Tyler Rose

Canada

||an engineering student who'd rather write pure nonsense than solve equations||

||just a kid with crappy knees||

||i do what i want when i want. as long as my mom's okay with it||

||if I ever meet Stephen King, I just might implode. ||

Message to Readers

I'm eating some clam chowder right now woot woot

elliot grace

May 8, 2019

FREE WRITING

4
I reworked a rusty short story that I'd published on here a while ago   

                                                                                           ***


                                                                                             ZERO.
 
   I don't like to write about my past, because it’s tacky and tragic and better suited for some 90’s drama. But three years ago, in the parking lot of a French cafe, an eighteen year-old boy wrapped his pinky finger around mine and made me swear on my life that I’d never let him die. As it turns out, writing seems to be the only way to keep people alive forever. So, I’ve decided to let myself be tacky and tragic and grant the boy his wish.
This is the story of Elliot Grace. Of Elliot Grace and me.

                                                                                            ONE.
    SOME PEOPLE are just destined for a sad ending: nothing they can do about it really. They’re a victim of insufficient love, bottled up anger, or a handful of bad luck. Elliot Grace was all these things when I met him; I just wasn’t able to piece it together at the time. To be fair, I was only ten years old, and he had just punched me square in the jaw. A hell of a way to meet someone, but that’s exactly how it happened.

    I was hogging the tire swing back when recess was still a delicacy, and he had reasoned that socking me in the face would resolve the problem. This sparked the first fist fight our grade school had ever seen. It was a short-lived event, no blood or missing teeth or broken bones; just two reckless fourth-graders ending up in detention for the rest of the week. At this point, I had no intention of becoming his friend, but he made sure it happened anyway when he sat across from me the next day and tossed me half a peanut butter sandwich as a peace offering. At ten years old, it was hard to keep a grudge.
He said his name was Elliot Grace and I said I didn’t particularly care. That made him smile.

    “You talk funny,” he teased.

    I scoffed at that, the way adults sometimes do when they're trying to pull that condescending act on a little kid. That only made him laugh. I gasped a little bit, because the sound was light and bubbly and I hadn't expected it at all. You'll never know how much I wanted to smile at him and kill him at that very same time. Even then, he’d already mastered the art of pissing me off.

    Anyway, call it destiny, or fate, or sheer dumb luck, but Elliot Grace soon became the closest thing I had to a brother.

                                                                                        TWO.
    FOR HIS thirteenth birthday, we wore matching jerseys to a Yankees game he’d been dying to see. The tickets had cost me all of four months allowance and eight lawns worth of mowing, but I reasoned that he was worth it.   
When we got there, we were transfixed. The stadium was an empire compared to the small chunk of New York we slummed in. It was exactly what I had imagined heaven to be like; a thousand cheering fans meshed with the heavy scent of nachos and chili dogs. We found our seats near the top, and by the time the first pitch was thrown, that boy had forgotten all about my existence. It didn't bother me too much though, because I had a copy of The Shining and three hours worth of reading time.

    The day ended with Elliot getting Mariano Rivera’s autograph and us missing two buses back into town. It was slightly past midnight when we finally got to our neighbourhood. What alarmed me most, however, was the clutter of cussing and yelling that filled the air by the time we reached Elliot’s brownstone apartment. He sighed before plucking a pack of Marlboros from his back pocket and lighting one. I stared, wide-eyed and dumbfounded. He simply shrugged.

    “I didn’t know you smoked,” I said after a while. He looked at me, as if debating whether or not to let me in on some secret. Finally, he smiled that pretty smile of his and blew smoke at me through his nose.

    “Only when my dad’s on a bender.”

    We said goodnight and he didn’t talk to me for the rest of the weekend. It was only on Monday morning, when he showed up to class with a nasty cut on his lip and a bruised cheek that I saw him again.

    I didn’t ask.

    He didn’t tell.

                                                                                       THREE.
    ELLIOT GRACE was a kid with apathy running through his veins, so it came as a bit of a shock to me when I saw him cry for the first time. I know that shedding tears makes us human and all, but it just didn’t look right on Elliot.  
It happened sometime in March, when the cold was just starting to subside and the nights were still long. He had somehow managed to climb the fire escape that led to my bedroom window and slipped himself inside my room.

    “What are you doing here?” I whispered, squinting to see him in the dark behind his too-long hair. He climbed up on my bed and stretched out beside me. I was pretty sure he wasn't supposed to be here so late, and it made me feel giddy and dangerous and excited all over.  

    “We’re having a sleepover,” he declared. I smiled. He was always good at making me smile.

    “What’s wrong with your own house?” It was meant to be a joke, but I suppose it wasn’t so funny to him because he closed his eyes and seemed to just shut down right in front of me. The silence enveloped us for a long time, and I thought he had fallen asleep until I saw it slip down his cheek.  

    A tear.  
    
    I didn’t ask him about it. I didn't ask him about a lot of things.
    
    It was stupid too because I could see the fresh bruises painted down his neck and arms, but I still didn’t ask. Instead, I threw an arm around his chest and curled myself into his body.

    When I woke up the next morning, he was gone.

                                                                                        FOUR.
    THE YEAR we turned eighteen, we decided to run away. Well, Elliot did anyway; I just followed to make sure he didn’t get himself killed. We were five days into the summer of 1989 and I caught him outside his apartment packing a duffel bag into his old jalopy. I spent fifteen minutes trying to convince him not to go. It only took him forty-five seconds to talk me into it.    

    I knew my parents would have a fit but that didn’t matter. We were living at the most dangerous part of life, tucked neatly between young and dumb and slightly insane. So, it makes sense that it took us eight hours of driving to realize that the world was a very expensive place and that we were two very broke teenagers. Our trip ended in the parking lot of that French cafe I mentioned earlier. Elliot let the motor run and smoked a cigarette to pass the time. We just sat for a while and looked up at the stars. It was then that he took my pinkie finger in his and made me make that promise.
After this, he dropped me in front of my house, planted a kiss on my forehead and drove away.     

                                                                                        FIVE.
    CAR CRASHES are rarely accidental. I mean to a certain extent, they are, but at a subconscious level, everything is planned. They are built upon a series of poor choices, a numb mind, and a bit of bad luck. Elliot Grace was all of these things when he left me.

    They claimed his crash was an accident, that the low visibility and his lack of sleep had made him hit that telephone pole. I think it was deeper than that. Elliot Grace lived inside a pressure cooker. He took all the crap that came his way and in return, life gave him a few vents through which he could blow off some steam. He had the Yankees and his cigarettes and me. But maybe the pressure started to build and he couldn’t take it anymore. Maybe he was sick and tired of living a life that wasn’t going anywhere. Maybe he had a plan that took eighteen years to execute.

    After all, some people are simply destined for a sad ending.

    Or maybe, I’m just a cynic.  

                                                                                                SIX.
    I SMOKED my first cigarette sometime after Elliot left, because he’d once told me that that was what it felt like to burn from the inside out. I had never fully understood his fascination with this sort of pain. The kind that starts from your very core and works its way outwards; to the heart, to the soul, to the mind.

    Now it’s all I can think about.

    I suppose the story must end here. But if you’ve made it this far, then I have kept my promise, and the boy known as Elliot Grace will never die.

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