Counterparts

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Jeremy has a conversation with his counterpart. Have you spoken with your's recently?

Counterparts

 

The boxcar jolted suddenly as it slammed into the car ahead and again as the car behind repeated the violent collision.  Jeremy was shaken from his sleep and his heart raced, his eyes wide in alarm. He brushed the dirt and straw from his hair as he peered through the boxcar's open door. The train had stopped, and the landscape gave him no clues as to his location, save for a few scattered cactus plants, tumbleweeds and sand. Obviously, an arid land.

He was hot and thirsty, and the air inside was heating up from the merciless sun shining with a vengeance on the roof of the boxcar.  Perspiration beaded up on his skin and when it ran down it tickled Jeremy.

At the opposite end of the empty car, something moved in the darkness. Jeremy squinted to get a better view of the dark figure. It appeared to be a body, but alive or---?  When Jeremy jumped into the car early that morning before sunrise, he walked every inch of the inside, and there was no one but him in the car. This was the first time the train had stopped, so how did this figure get on board? And was the figure a threat?

There was something else, too.  There was just something not right about the mysterious travel companion.  It was his clothing.  He wasn't wearing any.  His nakedness was complete.  It almost appeared to be a mannequin devoid of any adornment or definition and was completely hairless, from what Jeremy could make out as his eyes adjusted to the dark side of the boxcar.

It sat stiffly against the far wall, with its back against the wall and its legs flat on the floor.  The body made a 90 degree turn at the waist.  Then, as Jeremy continued to stare, it moved its head and stared directly back at Jeremy.

"Hello, Jeremy," it said.  Jeremy felt felt a sudden wave of fear grab him like a cold vise.  He couldn't move.  Finally, Jeremy found his voice.

"Who are you?" Jeremy asked.

"I'm the other half of you," it replied.  Jeremy grinned nervously.

"Is this a joke?  A nightmare?" he asked.  The stranger began to move away from the wall, trying to stand up, but it moved stiffly, as if it was just learning to move for the first time. Although the train was not moving, the stranger moved as if it was trying to keep its balance without falling down.

"Excuse my awkwardness, Jeremy, but this is the first time I've had a real body, and I am trying to get used to moving in it."  The stranger finally managed to stand up and stared at Jeremy.  "You can call me Al. You know, like the Paul Simon song?  You can call me Al. I always did like that song.  So do you, by the way.  I know much about you."  Al chuckled.

“How can you be a part of me? This has got to be a dream, right?" Jeremy asked.  Suddenly, the boxcar jolted again as the train resumed its travel.  Al was thrown violently to the floor. "WHOA!" yelled Al.  "I don't want to go breaking anything already.  That would be most inconvenient--and painful."  He managed to pull himself up again using the side wall and leaned against it for support.  Jeremy was amused, but not ready to smile or reveal any facial expression.

"No, Jeremy, this is not a dream.  It is quite real.  However, it is highly unusual.  Only under special circumstances is this permitted."  Al tried walking and looked like a toddler taking its first steps.  Now Jeremy couldn't help but laugh at Al as he watched Al struggle to maintain his balance. Then as suddenly as Jeremy laughed, he became serious again.

"Will you please tell me what you are talking about? Who are you?" Jeremy asked again. Al answered him while still trying to master being ambulatory.

"I am the voice in your head, Jeremy. Your conscience, your hunches, your ideas.  Some call me the Id.  But I prefer Al.  Others call me the sub-conscious.  I am your spirit, that which lives on after you die.  I am your Soul."  Al was quickly mastering the use of two legs and walked to the front of the boxcar, turned around and stopped, staring again at Jeremy.

"Jeremy, there is nothing in existence that does not have a counterpart.  For instance, hot and cold, up and down, in and out, hard and soft, wet and dry, matter and void.  Are you beginning to understand?" Jeremy nodded.

"And so it is with us. You have a physical body and I am your spirit, your non-physical body. Your body will die someday, but I will live on; we will live on. I am you and you are me."  Al walked toward the open door.

"Don't get so close to the edge!" Jeremy yelled.  Jeremy jumped up to grab Al, but stopped when Al raised his palm to Jeremy.

"I cannot die, Jeremy, but you can."  Al gazed out the door at the passing scenery, then whispered to himself.  "I am talking to myself. How odd."  Then Al laughed. He then sat down on the edge, allowing his legs to dangle over and outside of the boxcar.  "Come sit down next to me, Jeremy."  Al motioned for Jeremy to come closer.  "It'll be alright.  I promise."  Keeping in mind what Al said about Jeremy being able to die, Jeremy cautiously sat down next to Al.

Jeremy was able, now, to get a closer look at Al, and noticed how strange Al looked with no pores, no hair; nothing.  Al looked like he could be a latex mannequin. 

"Jeremy, no one really dies. The body stops functioning, but the spirit--me--lives on forever.  When your body dies, I take all the happy memories and experiences with me--I mean, us. All the bad is left behind.  Bad is counter-productive, and it dies, too. It has no place beyond this world.

Clanging bells approached and rushed by as the train crossed a rural highway with a lone beat-up pickup truck waiting behind the crossing gates.  Al waved to the driver.

"Can they see you?" Jeremy asked.

"No one but you sees me, Jeremy, but I get a kick out of waving anyway."  Jeremy smiled and shook his head.  He was beginning to like this--other self, even though it had a very weird appearance.  He was having trouble accepting Al was really himself--in spirit.

"Why are you here like--like this?" Jeremy asked, pointing at Al.  Al turned to look at Jeremy.  Al's eyes stared intently and unsmiling at Jeremy.

"Because you were going to kill yourself."  Jeremy felt a chill run down his back.  Al's stare seemed cold, lifeless, and the lack of eyelashes, eyebrows--the lack of any hair at all made Al's face appear somewhat sinister.

"How did you know that?" asked Jeremy.

"Jeremy, have you not been listening to me?  You listen to people scream who think they are singing.  You listen to your friends.  Why do you not listen to yourself?"  Al was frowning now.  Jeremy had no answer.

Al stood up and walked to the middle of the boxcar, sat down, drew his knees up to his chin, wrapped his arms around his shins and said nothing.  Jeremy got up and sat down across from Al and they faced each other as Jeremy assumed the same position.

"We have to have a serious talk, Jeremy," Al said.

"You sound like my dad, now," said Jeremy.

"You should listen to your parents, Jeremy.  They love you, no matter what happens.  You are their flesh and blood.  They will always love you."  Al blinked.  "However, you have your own life and your own thoughts, opinions and choices to make. Don't make the mistake of letting other people make you think like they think.  When you listen to some rock singer sing about devil worship and suicide, you are listening to their thoughts and opinions.  Don't let yourself be influenced by them."  Al smiled, then continued.

"There are good souls and bad souls. People who preach death and destruction have souls that have gone bad, partly because they don't want to deal with the way things are and have given up.  They think going to some 'other dimension' is cool."  Al shook his head.  Jeremy sat quietly, mesmerized.

"If you listen to what they sing about and do what they say, you will do the same thing the rats did that followed the Pied Piper."  Al put his hands around his neck and feigned choking, sticking his tongue out.  "You will die."  They both laughed.  Then Jeremy frowned.

"But there is so much pain in this world.  Sometimes I feel like nobody cares about me," Jeremy said.

"Yes, it seems that way, sometimes, Jeremy.  Remember, I am your counterpart.  I feel your sadness, your loneliness.  Al put his arms behind him and his palms flat on the floor, leaned back and spread his legs wide so they were on both sides of Jeremy.  "There is joy in this world, Jeremy.  Al cast a quick glance at the open door.  "And there is plenty of joy out there--enough for both of us.  I can't tell what is in store for you.  It's forbidden. But I promise you it's there for you.  There are thousands of people you will meet in your life, but not all at once, thank goodness."  Again, they both laughed.  "Well, not unless you become a rock star."  Al smiled.  "Some of them will love you, some of them will hate you.  You'll have good times, and you'll have bad times.  You have a lot of living to do."  Al leaned toward Jeremy, made a fist and pushed it gently against Jeremy's chin in a mock punch.  Jeremy smiled.  "As for me, Jeremy, I love you, man."

Jeremy sat quietly looking at the wooden floor and thought.  "My parents are probably worried sick about me--I mean us."  He looked up at Al.

"Especially after reading that suicide note you left for them," Al said.  "You know, they are terrified that you are already dead."  Jeremy began to cry, and covered his face with his hands.  Al reached out and put a hand on Jeremy's shoulder.  "You--I mean we gotta go home, ole physical pal of mine," Al said.  "After a while, I promise, life will begin to turn around for you.  But you have to keep a positive outlook on things."

Jeremy wiped the tears from his face, leaving streaks of dirt on his cheeks.  "What about you?  Where will you be?"

"Oh, I'll be the little voice you will hear in your head.  Now, aren't you glad we had this little talk?" Al asked Jeremy.

"So, in other words, I am right now just speaking to myself"? Jeremy asked.

"Bingo!"  Jeremy laughed.

"You know, they lock people up for that, Al."

"HA!  They are crazy.  You are not," said Al.  "Someday your body will stop functioning, and you and I will be together forever, dude.  But that won't be for a long time."  Jeremy again stared at the floor.  Al stood up and walked to the dark side of the boxcar.  Jeremy felt very tired and stretched out on the floor and fell asleep.

"Hey, kid!  What are you doing in there?  Get up, son, and get out here!"  a voice yelled at Jeremy.  Jeremy woke up to a bright light in his eyes, which he quickly assumed was a flashlight.  It was dark outside and the train had stopped.  Jeremy sat up and said, "I want to go home, sir."  Jeremy stood up, walked to the door and jumped out onto the ground.

"Come on, kid," the man said as he put his arm around Jeremy's shoulders.  "I'll take you to a phone.  I bet your parents are worried sick about you."

Jeremy looked back into the boxcar, but only saw darkness.  In his head he heard a voice.  "I love you, man."


Submitted: August 19, 2013

© Copyright 2022 ThomasC. All rights reserved.

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