It had been a whole year since his passing. Everything had gone silent. Sandra, Brian and Gerry were sitting in their office huddled around the remains of their takeaway sitting in the middle of the table.
"I cant believe its been a year since he left us,"
Gerry and Brian exchanged a worried look before glancing at Sandra. They knew she had taken Jack's passing twice as hard as they had. He had meant a great deal more to her, having filled the roles of her 'father' and mentor as well as being her friend. He had given her her big break in the force, allowing her to get the step up that she needed to progress as far as she had by now. She owed her whole career to that man, and now he was gone. She had hoped that she had made the older man proud of her. She knew that he saw her as his daughter, considering he and Mary hadn't had a chance to have one of their own.
"To Jack," Sandra said as she raised her glass of wine up as high as she could.
Gerry joined with his wine, and Brian too with his orange juice as they repeated after her. They had all shared a quiet moment with Steve earlier that day, allowing Strickland and any other officers who wished to join, to mourn the anniversary of the great man's death. However, the three had become so close to the man, it felt like they needed to reminisce and toast him in private - reflecting on how he had enriched their lives. They all took a sip in silence.
Brian stood up and placed his cup on the table. He began to gather his belongings and wrap up to face the harsh winter weather outside.
"I'd better get going. Esther will start worrying if i'm too much later,"
Gerry and Sandra nodded and said their goodbyes to him. Gerry got to his feet and began to walk Brian out of the office before diverting to the mens room. Sandra smiled at her co-workers and sighed. It had been a tough year without Jack. She got up to her feet, and headed towards Gerry's makeshift smoking shelter - the fire exit. She leant with her elbows resting on the waist-height brick wall and looked up to the stars, searching for a sign that Jack was there with her in spirit. The north star began to twinkle and she smiled, knowing that he was listening to her words.
"Oh Jack. We all miss you terribly. I'm glad you have been reunited with Mary, but a piece of me hoped we could have had a few more years with you. The truth is, since you left us, we've all had a huge hole in our hearts. No one could ever replace you. Where you once stood is now silence. Everything has gone quiet without you. Even the sky seems quiet without you."
She gently wiped a tear from her cheek and searched the sky for a sign to show he had heard her.
Gerry walked back into the office to find Sandra missing. It wasn't long until he noticed the fire exit was open. Had Sandra really gone to have a cigarette? She didn't usually smoke. He made his way over to the exit and leaned against the doorframe. He went to make his presence known, but stopped when he heard the snuffles coming from her. As she began to speak to the sky, his heart broke. He knew it had broken her more than she cared to let on to them.
She turned around to face her best friend. She was grateful he was still here in the office with her. He cautiously walked over to her and gently wrapped his arms around the woman. To his surprise, he felt her hands rest on his back as she laid her head on his chest.
"Thank you Gerry,"
He gave her a gentle squeeze and joined her in staring up at the stars. As if on cue, a small shooting star hurtled across the starry background. The bright colours contrast with the dark, navy sky. The twinkling stars framed the comet as it sailed along its trajectory.
"He'll always be with us. Especially with you,"
She smiled and released herself from the embrace they were in. Nodding, she agreed with the older man.
"Come on, lets get you home."
Gerry helped her inside and leant back over to the wall, picking up her glass of wine from the surface it was resting on. He raised it to the sky and said,
"Here's to you Jack,"