Wash Away My Pain by writerforever
Based on a true story
(Some of this is true but some of it has just been added for the dramatizing of the story. But the storyline is true)
As you go through life you meet people. You meet people who change your life. In our small town of Irvine, Kentucky someone changed me. But he shocked the community by his tragic end. This is the story of Alex Sparks as told by him.
Irvine, Kentucky 1970
Have you ever wished upon a shooting star? Have you ever dreamed the impossible? Have you ever been told you were foolish because you looked at life in a positive way? Have you ever felt trapped and too sheltered? I have done and felt all of these things
Sun, hay, and the sound of tractors in the field. All of these things I see, feel, and hear. Those things were my life for as long as I could remember. It was the life of a farmer. My name was Alex and I I was fourteen and I was the son of a farmer. I lived in the small town of Irvine, Kentucky all of my life. It was a farmer's town and the community was filled with elderly people and small families. Nothing exciting never happened there and life was dull.
I was born to a wonderful Christian family. My parents didn't want me to go to public school. "It is filled with wickedness and temptations," my Father would say. At first they sent me to some Christian schools but after awhile they finally decided to just home school me. Life was good and I was happy at first.
My best friend, Shawn who was thirteen, was also the son of a farmer. We lived just a few miles away from one another. In the summer we would meet each other at a certain spot and ride our bikes down the country road. As teenage boys we talked about girls a lot. We talked about cars and many other things. Shawn and I were completely unaware what went on outside our little community. The farm life was all we had ever known. I loved life and life loved me but soon life began to change and I began to change.
It was a hot sunny day in July. This was the hay day at my house. People from the community would all come to our house and the men would help with the bailing of the hay while the women talked and cooked lunch. This was a tradition in our community and it happened every summer.
My Dad looked forward to the hay season. "It's the best time of summer," Dad would say. You see my Dad was what you call a workaholic. All of his life Dad had worked and worked. Work was all he wanted to do, work was all he wanted to talk about. It was his life and he wanted me to be the same. But I had different plans.
I walked along side Shawn as we made our way to what was called 'the bottoms'. The bottoms was a long stretch of land that was completely flat. This was where my Dad grew the hay. As all of the men neighbors, my Dad, and Shawn and I walked on the bottoms the work began. I was assigned to drive a tractor and rake the hay. My Dad would follow behind with the square hay bailer and he would bail the hay. After we had bailed the hay then we would get the long wagons and load the hay. It was grueling and hard work but no one complained. If you did you would get a slap across the face from your father. I never complained and I did my job but deep inside I longed for a different life other than that of a farmer.
After we had the hay bailed and most of the bales stacked on a wagon we stopped to eat lunch. Everyone gathered outside in our front yard to eat a delicious lunch of fried chicken and biscuits. Shawn and I sat down on the ground away from the crowd of people. A warm breeze was blowing and I smiled happily, "Everything seems so. . .so perfect here doesn't it?" Shawn nodded and said, "Yea, a little too perfect." I took a bite of a hot biscuit and sighed. "Sometimes I wish I could just escape this place and go into the real world. I want to go to New York City. It must be so wonderful there," I said excitedly. "What would you do in New York?" Shawn asked. "I would get into the acting business. I want to be an actor you know," I said smiling. "I know you want to be an actor but really Alex you know your dad would never allow it. We're going to have to grow up and be farmers and we might as well accept that," Shawn said as he stood and walked over to get something else to drink. I knew Shawn was right about my Dad not letting me be an actor. I was born to be a farmer and that's what I would have to be.
A few nights later I sat in my bedroom looking at a magazine that I had managed to sneak past my parents. It was a magazine about New York City and places like that. I had bought it at the General Store in town. My parents would be furious if they found the magazine. It wasn't a bad magazine, but my parents didn't want me to see what the world outside of Irvine was like. They were afraid I would want to go out into the world instead of staying in Irvine. I loved my parents very much but I just wished they weren't so protective.
As I read through the magazine suddenly something caught my eye. It was a picture of a real movie director! I read the page and it told about the man. His name was Jason Morrison and he lived in New York City. He directed movies and he counseled wanna-be young actors. "Oh if only there was a way I could meet him!" I said to myself. As I read more about the movie director I saw that it gave his address where you could write to him! Immediately I jumped up off the bed and ran over to me desk. I pulled out my notepad of paper and my luck red ink pen. I copied down the movie director's address in my notepad. At that moment I heard footsteps coming to my room. I grabbed the magazine and pushed it under my bed. My Father stepped in and when he did he looked at me suspiciously. "I just wanted to tell you that tomorrow I want you to weed eat the around the house and everything," Dad said. I nodded and he left the room. I sank down upon the bed breathing a sigh of relief. If he had seen the magazine I would have been in big trouble.
My parents weren't really all that bad. They just wanted to protect me from the ways of the world. "I wish they could understand!" I said to myself. But they would never understand and in time I would realize that.
Two days later I wrote a letter to Jason Morrison, the movie director. I wrote and asked him what it took to become an actor and I also told him of my strong desire to become an actor. After I had put the letter in an envelope I rode to town on my bicycle to the post office. Shawn came with me. I wasn't aloud to go to town without my parents but I had to mail the letter. I just told my Mom that I was going with Shawn to ride my bike, which wasn't a lie.
As we rode along the road that went into town I smiled, "I'm so excited! I wonder if the movie director will write me back?" I wondered aloud. "Alex, don't get your hopes up. Besides what if your Dad finds out you sent a letter to a movie director? He'll be very mad," Shawn said.
Soon we arrived in town and we pulled up to the post office. I laid my bike up against a metal railing and went into the post office. As I stepped into the post I ran into Mr. Mark Johnson. He was a close friend of my Dad's. "Hey there Alex. What are you doing here?" Mr. Johnson asked. "I'm, ummm. . .mailing out a letter," I said nervously. Mr. Johnson just smiled, "Well, I'll se ya later. Tell your Dad I said howdy." "I will. Bye," I said as I turned and went up to the desk to mail my letter.
After I had mailed the letter Shawn and I started to head back home. But as we passed the small café Shawn stopped his bicycle. "Let's go and get some ice cream. What do ya say?" Shawn asked smiling. "I. . .don't know. How will we pay for it?" I asked. "I have money. It will be on me," Shawn said as he rode over to the café and parked his bike. I did likewise and we went into the small café.
That day at the café was the best day of my life. Shawn and I ate ice cream and then we went out and went through town. We went into all the small shops and it was so much fun. I hadn't been in town for three months. It felt good to be among other human beings and I just felt free.
We didn't get home until that evening. After Shawn had went his way home I went my way home. As I pulled into the driveway at our house my parents were sitting on the porch. I put my bicycle in the garage and made my way to the house. As soon as I stepped onto the porch my Dad glared at me. "Just what do you think you're doing?" he asked. "What are you talking about?" I asked. "Oh don't play innocent with me! You were in town today. Mark Johnson telephoned and told us you were in town with Shawn," my Dad said angrily. "We just wanted to. . .we just wanted to go to town. We never get to," I said irritably. My Dad jumped up from his chair and stood in front of me. "Well, I hope you enjoyed your time in town because now you're not going back for another six months! Town is filled with things you don't need. All you need is work and this farm," Dad yelled. Tears filled my eyes but I would not let them fall. My Dad made me go to my room and in there I cried. I couldn't understand why my Father was so mean and difficult. For once I just wanted to be accepted for who I was and to be able to fulfill my dreams. I wanted to leave Irvine, Kentucky for good but there was no way I could.
All my life I had been a big dreamer. I dreamed of far off places. I dreamed of being famous. No one knew about these dreams of mine because no one wanted to hear about them. I held all these dreams in my heart and that's where they would always stay. Dreams were what kept me alive.
Three months later I was outside fixing a broken fence. I had to fix the fence by the end of that day because Dad wanted the cows to be moved into that field. I watched as the mail carrier drove up to our mail box. He put our mail in the box and then drove off. I stopped what I was doing and ran to the mail box. But before I could get there my Dad yelled at me from the porch, "Alex, I'll get the mail. You get your butt back over there and fix that fence young man." I sighed and went back to fixing the fence.
A few days later a few of our neighbors came over to help Dad with some more hay we had bailed. At lunch time the mail carrier brought our mail and my Dad went and got it. I was sitting with Shawn and the rest of the men drinking lemonade as my Dad stormed over to me. "What is this? What have you been doing behind our backs?" Dad asked me angrily. "What? What is wrong with you Dad?" I asked. Dad threw a letter that had come in the mail at my feet. I picked it up and saw that it was all the way from New York. But before I could open it Dad snatched it from my hands and ripped the envelope open. He scanned his eyes over the letter. He started laughing as he read the letter. "Hey everybody listen to this," he said as he got everyone's attention in the yard. "My son sent a letter all the way to New York City and got a letter back from there. It says here in the letter 'Acting is hard work but you sound as if you are very determined. I have some acting books you can read. I will send them after I send you this letter…' . That's what Jason Morrison, whoever the heck that is, says in this letter," Dad said chuckling. He then turned to me, "So my son wants to be an actor. Aint that a life!" he said laughing and everyone joined in. Tears of anger, hurt, and hate filled me eyes. I jumped up and ran away. My hurt was breaking. My Dad had humiliated me in front of everyone. He had done it on purpose. But why?
I didn't come back to the house until it was dark. As I stepped inside the house I didn't see my parents anywhere. I went to my room and was horrified to see them in there. As I stepped into my room I saw that they were searching my room. "What are you doing?" I asked angrily. My Dad turned to me and in his hand he held my Travel magazine. "What are you doing with this?" he asked. "I. . .I. . .," words wouldn't come out of my mouth. They found my stash of Travel magazines that I kept. Also on top of the magazine pile Dad had laid the letter from the movie director. My Dad took the magazines and the letter in his arms and carried them outside.
"Dad, what are you doing? Those are mine," I said as I tried to catch up with him. My Dad threw the magazines out into the yard and lit a match. I watched in horror as he threw the burning match onto my magazines. I ran over and knelt down beside the burning magazines trying desperately to save them but my Dad pulled me back. "You're never going to go to those places Alex. Get it through your head. You're going to be a farmer and that's that. So just get all that acting business out of your head and start focusing on being a farmer," my Dad as he gripped my arm. Anger rushed through me, "I would rather die a thousand deaths than to be a farmer and turn out like you!" I screamed. I saw anger fill my Dad's eyes and he slapped me across the face. The blow stunned me and everything thing seemed to spin. "You ungrateful, foolish boy. The farmer's life is the best life you could ever live. All of your crazy dreams about being an actor, they're just dreams and they're never going to come true," Dad said as he pushed me to the ground and stalked off.
I turned my eyes to my burning magazines and I reached into the fire and pulled out a burning page. I cried out as the fire burned my hand as I desperately tried to save my dreams. All I managed to save was one little burned piece of paper. On this piece of paper was a picture of the Statue of Liberty. I stood and ran away from the house. Away from everything that I had always known.
We lived close to the Kentucky river and I would go there often and sit on the sand banks. This is where I went to hide in my pain. As I ran to the river bank I gripped the burned magazine page in my hand. I soon had reached the river bank and I fell down upon the sandy bank. I lay there listening to my own heavy breathing and the sound of the river water.
"Shawn was right. I'm going to be a farmer. I'm never going to get to fulfill any of my dreams. I just can't go on if I'll never be able to do any of the things I want to do in life," I said as tears streamed down my face. It was there on the sandy river bank that I knew what I must do.
I slowly stood and walked over to where some rocks were laying. I picked up a medium sized rock and put it in the pocket of my jeans. Soon I had my pockets filled with small and medium rocks. They weighed me down and it was difficult to walk. I walked down to the river's edge and in my hands I clasped the burned magazine page.
I stared down at the river water and sighed. I put one foot into the cold water and then I put my other foot. As I walked out into the water tears streamed down my face. "Wash away my pain river. Wash away my sorrow," I whispered as I stepped out into the deep water. When the water was up to my neck I took one last look at the life around me. Then I closed my eyes and went under.
Some fishermen found Alex's body in the river. The fishermen said his clothes were filled with rocks. "Suicide," was what the police had said. I found it hard to believe. I knew Alex suffered but I never knew he suffered so much that he wanted to take his own life. Alex's father blamed himself for Alex's suicide. But he could not bring Alex back. We all wanted to bring him back but we couldn't.
I'm now fifty-two-years-old. I am Shawn, Alex's best friend. Even now I can still remember Alex's face when they pulled his dead body out of the river. His eyes were open and it was as if he was staring off into the sky. Alex taught me something very important. He taught me to fulfill your dreams and be who you want to be no matter what anyone else says. The people of Irvine will always remember Alex and his tragic death.
P.s.This story is not saying you should go and kill yourself just because you can't fulfill your dreams. Live and if you are patient you will be able to do many things that you want to do. Alex made the wrong choice and ended his life. Don't be like Alex. Live.