Blind Flight

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 1 (v.1)

Submitted: June 15, 2010

Reads: 565

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Submitted: June 15, 2010

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The reflection of sharp sunlight from the blade, hinted the potential its yielder possessed.  With the light came a pause.  Every element, every particle ceased with reverence to the seldom drawn sword.  His opponent witnessing the sword’s magic should have taken flight, but of course such a cowardly retreat would have provided a premature and rather unsatisfactory end.  Each of Jay’s thrusts and swipes sliced the high lush grass they stood amidst with electric accuracy.  Green and metallic blue waves surrounded the pair.  Jay leaped high, making a mockery of gravity and his adversary; a small but persistent man who had spent the last minute punctuating his futile swings and thrusts with grunts and loud exhalation.  Jay’s prophetic intuition whispered; forecasting each of his opponent’s decisions.  Jay could see rage and frustration rising from the short guy’s frame.  They emanated from him like demons sitting on his shoulders.  Jay leaped away from the short man and waited with a cool breeze for company.  The short man ran toward him.  The whisper in Jay’s ear said it was time.  Jay lifted his blade high announcing the dread of its imminent journey.  Jay could see the short guy already wincing, acknowledging his destiny.  The light again shone off the blade as it began its descent. 

Jay opened his eyes realising the light had in fact been sunlight creeping through a small gap between his bedroom curtains.  He squeezed his eyes shut, wanting to return to his dream.  The contrast between the oriental green pasture from which he had just so abruptly left, and the world within which he existed, provided an all too depressing start to his day.  He longed for that feeling of control and freedom.  Here on his estate in East London, control was a rare and protected commodity; Protected by those in positions of authority; Positions of power.  His desire for sleep induced dreams dwindled, as the allure of fantasy lifestyles sparkled around him like fireflies. 

‘Justin, get up!  You’ll be late.’ 

Jay’s mum had a voice that could pierce any day or night dream. 

‘I’m up!’ Jay replied, trying to put a little attitude in his tone, as if his friends could telepathically hear him. 

‘….Ok then’.  Mary replied quizzically.  Jay knew she was replaying his reply in her mind; assessing whether he’d crossed a line; a line Jay teethed on the edge of daily but rarely crossed.  He knew better.  Yeah, he had a reputation to maintain but also had the sense to realise his peers weren’t gonna share his punishment.  The proceeding silence suggested he’d passed her test.  Jay daydreamed a little more, batted away the fireflies and with huge reluctance headed for the bathroom. 

The shower wasn’t schizophrenic; not switching between its usual Amazon rainforest and October in Brighton temperatures.  Jay displaying equal measures of appreciation and scepticism ran it for a short time, only paying real attention to his face, balls and armpits. 

‘That boy’s going to be late again.  I hope he isn’t expecting a lift.  I’m not gonna make you late because he can’t get his arse out of bed!’ 

Jay’s little sister Dawn looked up from a bowl about the same size as her head, cracked a half smile and returned to shovelling huge heaped spoons of Sweet Pops into her mouth.  Jay arrived in the kitchen as the last drips of cold milk ran down Dawn’s chin and back to their white porcelain source.  He thought that in a few years she’ll probably be eating carrot sticks, and sticking her fingers down her throat in school toilets.  Jay cracked his own half smile, which was squarely met by Dawn’s still thinking about her older brother’s bus journey, and the fact that he’d inevitably be late. 

Mary sat facing Dawn in the seats they always occupied around the old round table.  The Kitchen really wasn’t big enough for it, but Mary insisted there was importance in all three sitting together to eat and hopefully talk, as she had done with her grandparents and brothers in her childhood.  Jay’s mother had an old school sensibility that he loved.  He thought it was at the core of what made her a good mum, and distinguished her from the majority of other mothers on the estate.

Both Mary and Dawn looked to Jay anticipating the question.  It never came.  Jay could see how tired his mother was this morning; more tired than usual.  The mug of steaming black coffee she clung onto was fighting a losing battle.  The sunlight from the window shining off the dishes in the sink was blinding her tired eyes.  Mary worked nights as a nurse, and the odd day too.  Her dreams of being a doctor faded away as two lines appeared on a pregnancy test some 17 and half years ago. 

‘Mum?’ Jay asked 

Dawn’s half smile graduated to a full grin. 

‘No, I’m not driving you to college today Justin.  Dawn isn’t gonna be late again.  I called you over an hour ago.  Why do you always…..’ 

‘No Mum’ Jay interrupted, making sure not to raise his volume too high. ‘I don’t want a lift.  You look really tired.   Can’t Dawn start getting the bus to school now?’ Dawn’s giggles ceased, as her mouth morphed, readying itself to voice her objections.  ‘She’s gonna be 14 soon…’ 

‘Justin,’ Jay’s mum spoke quietly and calmly.  She really was tired; had she not been everyone on their floor would have heard her reply.  ‘You know how bad it is out there right now.  These are serious times baby.’  Her use of the word ‘baby’, coupled with a sweet look and smile that made Jay feel eight again, told all in the room that she was touched by his concern.  Dawn sensing Jay’s victory stormed out to get her coat and bag.  Mary glanced at Jay’s vacant chair.  Jay pulled it out slowly and sat beside his mum.  ‘I know you worry for me baby, but that’s not your job.  My job is to worry about you guys.  Now you can look after yourself.  You’re smart.  Your sister’s still young.’  A sneeze bellowed out from behind the kitchen door. 

‘I’m waiting on the balcony!’ Dawn cried trying to sound disinterested in their conversation. 

‘Did I let you get the bus at 13?’ Mary continued. 

‘Umm…No mum’. Jay replied rolling his eyes.  He knew the argument was already lost. 

‘And you’re a boy, but you want me to let your little sister get the bus.  Girls are getting mugged everyday.  If not that, worse.’  Jay stood up from his chair. 

‘Mum I hear you’.  Jay interjected wanting to cork up the deluge of words he knew were about to rain from his mother’s mouth. ‘I’m gonna be late you know; I just think you need to rest a little’. 

Mary distracted by her son’s concern, stopped, stood face to face with Jay, and touched him tenderly on the cheek. ‘Justin I don’t say it often enough, but you know I’m proud of you, don’t you?  Jay nodded with uncertainty.  ‘I am.  You’ve never had any Police knocking on my door.  You’ve never wasted your time on the crime and lies that’s killing so many of the kids out there. You’re sister looks up to you.’  Jay wished he was drinking so he could spray out his disbelief for added dramatic effect. 

‘You sure mum?’ He replied. 

‘Yes she does.  I know. I am her mum!’   Mary and Jay hugged and laughed, and soaked up their rare moment.  Both had removed the guises society deemed they should adopt, and had for that moment just been friends. 

‘I Love you baby.  Keep making me proud.’  Mary spoke softly with a reassuring wink. 

I’ll try.  I love you too mum.’  Jay replied without thinking. 

‘Mum, come on!  I’m going to be late!’ Dawn screamed with her cheek pressed against the other side of the kitchen window.  Her jealousy had clearly reached its boiling point.  Jay and Mary looked at each other and smiled again under raised eyebrows knowing Dawn loved them really. Jay ran out the house past his little sister, making sure to tap her on the head as he did; which was as close to a display of affection as he could muster, down the one flight of stairs and out into the world again readopting the attitudes that saved him.  The attitudes that allowed him to slip out of trouble; to never appear vulnerable, or scared; the mannerisms of a man, although really he was just a teenager, a fact he was just reminded of by his mother’s embrace. 

Jay was athletic in stature.  He like most of his peers looked older than his actual years, which had its pros and cons.  The pros included garnering the attentions of older females and getting into club nights his more youthful peers wouldn’t.  Unfortunately Jay was about to experience one of the cons. 

Jay entered the 201 bus with his child oyster card in hand.  He knew there would be a 50-50 chance that the bus driver would let him go through.

‘Excuse me; have you got proof of age mate?’ The slightly obese ginger haired driver asked.  Jay thought his tyranny on mature looking teens, must have been as a result of a bullied childhood.  The bright hue on his balding head provided a classic school yard target.  His outstretched finger was attached to a hand and arm overly adorned in cheap gold jewellery.  Jay thought he should have instead used his overtime pay on H.R.T.  He was definitely overcompensating for something. 

‘Nah man, but I am…’  Jay began to reply. 

Sorry mate.  £2!’  Jay pushed his hands down his jeans pocket and produced the £10 note he’d hurriedly drawn from the ATM on the way to the bus stop.  ‘Sorry no change mate’.  Jay thought his use of the word ‘Mate’ sounded more irritating each time the Mr T wannabe said it. 

‘Ok, can I stay on until you have enough change then?’ Jay asked, sounding a little less polite than before. 

‘Nah sorry….mate!’  Jay knew what would unfold next would probably include the switching off engines and radioing for police assistance.  Jay exited trying to not show his embarrassment.  He walked knowing to not look at the passengers who of course would be staring at him hoping for some show of wild adolescence.  Jay toyed with the idea of kicking a bin which stood beside the bus stop just to provide some entertainment for the old age pensioners.  

Jay knew his first lecture was almost certainly unreachable.  He decided to walk through the park and then up Heath Hill to his college, after all it was a sunny, warm May morning.  Jay felt he could do with the exercise as he’d noticed a decline in his fitness, since recovering from the flu some weeks earlier. 

Jay was always very receptive to the sun; it altered his mood.   The UV rays seemed to produce some sort of photosynthesis deep within his mind.  An overwhelming supply of optimism suffocated Jay’s negative bus related thoughts.King’s Park had always been a great happiness conductor.  It was Jay’s haven; a half rural hideaway for the majority of his life.  It was here that Jay at age two learnt to ride a bike.  Some years later King’s Park would host the initial stage of Jay’s runaway from home; and its termination some nine minutes later. At ten under the cover of the old oak on the hilly part of the park Jay had his first kiss with Sandra Devon.  At eleven when Jay’s mother and step father split, the harmonious swing of its Daffodils provided free hypnotherapy and its bird song carried sincere comfort no adult words could provide.  Jay could not believe he had neglected his old friend for so long.   

The green leaves seemed to applaud Jay’s return, as a cooling breeze came from over the old manor house on the hill.  The sight of King’s House reminded Jay of a story that had permeated through generations of local park goers.  It was said that Kings House had been bequeathed to a young man after the tragic death of his parents.  King’s Park was then the grounds of the manor house.  The son’s love for his parents was not evident; swamped by his newly found love and gratitude for women and some of the other finer things his social position afforded.  With his parents passing he decided he’d show the grounds the balance of his miss spent attention.  He dug, planted, pruned and watered throughout each season.  Eventually his passion became obsession.  Somewhere in his 40’s they say he decided to leave the comfort and splendour of King’s House and live on the grounds, with only a choice of trees for shelter; sentencing his former abode to decades of unjust neglect.  His later years were spent in an asylum.

Until that day Jay had thought the story his memory retold was simply a tale of tragedy through loss, ultimately resulting in more loss.  A sad story he concluded.  Today this story created a new resonance within Jay’s mind.  This was a tale of non conformity, bravery, passion and sacrifice.  The sacrifice was normality. The passion was in the seeking of his joy.  His bravery was in deciding to seek it, it being happiness, without compromise.  Right then in King’s Park Jay had been struck with a choice he didn’t notice existed; to be happy, or to make everyone else happy. Jay leaned back on the park bench that had become his place of rebirth and pondered. 
 

 

Mary had driven the last few miles in auto pilot.  She couldn’t remember how she’d reached this part in her journey.  It echoed her life.  She thought it would be so much different; not that she regretted having Justin and Dawn, but sometimes she would enter the most secret place of her mind;  A place where her most destructive thoughts were quarantined from her heart.  It was here that she wondered what life would be like without her children.  The career she might have had.  The places she would have seen.  The relationship she could be sharing.  Mary’s eyes began to close.  She thought about her son’s declaration of concern, and how it was probably warranted.  The five minute journey ahead seemed a huge exodus.  Jemma’s café was within eyeshot and seemed a good place to stop and get a caffeine refill, and some gossip. 

Jemma was as close to a best friend as Mary had.  They had both lived within doors of each other on the estate, until Jemma got lucky and met her rich fiancé, hence her café, ‘The Lounge’.  Their friendship had become less strong since the opening.  They had both it put it down to extra work commitments, but if Mary was honest, her affection toward the new and improved Jemma, was pale in comparison to the old.  Mary walked passed the first large window.  On looking through she realised Jemma had already spotted her.  Jemma’s eye’s and mouth showed huge surprise, almost like watching a silent movie.  On opening the door Jemma’s audio synched with her theatrics.

‘Ah!  Mary!’  Jemma was waving her hands and jumping on the spot like a five year old.  ‘It’s been too long!  So you finally decided to bless The Lounge with your presence again’

Mary felt a little evaded, and was stunned into silence, still trying to judge whether her friend’s rantings were sincere, or just sweet words. 

‘Jem I’ve been so busy with work, and the kids.’ Mary spoke hoping Jemma wouldn’t see through the smoke and mirrors.

‘Oh the kids!  How are they?  Justin must be a big man now!’  She licked her lips which created a mental note in Mary’s mind:  ‘Never bring Justin to see Jemma.’  Jemma had a bit of a reputation as a man killer.  Mary feared her fiancé hadn’t quite tamed her wild ways. 

‘Yes darling, He towers over me now.  He’ll be 18 in September’ 

‘Wow!  Time flies hey’ Jenna said with a slight look of disappointment she really could have tried harder to disguise.  She surveyed Mary’s crinkled navy blue work uniform.  ‘You look well though.’  Mary could read her thoughts.  The scales of comparison in Jemma’s mind were tipping favourably toward the lady in the DKNY jeans. 

Mary pretended she didn’t get the message and decided to change the subject.  The comparison was a little too upsetting, and one she felt less willing to face, considering her counterpart hadn’t really done anything to earn her achievements, apart from possibly displaying skills more commonly seen on a porn site.

 

‘So how’s…..’ Mary lengthened the pause hoping to piss Jemma off a little.   ‘…erm….Alan?’  

‘Oh he’s a darling babes.  He’s quite ill at the moment mind you.  You know he had a stroke right?’  Mary had heard via some mutual friend but shook her head faking shock and concern. 

‘Mary…’  Jemma’s shoulders dropped as if her puppet master had given up the façade and cut the strings.  ‘I’m not happy babes.I know everything looks rosey; People come in and see the broad smile, the car parked outside.’  Mary remembered the sports coupe she parked behind and made the connection.  She resisted turning round to make sure.  She thought it wouldn’t be appropriate.  ‘Yes everything seems good from the outside, but I have a fiancé who doesn’t excite me, and a life I did nothing to create.’ 

‘What do you mean?’ Mary asked leaning closer and touching hands.  She realised the enormity of Jemma’s confession, and the value of being an audience for her heart. 

‘Look at you Mary.  You may not have much, but at least you’ve achieved it.  No one can take that away from you.  All of this isn’t me.  It’s been given to me.  I haven’t worked for it.  It’s just Alan’s way of showing his love.’  Mary could see Jemma was close to tears, but being the girl she was refused to let them fall. 

‘Jem, you’ve achieved a lot.  To give a man love and a place he can call ‘home’ isn’t easy you know.  You show him love through the little things you do; he shows it with material things.  They’re both the same though.  You just show it different ways.’  Jemma managed something a little less enigmatic than a Mona Lisa smile, and said nothing wanting to hear more.  It was obvious to Mary that her old friend really missed their time together.  ‘How long have you been with Alan now? 

‘Almost two years.’ Jemma answered seeming both surprised and quite proud of her achievement. 

‘Come on girl!  This is all new to you aint it?  I’ve probably owned knickers longer than you’ve had relationships.’  Jemma leaned back on the stool, almost falling off.  She hopped off, ran around the coffee table and embraced Mary. 

‘I missed you, you’.  Jemma screamed with tears now falling. 

‘What you crying for silly?  Everything will be fine man, just hang in there and stay good. You have been good right?’  Mary asked with her big sister tone. 

‘Yeah but it’s been a struggle!’ The two friends hugged and laughed out loud.  They both remembered why they valued each other so.  Mary was Jemma’s voice of reason, and shoulder to cry on.  Jemma facilitated Mary’s need to be needed.

‘Guess who walked in here yesterday?’  Jemma asked concluding her therapy session. 

Err, I don’t know.  Who?’  Mary replied slightly pissed by the abrupt end to their moment. 

‘Patrick!’ 

Mary’s mouth opened to reply but no words came out.  In her mind she was asking a thousand questions.  How did he look?  What was he doing here?  What did he want?   

‘Patrick, you’re first love!'  Jemma continued as if hearing her friend’s questions. ‘He looked well.  He’s put on weight.  You can tell America’s changed him though.  He’s got the accent, and just kinda looked, well American I guess.’ 

‘What, whitened teeth and Botox?  Mary said trying to sound uninterested.  ‘Did he say why he was here?’

‘No, he just walked in; asked for a coffee and read his paper right there.  Jemma pointed to the brown leather couch in the corner.  Mary caught herself wanting to run over and stroke the leather like some fanatical 60’s groupie.  Patrick was definitely Mary’s first love; probably her only love.Jemma not noticing the potency of her revelation, or the extent of her friend’s distraction, continued segueing between topics, including the cuteness of the car salesman that sold her the BMW Z4 parked outside, Alan’s slow return to health and her future Mother-in-Law’s terrible cooking.  Mary however, continued to drift through distant memories the mention of a name had reawakened….Patrick! 
 

Jay lifted himself from the bench concluding his next step would be the beginning of his new life.  It’s hard define a single moment when the transition from adolescence to adulthood occurs, but for Jay the moment couldn’t have been more clearly marked.  ‘I’m going to tell my son about this day!’ Jay told himself smiling.As the park’s East exit loomed, the motion blur of speeding cars careered past the tree formed arches.  The rainbow hues reminded Jay of the mirage quality the park possessed.  This beautifully manicured green paradise was somehow unaffected by its grey polluted surroundings.  Just as Jay absorbed the last of its glow and exited under the arch, he was met by someone he once called a friend.  They both attended the same nursery and primary school, but somehow lost their friendship during their secondary school careers.

“Hey Jay!  What’s going on?” Wayne’s first attempt finished a poor second to the loud bass booming from his in car system.  Jay tried to walk pretending he didn’t hear.  Wayne tamed the attention seeking bass and treble, like dogs ordered to sit. 

“Jay, it’s Wayne man!  Where you going?”

“Yes Wayne, long time man!  How’s life treating ya?”  Jay answered trying to show sincerity. 

“Not too bad you know.”  Wayne surveyed the deep shined leather interior, figuring he’d leave the exterior for Jay to ogle, and he did.  The car was indeed beautiful, and must have had less than a thousand miles on the clock.  Jay toyed with the idea of faking disinterest, but decided to be real. ‘It’s nice to be nice, right.’  He thought to himself, remembering the karma filled notions of reaping and sowing his mother had drummed into him throughout his formative years. 

“The car’s nice Wayne.  How much you pay for this?”

“Let’s say around 30K; I got a good discount though, paid cash! The word ‘cash’ rolled off Wayne’s tongue like silk.  He had obviously rehearsed it’s delivery a few times before.  Wayne’s ego was stroked, and he promptly offered payment for services rendered. 

“You going college?  Let me drop you up there.” Wayne said not taking ‘no’ for an answer; besides the trip would give him the opportunity to show Jay what the car was capable of. 

Wayne turned up the sound system, causing heads to twitch and turn all around them, much to his delight.

The sight of his college gates provided some relief for Jay.  Jay concluded that although Wayne’s finances had matured at an uncommon rate his driving ability was still that of a young teen, and barely up to the job of controlling the three hundred horses he had weaved precariously in and out of the mid morning traffic. On at least two occasions Jay actually closed his eyes and braced for a collision that Wayne by some miracle had managed to avoid.

‘Alright Jay man, we need to link up you know.’  Wayne said.

‘Yeah man.  Definitely!’  Jay replied signature like knowing it wasn’t going to happen.  Jay’s morals wouldn’t allow him to move with drug dealers, even if they were once best friends.  As Jay walked toward the entrance, a chorus of loud bass and the roar of 24 valves through polished stainless steel swiftly merged into the city’s soundtrack behind him.  College was as ever pulsating with a mix of hard working academics, drifters and those who didn’t really give a shit about learning; only socialising.   The new-age geeks had ditched the trademark aesthetic somewhere between their first wet dream and GCSE finals. The letters NHS on their glasses had been exchanged for other designer acronyms.  The catalogue sourced ensembles were now High Street chic.But some purists still wore the uniform.  The library was their haven, and like Moses, they would never reach their Promise Land, the canteen.  This area was mainly inhabited by their polar opposites; those who didn’t give a shit.  Their educators would be unable to identify them in a line up.  They never attempted to hand a single piece of work in on time, but if their tutors had set them an essay on music lyrics, STI’s or Black Jack they would have passed with flying colours.  These two extremes of the college’s social strata were just that; extremes.  Jay was quite happy straddling between the two where the majority of the college’s one thousand students operated.

‘You missed O&P!’  Denise said with concern as Jay found a chair beside her. 

‘Yeah woke up late.  What did I miss?’  Jay asked. 

‘Spot test.’  Denise replied through a slight smile. 

‘Ah shit!  You serious?  Does it go toward the final?’ 

‘Nah, nah.  Stop fretting; a few of you were missing this morning.  Were you lot raving last night or something?’  Denise asked wondering why she hadn’t been invited. 

‘Nah man!  I raved in my bed D.  Had an early night man.’  This however wasn’t entirely true, as in fact Jay had spent the early hours of last night in Jennie Goode’s bed.  Her parent’s had gone out for their anniversary as planned, leaving Jay with the first solid opportunity he had waited weeks to utilise.  He couldn’t tell Denise.  He had real feelings for her, although she seemingly had no clue.  Just ‘good friends’ as far as she was concerned.  Oblivious to Jay’s extra long gazes.  It was her naivety that Jay loved and admired.  She carried herself like a ‘lady’; a quality that was rare in their circles.  Jay started nonchalantly looking through his bag for his appropriate folder.  Mr Ford an overweight but always well turned out teacher entered the room and started handing out printouts as he did every lesson.  His monotone voice was even more ineffectual today, as the whole class was distracted by the sight of the college principal hovering outside the room door.  The sight of Mrs Jean Spencer could be equated to some bird watcher getting slapped across the face by a Kingfisher; such was the irregularity of Mrs Spencer’s outings.

Mrs Spencer beckoned Mr Ford out of the room.  The class looked on curiously.  As Jay looked, he had begun to realise that both Mr Ford and Principal Spencer were punctuating their conversation with brief looks in his direction.  Jay then realised that his classmates had also noticed.  All heads were twitching like spectators at Centre Court, except one who looked directly at Jay and held her gaze. 

‘What’s going on Jay?  Have you done something stupid?’  Denise asked wearing a veil of real concern.  Jay interrupted his own twitching and managed to shake his head in reply.  He was visibly worried.‘Mum will be so pissed if I got thrown out.’He thought. 

Mr Ford called Jay out of the class.  Mrs Spencer asked that he follow her to her office.  Mr Ford looked at Jay without making eye contact and returned to the class.  As Jay trailed Mrs Spencer footsteps he could hear the class behind him erupting into an overflow of loud whispers and chair shuffling.  Mrs Spencer said nothing throughout the minute walk to her office.  As she walked she sighed and breathed heavily.  Jay thought that he must have been framed for something.  He searched every nook and crevice of his mind for an explanation for his imminent exclusion.  Sweat had begun to accumulate at the base of Jay’s back.  He could feel the hairs on the back of his neck standing.  Jay wondered how he was going to talk his way out of this one.  Normally he had time to prepare but this was a surprise sting, plus he didn’t even know what charges the Principal was about to raise.

Bright midday sunlight was bleeding into the dark hallway from beneath Principal Spencer’s office door.  The dramatic contrast between light and dark made their entry all the more daunting.  As the door opened Jay could see a tall stocky silhouette partly obscuring the summer vista provided by a huge floor to ceiling length window.  Mrs Spencer closed the door behind Jay with a softness that seemed inappropriate to Jay, considering he was clearly in some serious trouble. 

‘Please sit down Justin.’  Mrs Spencer said in a nervous voice.  Justin, still confused, remained standing.  He could feel each of his senses tensing up; readying themselves for what was about to happen.  The figure shrouded in shadow came closer with an outstretched hand.  As he came away from the window Jay realised he was a police officer.

‘Hello Justin.  My name is detective Clive Saunders. Please sit down.’ 

‘’What am I supposed to have done?’  Jay asked with protest. 

‘Justin you haven’t done anything.  I’m here to speak to you about your mother.’ 

‘My mother!  What’s happened?’  Somewhere way in the back of Jay’s mind he knew he was about to hear the words that would change everything.  He could feel his finger nails digging into the palm of his hands as he clung onto the belief that she was fine; that she was just hurt or mugged or something.  That she would be at home, or worse recovering on a hospital bed.  That she would look at him again and say she loves him.  Say she was proud of him.  His heart had somehow leapt out of his chest and was beating between his ears.  It was so loud he was sure its sound filled the whole room.

‘Your mother was involved in a car accident this morning.She had a head on collision with another vehicle.  The other driver ran away from the scene.’  The Detective then gulped heavily and sighed.  ‘Your mother suffered severe head injuries’. 

‘What are you talking about?’ 

‘We think the other driver was doing in excess of 80 mph.’ 

‘Where is my mother?’ 

‘She died at the scene Justin.’  The detective seemed genuinely grieved as he delivered his words.  He held out an arm and attempted to touch Jay’s shoulder.  Jay stepped out of his reach.

‘Nah, don’t be silly.  I saw her this morning.  She was fine, a little tired maybe.’  Jay said in complete denial. 

‘We think she may have fallen asleep at the wheel.’  The policeman continued. 

Suddenly a cold mist filled Jay’s mind.  It altered his comprehension and froze his words.  The detective continued speaking, but Jay heard no speech.  The words leapt out of the detective’s mouth and formed undecipherable neon hieroglyphics in the air.  Jay just gazed through the man.  Behind the detective Jay could see students walking, talking and laughing on the green through the large window.  ‘How can they be laughing?’ He thought.  Jay spun around and made for the office door.  He needed to get away from the room and the unbearable truth it housed. 

In what seemed like a moment Jay found himself at the hospital.  He wasn’t sure how he got there.  He waded through more people talking, laughing, reading celebrity magazines and drinking cheap machine coffee.  He reached the reception desk.

‘I’m here to see my mother, Mary Lincoln.’

‘Hold on.’  A big woman probably of West African origin said from behind the desk.  She started tapping on her keyboard.  She pressed each key nonchalantly with her right index finger.  Her left hand was clutching a mug with the words ‘Mum’s Cuppa’ on it.  From it she slurped steaming tea. Something on the screen made her place the mug down and look up from the monitor.  She made eye contact with Jay, and tried unconvincingly to show sympathy. ‘Won’t be a moment.’  The big lady said through a half smile.  Just as she said that an officer in uniform approached the desk. Jay followed the policeman down a series of corridors to a room.  Outside the room a young women sat crying.  She was alone and shaking with grief.  She looked like an angel; the rooms bright artificial light shining off her tear glossed face. On a regular day Jay would try and offer help.  He hated seeing women cry. Today he was distracted by grief of his own.  The Policeman pushed the door open and waited for Jay to enter.  Jay stood at the doorway, hoping he could be in some horrible nightmare.  He hoped his disruption of the script would somehow cause him to wake up.  The officer just stood there, waiting, saying nothing.  Jay inhaled deeply, closed his eyes and walked in.  Every bed was hidden by those awful green hospital curtains you see in episodes of ER.  Jay could feel his heart racing once more.  The officer walked to the end of the room, pulled open a curtain and walked past Jay and back out of the room.  Jay slowly walked forward.  He turned the corner and there was his mother laid out on a bed.  Jay thought she looked asleep.  He walked over and touched her arm.  The warmth of life hadn’t yet escaped.  She was still slightly warm to the touch. 

‘Mum, wake up.  I really need you to wake up.  Dawn needs you.’  The vision of his sister ripped away the last semblance of control he carried from the Principals office.  Jay collapsed to his knees; his head fell into his hands.  Tears cascaded down his face.  His tears became cries.  His cries became sobs. His breathing became shallow. He sobbed for himself.  He sobbed for Dawn.  He sobbed because he knew his mum was tired; because he knew he should have been more persistent.He should have taken Dawn to school on the bus.  Air was escaping him.  He sobbed because he never got the opportunity he imagined so often.  The day he could tell his mother to relax; to stop killing herself.  The day he could start pampering her.  The day he could repay all that she had done, all that she had sacrificed for him and his sister.  Right there Jay could have been anywhere.  He didn’t care about who saw him weep and wail.  It didn’t even enter his psyche.  He fought for air.  His heart no longer seemed organic; more mechanic.  Its pistons and cranks pounded against Jay’s temples.  Jay wanted it to stop.  He wanted to die.  He felt somewhere deep within him thoughts of embarrassment trying to burst through his cocoon of grief, but respect and guilt for his mother pushed them deeper below.  He couldn’t breath.  Vision blurred.  He could hear footsteps all around him.  He needed to wake up.  He needed this to be a bad dream.  He needed to hear mum calling him to get in the shower.  His lungs shrunk.  Darkness came over him.  Jay battled unconsciousness.  He could just make out the sound of frantic voices that simultaneously faded to silence.  Jay passed out. 


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