Candy Canes, Comics, and Christmas
by Gary McKay
I met Marlene atop Lily Hill on December 17th 1983, two weeks after my tenth birthday. The news of the Harrods bombing — the IRA’s crime against Christmas — was all the talk in Ballykey that afternoon, but I was too young to understand. I’d popped out to get some sweets and on a whim, decided to climb Lily Hill while the weather wasn’t awful. This was one of my favourite places to read superhero comics in peace — at home, Ma told me I was filling my head with nonsense and at school, both the boys and girls teased me. It’s grown in popularity in recent years as a tourist destination, but back then, not many people came to Lily Hill, which suited me just fine.
I didn’t realise someone was already there until I rounded the final bend of the hill. It was a girl with short, blonde hair, dressed in a jumper and skirt. A necklace with a series of stars on it hung from her neck. I paused and considered retreating, but she’d seen me. The girl waved and skipped over before I could move.