10:00 am Depart home
He marched determined, eyes fixed, hair unkempt, feet tripping over stones. Each time Mave slipped he tightened his grip on the photocopied timetable in his hand. Can’t drop it…
His clothes were some years behind him: yellow shorts and a faded blue t-shirt that looked like hand-me-downs, though they were marked with his own name.
Some stared in tragic pity at the sixteen year old tripping and trailing past them, gripped in the charms of far too early youth. He lacked an essential ruggedness that was so prolific in others; his sensitive edges were still embarrassingly there, like an umbilical cord that was never cut. He was different, and this attracted stares, as though he were both defective and misshapen. People almost wished he would blend in, be more like other boys, even a little – dress normally, for goodness sake get a girlfriend. Yet all the girls he’d met thought of him as a curiosity to look at but not worth talking to and he found the clothes comfortable enough.
10:00 am Depart home
10:20 am Arrive at…
He felt surprisingly normal, given where he was going. Naturally he was shaking but he wasn’t angry; he didn’t feel any hate. Nor was he happy, just…nothing. Mave had noone to be angry at or happy for, since his only thoughts were of himself:
Of how little he liked being stuck as himself.
Of how much he wished he was someone else.
And other thoughts like that.
Today he would soothe those thoughts and shame the world. He checked the time again.
10:00 am Depart home
10:20 am Arrive at the place. Ten minute cushion.
10:30 am Die.
Yes, there was still plenty of time.
She stood, then paced, fists parallel to shoulders, chanting mysteries in prayer. Quinn.
He sat, watching her. He dropped his gaze, spat at her image a hundred feet away, then sighed. Cameron.
Once it was ‘Quinn & Cameron’, a relationship deeper than most yet as shallow as the sea’s first tide. They could no longer be described as ‘Quinn & Cameron’ but ‘Quinn, Cameron – Christian, Atheist.’ Once they could only be found together, now she had left him and found God, a God he could never be. They had like the remains of a boat broken up and drifted away; now he was sinking whilst she remained afloat.
His mind knew it well but it was his heart he could not convince. So he denied it all in his mind, which was still loyal, and with the power of his will even convinced himself he hated her, when he didn’t. It had always been his heart that was the problem; still loving her, still seeing in her something beyond the sun, some beauty in her golden, a gold he had touched but a glitter now gone. In his heart his eyes were still fixed on it, his hands were cupped for it, but her new king had claimed it, leaving him like a knave with stones, cheap wood, flax, and whatever company he could make from them.
From between his fingers he pulled at grass too short to grab or tear. Punched it. Kicked it. Screamed. Quinn turned in surprise. He was gone before she looked up at where he’d been but she knew he’d been there - heard him - and prayed for him all the more.
Between where he’d sat on the meadow-hill and where she’d paced over ancient stone ruins, a stretch of nature played. Cameron looked back and saw the golden sunshine. Quinn closed her eyes to hear the birds sing and dance upon the buttercups. Beautiful sound.
Mave looked over his cobble bridge in his secret place of land, into its beautiful, deep, river-lake. He saw his face in the water. Beautiful water.
He had forced himself to come here because it reminded him of the beauty that could never be his. He was ugly, and always had been.
Mave stood on the wall of the bridge, debating whether to let legs go limp and fall or make a jump. No other possibilities remained.
His friends always let him down or left him, there was no-one else to turn to.
Everything was scheduled. Jump or fall. Five minutes had been allocated for the decision, another two for any possible contingency the choice might present - whatever happened, he must die by 10:35. Anything else was too early, too late; it must not be said he killed himself for a bad day or that he hadn’t thought about it and slept upon it before acting on it. If he fell, a passer by might call it accidental. No, he decided, he would jump, and the world take note, if it cared to.
Mave’s two minute life began to tick, tick, tick away.
“M-my name is Mave Tekisi!” he screamed, as he had always wanted to, as he had planned, in the photocopied itinerary in his shaking hand. He thought he heard another scream from the ruins or the hills. He continued: “And I am sick of life!”
He checked his watch. And he jumped.
Then he fell. Right on time.
Cameron yelped with all the agony that was in him. He hadn’t wanted to, but his heart had. Quinn turned around, her eyes trying to follow the sound, but by that time he had gone, retreating along the road to the river leaving footprints like fading shadows in his wake. They led away from her.
Finding a patch of grass he settled down and seethed into the sun, mind a flood of memories, emotions, and other meaningless things. He could have sat there all day. He’d done it before. By the river, watching, sitting, thinking.
Watching waves meet and break between seconds.
Sitting on the frozen green, drinking in blue.
Thinking, thinking, thinking…
Humming a tune through clenched teeth.
The sun mellowed, water trickled and tap-tapped. The wind blew.
He sang with fury and a spite about childhood and innocence, and all the things that had abandoned him, leaving only memory and other useless souvenirs.
He threw a stone. Ripples rushed from its centre, from the beautiful beauty of the place a stone’s throw away where soaked petals floated in the water, and then slowly, sadly, floated back to him and the wretched misery all around him, where even the butterflies would not dare to dance.
Once he’d played here, imagining himself to be a ‘brave hero’ sliding down the length of that trunk until he reached its bottom, legs sore, head tilted and staring up through fluttering leaves at the ‘Stuff of The Sky’. From there he may have written of good versus evil, underworld or darkness, rabbits and snakes, and years later he might have come drawing realism and imagination on his paper mind in indelible thought, when he was older than the ‘brave hero’ but younger than now. There he might have stayed until the last brush of cobalt whispered across the lake, its water constantly changing shape in front of him. The water had stayed with him from his earliest days until now, he had always relied on it to relax and inspire him. It always had. But not today.
One thought burned in his mind enough to make the water boil. One particular person stuck and stuck between his thoughts, one voice, one name would not be silent, and would not give him peace. Her name…
He heard her voice in his thoughts. Her voice…It seemed to say…
Cem, I don’t fancy you anymore.
I need you!
And you’ll find someone else hon, in fact I’ve got this friend, oh you’ll love her…
I need you!
…Cem, like, why are you crying?
I need you!
I love you.
The words –and the thoughts- stood sentinel on his tongue, never to be spoken, fearing escape. A burden he couldn’t handle with a name hung and hung upon his shoulders…he couldn’t be released from it, there was nowhere else it could go. Nothing he could do. Her conversion was genuine enough. She had left him for Him.
So he watched the lake. He sat on the grass. He thought about her. And he waited.