Story 1: Move, Please

Story 1: Move, Please

A Chapter by SomeTypeOfArtist
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Thinking in the dark...

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Move, Please

 

     Have you ever noticed how different a normally busy place is with no one else around?

     It’s been something I’ve noticed ever since I was a kid. One day I went to go see my brother in the school play. I had to use the bathroom halfway through, so my mom told me to go find one and hurry back. It was nighttime, so being back at school was already weird enough, but walking through those empty halls was… well, unsettling, I guess would be the closest word.

     I was used to a lot of kids talking and laughing while traveling through the school, same with in the classroom. But it was just so quiet when I was walking down one of the hallways. I could actually hear my footsteps. I never even knew what footsteps sounded like until that night. The bathroom itself turned out to be just as creepy. It was only myself and the tinkle tinkle tinkle I heard as I was peeing. The sound of the water from the faucet sounded different, too. With no other noises distracting me, I could actually hear the water flow. When’s the last time you really heard water flow? It blew my mind, back then.

     After the bathroom, I wandered around the school. I snuck into my classroom and sat down at my desk, in the dark. I don’t know why I chose to keep the lights off; as creepy as the school seemed at night, I think I was even more afraid to see what it looked like with no one else around. As I sat there, I started thinking about all of the fun times I had in class with my friends. Talking about cartoons, where our parents took us the past weekend, Pokemon cards, which girls we liked… I smiled at the thought of all the laughs we shared, but I felt a little sad, too. It was the middle of the school year, yet I felt like it was over as I sat all alone with only memories. The next time I had class, we were all there, still acting like kids, but there was now this revelation in the back of my head that told me one day, all this would only be a memory.

     Years later, at my first part-time job in high school, I noticed the same thing again. I worked in your basic retail store, with the music playing through speakers and customers shopping around while associates tried to sell them merchandise. One night at closing, I was going through my routine recovery of the shop when my boss told me he was going to run back to his office to do something (I can’t remember, probably just some kind of paperwork). I acknowledged him and continued going around, straightening up the store. I eventually made my way to a bin full of clearance bed sheets and began making them look presentable, but I stopped. I normally dug through this pile trying to help customers look for a particular item, but now it was just me. And the reality of the silence that the store had at that moment, every moment when we were closed and the only people left were us, had dawned on me. There was no music, there was no talking. It was only my boss and a few other associates cleaning the store in silence. That particular night it was only me and him, so while he was in the office, it was just me out there on the sales floor. Standing in that empty place, I looked around and took a deep breath. I used to love closing because then all of the annoying customers would leave, but after that night I realized just how lonely it was to be in this place after hours.

     When I was 20, my grandmother died. We weren’t particularly close. We only saw her once, maybe twice a year. She lived in Hackettstown, I was from Toms River. It was a long trip and we never really talked a whole lot outside of the holidays, anyway. We didn’t dislike her or anything, it was just that… I don’t know. We had separate lives, I guess, and only chose to have a limited interaction with each other.

     My father organized the estate sale. I helped out a little, but since I didn’t actually know a whole lot about many of the items, he said I could just leave it up to him and my mother. I walked around her house, glancing at random neighbors picking up my grandmother’s belongings. One man picked up this clock that had always sat on top of her TV. I always liked it because it had this cool looking sailboat on the face. It was the first thing I remember seeing when I came to visit throughout the years, and this random guy started bringing it to my dad to buy.

     I stopped him; I told him it was a family heirloom and he gladly handed it to me. I held that clock in my hand and sat down on her couch for the rest of the estate sale. Later that day, after all the people left, it sunk in. Being in my grandmother’s house without my grandmother was weird. She was dead. She wasn’t coming back. This was going to be the last time sitting on her couch before the house was sold. I would never walk through the front door with my family again, holding a cake or some other dessert as we greeted her for the holidays. I would never sit at her dining room table, eating her famous meatloaf and homemade pies. I would never stay the night on Christmas Eve and wake up the next day, opening presents with the family. I would never sit out on the porch with her again, just talking until the sun was setting and my dad said we should start heading home. I took out my phone and started snapping as many pictures as I could. It felt desperate; I knew that I wasn’t always going to be able to come here and see her forever, but now that the moment was there I had such a hard time accepting it. I missed my Gammy. We didn’t see her much, but we loved being there with her. I wish we visited more.

     Have you ever thought of things like this, standing alone in a place that was now different from before? It’s eerie, isn’t it? It’s the kind of moment that’s potentially there all the time, but you never really realize it until you stop to think. And it’s a little toxic, too. It’s like romanticizing the obvious. Of course no one’s going to be at school at night. Of course a store will close down and kick its customers out after its last hour of the day. People die; you won’t see them forever, even long before their death. And no place is eternal; you may revisit old schools, or stores, or homes, hoping to bathe in nostalgia, but as much as it may seem at the time you think about these things, even physical locations will change with time. Interiors will change, new people occupy places, even the buildings themselves can disappear. So why hold onto the past like that? It sounds cruel, but the longer I think about the eeriness of these empty spots that were once filled with noise, the more I find myself just wanting to sit still, stagnant, with memories, denying myself to make new ones.

     It’s hard, finding this in between of enjoying the memories of the past and pining for them. It’s too unhealthy to live in the playground of previous experiences your mind creates, and it’s too ruthless to only look forward, moving past everyone and everything with the expectation that they will all leave eventually.

     I rose from the ground and brushed the grass from my pants.

     “You ready, honey?” my wife asked.

     I turned around and looked at her and the kids, waiting for me a few graves down. “Yeah, thanks for waiting.” I turned back to the grave. “And thank you for listening to my thoughts, Gammy.”

     As I drove off, I watched as her grave disappeared in the rearview mirror. It was sad, but… I dunno. The sound of my kids and wife talking and discussing where they wanted to go for dinner and what they wanted to do for the rest of the weekend made me feel… well, like I still had potential.



© 2012 SomeTypeOfArtist


Author's Note

SomeTypeOfArtist
My first 2 hour story exercise! Let me know what you think!

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I liked it and I could relate to what the person was feeling. Good job!

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

SomeTypeOfArtist

7 Years Ago

Thank you!

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Added on July 10, 2012
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Tags: Nostalgia, memories, thinking, acceptance


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SomeTypeOfArtist
SomeTypeOfArtist

NJ



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Fiction, flash fiction, experimental fiction, and a little nonfiction about the human experience, I guess. Blah blah blah. more..

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