Home Safe

Home Safe

A Story by Jacky Boy
"

A poem about being drunk turns into a story about friendship and being alone.

"

The raucous sounds and dancing lights fade behind me. Ahead, sepia rich sky obscuring the stars. Colour leeched streets, feet still pounding to the beat. Black alleys dissuade my eyes. Motionless shadows watching me from backlit windows, their silhouettes asking me where I will go. Have purpose, keep walking, I think to myself.

            The curb rises into an inviting balance beam, tempting tentative footsteps. I wobble, arms shooting out of pockets. Steady. One foot taps the concrete, dont touch the street. Remembering smaller feet. A lighter body running on couch backs and beach logs. Springing steps kicking the air, then landing solid, stiff, loosen up, hit the chalk circle on a blue mat. Little Jack Sprat, turned the world into a gymnasium.

            I walk steady, look ahead, no longer thinking about my balance, or the chemicals in my blood. Eyes not so high, off the sky, no stars to see anyway.

They left in the cab; their arguments tucked behind tight drunk lips. Imagine if that yellow car flips, how sad youd be. Guilty for not making them stay. You asked if he would. Said that he should. She will be okay. She needs space. I didnt tell him that part. He went to get her.

            Walk straight. The balance beam is gone, flat concrete, beyond the black river of the open street. Reflections of red traffic lights overhead. No white lines, big guiding bars like steppingstones to cross this road. And where will I go? Check both ways, looking forward and back, my heels clipping the sidewalk as I lean. Hard not to smile, looking up at the glowing sky.

            Phone vibrates. Work? No, youre not on call tonight. Work at noon. Fumbling in my pocket.

Shut up. Rehearse the motions, turn off reminders, set alarm. Maybe I’ll put some music on.

A call? S**t. Why is Owen calling me? You know why. This is going to ruin my buzz. It already has. You selfish a*****e, answer the phone. It stops buzzing, black screen reflecting tired eyes and green traffic lights, and the infinite grey sky.

            Whats up?” I text. My phone auto-correcting my slurred keystrokes.

            Sorry,” he replies.

            You good?”

            The light changes from yellow to red. I pop my earbuds in, about to hit shuffle, about to walk on and forget.

            Yeah,” he texts. Sorry. Butt dial. Fun night. Happy Birthday!” four more lines in a row.

            My head feels swimmy. I focus, looking at lines of text, trying to read into the time between. I start typing a reply. Yeah, great time. Glad you and Leah could make it.” What if they broke up? Delete. Careful, dont hit send by mistake. Are you sure youre okay? You need to talk?” What if theyre still okay. Maybe it was a butt dial? Delete. My finger hovers over the call button.

            Lights fill the wet road, the ripping sound of rubber on concrete. I breathe deep, taking in the night, warding off sleep. The buzz is gone, and the air is sharper now, shadows darker. I should have walked them home. She was so drunk. Owen was too. And he came back with her and drinks, and they probably made up over more at the bar.

            My phone buzzes again. Another text, this time its her.

            You get home okay?”

            Yeah.” If theyre together wouldn’t he tell her we just talked?

            "Well. Not yet. But Im good. Just walking still. You good?” Slow down. Let her talk. You dont know anything yet.

            Im ok,” she texts back. Im at Sarahs for the night.”

            Im surprised youre up. You looked ready to drop when you got to the cab,” I reply. Then start writing, Are you and Owen,” sentence floating in my mind, unsure how to finish it.  Im cut off by a text from Owen.

            Hey. Can we talk?” the header says, gliding down over Leahs name and number

            My finger stabs the screen, but the notification slides away before I can catch it. I hit send instead.

            “Are you and Owen” unpunctuated, unfinished. Not even an eyebrows raised emoji.

Wrong thing to say, have to say more. Be useful. I ignore Owen, text Leah again. Sorry. You dont have to answer that.” Start another sentence, beg my mind for something to say.

            We had a fight. I dont know. Maybe,” She replies. Thats all I get to know? No, you dont get to be indignant. This is worse for them.

            Another notification. Owen again.

“Not now. Tomorrow?” Too long to read the whole message in the header.

            I take another guilty breath. Waiting for the header to fade away. Take the long way to my contacts, backing out to the home screen and choosing from the directory.

            Not now. Tomorrow? I could meet you at Starbucks or something,” Owen texted.

            Yeah. Sounds good. I work at Noon, so maybe 9?” I text back.

            Cool. See you then.”

            Flip back to Leah. Do you want to talk? You can call me if you want to. Im still walking home.”

            Ill be okay. Thanks. Safe walk home. Good night.”

            Night. Say hi to Sarah for me.” I consider texting Sarah too, but I know shell be busy tonight. Busy with Leah.

            I stand up from the curb and hit play on my music.

© 2021 Jacky Boy


My Review

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Featured Review

Hey, nice one Man,

Those are some clean paragraphs, right off the bat - you've got a knack for adjectives, and that kind of descriptive language can really transport the reader into the setting that you're seeking to establish (being pretty familiar with a lot of the downtown Nanaimo haunts, and having been in my fair share of situations like these, I was definitely sucked in from the onset).

Your premise is also very good, and you build tension well as you expand on the narrative (I, for sure, am familiar with such walks). Describing your character trying to walk upright is also a really smooth way of establishing setting - again, apart from the relatability, it's a clean way to approach doing that.

Besides the narrative, there were a few lines that especially stood out:

"Remembering smaller feet. A lighter body running on couch backs and beach logs. Springing steps kicking the air, then landing solid, stiff, loosen up, hit the chalk circle on a blue mat. Little Jack Sprat, turned the world into a gymnasium."

That's the stuff right there - you gave just enough information, at just the appropriate time, to get the reader as invested into the next paragraphs as possible.

From a technical, or storytelling stand-point, the advice you'll likely hear on something like this is that you'd want to develop your characters, as well as the story, a little further: what's Owen like? Apart from the implicated love triangle, where might Sarah fit in? Is that where you want to develop the story's tension, or is it centered more on the speaker's relationship with Owen and Leah? (that kind of thing)

Just figured I'd offer my two cents (or ten) and formally welcome you to the cafe - there are some good people on here, and the rule of thumb tends to be review to get reviewed. I'll keep an eye out for any more work you might put up, and if you're up for it, I'll link one of my better shorts below:

https://www.writerscafe.org/writing/Ookpik/2152177/

Again, welcome and best of luck,

-Ook


Posted 4 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Jacky Boy

4 Months Ago

Thanks for the welcome, this is the first place I've put any of my work outside of school. Thanks fo.. read more



Reviews

Hey, nice one Man,

Those are some clean paragraphs, right off the bat - you've got a knack for adjectives, and that kind of descriptive language can really transport the reader into the setting that you're seeking to establish (being pretty familiar with a lot of the downtown Nanaimo haunts, and having been in my fair share of situations like these, I was definitely sucked in from the onset).

Your premise is also very good, and you build tension well as you expand on the narrative (I, for sure, am familiar with such walks). Describing your character trying to walk upright is also a really smooth way of establishing setting - again, apart from the relatability, it's a clean way to approach doing that.

Besides the narrative, there were a few lines that especially stood out:

"Remembering smaller feet. A lighter body running on couch backs and beach logs. Springing steps kicking the air, then landing solid, stiff, loosen up, hit the chalk circle on a blue mat. Little Jack Sprat, turned the world into a gymnasium."

That's the stuff right there - you gave just enough information, at just the appropriate time, to get the reader as invested into the next paragraphs as possible.

From a technical, or storytelling stand-point, the advice you'll likely hear on something like this is that you'd want to develop your characters, as well as the story, a little further: what's Owen like? Apart from the implicated love triangle, where might Sarah fit in? Is that where you want to develop the story's tension, or is it centered more on the speaker's relationship with Owen and Leah? (that kind of thing)

Just figured I'd offer my two cents (or ten) and formally welcome you to the cafe - there are some good people on here, and the rule of thumb tends to be review to get reviewed. I'll keep an eye out for any more work you might put up, and if you're up for it, I'll link one of my better shorts below:

https://www.writerscafe.org/writing/Ookpik/2152177/

Again, welcome and best of luck,

-Ook


Posted 4 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Jacky Boy

4 Months Ago

Thanks for the welcome, this is the first place I've put any of my work outside of school. Thanks fo.. read more

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Added on September 22, 2021
Last Updated on September 22, 2021
Tags: Canadian, Poetic, Literary, Short, Fiction, Contemporary

Author

Jacky Boy
Jacky Boy

Nanaimo, BC, Canada



About
Student of the arts, working towards a degree in Creative Writing, minor in English. My current focus is on recorded voice. Aside from writing I'm also a visual artist working with Blender and Photosh.. more..

Writing
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