Friday, April 20, 2012
Friday Flashtastic Fiction
An Unedited Excerpt from Changeless:
The vibration in Sean’s pocket tickled. Like unexpected fingers whispering across the top of his thigh, the touch brought him quickly out of the light doze he’d been indulging in at the back of the Greyhound bus currently rolling toward the perfectly imperfect future he’d mistakenly run from for so long. He pulled his touch screen link to his best friend in the whole world from his pants. Seeing the little square smiling face that denoted a new message, he tapped the touch pad and opened up the screen holding his texts. Calvin’s message surprised a laugh out of him.
“I know. I have a raccoon skeleton in a shoebox in my living room. & I'm trying to pawn it off on a 2nd grade teacher...”
His phone beeped, and a new line of text appeared.
“Blake misses you :p”
The early morning sun broke through the clouds, golden shafts of memory falling arrow-like down from heaven. The first one slammed into Sean’s eyes though the travel grimed window his temple rested against. He closed his eyes, a sliver of white-hot fire burning into the space behind his eyes. Words nearly a decade old echoed through the chambers of his heart, ricocheted up along his spine and lodged firmly against the insides of his ear drums. “Jesus, Calvin. The fuck you are. Don’t piss your life away man. Just come with me. Blake’ll be alright. There’s good foster parents out there, dude. You’re too young, and you prolly wouldn’t ever get him anyhow.”
Calvin smiled, a weak, thin line stretching across his mouth. The expression never reached his eyes. They remained wide open seas of sorrow, their normal sage green shade darkened. “It’s okay, Sean. I know you can’t stay. I… I just can’t go now. I—I wouldn’t be me anymore if I just left him like that. He’s only nine, man. And his whole world just died in a fiery fucking explosion. It’s. It just is what it is, right?”
Then Calvin scraped Sean hollow with his next words. His eyes finally lit a little from the inside as he wiped his sweating brow on the sleeve of the two sizes too big charcoal grey suit he wore. “I can’t go, Sean, but you can. I—listen, I had some money saved up, right? For the trip? And since I can’t go, I thought maybe, this way, you could kinda put me in your suitcase and carry me along.”
He bent down, reached under the entryway table and picked up a bag from the Cricket store. When he straightened, his lashes dusted the tops of his cheeks and he bit down on one corner of his bottom lip. Sean’s stomach had clenched at the sight of Calvin’s slightly crooked and oh so white teeth pressing into the plump pinkness of that piece of flesh. In the present, Sean shifted in his bus seat, canting his hips toward the steely concealment of the outer wall of the bus, pushing his face hard against the still cool window. He lifted his head away from the window and then let it bounce lightly against the glass once, twice, and a final time. His seat partner glanced over at him, smiling in the excruciatingly polite manner which only people crammed into uncomfortably close quarters for far too many hours seem capable of pulling off.
“It’s a good phone. Top of the line, the girl said, and the plan is pretty cheap. I—the camera’s real good too, and I already put my numbers in there…” Calvin’s voice trickled down the years between that moment and now, and Sean fought down a desire to leap from the damn bus and push it faster into the future. “I know you don’t have a phone, and this one has good coverage. Um, at least in the states. If you’re gonna go outside the U.S., I dunno. I guess—”
Sean lifted his hand, placing the palm against the soft movement of Calvin’s lips. “I want you to come with me.” He held his hand there while he spoke, drinking in the contrast of his dark brown skin against Calvin’s honey gold late summer tan. His eyes had burned then, exactly the same as they were burning now.
The phone beeped again.
“O.o Sean? Still there?”
He hadn’t been there for eight damn years, and he didn’t know if he even knew the way back any more. But…
“Tell Blakely I’ll be there for his ceremony. Damn brat. H8 to cut U short but coming up on a tunnel~prolly lose signal”
Sean cupped the battered casing of the old phone in his hand. Running his fingers along the side, he traced over the long gouge Jason had carved in the side of it the one time he threw the phone against the wall of their apartment and then kicked it with his work boots on. Jason had hated the phone once he figured out how attached to it Sean was.
“Ur coming 2 the graduation?!? :D Really?”
Sean’s chest hurt. He closed his eyes for a moment, concentrating on the difficult proposition of pulling oxygen into his suddenly tiny lungs. He opened them again at the touch of a small, warm hand on his arm. “Are you okay?”
The woman’s eyebrows pulled together in a tight frown above her hazel eyes. Sean smiled wanly at her. He cleared his throat. “Yeah. Just… sometimes going back home hurts, yeah?”
She blinked at him for a moment, her expression unchanging. Then a small smile crept around the corners of her mouth, and her hand patted up and down on his arm. “Yes, sometimes home can be a very painful place to be. And sometimes, young man, we get lucky, and it turns out the hurt was nothing more than growing pains.”
Sean sat in silence, opening and closing his mouth as he worked through what she’d just said. Before he could work out precisely what she was implying, she picked her ereader back up, flicked it on, and tumbled headlong back into whatever imaginary world had held her mind in thrall before she surfaced long enough to drop those cryptic words on him.
“Going in2 doctor’s office. Txt me l8tr.”
Later he’d be back in Marquette, figuring out how to get from the bus station to the house he hoped Calvin still lived in. He tapped in a quick answering text even as he murmured to Calvin aloud.
“Okay. I’ll see you then, Cal.” Sean whispered the words to his phone. The screen timed out, and his wall-paper application flashed up. Calvin smiled off the screen at him, the incredible green of his eyes glowing in the afternoon light of his own backyard as he gazed at the guy taking the picture with a softly worshipful look. Sean couldn’t help hoping the guy was long gone. He couldn’t help it, but that didn’t stop him feeling like a complete shit for wishing any sort of sorrow into Calvin’s life. His fingers traced the contour of Calvin’s face, and he breathed out a shaky breath. “Soon.”