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Tom has been walking the same way to school for the past four years of his life. He knows what’s under every rock, what’s behind every wall, and knows all the people who share this walk with him from head to toe. Now, Toms fourth year of walking, he begins to think (something done too much) about what else is out there. What other walks there are, what other people there are, and what’s behind these other unknown walls. Tom desperately wants to leave this routine of waking up every morning to relive his schedule and revamp the very thing killing him, his static lifestyle. He wants to put an end to fixing his jet black hair and shaving every other morning. To put an end to filling the roles an eighteen year old boy has to fill. Today, he takes a seat on what’s left of a railroad tracks of a train that used to come through, and thinks his life over.
The thing is that as he steps forward into what he is “supposed” to be doing with his life, he feels a prick jabbing his spine, telling him to not take another step. But as he chooses to follow these predetermined roads that we have set forth, he sees the only way out is leaving. Going somewhere far, out of reach. A place where no one’s plans for him will overcome his decisions. Out of reach. What’s stopping him then? Guilt? Fear? Companionship. Someone there needs to take the leap with him, someone who’s willing to look a little too far over edge and break free from the dreadful abomination of life. Another person who shares his views of life and who has the urge to grow. This is the only true obstacle that seems to stop him from the beginning the rest of his life. He stares into the moving clouds, amazed at how slowly they stand still, like he.
Dropped off late again, Audrey’s father leaves her in front of the school, and waits not even for the door to close. She watches the blue 91 Plymouth colt Vista zoom away and turn the corner.” See you later dad...” No initiative, no motivation, no reason to move forward, she goes through the gates and gets another detention slip, walking off into another day of false nods and deep contemplation. One would think that someone would get used to being ignored, unappreciated, but not her. She needs some form of recognition, some look of acceptance, some hint of appreciation. As the black curls bounce off her forehead and as she clenches the ball of collected scraps together in her left jacket pocket, she wishes someone would just clench her scrawny unloved-unrecognized body. She wants to be the center of attention, to someone, anyone.
Tom gets up, realizing he’s late and goes through a hole in the fence like a miner looking for a light on the other side, except there isn’t a light and he’s in the exact soot covered side of the fence he thought he would be. Running through the halls, turning a corner, he clashes head first into Audrey. He lands on top of her, trying to regain some understanding of what just happened, but only for a second. “Whoa, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to – “he says, trying to recall where he has seen her before. She looks at him wide eyed unable to blink, embarrassed, conflicted, still balancing herself on her frail-delicate elbows. “Let me help you up. I am so sorry, are you okay?”
“Yeah I’m…I’m fine, thanks,” she says, not sure how to react. Then a wave of recollection hits him, “Hey you’re Audrey aren’t you? Second period? Mr. Walters?” She blinks now and quickly says, “Yea. I sit next to Jacob and Sarah – in the back and…” “I knew I knew you! Well sorry, I’m kind of late so I’ll see you later,” he jogging now towards his class. “Well then,” she says out loud and continues her somehow slower pace to first period, thinking about Tom, the boy who remembers her name.
He walks causally into the class, going straight to his seat, hoping that the teacher won’t confront him. “Mr. Sawyer, fill out the late sheet please,” the teacher says with his back to the class and his hand still writing down some formula on the white board. Tom sits down and catches up on notes, continuing his schedule of being an ideal student, catching up on someone else’s dream.
Audrey walks into Mrs. Watsons, with her ID in hand and moves swiftly towards her desk where she is inches away from her computer screen. She looks around the class and sees their heads down, reading some book. Mrs. Watson doesn’t seem notice Audrey’s presence. She says lightly, “Excuse me Miss Watson..,” while she types away on the beige outdated keyboard in front of her. She decides to just take her seat, stomping her boots and slamming her bag on the table. She looks around, hiding behind her curls, and nothing. No one has even raised their head. She sits and pretends to read the book like everyone else. She takes out a pen and starting driving it deep onto her skin, drawing some cartoonish character. She carves the first layer of skin. Her blue tipped pen is now red. She looks around again, everyone is still reading.
Tom has caught up with his lost minutes and has gone ahead of his teacher’s lesson, as usual. He thinks to himself why he rushed to get back to class, “I would’ve caught up anyway.” To pass time, he looks outside the window to find a single pigeon on an electrical line. It looks left, then right, then left again, still keeping its posture. A flock of them fly by, and it stares at them fly away. The pigeon goes the opposite way. The bell rings.
Tom walks swiftly to his next class, avoiding contact with his so called ‘peers,’ but cant help getting caught into an unfelt-unwanted conversation about nothing. Nothing of importance, nothing he cares about, yet he smiles and nods and contributes to the conversation, saying what he knows will further the conversation, knowing that his audience will drool over him and smile. He decides to look down the rest of the way and calmly walks into his classroom. She sees him sit down and can’t help but peer at the back of his head as he pulls out his binder and opens a book. She blinks repeatedly at his calm yet powerful nature and continues to give her self a headache by looking back and forth form her book and his head.
“Should I talk to him? He doesn’t look too busy. He knows my name at least.”
As Tom continues to stare at a book he doesn’t care for, Audrey takes the empty seat next to him. “Hey,” she says not making eye contact.
“Heyy Audrey. How are you?” the b******t begins.
“I’m good, just here. How was your first period?”
It was alright, god I hate it, math isn’t really my strong suit. Do you have Mr. Jimenez?
“No, never,” she begins squeezing her mound of junk in her pocket.
“Yeah, he’s totally lame,” in truth Tom doesn’t actually mind his class. Other than the occasional forced participation, he gets along pretty well in there.
Her mind comes to a blank; the heat is rising , “oh.”
Mr. Walter comes in, a tall blond haired man with thin gold rimmed glasses attached to a chain that seems to be connected to the back of his neck. He undo’s his tie and gets a stack of papers on his always tidy workspace. The lecture begins.
“Today we will talk about the needs and wants of people in a materialistic society.” Tom perks up and gets out his notebook.
“And who better to start this study with than the people next to you, partner up. This sheet has a list of questions that you will ask your partner and write down the response to in detail. Dig deep; it’s the smallest studies that are the most mind-bending.”
Audrey shifts her face slowly towards Tom until their eyes meet. ”Hey partner,” he says with the trademark plastic smile of his. She returns the smile with a light smirk, flattered, thinking it genuine.
She starts the assignment, “So what is it that you really want?”
“Well that’s easy, to be free.”
“What do you mean?”
“You know, free. That kind of freedom reached only by going over the frontier. Over the mountains separating us from the rest of the world, the vast ocean that begs to be ridden. I just want to pack a bag of clothes, leaving memories and all the people that ever mattered to me behind. To just experience something new, something out of the ordinary,” he let go.
“What about you? What’s it going to take to make you smile?”
“Something new. Kind of like you I guess?”
A little to eager he says,”Would you ever want to run away too?”
She is now confused, she misunderstood him.
She thinks to herself,” what the hell.”
She says half-heartedly, “Oh yeah. I mean like my dad is such an a**, they don’t want me there; I’m just a burden to them. I’ve thought about running away before, plenty of times, ‘over the mountains’ or whatever.” She wonders to herself why she just said that. She’s aware that its not true, the thought has never even crossed her mind, but she cant ignore the look in his eyes as she pretends to agree with his wacky idea. She feeds the fire with false hope, and he knows it. At that moment she is the subject of attention, the total center of thought, and she relishes in the moment.
“Really?” he says with amazement in his eyes.
“Yeah, all the time. Kind of like you, I want to be free. “
He considers the thought, contemplating whether or not she is the companion he has been waiting for, the person he’s been dreaming of. He revokes the thought and decides she is not the one.“ Nah, I don’t think you would be up for it. Forget I said anything. So materialism, pros and cons?”
She thinks to herself, “why not?” Those few seconds could have lasted a lifetime to her, but she wanted more.
“Let’s do it. I’m serious.”
“Don’t you play with me like this. You haven’t even thought it through. “
“So we’ll plan it out. Haven’t you ever thought of anything?”
“Well I always imagined taking a bus east somewhere, somewhere like Rhode Island. Then moving up from there and making our way to New York. I have a little money on the side that I’ve been saving, its enough for two people. “
“What will we do for work and home?”
“We’ll do small jobs here and there. We don’t need a home, I have this little tent I took to camp last year. It’s in great cond-“
“Are you really serious about this Tom?”
“Look at me Audrey. Look into my eyes. I am serious. “ He lowered his head and took a look at her,
“Let’s do it then.”
“When?” – He begins to feel that rush that he’s been aching for. He questioned the seriousness of her decision but waved everything aside once that adolescent rush roared a promise of freedom.