Saturday, 28 April 2012

Coincidence in War and Love (Short story)

Okay, I don't really know where this story came from, but I made myself finish it. Kinda of trying for ambiguous narrator, not sure if I achieve this.

Here the story:

I don't say anything. I just breathe in and watch as he walks away once again. It was the same as always. We were playing this game again. The one where we see who can hurt the other most. I always won and lost.

You couldn't really win.

I should say something, anything to get him to come back. Sorry? I love you? You're the only person I have?

No, they weren't right. Perhaps, an action would be better...

I step forward, from under our dark meeting place. A war monument was our place. I have no idea what that says about us, probably something foul. The temple like shape framed the stone carving with the reason for the soldiers' death and their names underneath. It was big enough to allow to two people to stand comfortably within. I turn from the fading figure to inspect the stone before I leave.

I step back on grey slab. I sight using the fading light behind, I search the stone for his name and mine. My fingers find us before my eyes. I drop my hand from his. I trace the letters of the dead soldier I share my name with. A man I’ll never, could have never known. It was such a coincidence the name being in walking distance of my childhood home.

My name was unusual, first and last. My parents felt I couldn't be unique enough. I had never shared any part of it with anyone, expect with my parents. I had no external family. We were a trio of only children. I knew little of my grandparents only that they were dead. I had asked my father if his family had a soldier that had died in battle. He said simply no in his usual calm manor, but in a way I knew that the matter was finished. I never brought up my soldier again.

I bought my eyes back up to his, still feeling mine. Our names were in columns opposite each other, mine to right wall and his to the left, but in the same line. Four names stood between us. I smile at the thought of his family and other friends. They despise me. The A student whose a bad influence.

His name being here was no coincidence. He shares his name with his Grandfather who left for the war and never came back. He knew it was here since he was young boy. We met the day he came to pay his respects.

I had freely walked out the front door once again, my parents too involved with themselves to notice their five year olds coming and goings. I went where I usually did on these outing: the local park. It was the one quiet place I could get without having to cross a road.

I would wander about in the rain, sun and one memorable day, snow. I had seen the War Monument before, but never really pay much attention to it. It was in the far side of the park, hidden by trees. It couldn’t be seen by either entrances of the park, which was caged by metre high black metal fence. I was on my usual wander, trying to avoid the few people that were there. No one accepts a small child being all by themselves.

I came to the Monument where I saw a boy around my age and a woman who was clearly his mother. I stopped, not sure how to proceed, till I finally decided to dive into the trees that went behind the monument. My plan was to walk through the mini wood until I past them. I was just behind the grey wall of the monument when I fell, they didn’t hear me though and I wasn’t the sort of child to cry every time I hurt myself. Some thought it to be unnerving, I never understood why.

I pulled myself up against the cold stone. I leaned against it while I tried to figure out what I had tripped on. I couldn’t see an obvious source. I sat down, with my back still on the stone. I could hear them clearly from here; I sat listening to them while I rubbed my bruising knee.

I learnt his name and about his Grandfather. He would retell me the story and I never of the first time I saw him. By chance we would go to the same Primary, but I never really knew him there. I was a loner, through and though. Our first conversation would take place at the monument.

After that day, I had taken to going and sitting in the monument as I watch the park. If I sat right in the corner I would stay completely dry while it rained.  At ten, I was sitting in this corner scanning the names from boredom; I had decided to go home to my books when I turn around to find him watching me. I stared back; he was first to speak which would become our pattern.

“Is your name there?” He asked. I told him I didn’t believe so, he laughed at the way I talked. We introduce ourselves.

“You’re name is there, it’s near mine.” It was. I had never seen it myself; he had on a pervious visit. He had known of me, and recognised it.

“Why did you ask if you knew?” He shrugged. From this moment a friendship was built. We were both slightly advanced for our age. His mum as an English teacher had always encouraged him to read which put him at advantage against our peers. I had always read too. We would talk about our favourite books, and even read to each other at the monument. We still rarely spoke at school.

It was during this time, his mother began to dislike our friendship. I would lend him books that seem reproduce by themselves in my house. I was allowed to read whatever I wanted; while his mother became concern over the mysterious adult books appeared in his hands. “The Catcher in the Rye” was apparently too mature for an eleven year old. His mother after failure discussion with my parents had told him never to accept books from me again. He mostly kept this promise until he was sixteen.

His mother and sister began to dislike our friendship even more during our teen years, when we began to fight constantly. When I got jealous of his other friends, I would pick an argument on purpose. He would bring other people our monument to annoy me because he knew I hated it. If our arguments become heated, there would often become physical. We would give each other black eyes, bruises and even a scar or few; while he was bigger than me I knew the place to hit to cause pain from years of reading anatomy books. As we got older, it started to stay as mental battle and we haven’t actually fought since we were Fifteen.

We went to different secondary schools, he gained new friends and he remained my only one. He got good grades and I got extraordinary grades. He could have got extraordinary too, but he was more interested in people than books. In our final exams, we both got nothing but As. We had scheduled to meet on the day we got our exam results. When I got there, he wasn’t by himself. His friends were there, taunting him once again over his weird friendship with that odd kid.

I can tell by his body language he didn’t like the way they were talking. However, he didn’t say anything to defend me. I felt betrayed that he had bought them here. I met his eye, before turning around. I walked, before my pace turned into a run. I was soon home.

I ignored him for the next week, before answering his call on a Monday evening. I’d agreed to meet him alone on the Wednesday. I had almost fully forgiven him, when he told he was thinking of joining the army. I was shocked, why would he want to do something so stupid?

“I thought you wanted to be a doctor,” I actually thought he would make a good one.

“I do…but I want to do something for my country,”

“You mean ended up like them,” I shout accidentally, while pointing at the dead names.

“No…it could happen.” He said calming, pulling my hand down.

“Please think serious about this; you’re too smart to be lost in battle.”

“I thought about this for a while, now that I’m old enough it time to apply.”

“Not a proper soldier right, you mean a medic.” I ask desperately. He hesitated.

“Would you be happier that way,” he said squeezing my hand. I nodded, feeling the words had left me.

“What do you want to do, I mean at uni,” he smiles, changing the topic. I tell him I don’t know something scientific. He thinks I should go into medicine, I brush at his lies. In theory, I could do it, but could I really treat people?

“You’re right, let’s do it together.” I replied. That night we formed a park to become doctors. We both did well in the required test and sent off our applications months early. But he still had the army on his brain.

Our final year of school we went through in flash, we sat unnecessary exams with university places already graduated. We had accepted places from the same uni.

However, everything went wrong that summer. We barely saw each other this summer; he was always busy and refused to tell me why. I let it side, though worry played at the back of my head. I went to monument by myself as I had always done. On my way, I found out what he been up to all summer. I felt unfamiliar feeling well inside me I watched him kiss her. Why hadn’t he told me? It seems simple enough. I walked calmly to our monument.

I saw him a week later unplanned. I was alone at home; my parents were off in France. I had refused to go with them. It was past midnight, when I heard banging on my front door. I was still up as normal reading, but had no idea who it could be. I got up before my brain could create worrying thoughts. I open it to find my only friend very drunk with a massive smile on his face.

“Hey Babe, can I come in?” I nodded in confusion; he had never called me “Babe” or any pet name before.

He stumbled in and led him to the living room. We didn’t spend much time at each other houses; I had no clue as to why he would come here. He dumped himself on to the couch and patted for me to join me still smiling. It was beginning to unnerve me. He wasn’t really an overly smiley person, either was I. It was nice smile though.

“Why are you here?” I ask joining him on the couch.

“I wanted to see my best friend, also…”

“Also what?

“Can I stay here, my mum would kill me if I came home like this,” he laughs as though its massive joke. It was true she would be furious at him.

“She wouldn’t be happy if she knew you were here either.” He just laughs more and hugs me. I try to pull his arms off, but his pursuits in sports have made him far stronger than me. I sigh and leave him. We sit together, him laughing, telling me I’m the bestest friend he’s ever had repeatedly. I started to worry he’s intoxicated by something other than alcohol. Suddenly he went quiet and serious.

“You’re my best friend,” he says turning to face me. I smiled and said I know.

“I love you,” he said not sounding drunk anymore

“I love you too; you’re the closest person to me.”

“No I love you, love you.”  We sat in silence as I try to process what he said. He kisses me before I finish. My first kiss; it was gentle and unopened the door to years of denial. It felt so good. It terrified me.

I jumped from him and ran up to my room. He didn’t come after me. I go to bed and try to ignore what just happen.

I wake to my door being violently banged and the phone ringing. I stumbled down the stairs in yesterday’s clothes. I go into the living room where the phone is. He had fallen asleep on the couch, hugging a pillow. He was cute looking when a sleep. I pushed those now not innocent thoughts out my head, before picking up the phone. Decided who was ever at the door couldn’t be that important. The phone could be parents ensuring I was still alive.

It wasn’t my parents; it was one of his friends- I could hear the others in background- asking if I knew where he was. I told them he was at my house, and had been since midnight. I ask why they wanted to know. They said they had went out last night and lost him outside the park. They warned me that his family were “freaking out” and searching for him; they had even called the police, who obviously didn’t take an eighteen old not coming home after a night of drinking serious. I said I would call his mum to tell her.
When they was no answer at his house and I didn’t know her mobile, I went to see who was at the door. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been surprise to see his very angry sister.

“Where is he?” His sister spat as she push past me. I mumbled he was in the living room. This was also when he choose to wake up with a massive hangover. She dragged him out my house, without discussion and threated me that she would tell their mother everything. I didn’t understood what she meant, but in end somehow I was blamed for his bad behaviour.

I didn’t seem him again till tonight; it had been two long weeks of hush phone calls between us. Neither had brought up the kiss. I hope he had forgotten. I felt it coming.

I arrived at the monument, to him tracing the name of his grandfather.

“Is he the reason you want to join the army.” I had startled him, he soon he recovered and gives me that massive smile.

“Partly, you know my mum gave me his medal for my 18th,” I smiled; his grandfather had died saving his troops and receive a medal for bravery.

We chit-chat; talking about the latest book being turned into a movie and whether or not to go see it. However, he soon steers our easy conversation to the kiss. I stopped being able to look him in the eye as he goes on about how he had been dating this girl for months, but it felt wrong to tell me. He says how he felt like this for a while, that he truly thinks he in love with me.

We sit in silence once he done.

“Please say something,”

“Your family aren’t going to like this,” I say calmly.

“I don’t care.” I look into his eyes for first time, he so serious and calm. How can he not be scared?

“I don’t think I can do this,” I blunt out. He looks slightly angry now

“Do you love me?”

“Yes, but…” He interrupts me by capturing my lips. The kiss is long and deep. He pulls away from me.

“Find me when there isn’t a but.” He walks away.

Here I’m in our monument when there isn’t a very good but. I do love him, as more than a friend.

It hits me hard, I can’t let him go. I jump from the monument and start to shout his name. I begin to run after him. I trip, I try to get back up but my ankle appears to be twisted.

“Don’t go John,” I shout at him, “John…John, I need, I need you.” He doesn’t turn around. He either doesn’t hear me, or it’s really over. I eventually get up and limp back to monument. I sit down in my corner; I sit there staring at the names of the dead soldiers as I let my eyes water. The light soon leaves me and I can only feel his name in the stone.

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