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A Reflection of John Davies
Lost in his thoughts, John Davies waited, wearily watching the clock. His sore, dry fingers thrummed the monotonous table rhythmically as wisps of nothings meandered around his head. To an observer, he might have looked asleep, or deep in thought, but he was neither, and besides, there was no one observing him. The self-absorbed people around him were too preoccupied wishing away their day to look beyond their important work. On the clock, the hour suddenly changed, and the minutes went back to zero. He groaned and did his stretching ritual. His back arched sluggishly and his legs ponderously raised him from his seat. He then put on his coat that smelled faintly of mildew and gathered his belongings, which too had accumulated some smell of decay.
He stiffly waited outside, feeling feeble; feeling the soft nip of the dying autumn wind on his raw lips. His gaze slowly wandered from his watch to a nearby window, then flicked back and back again to the window, catching his reflection off-guard. His eyes, which never changed, found their opposite over the void, and he felt a tinge of regret for the person he saw. He looked mature, changed, deformed even; it was obvious he was getting older. He shuddered against the cold, and shuffled in place to warm himself up. He wondered how much time he had left.
The predictable bus squeaked to a halt before him, and beckoned to him with open doors. John’s muscles knew the way, even if his mind was still in other worlds, and he was soon sitting starkly in a uniform seat. His reflection was now inches away from his face, in the seat on the other side of the window. He marveled with introspection at the conflict between his memory and his eyes as he examined the face beside him closer. He didn’t even notice when the superimposed landscape started to move past him; he didn’t notice its stops; he didn’t notice the other passengers.
“You wouldn’t believe it, but I almost missed the bus.” said Wendy timidly from the other end of the seat. Wendy was getting older too; her features mirrored John’s, as did her thoughts.
“You look tired,” he said aloud in a stale voice.
“I’ve had a long day,” she sighed. “When I went out to wait for the bus, I felt the warmth of the sun, and savored the way it raised smile like it used to. I felt the sweet air on my face, and something in me wanted to walk home, and I felt sorry I’d ever ridden a bus before in my life. And then I wished I could borrow a bike and feel that sweet air rush by my face. Then I wanted to fly around the world, and see everything. I closed my eyes, and felt for a moment; when I opened them, the bus was there; the doors were open; the driver was waving me in. I started to turn away, but I winced at idea of the long walk before me, I stepped back, and my feet led the way up the steps, here.”
“Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing what I really want to do, or what I should be doing.”
“I don’t know if I am. I almost wish I could go back and choose better. I wish I had the time to experience them all, to live out each of them to the end. But I guess I’m already on the bus now. It’s not going back today. It would be nice to enjoy the walk home, though,” she said, her gaze was now locked on the window, too.
A flash of inspiration and youthful vigor raised John up from his seat, and the bus was still; it let him off three stops early. The sun hit his eyes as his feet hit the pavement. He brought his arm up to shield himself; the bus pulled away behind him. Alone, then. His eyes adjusted. He wasn’t sure why he’d changed his mind so fast; he wasn’t even quite sure how he’d managed to get out. All he knew was he might never get a chance like this again. His feet made an almost imperceptible shift from a concrete trajectory off into the grass, and cut through the park.
This was his park. He’d romped and roamed and rambled beneath his trees, and over his paths, and through his fallen leaves, and beside his lucid pools a thousand times before. His plan was to never grow up, to do everything, and to do nothing but live; it seemed honorable but foolish. He saw himself hiding in the fort under that oak. He saw himself running through that tall grass before him. He saw himself climbing to the crest of that birch. He saw himself painting pictures on his back with the clouds. His feet and his memory carried him along winding paths. He smiled and laughed as he went, as he felt time, or his sense of it, slip away.
Inexorably, he stood behind a long bench that lay before a smooth pool, with his hands resting on its back. On the far end of the bench, and in the pool, a bronze boy sat. He had a feather in his hat and a tarnished fairy on his shoulder. His frozen, warm eyes for the first time reflected the merry youth in John’s. John walked with purpose around to the front of the bench and sat beside the boy. He removed his coat, and he removed his watch, which was useless, and placed them on the bench beside him. John rested his smooth chin in his small hands and gazed for a long time at the boy’s face, taking in the features which never had and never would change. His mind wandered. At his side, on the clock, the hour suddenly changed, and the minutes went back to zero. He wondered, abstractedly, where the boy’s friends were. With slowly dawning realization, he dragged himself down to the edge of the pool. Now he saw he’d found one- there, looking up from the water with a childish grin, was a Lost Boy.