Sometimes you meet someone,
Who despite their bad habits,
Makes your voice go a little higher than it should be,
Laugh a little harder than usually,
Respond a bit too quickly.
Safety was my number one priority. That was exactly why I’d have my helmet on my handlebar at the ready in the case of a worst case scenario like a car crashing into me or Gertrude, who sat 2 seats away from me in class, confessing her erratic love for me on a bike of her own. I devised that if I were to fall I would reach for the helmet’s straps and flip the helmet onto my head just before I crashed to my most untimely death, that I could only hope to miraculously survive. I had thought about this marvelous plan last night with Robert, my seatmate, and a penguin with the head of a Chihuahua, called Frank.
Unfortunately, out of the two cases mentioned it was exactly the latter that happened after school. Gertrude, with her insane smile, had a bunch of roses clasped in one hand, the other on the handlebar so that she could keep up with my frantic turns and circles through several streets to put her off. Apparently Robert thought it would be funny to give her a bouquet with a love letter and say they were from me. It went a little something like this:
Please come to my house at 9 and we will have a lovely fuck with candles lit everywhere on a bed of satin and silk.
I did not want to have a lovely fuck with Gertrude. Robert brushed it off and said that I’d have the time of my life; perhaps her acne would start popping like popcorn from the overwhelming heat of the candles surrounding our “sexual territory”. I could only groan.
“How’d you get her to go away anyway?” he said, pitting the cigarette he had had in his mouth.
“I hid in the bushes and told her I wanted some time alone to have a good wank.”
I could sense the grin on his face now as he looked at the street in front of us. We were sitting at my porch.
“Yeah, she left and told me to have a good one.”
I preferred not to mention how Gertrude had actually jumped onto me from the side beforehand, making me stumble onto the pavement with our bikes clashing together. Sadly the helmet plan didn’t work, but the helmet did work as a good weapon to get her hands off my legs as I scrambled into the bushes. Telling her about my beastly need to wank in the midst of nature had gotten her to leave, but something told me that she’d still be at my door in less than ten minutes.
I looked at Robert who was now smoking his fifth cigarette. His eyes were boring into the wall of graffiti across, whilst mine were hysterically checking the trees. It would have been logical to run or hide under my bed covers, but we both knew all too well that it wouldn’t help. I took a quick gaze into the sky, then to the fence, and then to the neighbour’s gnome. Then I looked at him again, this time with a bit more calm. Something had clicked.
I slowly turned my head back, and Robert twitched in return. He exhaled, slowly shaking his head to himself with an ashamed grin that was quickly wiped away. He gave me one deadpan look, and told me it wouldn’t work.
will be continued
I was expecting the cries and mourns, the black umbrellas and words of remorse. I expected women to be blowing their noses with tissue, grieving in hushed voices and struggled breaths, but it was nothing like that.
I’d entered the house and greeted everyone like it was a normal day on June, except this time they were eyeing me with a solemn look. My mouth was zipped a bit more than it usually was, and I found myself looking at the floor instead of the fifty or so people who had their eyes locked on us, my family.
My grandmother was hysteric. As tears poured out and as she cried out my father’s name in desperation, she held onto him like a toddler who had just lost her toy. A leg was wrapped around him like she wanted to be carried.
A child was yelling for his iPad in the midst of my father’s speech. Some were trying to take photos of the body. All I could hear was the repetitive sound of people low on their batteries, and their pre-set ringtones.
It was barbaric to me, but I knew about the suffering that both my grandfather and everyone else had gone through. The rest of the people didn’t matter to me. At least now it was over. At least now he was in peace.
I hear the slam of two car doors. Shoes crunch against the small stones littering the ground, fuelling their angry minds. After half an hour, the door reopens and a rapid pair of footsteps skitter across the pavement. Then it’s another slam, and a quick shut of the house’s front door.
3 bangs. Like something being hit against the wall. It echoes into the night like something ghastly, taking the colour out of an already dark summer night. Silence follows, and the lights have been turned off. I turn to face the wall and think twice about not using my blanket.
The car is gone and all I can hear are the birds. The curtains are all closed.
A different car pulls in at the front. The wind is trying to look for words, but all it can do is whisper. The trees begin to scratch at the edge of my house, as if trying to tell me something urgent.
I see the car wobble and the driver’s door opens. It is the daughter. She fiddles for keys and with a slight tremble to her step, she walks in, closing the door behind her.
A scream fills the neighbourhood.
I am now running to the house. I bang on the door desperately, and finally she opens it. There is a phone in her hand and she is looking at me with fear in her eyes. Tears are pouring out. Thank God she is alive.
2 police cars arrive. I wait in the background as the police discourse. The daughter is now sitting down, her face swollen and her eyes looking down. I feel uncomfortable and decide to leave the scene.
The daughter has been taken to stay with her aunt. I am outside on the porch. There is a yellow plastic mess covering the house, and the neighbours have huddled up in their groups. Some are telling the police about the encounters they have had with him. Others are at a game of Chinese Whispers. I am in the distance alone.
The guy who lives next to me comes up to me. He grumbles and complains about all the fuss. He begins to talk about how the value of all the houses will be decreased. “Why the fuck did that asshole need to kill her? I shouldn’t have to be paying for something he did.”
I look at him with dead eyes.
I return to my home.
Perhaps I had imprisoned those memories; his constant smile, and the way he would never actually look me in the eye. There was that time when he stared at me in disbelief, waiting for a response. I chose to just laugh and look at the road ahead.
It was nice being with him. It felt like resting on still water, my eyes closed and arms at my side. I’d reap in the clean air, and I could let out that slow exhale.
But he had left. And those memories would always come back, always scratching at my mind. I’d try to get them out but they couldn’t, even with all I tried.
Maybe it wasn’t me who had imprisoned those memories. It was those memories that had imprisoned me.
He was just the type to see her in the rain and hold up an umbrella. Except he wasn’t holding it above her; he was holding it in the distance with his back to her. That was the cold heart that he held so dearly. And yet she still had the capacity to love him.