I let my tired head hang low as I closed my eyes to find relief from my swallowing
thoughts. I slowly removed my hands from my warm coat pocket and felt on the weathered woodened bus bench I was lounging on.
Every age ring my fingers ran across told me a story of what this once whole tree experienced.
A rumble in the distant thick grey sky woke me from my slumber of consuming thoughts and I returned
my hands to the comfort of my old coat pockets. The thunder rained down on the empty street and ricochet off of every dark
window and shadowed corner. The faded red bus stop sign above me groaned every time a gentle breeze brushed passed it to whisper
in my ear. Another rumble gave me enough strength to break my stare of the old
tainted bench to raise my head and look around for any sign of life.
The city street was as desolate as the harsh desert and as inviting as a broken door bell. Straight
across from me was an old garage left to expire by the wayside. Its white paint chipped walls seemed to hold me at a stalemate
by the way it blackmailed me. Don’t you leave or I’ll tell your secret
to the whole world, it beckons out to me. Oh, if only walls could talk. I looked to the right and was only confronted
by more buildings ugly from rejection. To the left dry copper leaves were dancing on the lonely and pitiful road that had
once been busy streaming with life.
As I let out a sigh, the frosty November air captured my breath and mutated it into ghostly visible
vapor. This was the first notice of existence I had observed since I was last seen by them.
I somnolently looked at my wrist watch…
I have no idea when the bus will get here. Maybe never, but it’s the only hope I know. I cling to the thought of knowing
that there are places other than here like a fever to a boy in short sleeves on a chilly day.
If there had been any one watching me they would’ve
compared me to a bird with broken wings. Not that the fact I had broken arms, but I was deprived of the courage and inspiration
totake flight. My composure resembled that of a scarecrow neglected and forgotten
about in the wintry wrath. Just recently I realized I had a heart disease. Not the kind of disease that let’s you know
you need a new one, but the kind that let’s you know you have none to begin with. I can wear a phony smile just like
the rest of them, like a bandage on a wounded place.
Thunder once again caught my attention to the mysterious sky. Like a missing puzzle piece I searched
and searched for answers in the choking smoke screen that hung above me. The towering clouds were swiftly running across the
horizontal path which they were cursed to and seemed not to even notice me… just
like everybody else. They all would only cut me down to size. Is there any hope for a tree cut down?
The only way I know how to survive the pain that’s bleeding through is to run away from it.
Escaping what has neglected, ignored, and overlooked me can be the only solution to this horrible equation. The last thing
I heard my parents and so-called-friends say was, “You’ll never make it alone.” Well, I won’t make it if I stay there. All I am is misunderstood and all my words are misconstrued. They never even
took the time to understand me. Independence is one thing I actually have left and I won’t
let that go. I don’t need them… and they obviously don’t need me.
I shifted the weight of my backpack which was, by now, getting heavy. I took it off and placed
it on the shadowed ground beside my feet. It’s the only home I know now.
As I start to grow impatient to get out of my dismal surroundings like a fish out of water, I reached
in my blue jean pant pocket and bring out my money in a clinched fist. I waited for the lying whispers of the wind to die
and then opened my hand to count my rations. 3…..7…. $10.37. I wonder how far that will get me. It has to be at
least to the next town or maybe even to…
Just then a warm body caught my attention and dissolved my thoughts into the back of my mind like
pouring sugar into a cup of tea. He slowly was making his way across the street towards me. As I gathered my curiosity like
little chicks I studied the poor soul. His meager excuse of a shell was dull and placid. The humble expression in his eyes,
though, told me of a story of treasure in a dull shell.
The turtle looked so free, so independent. Did he decide to cross because of bold or curiosity?
With his house on his back, he could travel the world, one step at a time. Like an unseen brush dripping with yellow paint,
the turtle found itself reaching the two perfect lines in the middle of the road. I caught myself deeply inspired by the figure
which so closely represented me. I had just then decided to keep the turtle as friend, a confidant. Patiently awaiting the
arrival of my new and only friend, I smiled for the first time in a long time. My face didn’t
crack like a statue and I could actually feel my heartbeat silently reviving as
I realized I’m not alone anymore. For once I noticed someone noticing me
and reaching to be my friend. Should I go and carry him across the road to safety?
No. It’s his decision. It’s his
Then I noticed, what seemed like a light beam from heaven, shining on my most prized new possession.
This magic moment gently slowed down into a sad underpaid movie as I heard another rumble in the distance. This rumble seemed
to hit a nerve in my revitalizing body that made my muscles tense as I realized it wasn’t thunder. To my horror, the
ray of light grew more violent on my friend and the rumbling vibrated the very bench I sat on. The bus I had waited for so
long had finally arrived! Time slowed down so fast I couldn’t catch my breath. As I jumped up from my stone cold complacency
I realized that the bus wasn’t going to miss my infatuation. I winced as the black savage tire of a monster stepped
on my comrade and watched helplessly as his home and life was shattered into a million pieces.
The bus door stopped in front of me and opened.
“Where ya headed?” an old skinny man with a raspy voice asked as he removed his glasses
and shined them with his shirt sleeve.
“I changed my mind, just go on.” I replied in a hurriedly manner, motioning him to
go on as I fought the tears. He shrugged at me as he replaced his glasses to where they had been positioned for the last,
what seemed, 40 years and drove off with a trail of black smoke from the exhaust pipe.
As my eyes came across the scene of my former companion, a dark cloud all my own seemed to loom
above me and rained down the tears I now welcomed. I ran to the scene and fell to my knees as I cradled a piece of its shell.
“Why?!” I screamed with such desperation and agony. Like a boomerang thrown wrong,
not even an echo called back to me. A tidal wave of loneliness hit me so hard I could barely breathe. I lifted my head up
gasping for air as if I was drowning. As I opened my eyes I could hear the clouds sing a song of fear and loss. If only I
had stopped it from leaving I could have saved it from making such a grave mistake,I thought painfully.
I looked around at the mournful street and searched for something to put the loved one in. The
only thing I could see was a newspaper raggedly blown against an old pay phone across the street. I made it to my feet sluggishly
and reached for the windswept newspaper. Grabbing the smooth paper, my eyes stumbled over the headline which read Runaway Made Hearts Runaway. I moved my thumb and saw a picture of…me!
My eyes slid down the mud slide of a page and ate every word.
When the reporter asked
the parents and friends of teen Alice Smith, “If you could talk to Alice right now, what would you say?” without
hesitation they all agreed upon, “We would say that we love her, we miss her, and to please come home.”
New tears of remorse, regret, and revitalization filled my eyes, heart, and mind. They really do
care about me. How could I have been so blind, so reckless, and so unappreciative?
As I turned around I remembered the turtle. It was then it dawned on me like the sweet smell of
wild flowers on a midsummer’s day. They felt the same about me making my mistake as I did about the turtle. I had expectations
for them that weren’t theirs to fulfill. This friend of mine died so that I might learn to be compassionate and understanding.
Every fragment of his shell has taught me a lesson and brought me closer to the person I will become.
I let the newspaper fall out of my hand like the sand of time
and I excitedly dug in my pocket for change. Shaking, I missed the change slot two or three times before correctly inserting
the coins into the pay phone. I quickly dialed my home phone number and could already feel the warm embracing hug that would
be followed by the cradling love I had once forgotten and ignored.