fiction.

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