Chapter 2A Chapter by Archia
Dark was coming as I stepped off the bus. I looked around quickly, wondering where to go; but I did not second-guess my decision. My parents would be home by now, they would’ve seen the note. They would’ve called the police. I looked to my mind and I could see them, sitting on the maple couch, held in each others arms. Crying. Laurie would be there too, crying maybe not. She would be sitting by herself, yet to discover the note placed under her pillow. But she would find it soon enough. And then maybe, she would understand. As that thought came to my mind I tried myself to understand, but dismissed the thought as idle as I joined the throng of people pushing past. This was my present, not theirs.
I walked the crowds, falling into step with their suited shoes. Ties with golden buttons surrounded my sight as I made no struggle to break away. Why not enjoy my conformity for a little while longer? The crowds began to dim, as night began its full break. As people made their ways to their homes, I made my way to nowhere. So that night as the air began to grow cold, I settled myself against a tree, resting my head on the bark. This was it. This night began my reality.
I kept waking that night, each time the cold biting further. It was when I woke in the early hours of the morning, still too early for people to stir, that I heard the birds. Their chirping melodies that surrounded my eyes, and created a racket of inconsistent noise, were beautiful. I listened as their sound grew louder and the imperfections still, were beautiful. I saw an early-riser walk by on the footpath, coat on shoulders, coffee in hand. They looked up at the trees, then back down with a shake of their head. I was ashamed that they did not find the beauty I heard.
My legs became tired, so I rose from my spot and stepped onto the street, people beginning to start their daily mill. What do I do now? My decision was guided by my stomach, the one thing that held my reluctance. $43.70 wouldn’t last forever. But today, it would. I found the nearest supermarket and bought a loaf of bread. I have to think quantity now, not quality. But just as I was about to leave I changed my mind, and grabbed a jar of peanut bar and a packet of plastic knives. A few more dollars wouldn’t hurt.
I found a bench were I could sit and watch the people walking past. Each one so much the same. The same tailored suit, black or grey. Pencil skirts, black bags held tight in hands, heels clicking, phones chattering, hair stuck fast. All the same. The pigeons even seemed to join their conformity with their grey suits. All the same. Their nails would cost more than I had in my pocket.
But then, a break. The slightest break, just a gap between the bodies. And what I saw was a man. A man shrouded in ragged cloth, a beard to show the same. A dirty blanket rung over his thing frame, and on his face. The saddest smile, the one that showed the bravery in his eyes as he passed another day. I used the walk these streets, with my family, with my friends. I would have my hands laden with bags, and I would see a man like this. And I would pass without a second glance. I was just like him now. With quick steps I rose, dusting the crumbs from my shirt. I crossed the street, and made my way to where he sat, head down. A few metres before him I fished around in my pocket, and laid some coins in its hat. He looked up, smiled. And it was that smile, so full of hope, so full of thanks, that made me fish around in my pocket for the rest. As I pulled my hand up, coins no longer rattling in my pocket, he grabbed my hand. I could feel his rough skin, but the softness of the grasp. And it was so simple, so plainly simple. He was thankful.
I smiled at him and pulled my hand away, feeling no regret though I wondered what I would do.
I wandered the streets that day, dazed in my thoughts. My bread and peanut butter for lunch, again as the night came in. It had been a day. Laurie would’ve found the note by now. Maybe she would understand. But as I thought of that, part of me didn’t want her to understand. I was ashamed. Ashamed that she would see folly in my ways, think me wrong for my actions. But the most part wanted to try and make her understand. Not so she could comfort my parents, but so that she could believe it when I said that is what I wanted. I had left my parents a note, but it had been blunt, short. I couldn’t find words that would make it better.
The same tree announced my sleep, as restless as before. I fell asleep to cold and woke to the same. Monotonous. As light began to reach its peak I watched as people came and went. Every second of the day there would be someone, anyone, walking about. It was on this second day, that I wondered what I would do. I was here, in the city, alone, with no money and diminishing bread and peanut butter. My hair was beginning to tangle, my eyes already restless from sleep. It was horrible, and I was happy. Odd, someone might say, or either typical. A sadistic teen hungry to get away from the realities of life. I read that once in a book. But really, I did not relish in the horribleness, but just found it, different. I was happy because this was different. I had known what to expect, this was not an idle fantasy. This was reality.
Sitting did not suffice my watching and so I walked, wandered aimlessly the streets.
For three more days I passed like this, two days when my bread ran out and I was left with only a jar of peanut butter. This was when I started to feel regret.
I was cold each night, it passing onto the day whilst the sun beat down but did not touch me. I could not sleep without waking, could not wake without wanting to return to sleep. But the worst thing was the fear. The fear that I would not be able to do this, and would have to return home. To go back to my parents, who would scold me in kisses, and to my friends who would barrage me in questions, rumours all to as well. I feared that I would not hold me, the hunger, the cold, everything would soon get the better of me. All this would’ve been worthless. But my sense soon overtook my fear. I scoffed at myself though, choosing sense over fear. I had discarded sense when I had left my house that day. And so it was that I decided to remain till it had been a week, and then, if I still felt like this, I would leave, return to my home.
The fifth night sleep came easy, my eyes already dragging as people still flocked the streets. I woke when the birds began to sing, but it was more than that I saw. A boy, a man, my age, sitting next to me.
I started in surprise, awake in an instant. Delusional, at first I thought, but I knew I was not. He sat there unruly hair, dirty face, clothing that hung from him, grimy with hints of what once was.
“Nice sleep?” His voice matched his face.
I looked around, as if second-guessing whether he was talking to me. He was. “Excuse me?” My voice came our scattered, I hadn’t spoken for a few days.
“Did you have a nice sleep? It can’t have been the most comfortable, the best place is to stake out at one of the beds in the department stores but they normally kick you out.”
“Who are you?” Simple question, and I hoped a simple answer.
“Did you’re mother teach you to ask first. My mum told me to talk first, ask later. Let them tell you what you need to know. Anyway, I’m Dacey, and don’t you dare spell it Darcy like in bloody Jane Austen.”
“What’s wrong with Jane Austen.” A silly question I knew it was, but my surprise at his presence allowed me only to say what I first thought.
“Ah ah ah, tell before you ask. All these questions and I don’t know a single thing ‘bout you. Well for your question, nothing’s wrong with Miss Austen ‘cept she choose the wrong name. Why couldn’t it be Frederick or something. Mr Frederick, what’s wrong with that?” He was smiling, all the while smiling. A cheekish smile but one that still held warmth.
I was silent, unsure of what to say. After five days of little human contact, it’s funny what you forget.
“So can I ask my question now?” He was speaking again, it was like he couldn’t stop.
I nodded, slightly, and if he didn’t see it he asked his question anyway.
“What are you doing here?”
“Didn’t your mother teach you to ask the simple questions first, personal ones later.” I knew I sounded rude, sharp, but I spoke the first thing that came to mind.
“Touche. But don’t think that got you from answering my question.”
“But that doesn’t meant I have to answer right now either.”
He looked at me, curious I believe. “Can I ask least ask what you’re planning on doing today.”
I thought about lying, about telling him I had some place to go. But he had found me here, he wouldn’t believe my lies. “I don’t know.”
“Good, then you can come have breakfast with me.” He grabbed my arm, not hastily, gently. It was easy for him to lift me up, I didn’t resist.
I walked a pace behind him, eyeing him up in my mind. I could see him properly now. Rustled brown hair, skin covered in patched dirt. Eighteen, nineteen, I wasn’t going to ask. He was, as my friend would call him, less than average in appearances. But at this moment, he was perfect.
© 2012 Archia
Added on February 23, 2012
Last Updated on February 23, 2012
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P Sherman 42 Wallaby Way Sydney
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