I first saw Sky on a fine afternoon at the end of August last
summer. Of course, I didn't know who he was then ...in fact, come
to think of it; I didn't know what he was then. All I remember
seeing from the backseat of the bus is a green-clad blur padding
along The Line in a shimmering haze of heat; a slight and ragged
figure with a mop of hazel brown hair and a way of walking that
whispered secrets to the world.
We were on our way back to the village. My brother, Dylan had
stayed behind with friends in England after being accepted to
university there. We'd had a month of no contact, and then out of
the blue he'd told us that he was coming home. His boat was due
in at three, and obviously we had to pick him up. Now, dad
normally hates being disturbed when he's writing (which is just
about all the time), and he also hates going anywhere, but today,
despite the usual moans and groans of why can't he walk? I could
tell from the sparkle in his eyes that he was really looking
forward to see Dylan again.
It wasn't that dad was unhappy spending all his time with me, but
with Dylan away in England I think he felt something missing from
his life. I'm 16, and Dad's forty-something. We can't always give
each other what we need or want, no matter how hard we try, and
sometimes it helps to have someone to fill the emptiness in the
middle, someone to turn to when things get too much. Dylan was
good at that.
Of course, that wasn't the only reason dad was looking forward to
seeing Dylan. He was his son, he cared about him, worried about
him, loved him.
And so did I.
But, for some reason, I wasn't as excited to see Dylan as Dad
was, and I don't know why, I wish I had been, but I wasn't. It
wasn't that I didn't want to see him, because I did... I don't
know. Something didn't feel right. "Are you ready Iz?"Dad asked
in anticipation. "Why don't you go on your own? You can have a
father-son chat on the way back." I'd suggested. "No, no, he'll
want to see his little sister."
Dad's been petrified of driving on his own, ever since mum died
in a car crash 7 years ago. I try to encourage him, but I haven't
the heart to push it too hard.
The bus had picked up Dylan from the docks, so there we all were.
The remainder of the Anderson family, crammed into a dirty,
decrepit old bus, heading back to the island. Dylan and Dad in
front, and me in the seats behind. As expected, Dylan couldn't
stop talking, uni this and uni that. I hated it. It wasn't Dylan
anymore, my big brother, who I could talk to about anything, who
knew me. No, Dylan was gone, and in his place stood this; thing.
A ghost, a clone, or perhaps a hologram of someone I once knew,
but knew no more.
"So, Dad you won't believe this, this teacher told me off for not
taking notes, but university is meant to be a free place right?
So, I was like just arguing back and he was shouting so I just
walked out!" See what I mean? In all his desperation to tell Dad
about his 'new' life as a university graduate, he hadn't said a
word to me, but I was ok with that, for some reason. That's when
I saw Sky.
We were about half way across the Line by now, I remember it so
Dylan was laughing at something Dad had just said whilst
frantically patting his jeans in search of another cigarette. Dad
was tugging somewhat wearily at his beard, amused but not really
there, and I. I was leaning out of my open window, embracing the
harsh wind as it lashed my face. My right hand was clinging to
the seat and my left to the window frame.
That was the moment I first saw him.
A small silhouette against the burning daylight; a figure that
never seemed to grow bigger or smaller; an outline that never
wavered. Time dawdled, loitered, and ultimately stopped. As I've
already mentioned, the memory of Sky's walk brings a smile to my
face. It's an implausibly vivid memory, and if I close my eyes
for a second I can see it now. An easygoing lope. Nice and
steady. Not too fast and not too slow. Fast enough to get
somewhere but not too fast to miss anything. Lively, aware,
definite, without concern and without vanity. A walk that
belonged solely to him, and was secluded by everything else
You can tell a lot about a person from the way they walk.
As we drew closer, I realised that Dad and Dylan had stopped
talking, and I was aware of an eerie silence in the air. Birds
had stopped calling, the wind had stopped singing, and the sky in
the distance was a violent shade of indigo. Something was about
All of a sudden time and distance caught up with one another and
with a lurch we drew level with him. As we did so, he turned and
looked right at us. No - right at me. It was a face I'll never
forget. Not simply because of its splendour - and there was no
denying it, but more of its phenomenal sense of being beyond
things. Beyond the acid green eyes, and the dark matted hair and
the sad smile...no, beyond all this there was something else.
And then, he was gone. My mind became agitated, impatient for
knowledge. Who was he? Where was he from? And where was he going?
Questions reverberated around in my head. Questions with no
answers. Questions about the boy. The brief moment when our eyes
connected had sent my mind whirling and me into a stupor. I felt
embarrassed, and it confused me. How could I be embarrassed? More
questions began to emanate from within from the caverns of my
mind. I didn't know him, but I felt compelled to find him again.
I had to, I just had to.
We were at the end of the Line by now. I wanted to turn around,
to look back at the boy, but I couldn't will myself to. What if
he saw me? I racked my brains for something to do, or say.
Something to conceal my feelings. But what feelings? The abrupt
sound of people had broken the serenity of thought echoing
through me. Like an alarm clock in the early hours. Unwanted.
Stop day dreaming Iz I told myself. Dad and Dylan had recovered
from the silence and were nattering away again. Well at least
Dylan was. Dad was calm, calmer than usual. Maybe the mix of
whisky and fresh air had somehow jumbled things up in his head,
like an anagram of prospect. He'd seen him too. His electric blue
eyes x-rayed the beach, the sea, the sky, searching for him.
Back at home, things were different. The peace that belonged to
our house was stolen. Shouts and arguments broke out like wild
fire between Dad and Dylan. The freedom had evaporated. We were
now trapped. Dad obviously, had confined himself to his study and
to his whisky. Dylan on the other hand, had imprisoned himself
within his room. Endlessly smoking and drinking. Both of them
alone. It took me a while to get my head around the tranquillity,
the mysterious silence. The word tranquillity sounds so welcoming
and gentle. But this was a harsh tranquillity a redundant, failed
I scampered down the stairs the next morning, ready and prepared
for summer, the previous day forgotten; at least for now. Dad was
up in his dressing gown, arranging pots and pans, shuffling as he
went. I watched him for a while, bleary eyed and smiling. He
looked up. "Oh, morning sweetheart. Eggs?" "Yes please." So,
after a fulfilling breakfast, I was wide awake and raring to go.
I was meeting Adrianne at 1 o'clock by the bus stop. With my bag
now packed full of spare clothes, and a small pen-knife, I was
equipped. So I set off into the sun.
Adrianne was waiting for me by the bus stop clad in make- up and
jewellery, loose clothes hanging from her petite frame. A bright
pair of red leather heels cradled her tiny feet, they looked like
they were about to snap. She'd told me to dress up too, maybe put
some make up on. I'd contemplated it for a minute, before pulling
on my customary shorts and t-shirt. The sun was shimmering
contentedly, the jewel of the sky. It was certainly a beautiful
day. "Hello." I said. "Oh Iz, you could have dressed up a
little." I smiled gently, searching the mask of make-up for the
old Adrianne, but to no avail. "Right, shall we head off into
town?" "let's go." After waiting another ten minutes we finally
heard the clunks and squeaks of the island bus. Almost brown with
filth with only tiny yellow shapes managing to escape dirt. It
was not my first choice of vehicle. We looked at each other,
stifling a laugh and clambered on.