A strange boy sits at the edge of a hill. The sand has painted his trousers red and chalky, his face graced with fine dust. He is no older than twelve maybe thirteen. He is a boy with a big heart, but judging by looks he looks awfully shy. He sits and stares off. His friends are just below, they are touching each other in a shed. One the friends is his best friend and the other is a girl he, the boy at the edge of the hill, admires but hasn't told her so because his best friend, the boy who is touching her likes her.
The sun is ready to set, the boy who sits at the edge of the hill recalls of a time when he was smashing bottles in this same hill. There must've been thousands of glass bottles, so many that the boy and his best friend had to invent new ways to smash them. One of the boys started smashing two bottles together and this very much satisfied him. He kept doing it, two after two, and by the end he hadn't noticed the cuts on his hands from the broken glass. He worried about getting sick from some infection but nothing ever came of it.
The boy and girl touching each other are now calling the boy, the boy replies calmly and says he is fine, that he is quite content up on that hill and being by himself. The boy and girl resume touching.
That same hill they threw bottles down into the pit that lied at the bottom of the hill. Sometimes homeless drunks would sleep there and when they threw their bottles high up above the pit the boy suddenly realized what if someone gets smashed in the face with glass? There was a terrible feeling that came over the boy as that bottle flew in the air. What have I done. This is the sort of thing that could ruin someone's life. How careless. How thoughtless.
The bottles smashes and when they smashes they shattered into a million pieces.
Kissing and touching but something is wrong. The girl, which the boy on the hill likes, is talking to the boy's best friend, she asks the best friend if his friend could come down, she wants all three to be together. The boy on the hill responds calmly as before saying that he is fine, that they should have fun on his behalf and that he is quite content. They continue where they left off.
What was her name again, was it Kelly? She was older, she drove a white SUV, a Jeep Cherokee or something similar, and she was one of the few white teenagers in town. She wrote the boy on the hill a love letter one day. The boy hadn't taken much notice to her but suddenly with this new interest he wanted to know more about her. The boy's best friend filled his mind with all sorts of fantasies, spilling his desires into his friend's. The boy on the hill responded to the girl's request. And there was no response back. Till this day white SUVs, especially Jeep Cherokees from the early 90s with white teenage drivers haunt him. There goes Kelly, I believe that was her name.
The sun is setting. The two in the shed have disappeared but the boy on the hill sits at his cliff. He is admiring this moment. There is a sadness growing deep into his heart but he chooses not to let that sadness distract him from how beautiful the sun looks when its rays of light are slowed down by hitting the Earth's atmosphere at a steeper angle. White light is slowed down to a yellow, then orange, a red, and finally a deep purple emerges. The wind gently moves through the boy's hair and hits his eyes enough to make them teary. The boy holds himself and feels content. Alone it feels good, it is quiet, and I am in good company.
The boy grows up and he is an adult now. He lives in a city, he meets a nice girl, they start to hang out, this is the story:
She was under a pile of people when she meets the boy that takes a picture of her under the pile of people. They meet because they have a mutual friend and this mutual friend introduces them. Their mouths say hello and my name is this and my name is that but nothing is heard because when their eyes lock they exchange a secret message that seems to go beyond formal introductions. An understanding is established and the girl under a pile of people jumps away and under a pile of people because there is an art performance and she feels up to it. The boy concludes in that moment that she is driven by passion and is also impulsive. And though this girl he just met is absolutely beautiful and has a dancer's figure what he finds most attractive about her is her energy; charismatic and honesty. He stands in front of the pile of humans laughing with her as she is smiles in absolute delight as more and more people stack on top of her. She is stunning in this moment, her lips painted ruby red, her whole face smiles and it is a look true joy.
The performance ends, she puts her leather jacket back on and few words are exchanged amongst the three. More and more people arrive at the venue until the place is overcrowded, the three eventually lose each other and are absorbed into new groups of people. The boy walks home alone that night and looks up to the sky. There in the winter sky is the moon. It is alone as it has been since there was a moon and yet it shines so brightly if it being alone does not affect it. That sight has guided him home many nights before, replacing a lonely moment with a good champion. The boy looks to the moon like it has always been there for him. He recalls his high school years where his bed rested underneath a large window and every so often the moon would hover just above. He would play mellow music and sleep deeply knowing he was not alone.
Things were getting boozy, and in winter that seems to bring people closer. In a small clothing shop the windows fogged up hiding the cold night outside. Strangers become friends and friends hold each other and talk in great depth about their lives: what interested them, what love is –a popular topic on Valentine's Day. The boy that takes pictures of the girl under the pile of people always feels distant on Valentine's Day. He recalls of Valentine's Day Cards themed with the popular cartoons of the time with safe messages inside: Be mine, I heart You, You are sweet
. Once he received flowers from a girl who made it a point he knew she liked him. The boy didn't know what to do with those yellow tulips and so he hid them in his locker. He never got to thank her, hold her hand, or apologize for why he was shy, he simply just moved away. But that was then and this was now. The girl that was under a pile of people is here, she is hidden in the back and boy has forgotten where he has met this girl. She looks awfully familiar and it isn't until the girl tells him where they met that his oblivion turns to enlightenment. He is happy to see her again, a sort of glad that is unfamiliar to him, and it is perhaps because she is also happy to see him again. This moment seems to imply they are connected in one way or another. Both hold no expectations about each other, they are too busy enjoying the moment.
The friend that introduced them becomes closer to the boy, and along with the girl that was under the pile of people a trio is formed. Together they watch movies, make dinners, go to concerts, talk and talk, and occasionally meet up separately making the three two. They often would talk about the one that made them three. With each moment, together as three or together as two, they always enjoyed each other's company having realized they had found each other and that their connection meant they understood something instrumental about each of them. Without words, without a story about how each grew up and what experiences they had that they believed define their behavior and values, there is this connection that exclaims that all those stories are only written or spoken because one hopes to make a connection to another human being, so as not to feel alone and to either share in their sadness or happiness, or even their wonderment. Isn't that the entire point of it all?
Eventually that warm and cozy winter ends, the trees start to bloom, and layers of clothing become less in number. The girl that was under a pile of people decides to move. She is torn between her friends here and her love elsewhere. She is moving to be with love, a different type of love that she had for those friends she was about to leave. She also wanted to move to move and to be somewhere else, to experience something new. Her long and tone legs were itching to run and so in late Spring she left. The two that remained stayed friends but even during times of laughter or good conversation they felt something missing. It is an awful mentality to have when you are in good company but the thought and feeling was there. Years pass and eventually the friend that introduced the boy that takes pictures of the girl that was under a pile of humans to the girl leaves.
In the city and over time one meets people, gets to know them, shares experiences with them, and eventually they say goodbye. And though goodbyes are hard, the word goodbye is an awful word to say to put to an end of a period in one's life. When you are young goodbyes are never definitive and they hold no weight. You can say goodbye but it should be followed by an ellipsis because you never know where you will be in the next few years nor where they will be and paths always meet when you are connected with someone.
In the wise words of Mark Wahlberg, "It's over when I say it's over", which makes me think perhaps he is a god. Some form of higher power that either wound the clockwork of the universe or simply a being that is able to observe it from a distance where it starts to make sense. For us down on Earth, living in our microcosm, life or the clockwork of it is too full of variables that provoke and cloud our clarity with emotions. That and perhaps we lack the capacity to understand and any understanding we believe we have established is a mirroring of our ego (further from the truth). Eventually all this has to end, and so instead of goodbye let's adopt the Hawaiian phrase for departures, "A hui hou", until we meet again.
BUT it is not over. The boy and the two girls did meet up again. It was a fluke. The girl that was under the pile of people was getting married. The boy was invited. The boy never enjoyed weddings much, all but one of the weddings he had been to were full of tradition that seemed to obscure what really mattered, the love of two people, maybe two families coming together, but do they really come together the boy wondered? He had no tormented upbringing that made him doubt marriage, his parents are still together after all. It was the image he was against, that Hollywood reenforces, this happily ever after, and these elaborate money-sucking ceremonies. But he didn't think of any of that when it came to the girl's wedding. Holding that hand-drawn invite made him supremely happy. More happy he had been in a long time. And for some reason he hadn't responded to the invite and for some reason months go by until the girl checked in. The boy said yes, he had to, he could be held hostage, imprisoned, shipwrecked and deserted on an island and yet he would be there no matter what. He knew he probably wouldn't know anyone there. The only friend the boy and the girl shared was their mutual friend that introduced them and became an instrumental part of the group's dynamic. But she was living far away. She even expressed her regret of not being able to make it to the boy. He was going either way but he could see himself awkwardly sitting down and reading a book or something to make his awkward eyes fixed to something other than people he didn't know, that knew everyone else there and were overwhelmed by the gathering of old friends and family they have known for a very long time.
Months pass and the wedding nears, the boy waits at the train station. The train he is waiting for is late. Strangers are talking about the train around him and instead of asking he just listens to their conversation as he pretends to read his self-help book. One stranger says he is going to leave in ten minutes. Others motion to leave. A representative comes over and a group gather around him. Asking him the same question in many different forms: where is the train and when will it be here? The train is derailed. Lives are lost. The train was going 80kmh 3km outside of Kingston when a weaken weld on the rail failed under the pressure and velocity of the train. Although there was minimal damage to the train and to most of the passengers and crew, three passengers, all brothers, lost their lives. The reports details that at the moment the train derailed the three brothers (which are unnamed) were out of their seats and were gathered in one of the bathroom stalls. The report leaves out further detail to an explanation to why all three brothers were in the same bathroom stall together but forensics prove that their bodies were found in the bathroom together in their final moments.
The boy waits, an hour goes by. He talks to a stranger and the stranger says something that the boy listens to with neither belief nor denial. His sister calls and he tells her what is going on. A train representative comes and announces the accident. The train is definitely not coming. People ask if everyone on the train is alright. The representative does not disclose any further information, nor does the train's website nor twitter or Facebook. With that information the boy decides to leave the train station. All tomorrow's trains are booked. He is lost in this moment. He takes the subway back home defeated with an overstuffed backpack. The next day the boy finds a rideshare. He takes the subway and goes to the completely wrong way. The rideshare company calls but the boy is in the subway and the call is forwarded to his voicemail. The driver is going to be late the voicemail plays back. The boy gets this message as he realizes he is at the wrong station and is trying to figure out how long it will take to get to the correct station. Backtracking the boy looks down at his wristwatch. He determines he is going to be 10 minutes late. No wait, he is making good time it will be only 5 minutes, that is alright. The subway is delayed as the train waits at the station with its doors open. Close the fucking doors. Just go, there's no reason for this!
A chime followed by the doors closing. Thank God.
15 minutes late now. The boy thinks of a good reason give being late. The driver calls the boy, the driver says he was late, it was his bad the boy thinks. He knew he could never play off of the driver's guilt, that the boy was too honest but this is rideshare, the driver's a professional, and there were others waiting too. Do rideshare drivers even wait for late comers? The boy reaches the station. Books it up the stairs and into the mall. He really needs a coffee and to pee. The rideshare company calls and connects the boy to the driver. The driver apologizes, wonders if the boy is still coming, the boy says of course he is but he wasn't sure if the rideshare was still on and so he left but then came back once he heard the message that the driver was late. It is a lie but the boy could live with it, after all the truth would create an awful tension in a small car full of strangers traveling for five hours.
The girl that introduced the boy to the girl shows up at the wedding out of nowhere and without warning. She has a look to her that is locked in another time, like the flower child that grew up and but hasn't completely let go of a liberty of a specific moment in history. She arrives at the wedding moments before the bride. The boy is lost in emotions. It has been a long time since all three of them had been together. It is a beautiful day in a part of summer where the warmth had settled and the nights are hot. The girl and the boy disappear from the wedding scene for a moment. They find a hidden spot by the train tracks and smoke a joint together. The girl is nervous about her speech. She reads it to the boy. It is witty without trying to be witty, it is sweet without trying to be sweet, and where it begins it also ends.
Strangers become friends, friends become better friends, babies sleep under the shade of her mother's arms, and the wind brushes through tree branches as the clouds move silently above. Everyone is smiling, laughing, and some are crying with tears of joy. The bride, the girl, she is the most beautiful bride there ever was, stated without cliché but as a matter-of-fact. Her hair is braided and put into a halo on the back of her head. She dawns a vintage dress that illumines even the deepest of shadows. Her face radiants with a joy that comes from the love she has for everyone around her.
Couples dance, cake is eaten, and much alcohol is consumed. Photos are taken and summer games proceed the ceremony. The park that marks the end of the wedding soon falls to the shadow of night. People start weeding out and dress shoes are taken off or replaced with sneakers. Eventually the completeness of night takes over and so ends a day in the sun and hiding in the shade, the last rays of sunlight being filtered through the cover of trees. Goodbyes are said and hugs are given. Holding each other we never know when we are going to see each other again.
Underground two friends look at each other from across a trench. They are both waiting for their train to arrive, going in opposite directions. Without realizing it they are going in the wrong direction and that the person they are looking at and see them with eyes that know this is goodbye, they are also looking at the path they need to take to get to their destination. One gives a wave while the other smiles. Until we meet again is said without words or a thought in the mind. Perhaps it is in the wind that says those words as it is turned up as the train leaves the station, until we meet again
. The train goes and one is left behind carrying a warmth of a connection that will always be with him. The train that took the other away could go on for miles, moving at great speeds over even greater distances and that connection is just as strong as it was when they were face to face. One of them could be in London, no in Egypt of all places, and yet that connection is just as strong as face to face. So when they are away from each other, which is most of the time, they could be worlds apart but they are always close to each other. Face to face.