To Look Onward

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
Atlas has been through some rough times. His life isn't as bright as it used to be. All he longs for is the company of anyone.

Submitted: June 28, 2017

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Submitted: June 28, 2017

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“Ever since I laid my eyes on her I couldn’t look away. She is the one for sure Jess.”

“Didn’t you say that about Heather?”

Jess and Atlas have been friends since the first year of middle school. Atlas moved from the city down to the suburbs shortly after grade school. Jess, his neighbor, asked him to come and play the second he set foot on his new driveway.

“My best friend used to live in your new house, but he moved away. I hope we can become great friends!”

School had just ended and the two walked slowly to the exit.

“Jess, im sure this time i’ll be able to lock her down.”

“Ok, you definitely said about Heather.”

“This isn’t about Heather! We’re talking about Steph. Her hair is so smooth and straight. Her perfect complexion makes me want to touch her face. I swear I could stare at her all day long and I won’t get bored.”

“Alright calm down Atlas. You’ve talked to her like never.”

“Could you be on my side for once Jess?”

“I would if you didn’t 'fall in love' with every pretty girl you meet" 

Jess had a point, but we only have two more years of high school. If I graduate without ever getting a girlfriend I fear that I will never find someone. 

"Whatever Jess. Anyway, want to come over and study?" 

“I’ll go check with my mom. Make sure she doesn’t need anything.”

Jess’s mother suffered a stroke and became paralyzed from the waist down. Jess is a real nice guy.

“We could go study at your place. It's been awhile since I visited.”

They walked down the long steps of the school and waited by the bottom for Jess’s sister to pick them up. Jess played with a knitted doll on his backpack as he spoke to Atlas.

“Don't you have to ask your mother?”

Atlas scoffs quietly but loud enough for Jess to hear.

“My mom hasn't been home for the past four days. She won't be home today.”

Atlas holds his hands out and silently examines them through his gloves. Jess began to mess with his doll again and paid no attention to Atlas. Pressing his fingertips across his hand he could imagine the tiny bumps of past scars. Scars of fear, hatred, mistrust. Atlas smiled. He smiled as his friend helped him up from the steps. He smiled as he greeted his friend’s sister. He smiled during the ride home. He smiled as he greeted his friend’s mother. He smiled into the mirror of the bathroom.

“Atlas are you ok in there buddy?” Jess pressed his hand on the bathroom door.

“I've got stomach medicine if you need some. At Least call out to me Atlas.”

The bathroom faucet turned on for a couple of minutes then shut off slowly. The door creaked open and Atlas stepped out carefully.

“Sorry Jess. I had to wash up quickly.”

He smiled, tilted his head and gave his friend a reassuring peace sign.

“Dammit Atlas. You really scare me at times you know. Let's get studying then.”

Dragging out his smile Atlas followed Jess. They placed their bags down in the center of Jess's room and took out their books.

“How about we begin with Algebra?”

“Sounds good Jess. I'm struggling a bit.”

They remained in Jess’s room until the sun fell and after. They had tests the following day. They made sure to prepare. From across the hallway Jess’s sister yelled into the room.

“Hey Atlas are you gonna need a ride home?”

She got no response.

“Ugh, Answer me Atlas, Jess!”

Aggressively pulling herself out of her desk chair she walked to her brother’s room.

“Would you answer me already!”

She threw open the door as was welcomed with silence. She slammed the door and walked back to her room. She begins to talk to herself mocking her brother’s voice. “Hey Atlas lets go have some fun. What? No we won't invite Jaz she's boring.” Tossing her coat on and grabbing her car keys she talks to front door window. “Jerks.”

 

“Dontcha think we should have at least told your sister we were leaving?”

“Naw, she'll come pick us up once she finds us gone.”

Their feet left tracks in the newly fallen snow. Marking their trip from Jess’s window. Had it not been for their thousands trips at night the boys would be lost in the white haze. Looking forward was just for show.

“This test is gonna be a tough one ain't it Atlas?”

Staring off into sky, Atlas watched the snow fall. Blending into the night the snow appeared to spawn inches from his face.

“I wish I had a really good camera. This snow is beautiful. I could watch it all night.”

“Or until you froze to death.”

“They say you feel really warm just before you freeze.”

“Atlas please don't stay outside and stare at the snow. I'll be sad. Really sad.”

“Thanks Jess.” Atlas looked back down and smiled.

Though they lived next to each other They always liked to walk around the opposite direction. They remained in silence most of the time, but all Atlas wanted was his friends company.

“You know once I find a girlfriend we won’t be hanging out as much anymore.”

“The day you find a girlfriend will be the day I finally get my promotion.”

Slowly Atlas begins to laugh. His laughter then became hysterical.

“You’ve been working there for how long now? 3 years?”

“Yeah I’ve been assistant manager for the past year and a half.”

Their conversation is cut short as they reached the entrance to a forest trail. Making their way down the trail they continued silently. The forest roof slowed down the downpour of snow allowing them to see much farther.

“Do you still remember when I brought you out here when you moved next door?”

“Yeah.” Atlas looked away from Jess. “Your sister was waiting at the tree house and scared me when I walked in.”

“She did didn’t she. That was perfectly planned out.”

The boys laughed as they walked onto a diverging path. They eventually walked into patch of forest that had no roof. As if they had entered a winter wonderland. The snow on the ground was clear of debris and footprints. Four inches of snow was layered on the forest floor. In the middle of the circle patch was a grand stump of a long dead Sherman tree. It wasn’t your regular lifted tree house but a carved out home. Fitted with weather resistant windows, a chimney and fireplace, an old crank radio, and a large lantern in the middle of the room.

“I always wondered who built this place?”

Jess lit the lantern and fireplace and responded to Atlas.

“I don’t know. It’s always kinda been here.”

Small chit chat began between the two friends. They sat and conversed late into the night.

“We should probably head out soon. We’re gonna need some sleep before that test you know. Wait--- Let me guess.” Jess responded for Atlas mockingly. “I’m good. I'll catch up in a bit.”

Atlas taps his nose and smiles.

“Right on the dot buddy.”

Atlas waved off his friend and watched him disappear into the shadows of the trees.

Once out of sight Atlas sat around the middle table in the room and placed his head on it. Slowly he let go of his tears. Quickly he stood up and screamed. He ripped the lantern off the ceiling and threw it into the fireplace. A burst of flames erupted. He took up the radio, ripped off the crank and tore the buttons. His gloves were torn apart and he threw them into the fire. He took a seat on the table and pulled out a mashed up bundle of paper from his pocket. Hidden inside was a razor tipped with pain and memories. Twirling it around his fingers Atlas spoke outloud to himself.

“At this point my friend you shouldn’t leave me alone.”

He pressed his fingertips across his hand to feel the deep cuts and scars. With a heavy chuck the paper lands in the middle of the blaze.

“I say that I will stop but a new scar replaces the old ones. Only now have I climbed up my arm. How long until I reach my life.”

Atlas falls on his knees in front of the blazing fireplace. Tears pouring from his eyes. He sees himself dying on the inside of his eyelids. He could reach his hand back into the fire. But a hand falls on his shoulder and a warm whisper fills his ears.

“Do you need a ride home Atlas?” Jaz falls next to Atlas and wraps her arms around him.

“Just to let you know. If I were much younger I would go out with you. But a girlfriend isn’t the only person who can love you. I love you, Jess loves you, Mother loves you. You have always had a family here Atlas. You always will. Please don’t forget that. Please.”


© Copyright 2017 Navygnuel. All rights reserved.

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