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Discontent reverberated through the vast expanse; even the trees stopped swaying, stopped wishing. I know what died that night. It can never be brought back to life. But as I walk through, the moon still shines silver and the trees' roots still trip in the night.
It smells cold and the insects sing a song reminding him of paranoia. He doesn't try to avoid them as he walks. In fact, he tries to kill the sound. It only grows. The moon overshadows the stars, its light letting the tears dripping down his cheeks show. Butterflies scratch at the boy's stomach like the insects in his ears. He grabs his arms, trying to rid his skin of the clammy goosebumps.
No sympathy, or even pity goes out for him. The forest, itself, seems to be giving him the cold shoulder. The moon's only purpose is to put this tragic frame into the spotlight. He keeps his gaze downward, trying to hide himself from the scenery's criticizing eyes.
The boy now sits, collapsed really, in the dewy field, clutching a dog-tag close to his chest. His name is engraved into the metal: Quinn. The is gray, but that suits Quinn just fine because his life is always that color, drab and dank.
He is clothes in expensive indie-cred threads that are stained with cigarette holes. He tries too hard to be who he isn't. Shaggy, dirty-blond hair hangs down below his ears, framing his face and covering his eyes, which are always red from lack of sleep or crying. He can't even bring himself to look in the mirror. His exact words to the floorboards were “I'm a disease.” He doesn't even know who he really is.
Quinn's eyes travel the darkness of the woods, remembering its innocence from years before. Now, the trees sway condescendingly and the insects croak a song to remind him of the sickness that deforms him from everybody else. What's happened to the warm tunes they had sung when Quinn had roamed this forest with Sonny? He knows the answer, but can't bear to let the words stumble past his lips.
Memories of Sonny plague the boy's mind as he piddles with a blade of grass. “Perfect” was the only word he could ever think of to describe him. He was beautiful, smart, lovable, yet somehow cast aside by the world. No one cared about him except Quinn.
When he and Sonny met, it was forced and tense. They were both much younger, in the second grade, and Quinn was not the alienated being he is now.
The two children sat together, yet alone, on the school's front steps. Both of their parent's were late. Well, Sonny's parents were never on time, but Quinn wasn't used to being the last one to go home. He was beginning to get frightened that something had happened to his mother.
“Where are they?” the teacher sighed. “I'm going to go back inside and call again. Don't you two move a muscle.” Quinn listened to the teacher's heals clack away on the pavement.
It was beginning to get cold so he reached into his backpack and pulled out the old, oversized Green Day sweater his brother had given him, pulling it loosely over his head.
“My brother has that sweater.” Sonny spoke for the first time, his words coming out in wisps of white in the cold.
“How old is he?”
“Mine too!” Quinn exclaimed. “You want to be friends?”
“Yeah.” And so they had become friends in the typical second grade fashion.
The two boys quickly became best friends. When Sonny's dad was late, Quinn's mom would take them both home. Sonny would often spend nights over with him, telling secrets until each knew the other better than themselves.
On Sonny's tenth birthday, his brother, Sam, was going to take both of them to the state fair. They had passed through the forest and both of them begged for Sonny's brother to stop the car. The beauty of the enormous trees and how they got thicker the further you got from the road absolutely awed them. They ended up spending the whole day there, climbing the trees, playing Tarzan.
The next weekend, Quinn asked his mom if he and Sonny could go to the forest again. It became a second home of sorts, converting itself to sancture their different needs over the years. In the beginning, it was just a place where they could to play alone.
Quinn looks around, remembering what this forest used to be. He doesn't like what he sees, but knows that once the woods change, they can never go back, only move forward. He takes a joint from his pocket and puts it to his lips, needing to feel complacent.
Smoke fills his lungs and head. He allows reality to blur without a fight and the world turns into an ocean, swallowing him. At least the forest stops patronizing him. He lets his eyes become blank, remembering the first time he eyes like this.
It was three years ago when he was twelve. He was spending the night with his father because his mother was out of town. They had been having such a good time together, laughing and throwing popcorn instead of watching the movie. But then, that night as Quinn was falling asleep on the couch, the loudest bang echoed in his ears. He got up to ask his dad what was happening. A sliver of light shined beneath the door and grew as the boy opened it wider.
What met his eyes made him want to be sick. There, collapsed against the wall, was his father with a bleeding temple. The crimson liquid was spilling everywhere, and the previously white bathroom tile was covered in an irremovable stain. The man's eyes were blank and cold as ice, haunting like an infected bite. All that Quinn knew right then was that he had to get a hold of Sonny.
Sonny was the first to know everything, sometimes the only one to ever know anything. There was nothing that they couldn't trust each other with.
At the funeral, Sonny stood silently by his side. Quinn's mother didn't even wan to attend; she couldn't stand her ex-husband that much. When tears started to pour from his eyes, Sonny told him “Man, everything'll be okay.” And everything was... for awhile.
Sonny's brother, stressed over his final year of college, had been tampering with drugs. One year, when he was home for Christmas, Quinn had caught him joint-handed.
“What are you doing?!” he had exclaimed, because back then, it was kind of a big deal.
Sonny's brother removed the joint from his lips and tried to hide it behind his back. Quinn looked into his eyes; dark and dilated.
“Don't tell,” he spoke forcefully, but his eyes showed a hint of fear.
“I won't,” Quinn whispered. He couldn't tear his eyes away from the shocked Sam in front of him. A new layer of Sonny's brother had just manifested.
“You... uh... you want one?” he had caught Quinn eying the burning joint between his fingers.
He nodded, intrigued by the new world Sam was opening. Tentatively, he took a step towards him. Sam let a joint for his little brother's best friend. Copying Sam, Quinn drew in the smoke and held it in as long as he could, his eyes burning. Then he let it out slowly and the wisps of gray haze moved like ghosts in the room.
All the feelings began to wash away; the pent-up anxiety, the anger, and the one thing he couldn't tell Sonny. Why hadn't anyone told him about this? He never wanted to be sober again.
The waves are becoming too much for Quinn as he sits in the overgrown weeds, getting washed away. The weight of the water hangs around his neck, constantly tightening its grip. He can't breathe and a voice in he back of his head tells him that he doesn't need to, he just needs the proverbial water in his lungs; but they're screaming in agony and he opens his mouth up, searching for the surface, the oxygen above the water.
With his chest rising and falling heavily, Quinn tosses his head back and rakes a shaky hand through his damp hair; is it water or just sweat? Or does it even matter? A buzz is still in his head and out of nowhere he picks up his ragged body.
Countless crickets crunch as Quinn tramples the grass. The only sense of direction he has is the compass in his heart; his mind doesn't know that tree from this one, but he doesn't care. Breathing is a chore as he sprints, limbs of trees scratching at his face, ripping open the flesh on his arms until blood seeps down. His footsteps echo the ones made just a few months ago as he ran in the opposite direction. He was running from something then, just as always; but for once, he is running towards something.
“Where's Sam?” Quinn thought as he injected the last bit of heroin into his fifteen-year-old vein. He leaned his head against the tree, letting his eyes roll into the back of his head. One more time he would rid himself of the insecurities he felt by keeping secrets from Sonny.
“Quinn!” a loud, booming voice bellowed from behind him. “Where the f*** have you been?!” All the words came out in a rushed jumble.
Before Quinn had time to think, the knife he had taken to carrying with him at all times was in his hands. Seconds letter, the blade found a home in the body of the frantic voice.
The boy collapsed to the ground, hands wrapped around his stomach like a belt of dynamite. The knife stood out serenely from his belly, like a cheap Halloween costume. Blood seeped through his white shirt, his face contorted in pain, and he made a choking sound as though he was coughing up a hairball.
Quinn looked down at the young, dying frame that looked up to him with pleading eyes. He felt himself become queasy and took several unstable steps backward, stepping on and cracking the syringe he was formerly using. Why couldn't he just sprout wings and fly away?
What the hell was he going to do? He now stared down at the dead, lifeless eyes that had held so many emotions over the course of five minutes: hate, betrayal, distress, and finally, nothingness.
A rush of rage erupted inside of Quinn. It was as though the whole world has just blown up inside of his chest. “Why did you to do this to me?! I f***ing hate you! I wish I'd never met you!” He was kicking the body now, shoving dirt into his face, trying to make himself feel better, but it only made him bleed more inside. How do you feel better when you just killed someone?
In slow motion, Quinn fell down next to Sonny. Tears fell down his cheeks as he ran a hand down Sonny's cool face. The wind made a whirlpool around him and sucked him in for what seemed like forever, until he snapped out of the trance. He got up and ran aimlessly way.
Quinn can see him now, a lump in the ground buried by dirt and fallen leaves. Hurriedly, he clears off Sonny's body and kneels down next to him. Time melts as slow as wax as they sit together, yet alone. Quinn is scared to touch Sonny's skin but knew he would go hungry and incomplete if he didn't, so he timidly pressed his lips to Sonny's forehead as a last goodbye.
Confusion reverberates through this vast expanse; the trees still don't wish, but they've stopped patronizing. I knew what died that night. It can never be brought back to life. The moon still shines silver and trees' roots still trip in the night.