He lay on the river bank looking up at the sky. The sun blazed down and only a few cotton candy clouds floated lazily by. Some seeds drifted past, carried on the air current created by the flow of the river. He could hear the grass hoppers close by and the birds chirruping in the nearby graveyard.
He hadn't bothered going to the bun fight after the service, it was just an excuse to get drunk for most of them and he felt he had outgrown that. It wasn't fun anymore. He didn't mind a drink now and then but not to the extent of the others and if he showed up it would be expected of him. That was the problem of going back; expectations. Most of them didn't allow for change, you were expected to fit into exactly the same niche you had left behind.
He closed his eyes and let his mind wander over the events of the last few days. From the initial phone call from his aunt telling him of the death of his childhood friend, to the journey here, the visits, the condolences and the grand finale today; the funeral. He didn't notice the tear escaping and running down his cheek to lose itself in his designer stubble.
As he lay on, he started to look back on his childhood with his best friend Davy. He unpacked each memory and carefully unwrapped it, like delicate crystal, to be inspected and admired before being as equally carefully re-wrapped and put back in it's box again. Too precious to be left carelessly lying around for others to despoil.
Simple stuff, the games they'd played, the apples they'd stolen, the rush to finish their homework so they could go out on their adventures. He smiled as he remembered the raft they'd built on this very bit of the river bank and how they'd persuaded Isabel to let them use her dog to test it out. Persuade? Threatened to chase her with worms if she didn't. Pity these tactics didn't work in business. He couldn't help but let out a crack of laughter at the thought.
He sat up abruptly, hugging his knees, crying, laughing, cracking up, breaking down and so so angry; why? Why? Why?
He sensed rather than felt two strong arms go around him and draw him close. A hand caressed the back of his neck and held him to her shoulder. A kiss gently pressed onto the crown of his head. A little comfort to help ease the pain. It could only be Isabel, she had always seemed to understand their bond.
“I hated you both for months after that day you know.”
“I know, we were horrible to you.”
“I hope you've forgiven yourself by now Colin; we were children. I forgave you both years ago, I hope you know that.”
“It's more than we deserve, poor rags got quite a soaking.”
“I'm having a real problem now; trying to forgive Davy for dying so long before he should have, it just doesn't seem right.”
“I'm angry too, but not with Davy, I'm not quite sure who with. Natural causes, I suppose it must be God I'm angry with.”
“Come on, let's dry our tears and go and join the others. We're all feeling it you know and we need you there, almost as reassurance.”
They stood up together and clasped hands as they walked towards the hotel; two lost souls bonded by grief at the loss of their friend, taking their first tentative steps towards an uncertain future.
A Winter's Day
When Autumn's skeletons are bejewelled with frost;
An austere crystaline beauty,
Seemingly unrelated to the lush flamboyance of the summer past,
And ignorant of the fresh green beauty which will burgeon forth,
In just a few short weeks.
I had been imprisoned for weeks. Jammed in beside hundreds of others. You couldn’t have picked me out from the crowd. We probably all felt the same. Some were in groups and many were in pairs but none of us knew what our eventual fate would be. Those of us who were single probably felt the most vulnerable, we were the ones if we were moving about would be most easily overlooked or quite simply brushed aside as being of little or no worth.
Then one day our world was severely shaken, there were rattles and bangs and we were all thrown about. We were taken from our prison and massed together. Soon we were being marshalled into groups of a hundred. Everyone was kept with others of the same sort, no political correctness even considered. Those who were left over at the end of the marshalling were returned to prison. There was a lot more space there now and no-one was alone.
I had no idea what this was all about and no-one else in the group I was with seemed any the wiser than I was. I almost wished to be back in the prison, better the devil you know. Fear of the unknown is a dread that many of us have. Had we just swapped one prison for another? Would conditions be any better where we were going? Was this our final destiny?
We were put into a metal transporter. There was no light but there was the distinct noise of an engine and we could feel we were in motion. Still we didn’t know where we were going. No-one told us and we were unable to ask, there was a total communication barrier.
When the engine stopped the container was hoisted up and carried a short distance. We could hear conversation outside. We were being traded! Our captor regarded us as mere bargaining chips! He had more than was actually required for his purposes and consigned those who weren’t needed to another prison, this time it was called Charity Box. Such is the life of Penny, who knows where my journey will end.