This weekend I decided to experiment with writing a short story rooted in some friends and hometown nostalgia. I’m hoping to possibly draw some illustrations from the storyline and maybe take it a bit farther. Or maybe just leave it as it is and move on. Below is a excerpt.
A city founded primarily on coal, a useless fossil fuel that ironically de-energizes the appreciation for such a place, something a community once thrived off of now seems to just leave behind hopes encased around sinkholes. It’s more of a town now where nobody moves to, nobody wants to, there’s really no reason to. A random spot on the map that had the same chances of catches someone’s eye as winning big on a penny machine slot. It’s a population of few and a location where the idea of new was just an old concept that the elders had abandoned to keep as much distance and lack of communication between themselves and the youth. Although far from laborious slaves, the people who make a living here are blue collar workers whose eyes show a craving and spark of light for the possibility that their monotonous work will one day lead to a happier life. But it makes no sense because although the thirst is there, it seems to never be quenched by the people of the suburbs.
Teddy hated mostly everything about it. The run down shops that still swore they could make a living by keeping the door open and the store light on which only illuminated the dust laying tiredly behind the glass on the floor. The cracked sidewalks, overly patient traffic lights, chain restaurants, terrible radio stations, and especially the act it always seemed to pull off convincingly enough to make it seem not so bad. Yeah he thought, you know what, that would be true maybe if you just closed your eyes and refused to make eye contact. But he had friends here and now he finds himself thinking about them a lot. There was Dylan, the class clown of the school and pretty much the whole town. Always wearing the same four t-shirts but nobody noticed because his humor hid the fact that he was a kid from the outskirts whom most people normally wouldn’t associate with. He was a good person who would give anybody his last dollar or since he never had money, steal whatever was needed from the local walmart or target. And Pete, who was arguably permanently stoned and had more attempted suicides than college credits. But it’s cool because he found it funny and joked about never being able to do anything right, despite his 4.0 GPA and Ivy league acceptances. Teddy thought about Abby and the windowless summers where her curls would tickle his neck whenever they were sitting next to each other in the backseat of the Camry. She always had a thing for Teddy but he only found her attractive when she put on her strawberry Chapstick as if carefully painting her lips. The twins were only a one summer thing but they were rich and always supplied without ever having to awkwardly ask. When he thinks about it he feels kinda bad, because even after one of them pretty much saved his life that night down by the gorge on the slippery rocks he still couldn’t tell them apart. Unless they were wearing sneakers, because the one that dragged him back to safety always wore converse with no socks. And then there was Genevieve who was independent but seriously messed up, more so than Pete, she was just good at hiding it. She was good at hiding a lot of things. Last fall she went to three therapists and got prescribed the best meds in triple doses cause she kept each one of them a secret from her doctor and he never found out. So Genevieve’s house was pretty much a pharmacy besides for the fact that it was completely falling apart because her parents just picked up and left when she was a senior and hasn’t seen them since. He remembers when he was totally unselfishly in love with her, standing outside the 24 hour diner talking about her mother at 3:00 am he wanted nothing more than to hold her, jealous of the hot beaded rain that fell and rolled off her skin. But he was bad at relationships and showing feelings so instead he would just subliminally include her in all of his art.
The summers they hung out were often too fleeting , and in the back of his mind he knew that the things they were doing were just apart of their adolescence. Staring at the scar on his hand he got from the fence in the park he tries to pull together the moment he realized that the feeling of youth doesn’t last forever. Sometimes he thinks it was hearing his hometown band play at his favorite venue while they all threw each other around because the music was loud and the crowd was drunk. But then he remembers the time he was walking home stoned with everyone after a long day of feeling alone and how fireworks were lit out of nowhere so Dylan took them to a nearby rooftop where they watched them splatter the sky. Or maybe it was more serious like when Pete had the courage and came out as gay and nobody had anything to say about it except that it would all be okay and they loved him the same. It could have been when they all got in trouble and realized that they never wanted to make the same mistake twice. But he swears it was the time when they visited Berklee for a party and everyone was upstairs unaware of how they would get home that night because nobody was good enough to drive. He was standing outside for a smoke and through the window he saw Genevieve dancing alone in the basement. Before this moment he assumed that he was just aimlessly alive but she was just what he was looking for and he had enough gas to drive straight to Maine without ever stopping. It’s different now though and if it wasn’t for the cigarette pack he finds in his room every so often that he saved from that night he probably would have forgotten about it by now.
Sometimes at night when the air is hot and windless Teddy goes to the cell phone towers they would all climb right off Main Ave not too far from West Side. Like a big metal jungle gym, the towers stand vulnerable on a dirt hill waiting for kids with wide eyes and wild knees to take on the obstacle. He never thought cold metal could be so beautiful but with the moon forcing it to shine every time he finds himself here he never wants to leave. Maybe it’s because this was the last place they all sat, 60 feet above the ground without making a single sound except for the thudding and tapping of their fingers and feet. He concludes that, this had to be it. It was 60 feet above the ground, just knuckling their chins and dreaming when Teddy realized that their pointless rebellions were just an excuse to halt adulthood from ever beginning.
Sitting above the ground he realizes how beautiful his town really is. Too young he used to say to himself, he was too young up here in the open air to crash and burn like a mindless moth but here he was drawn to the light. Lit up with tiny dots scattered before him, as if each one knew exactly what he was thinking as if representing his every thoughts. He never felt so secure and sheltered as he did right now suspended in the dark.
Teddy used to believe coal was useless, that it took more energy to collect and gather it rather than it could provide. Sticking like glue, the rock only clouded his ambitious dreams with a black, ashy, soot of a residue. But climbing down from the tower he recalls his fourth grade history class where his teacher emphasized the importance of the local mineral that can be found broken and laying pretty much anywhere. The stone he remembers her saying, lights the entire country and even some parts of this town.
Reaching the ground now, cold but walking fast for warmth he notices that the towers are finally starting to show signs of corrosion and rust but for the first time he understands that not everything deteriorates quicker than he can love it. Besides for that night in front of the diner, he still blames the humidity in the air for ruining his chances of a close affair. But he knows where he can find her, in the understructure of a building while the others are above wishing their years were longer she’s dancing alone constructing a world of her own in the basement of somebody’s else’s party.