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Cherry Liqueur (part 3)

Louise and I were friends for almost five years. When she became ill, we transferred the
picnics onto the living room carpet. Instead of our trips, I read to her. On the day she gave
me her grandmother's cherry liqueur recipe, I knew she was ready to go.

And so we were standing there on that Saturday afternoon. Louise would have found the
hubbub amusing. At last the neighbours were showing some interest.

Her relatives took care of everything. I felt helpless and superfluous; another onlooker who
was watching the cheap coffin disappear in the undertaker's car. Some distant niece came
and handed me a bottle.

"There was a tag with your name," she said.

Through the tears I could hardly read the label but I knew what it was.

Then they took Louise away and the neighbours went about their business. I gritted my teeth
with determination. I was still fit and free to see the world. There was my daughter to visit, or
Mexico. What fun to see Louise's country! This time I wouldn't wait for loneliness to kill me.

No idea how long the youngsters had been standing there. I only noticed them when the girl
asked, "You were her friend, weren't you?"


The boy said, "Your picnics in the living room were cool."

His girlfriend, or what they call it nowadays, explained, "We've only moved in a few weeks
ago and from our flat we can see directly into yours."

"I'm Sven and that's Mel," he added. "We would have loved to meet you under different
circumstances. You're not as petty as all the rest."

"Would you like a tea or something at out place?" Mel asked.

And so, instead of packing, I found myself toasting with Louise's cherry liqueur to old and
new friends.