I shiver for a moment and look to the sky. It is infinitely blue, endlessly free and quietly daunting. The clouds tease me from their thrones in the sky, promising that they know the end of this story, but refusing to tell me how it all works out. The wind whispers across the dewy grass, and laughs secrets that I can't hear. The weather pretends it can't hear my ceaseless pleas, instead choosing to play dumb. The trees dance around me and I try to ignore them, instead focussing my energy on forgetting.
I ignore the sky and the clouds as they taunt my weakened resolve not to care; the wind as it quietly mocks my every move and the grass as it tickles my ankles, promising to tell the truth while hiding crossed fingers. The enigmas they hide from me are frustrating, but fickle. I wonder why I care, and before realizing that I couldn't have asked a stupider question.
As the breeze catches my face again, a memory flashes across my brain – a memory I didn't realize I had anymore, and one that causes my heart to flutter for reasons I still cannot understand.
* * * *
A date insignificant to most, during the grace period before Christmas, the time where people forget to be stressed, but realize quickly that four days really isn't enough time to be relaxing.
The sky is overcast but the mid-summer's air isn't muggy. The clouds promise rain and hide the sun, but it is still warm enough for a day in the city. And that is where I am, lost among the tall buildings and busy faces. The air has a certain tension to it – not an unpleasant one, just a feeling of expectation and hope that infects everyone it touches. It pushes a feeling of recklessness on the more persuadable. The buskers are joyous; singing and dancing; Christmas carols played by musicians raising money for the less fortunate ring loudly from each street corner, and parents line up to make their children sit on an old man's lap. It is the one time of year where the usual stranger danger rules do not apply, as parents ignore their children's screams of fear.
"I feel like going to the beach," my friend announces as we approach a train station. And despite not being meant to, we select a train that will take us there.
* * * *
A child screams near me and chases a dog through old oak trees and waving grass. My reverie is sharply pushed into insignificance as I turn and walk from the park. The cars rush past me at the city intersection, everyone having places to go and needing to get to them immediately. I enjoy the sensation of walking slowly through to streets as everyone rushes past. It seems to me that I'm the only one of the thousands around that has nowhere in particular to go.
Past the busy shops, law courts and buskers I walk. It is right before Christmas, and the streets are alive with buskers and spruikers and sales galore. The only thing there seems to be a deficit of is smiling faces. I watch as three girls dance to the carols being played by the Salvation Army, before donating money, saluting the volunteers and skipping away. Their laughter rings across the city streets as the girls smile and compliment strangers on their outfits. Their joy is infectious, but most have already taken the antidote and instead watch them angrily. A man with a ponytail near me comments loudly to his friend that he hates the city during school holidays.
As I watch the girls laughing at nothing and everything – caught up in the bliss of being alive – another memory flashes across my brain, causing my heart to dance.
* * * *
I sit on the floor laughing and poke my friend's knee. "Watch for my mum, eh?" I tell her and she nods, glancing out the train window as we pull out of the station. My heart begins to tap dance around my chest as we leave the city on a train we're not meant to be on. My friend laughs as I mispronounce train stations, putting emphasis on the wrong syllables, and tells me to hush as she pulls out her phone. Our plans have changed, and instead of the beach we are visiting a friend of hers. As she calls and asks him to meet us at the station, my heart starts to somersault more violently than I have ever experienced, and I wonder why can't breathe. It seems so stupid to be feeling this way about a boy I've known for a year now, but, granted, I've never met him. He gives her his address and asks us to come to his house – he's dislocated his knee and is on crutches. She agrees and passes the phone to me for a moment, long enough for him to murmur a quick message. The words are insignificant and his voice is all I hear, and suddenly know why I'm so nervous.
* * * *
I stand patiently in a queue for fast food, wondering why all of a sudden the name sounds like a lie. I drink in the heat of the stuffy room and watch as tourists around me take photos of each other for reasons that only they themselves find funny. Slowly but surely I approach the head of the line, but before I quite make it, a boy next to me leans backwards to exit a photo. He tilts towards me, before catching my eye and grinning. I grin back, before telling him how much cooler it would be if he deliberately leaned into the photo. We strike up conversation and I catch his eye more than once. He watches me interestedly, gaining cues from my words and for a moment, his eyes flash with something that causes another memory to reappear into my head momentarily, a memory that triggers a shy, subconscious smile.
* * * *
The boy glances at me across the table as he deals out the cards. My friend comments on her lack of knowledge about poker, and I assure her I'll help her if she needs it. It is the most I've spoken since we arrived, and I am cursing myself for up talking my miserable poker skills. The boy reaches for her sunglasses, trying them on and laughing at their lack of UV protection, and in that moment I wish it was me sitting next to him, not across from him. But then he glances across and catches my eye, smiling secretly, and I know that if our seats were reversed I could never have received that smile. His deep brown eyes are comforting, and I burn the image into my mind, knowing it would bring me the same feeling if I drew it out in a time where I was less happy. His warm skin is smooth and I wonder if I'll ever have the nerve to leave this place I am not supposed to be, for fear that I could never be as happy elsewhere. I smile coyly back, before focussing on my cards and breathing deeply, wondering how no one else can hear my thumping heart.
* * * *
A subconscious tilt of the head tells me that I'm alone in this park, but I knew enough to know that already. The silence is piercing compared to the constant crush of noise that filled my head in the streets. Now it's quieter, and for a moment I can forget that I'm still in the heart of the city. But the trees surrounding me do their job and disguise the din as quiet murmur, a whisper of sound that lulls me into a false sense of security. An empty paper bag sits next to me, greasy patches turning areas of the rough brown clear. The bag once contained food, and these greasy stains are all that is left to prove it. They taunt me with their knowledge that the unnecessarily fatty contents are now digesting in my stomach, and beginning their short journey to my thighs, calves or other unsightly places around my body. I ignore the spiteful bag and instead get to my feet and head to the play equipment. It sits patiently waiting for a small child to come and the swings rock in the breeze invitingly. As I take a seat, my posterior miraculously fits comfortably into the small plastic frame, a comforting change from the usual pain involved in swings. I rock back and forward, pulling myself higher and higher into the air until I can close my eyes and feel like I'm flying, high above the heads of all the people who are too busy for simple pleasures. The swooping sensation in my stomach is enough to make me smile widely, and dredge up yet more memories, ones I thought I had repressed deep enough to stop them from hurting.
* * * *
We stand awkwardly on the boy's driveway, unsure of how to end this. As much as I cannot bring myself to leave, I can't help but remember the trains don't run to my own schedule, and if we're much later we run the risk of being found out. My heart flutters as I remember how I'm not supposed to be here, and I relish in this small, unknown rebellion.
He talks to my friend, and they discuss how they'll soon be seeing each other, and, not for the first time that day, I feel a pang of jealousy. His dog stands between us, wagging it's tail joyfully, and I distract myself by patting it for longer than strictly necessary. The boy stands awkwardly, his crutches left inside, and I feel horrendously cruel for making him stand out here just to suffer through this graceless goodbye. He smiles gently at my friend, and hugs her goodbye before turning to me. I smile inelegantly and curse myself again and again. Then, he takes charge, leaning in and holding me close momentarily. My whole body fills with feeling and I try to cement the sensation into my memory, another comfort for a sad day. He pulls away and I can feel the regret seeping through my fingers as I wish for more time. Then my friend drags me away, and we cross the road together, a smile cemented onto my face, despite my wish to remain. She asks me how I feel and I spin, just for a moment, to see him watching from his doorway. The grin on my face grows larger, a feat I hadn't known possible and I know that in this moment, I am happier than I have ever been, and as a result, cannot find the words to a reply to my friend's question.
* * * *
I watch the children leaving the cinema, their hands clasped in their mother's; talking animatedly of the spectacle they've just viewed. They discuss the characters and the plotline, but gloss over the moral and the clichéd predictability of the happy ending. I listen in awe of the innocence and their firm belief that the happy ending really does happen. I want to take away all the hurt in the world; all the cruelty and pain, all the death and destruction, so they never have to feel pain – so to preserve their innocence forever. Because I know that the happy ending doesn't happen, and that, among the endless beauty that the world thrusts at my door, there are countless endings that just weren't happy, that will never be happy.
I smile gently to myself, reminding my subconscious about optimism and hope. It launches into a heated debate with my common sense, I'm momentarily distracted by the ongoing feud in my mind. Lost inside my own head, I suddenly can't remember how I came to be outside the cinema, and even that thought is just enough to unearth more memories that I would consider unpleasant.
* * * *
The bus is alive with movement, rattling around tight corners and ridiculous bends. Music camp the bus seems to murmur, as the laughter filled van ploughs through the suburbs. 3 days off school it whispers in my ear, a thought that wouldn't normally make me miserable. I decide the whispering in my ear has to stop, and turn up my mp3 player loudly to block out my own thoughts. My song choice? I'd Do Anything, by Simple Plan – one of the more embarrassing pop-rock songs I pretend I don't like. My heart screams out to me from beneath the light guitars, crying along to the lyrics that mean more to me now than they ever could before. It's only been a sixteen hours since I've spoken to the boy, but still my heart misses him and his words of comfort. I can almost forget the words that don't comfort me anymore and I hide behind closed lids, trying to remember how I felt less than a day previously. But already that emotion feels like a lie. I shake my head against his voice in my mind – the voice on repeat that promises he loves me. Because promises don't mean anything anymore, and crossed fingers turn them into lies.
* * * *
The train carriage rocks sharply and I sway with it, watching the graffiti covered walls flash past. The express is swift, and I fall into the steady motion. I examine the words carved into the back of the seat in front of me, reading the declarations of love and statements proving that Kaz and Jaz really were sitting right where I am. It is as if the moment didn't happen until they engraved it into the soft plastic, as if the love two people shared could not have been felt until they had etched it into the seat. I trace the names slowly and try to remember how it feels. A quiet memory resurfaces and I smile timidly. This one is barely a recollection, merely a collection of feelings, somewhere between delight and misery; a face and an emotion mixed together and set to a soundtrack of my favourite songs.
The train pulls into the next station and the next crowd of people rush in for a seat, closing themselves off to the world, as if smiling a chore they don't have time for. The sun winks at me from behind a cloud assuring me that somewhere in the endless blue there's an answer to the dreams I can't quite admit that I have. The graffiti on the walls tells a million stories and promises that each one has a happy ending. I shake my head and tell it that mine has none. It's reply is simple, a single word that reverberates around my brain.
Authors Note: hi all, just a quick note on this story. basically, its just another one of those stories that i write to get the thoughts out of my head. All of it is a memory, from various occasions, and all of it actually has happened. Because of this, the ending is pretty shoddy. See. the fact that its all true means that there actually is no happy ending, and i cant exactly end a story on a bad note, coz thats just not my style. So this ending is pretty shoddy, but i really needed to finish this story and i put down the best thing that came to my head...
so yeah. i hope you enjoyed it anyway. if you did, please take the time to comment because it really does make my week to get a comment, and i always try my best to reply to them. or at least thank you publically...
have a happy day!