Posts Tagged creative writing
The time in someone’s life when they first step out into the big wide world can be an intimidating one. For some they know exactly what career path they are going to follow and for others it is a time to find any job to pay the bills while they look for something more suitable.
I have been fortunate enough to take a year out after school and before I go to university, and I believe this has taught me some valuable lessons. Before I started my gap year I thought the most important and influential period would be when I travelled abroad. While this did teach me a lot about living by myself and taking care of all the bills it did not teach me the value honest hard work, which is an important characteristic when it comes to university and a career. Instead I learnt this over the course of earning money to go abroad when I worked in a dog food factory for a little more than minimum wage. It is when you work at the bottom, that you can see the true importance of putting in the hours for a good degree. It is a true motivation to avoid this style of living, but it is also necessary to show you what others have to work for.
Your career is a huge proportion of your life, it is what your education is aimed at and it is there for your enjoyment, I feel with this learning curve in my gap year I have gained a foresight, one that I would not be able to have if ‘mummy and daddy’ just gave the money or handed me down a comfy job. As it is worth knowing that the things in life that you want are the effort in getting.
…1…2…3…4, the voice of the predator trailed off into the distance. The pitter-patter of footsteps dispersed and ran for a hiding place trying to vanish into the shadows and holes that the building had to offer.
Bruno rushed through the hallways, his soft brown curls bouncing around him. He turned briefly to look behind and make sure no one followed his tracks; he already knew where he was going to hide. Past the play room, down the old wooden steps, out the blue door, through the crumbling stone arch, a swift left turn and the doors to the chapel stood right there in front of him. However, he was not safe yet. He pushed on the heavy oak door and squeezed through the gap he created nimbly jumping out of the doors way as it swung back to a closed position.
Instead of walking straight out he turned purposefully to his left and started to climb the stone structure that stood before him. Right round the back and quite high up there was a small perch that seemed almost too perfect for any other purpose than ‘hide and seek’. He started to clamber up and placed his hands on the wood, beginning to pull himself onto his mighty throne. He struggled at first, but the knowledge that he was so close to assured victory helped him up those few extra inches before. He stood up and looked around and knew there and then it was impenetrable.
As soon as he had done this, the main door to the chapel creaked open and the single sound of scuffed footsteps echoed throughout. It was definitely not the sound of a search party.
Bruno immediately doubted his invulnerability and curled up into a little ball as tight as he could go to try and make himself even less visible. After what seemed like a small eternity of silence Bruno risked loosening his grip on his legs and ventured a peek over the top of his perch to see who or what was there.
There was a man sitting in a pew, several rows back. He had dark greasy grey-brown hair which was swept backwards. He wore a suit jacket which had various marks and debris from the day’s toil. His scruffy figure leant forward and his fingers were interlocked before him. The man was silent and Bruno was almost certain that the man new he was being ‘observed’, the man started to speak startling Bruno, making him resume his previous scrunched up position, out of sight and out of harm.
“Lord, I need your help. I need your guidance in these times of great need. I can not keep suppressing my overpowering feelings of guilt. However if I don’t… I am in fear what would happen if I don’t.”
Bruno did not risk a look this time but instead let his thoughts wonder to who this man was and who he was talking to as there was no other person in the chapel. The dust fell around Bruno, still disturbed from the great climb. He smiled before the man started again, his depressing monotone filling the surrounding air.
“There are too many bad people in this world. I never thought I would be one of them but I guess that’s how we all started out. I mean no one wants to be the villain… I didn’t mean to do it but it just ended up my fault. I wasn’t drunk or on drugs. Just clean, just me. If only I had bothered to tie my shoe laces before I got in the car or had another cup of coffee before I went, then he wouldn’t have been there, he would have been several minutes gone and it never would have happened. If only… if only.” There was a long pause, and the man stayed solemnly still.
Bruno however, was much more confused than before by this man’s comments and nearly toppled off his perch, lost in all the puzzling questions that were arising. ‘Why was he talking about driving? And what were these drugs thingies? Who was this man who could have been long gone?’ None of it made any sense. It was all just gogoldygoop.
However the man continued regardless of his unknown critic.
“I sit here in front of you, asking for your forgiveness. Everyone else has tried to comfort me but I have not been convinced, their words seem so transparent and do not lift me from my woe, my guilt. It’s all the ‘wrong time wrong place’ philosophy that I keep telling myself. It may have been called an accident but I was the one behind the wheel. I try to make myself believe I’m fine, but since then, since that moment I have not been able to look in the mirror no matter how hard I try.”
He took a deep breath in deep thought and put his hands into his pockets. He appeared to find something that he had not seen before and stared at what was in his hand. The man started shaking, he was crying and Bruno felt pity upon him, he wanted to comfort the man but knew it was imperative that he stayed where he was.
Outside the clouds were clearing and rays of sunshine filtered through the windows. A solid beam of light fell directly before the altar. Almost as soon as the light had fallen through the window the man looked up between sobs and saw this ray of sunshine. In what seemed like more of a moment of coincidence and desperation than he stood up and hobbled towards it, his distraught nature shown through each pained step.
He loomed above the altar and looked down upon it in a hopeless manner and stayed there for several moments. He stopped crying and straightened up before turning, instead of sorrow on his face he carried a gentle smile with old tears still running down his cheeks. He tidied up his jacket and prepared to walk out. After a few seconds he strolled down the aisle with a strange confidence. Just before he reached the door he paused and whispered ‘thank you’ and turned and left, leaving Bruno alone in the chapel.
He waited a few minutes until the coast was completely clear before slipping down from his fortress, mixed thoughts running through his head. He ran up to the altar where the man had stood and saw an opened copy of the Bible lying there. The light fell in such a way that only one short sentence could be read:
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you.”
Bruno smiled, turned and skipped innocently out of the chapel wondering whether it was his turn to search.
Heaving myself over the wall, I caught my jeans on a stone that was jutting out; cutting the denim. Safety had come at a small price. The position I had acquired looked over the last junction in the neighbourhood which had not been vandalised. The streetlights illuminated every sign, so there was no place to hide. Every other junction’s signs were missing letters to spell inappropriate words and the culprit needed to be caught. ‘Frome’ had been turned to ‘Rome’, ‘Shepton Mallet’ to ‘She Male’ and most crudely of all, the c and s had been removed from Canal Street.
I took the last red bull out of my bag and slurped from the can as I peered through binoculars which had previously hung around my neck. The reason why I was here is because I had been the target of the blame. The town had chosen their scapegoat in the form of a fourteen year old boy and were not going to change their mind. Not at least without any convincing evidence. To which I felt particularly bitter as I had been given a guilty sentence without any trial or evidence. I was guilty before being proven innocent.
Their reasoning was that I had the heavy influences of Bart Simpson and Dennis the Menace, and I had chosen to create a prank of my own; defiling the signs and the dignity of the town. I would take credit for anything that I had done, but I had not committed this particular crime.
The blame had come in the shape of one particular old man; Mr Binks. He had stated that he had seen me and claimed that I had even threatened him when he told me to stop. I had stayed quiet when even my parents asked me to take responsibility for my actions and to stop bothering ‘that poor old man’. I gritted my teeth as I remembered; a slight adrenaline surge pumped through my veins and returned me from my memories. It was my third night in a row here, watching. I had the idea of a stakeout after watching some old police movies and I thought it would be the perfect way to clear my name.
Although my eyes stung and I felt drowsy I kept my concentration up by watching for any movement, the occasional passing car breaking my daydreams. I mused on the idea that I was some sort of vigilante, taking the law into my own hands, taking after Clint Eastwood and John Wayne, although I soon settled that I was closer to Bill Oddie or David Attenborough waiting in the bushes.
Movement on the other side of the junction had stirred me. A hunched over figure with a large brown coat and a hat pulled down over his face ambled down the pavement. However, he wondered off and into the darkness leaving no trace of his ever being there apart from the slight excitement in the pit of my stomach.
The sun was about to rise on yet another unsuccessful night. Disappointment hung in the air and I wondered how much longer I could lie in wait, how many more nights would it be as it was not even clear if they would strike again. These thoughts were dismissed with a wry smile as I clutched at the binoculars to see old man Binks hobbling along the pavement with a walking stick in hand. To take away his support just as he had done to my credibility, however tempting, would be too easy. It would also lead to my final condemning and my name would be forever doomed.
I was just about to reveal my hiding place when he turned and looked ever so shiftily around him, just before the sign. He had lifted his walking stick to the sign and was using whatever device was on the end to scrape the letters off, all the time giggling at his work. I could not believe it, although he was the person I least expected. I pulled my camera out from my bag and started to take some undeniable evidence.
Caffeinated anger coursed through my veins, whilst my body tempted me into action, but I willed myself to wait. I had to change my plan. Rather than taking the pictures to the police in the morning, I would confront the old man at home. I may as well get a little of my own justice out of the old man.
I kept my eyes on him and waited for him to leave not paying any attention to his vandalism. He was soon returning home, and I slid the camera into my bag, being careful to turn it off so there was no danger of it accidentally deleting in my bag.
I trailed the criminal home careful to stay out of his view. There was little chance of stopping me now, and as I watched him enter his house he seemed to have a skip in his step. He could enjoy this as much as he wanted as he would soon get his comeuppance. After composing myself I waited ten minutes and walked up to his front door. I knocked, and waited. I knocked again louder and he finally opened the door, looking very grumpy and in a dressing gown.
“Do you know what time it is?” He blurted out the door.
“Yes, yes I do. It’s a lovely time of day for a stroll wouldn’t you say, although it does tend to get a bit chilly if you don’t wear the right clothes. You wouldn’t be so kind as to let me in?” I tried to hint that I had little purpose about what I was saying. I saw a grimace and a snare contort on his face as he saw the complete arrogance and annoyance in me, which could only be distinguished after seeing his actions and mood less than half an hour before.
“No. Bugger off.” He went to close the door, but I put my foot in the way, similar to that in an 80’s cop show.
“I asked nicely because I believe that you need to let me in, you see, I saw you. Tonight. In a place where you shouldn’t have been, doing an act which you shouldn’t have been doing.” I saw his face change in a split second, the creases falling and then scrunching up to cover the lapse in his mask. He stuttered in his reply.
“I-I don’t know what you’re talking about. Get out. You have no right and no proof.”
I quickly replied, pleased that the situation had played out just as I had planned.
“You made a mistake coming out tonight didn’t you? I got the right when you wrongly accused me, and chose to dump the blame upon me. I have the proof in my bag. In the form of pictures, but I don’t suppose you know about this new technology do you old man?” The last quip added sting to its tail, that part wasn’t rehearsed but it seemed appropriate. I was expecting him to let me in and deny everything, with bitter retorts flying my way, what came instead was, somehow unexpected, and different.
He stepped back into the darkness and let his head hang, shame appearing to permeate him.
“I am sorry. I did not mean to siphon the blame on to you. It’s just; I have not been able to escape this place for anything other than the garden deck chair. My carer, she just…” He stopped. “I am sorry. I shouldn’t unload my problems; we do not know each other, apart from through accusations, false accusations. Please just forgive me. I thought a prank would liven this place up a bit; confuse those boring sods in the neighbourhood watch.”
I loomed in the doorway, unsure what to think, this bit never happened in any of the movies and I just had not imagined that I ever would confront the person, a pang of guilt slithered over me. I felt like a boy in front of a sorry old man and that was exactly what it was. It was not hard to put myself in his position and I had a glimpse into the loneliness and helplessness of his life as he drifted back. Old family photos of lost loved ones hung down the hall; in his home he was left to swim among his memories.
“It is so easy to be forgotten and yet so hard to be remembered, I am glad you caught me, but sad that I could not carry on my late night adventures. When you reach my age you will realise that there is little to look forward to and too much to look back on. I decided to change that view and remember with laughter the nights I defiled those signs. Who cares if people discover they are turning towards Bat, or Wit? I’m sure it puts more of a smile on their face to find they are travelling towards Frome rather than the capitol city of Italy. If I were you I would clear my name. But just remember me when you do it.”
His face had become enthused as I had never seen it before. His speech had gone from rasped to almost clear. It had been a mistake to confront him, but I would have never learnt his motives. I remember leaving his garden gate with muddled thoughts and a newly empty camera. On my way back home I started to rehearse a new speech, one part that was familiar and one that was not. It was an accumulation of apologies, one in case I got caught sneaking back, the other for the crime that I did not commit.