17-year-old student, trying to learn how to write.
Looking for opinions on style, mostly. In terms of continuity and balance.
Written By: Jake T.
February 16, 2015
November, Two Thousand and Fourteen. The weather was just beginning to turn to a familiar briskness, characteristic of late New England autumns, and summer had begun to move onwards to the south. Yet there was something different about this year. This time, the cold gave no warning. It lay in ambush and, entrapped as we were by the banality of routine, struck in a flash of frost. A radiant sun brushed our faces for but a moment more, and by the time the moon again spun away on its eternal venture, only a sky full of gloom remained. Our city, so full of life just hours ago, sat silently on its concrete legs. Only its muffled tears—drifting softly down to earth, drop upon drop and flake upon flake, piling still higher as the time ticked by—broken the absolute stillness. The city grieved, for Winter had come, knocking.
The Twenty-Seventh of November. I took my strides deliberately, one foot in front of the other and then back again, persisting, persevering, sustaining my thoughts through the labor of my legs. As I stepped, the carpet cried out in mute horror at the slush and grime covering my shoes, but I didn't care. I kept walking, across the lobby, into the elevator, up, up up… into the waiting room and past the receptionist who unlocked the patients’ corridor just for me. Three doors down on the left, to the one you always used to lock, I came, knocking.
Friday. The ward smelled cleaner than it should, as if someone had just sprayed the whole place with disinfectant, yet some other odor lay beneath the calm. That fear which accompanies uncertainty suddenly burst out in a shuddering breath from between your lips, recoiling from the IV line sustaining your unconsciousness with liquid life, wavering in time with the steady oscillations of the heart monitor... from every corner of the room it battered at my senses and I could not help but pity you.
You had gotten older. Trapped in the prison of your mind, it was hard to tell what had real value. You lost your drive. Maybe your brain tried to abort before more pain came in; you didn’t let it. Instead you managed to tranquilize yourself; you pleaded with deception after deception until something inside you reached a better place. You begged with a passion so intense that you convinced yourself everything was alright. But through it all, you could not escape the inner demon. Your youthful energy wore away like clay in the face of heightening tides, and the joyous pretense which you wore as a mask crumbled under its own weight… and nothing could stop the pain.
Late Morning. The electronics by your bedside began at a murmer, growing in volume again and again, until, coalescing into a descant, they drew me back into our past.
You were wrong, you know. You used to think that everything had to be broken or else the corruption would spread from you like a virus, contaminating everything you touched, everything about which you used to care. But you had forgotten about humanity.
And even as a shaft of midday sun pierced the gap between curtains to illuminate a lock of still-hazel hair, so too could the warmth of compassion reveal hope even in the worst of circumstances. Yet as I looked down at your prone figure, Time began to play tricks on my sight; I saw not a fifteen-year-old boy sleeping off another dose of sedatives, but a wandering soul which had borne more turmoil than it deserved in so short a time. You were at once ancient and broken, and no one else seemed to understand the why. They knew only that Death came, knocking.
Some had said you went insane. Others, that your heart had been broken. But these were no better than lies. They hid the reality of things, for you had had no mind left to lose, no heart remaining to be rent. The pain was you, and you were it, and you could not live with it. The facade of innocence behind which you had sheltered for years at last fell away and you gave up. And now you were here, knocked out in a hospital bed so you couldn't try to hurt yourself again. You were no longer a child, no longer a child…
Your eyelids flickered and then burst open and the boy returned. Your gaze wandered across the ceiling, and down past me, fixating on the heart monitor, taking everything in. You didn't look at your arm though—you couldn't. ...And back to me.
“I’m sorry… I’m really sorry. For everything.”
I had dreaded that moment. After the fall—once our mutual fantasy had collapsed back into solipsism—you nearly broke me as well. Now, as I stood in front of the bed, with your life in the hands of science and mine in those of faith, I understood that I could blame you for nothing. Indeed, I could not help but forgive you, and as I did so, the aged soul faded away, replaced by a pure longing for what the future might bring.
The road back home is arduous, but you must persevere. For in the end, Hope always comes, knocking.