As I was walking down the dirt road at dusk, I could hear the crickets chirping and the bugs buzzing all around. The sun had just gone down but there was still some light out but with little to no moonlight, I knew I wouldn't be able to see much. But as long I stayed on the road I would be fairly safe.
I had been walking all day ever since I left the apartment. I just wanted to take a walk to try to clear my mind, that was at dawn. I have paid little attention to where I was going, I just walked. My loneliness and the feeling of emptiness has overwhelmed me as well as being in a type of trance for some time. I have barely eaten or had anything to drink since the day before. My feet ache but the numbness I have had for months has dulled much of my pain.
As I have been walking, I have paid very little attention to my surroundings. Cars whizzing by horns honking it's just noise. I use to look, listen and smell whatever was around me but now it's just there but I ignore most it. I haven't talked to anyone for quite some time now. In the last months, I only talked to people when I had to otherwise I remained quiet. Maybe if I did talk too much, people would pick up that something was wrong. I don't want anyone to know because I hate talking about the pain I have been through. My stomach twisted and turned whenever I thought what had caused that pain.
I am so tired now but I don't know if it is from the exhaustion of walking for so long or because I'm tired from having the weight of the emptiness that has been around me. I hear thunder and see lightning in the distance. It will only get darker now. Do I want to seek shelter I wondered but no that doesn't even matter? Not much has mattered for so long that I feel anything could happen but I wouldn't even care. When it starts to pour I happen to spot a small outbuilding in the distance being so tired I figured I could use it to sleep in for the night if for no I other reason.
As I enter the small outbuilding I can smell the odors of a tack shed grain, hay, leather, and saltiness etc. But none of that is here now. Nothing is, just bare walls and floor. I lay down on the floor and curl up in a ball wearing my now soaked clothes listening to the rain pound on the tin roof and the thunder echoing near and far. As I doze off I think what will I do when I wake up not that really even matters.
I had a restless sleep but that was mostly due to the dreams that kept waking me up. Dreams of what I think now as my long lost past life but to others that weren't so long ago. I did get some rest so I won't be so tired to keep walking to find a way out of this nightmare I have been in for so long. When I woke I heard birds chirping the first birds I had heard in a long time. I could hear animals in the distance as well. Cows, horses, a rooster of course. I got up stretching my sore muscles. I stepped out of my small shelter and smelled the country air. After I relieved my full bladder I thought on which way I should go not that it mattered anyway. I decided to continue with the direction I was heading last night.
Like yesterday I keep walking on. I feel the same today as I have for months just emptiness. My stomach growls out of protest of not being filled for too long but I just carry on. All I can think about is how my world came crashing down. I had everything I had ever wanted a perfect job, the man I loved with all my heart and the apartment we made our home, but that is all gone now not that it matters anymore.
As the sun is beating down on me I feel the heat warming up what I assume now as the early afternoon day. I am starting to feel the sunburn on my face and my feet are aching more and so is the pain from my empty stomach but I move on because that is all I feel the need to do. I heard what sounded like tires on the gravel road but didn't hear a car engine so I turned quickly to look at what it was. A kid I assumed was about 16 was riding his mountain bike at a steady pace with earbuds in his ears. I guess like me he is in no rush. But unlike me, he has a destination I'm sure.
He passes me going the same steady speed. He turns to look at me we don't say anything but we make eye contact just briefly and he just keeps on going. I think that is the first person I have actually noticed in a long time. Up close I could tell he was older than I first thought. His face was smooth maybe clean shaven and his long dark hair was sticking out from under a ball cap he had on. He also was wearing a red shirt and black basketball shorts with a bright green stripe down the sides. Eventually, the road out of site and I was alone again. I thought about him I don't know why but I did. There was more bright green than just the strips on his short. It was his eyes they were a very bright green. When I looked into those eyes I saw, somehow I saw some of what I had been feeling all these months. How is that possible?
Later on way after the boy with pain filled green eyes was long gone the air was cooling down some as it was late afternoon to early evening maybe 5 or 6:00 pm. I had left the area with pastures some time ago but was still on a dirt road. There are some houses out here but not many most of all this is just empty fields maybe with a few animals but not many. This time when I heard tires crunching on the dirt road I did hear an engine but I barely bothered turning to check it out. I just kept walking minding my own business. As the vehicle came closer I saw it was a small pickup that was a golden color when it passed I saw I was right it was a Chevy S10. The driver was young made me think of the boy on the bike but I doubted it was him. I noticed a FUCK H8 bumper sticker also an I heart swimming one as well.
The truck stopped up ahead on the road like maybe he was looking at something or perhaps sending a long text to his friend or even his mom. As I approached the truck the passenger window went down. I could hear his music an Elton John song but wasn't sure which one. I could smell the air freshener something pleasant.
When I got to the window I could feel the coolness from the AC it felt so good. I heard the sweetest voice I had heard say "Hey do you need a ride or something?"
I politely said no thanks and kept walking but he drove alongside me. "Are you sure"?
"Yes, I'm sure, thank you though."
I just wanted to walk not be bothered. He drove up a ways pulling over he then stopped the truck and turned it off. All I wanted was for him to keep on going I didn't want to deal with anyone at all let alone some teenage boy with such a sweet sounding voice. When I neared the truck he got out holding a bottle of water. "Oh great," I thought he must insist on talking to me.
"I don't want to be a bother sir but I'd like to help you if I can," he said so kindly there was care and maybe I sensed worry in his voice.
"Listen, kid, I don't mean to be rude but I'm okay I really am, no need for you to worry."
"Please? Let me help you?"
Silence as we looked into each other's eyes and looked each other over. Then back in each other's eyes. I don't know what he saw but I saw a beautiful young man with bright green eyes, black hair long but just around down his neck over his ears. He was the same boy that was on the bike but he changed his shirt to a muscle shirt and he was wearing blue jeans.
Those eyes they were the same bright emerald eyes I saw earlier it was him he came looking for me. I could see the kindness the brightness of a young man that had so much ahead of him in just his eyes alone. And the pain there it was deep down but not lost pain in there as well. For an instant, my walls that I had built up over the last many months started to crumble but not completely. I still need to protect myself from more any further harm.
"Alright kid I will let you help me but I don't really know how you can."
Holding the bottle of water out to me he said: "Take this you must be really thirsty." I took the bottle opened it and took sips as we talked.
"Where are you going?" He asked with care
"Nowhere really, just out for a walk." I saw doubt in his eyes he didn't believe me.
"Can I give you a ride somewhere anyway?" I could see there was really a need for him to help me I can't explain it but it was there. There in his eyes.
"Like I said I'm not going anywhere particular just out for a walk" I insisted I just wanted to be on my way.
"Where do you live?" For some reason I had to think about that.
"My apartment is in Sumnerville." I replied offhandedly
He looked confused then said " Sumnerville? That's like 25 miles away. You walked all the way from there?" He was surprised, to say the least
I too was confused I didn't realize I had walked such a distance. "Where am I exactly?" I asked taking another sip of the water.
"Between Morgan and Garfield." he pointed a direction when he said each town.
"OH" was all I could say. After some convincing on his part, I agreed to accept a ride from him but I never said where to exactly. We rode in silence until we got into town I don't know which town though then he asked
"So what's your name? I'm Carson Willerdson by the way."
"Oh uh my name is Kirk, Kirk Justice"
"Nice to meet you, Kirk," he said as he put his hand out for me. I shook his hand and it was warm and soft.
"Nice to meet you as well Carson" I felt like talking to him more I can't say why but I did so I continued the conversation
"How old are you," I asked him.
With pride and a twinkle in his eye, he said: "I'm 19 but I'll be 20 in November."
"Do you always offer rides to strangers wondering back roads?"
"Well uh no actually I don't." He sounded kinda disappointed
"When did you decide to come look for me to try to help me?" I asked
"Uh um what do you mean by that?"
"You are the one that rode past me on your bike earlier are you not?" I asked knowing full well he was the one. There was a long pause then he answered.
"Uh yeah that was me but I uh I..." another pause "Look can I be honest with you?"
"This is gonna sound weird but I couldn't get you out of my mind. I can't explain it or nothing but I just couldn't" I stayed quiet waiting for him to continue. "There was something about you that uh sorry for saying this but something didn't seem right about you."
This is becoming interesting I thought to myself.
"So after you changed your clothes you got in your truck and went looking for a guy you saw while you on your bike ride because something didn't seem right about him. Did I get that right?"
Silence as he tried to make sense of what I said or what he meant to say. "What I mean is that you looked like you needed help. I had a feeling that if I didn't go back and help you I would regret it. Something was pulling me back to help you." He looked at me with pleading eyes hoping I understood and I saw that pain again.
Looking straight out the window I said "Carson I understand what you mean. I am grateful that you were willing to take the time to come look for me to offer your help to me. But to be honest I don't know what help I need or deserve for that matter." My head dropped
He continued driving but didn't say anything for some time until we stopped in front of a two-story home just outside of town. It had blue siding with gray trim. When he turned off the engine I turned to him I saw sadness on his beautiful face. I couldn't help but think there was something about him that he also needed help as well. Maybe that had to do with that pain in his eyes I kept seeing.
"I don't believe that." his eyes were moist.
"You don't believe what exactly," I asked not turning away from his beautiful eyes.
"That you don't know what help you need and I definitely don't believe that you don't deserve help. Everyone deserves help!" He sounded upset even hurt with the last part.
"How can you be sure of that?" of course I didn't truly know.
" I I just do ok." he choked as to keep from crying.
I turned to look out the windshield I didn't want to see this beautiful boy in pain "I didn't mean to upset you, Carson, I really didn't but that's just how I've been feeling lately." My heart sank not really knowing how anyone could help me at this point
"But why?" He pleaded
"Why what?" I kept looking forward
"Why do you feel you don't deserve any help?" I could hear the pain in his voice now.
Turning to look him in the eye I said: "I have been through a really hard time and it is too painful to think about let alone discuss." I know I sounded emotionless at that moment. That is when he leaned over and wrapped his arms around me. I wrapped my arms around him in return and we just held each other as he cried he said he was sorry. I didn't have to ask why he was sorry I just knew. He continued to cry but I was too cried out these last few months to cry with him but I did feel pain as he did. I was the one that let go first. I took him by the shoulders and held him at arm's length I looked him right in the eye and said "Thank you for caring and for reaching out to me." he didn't know just how much I needed his help.
He didn't reply but did stop crying all through tears still dropped from his beautiful eyes. I moved my hands from his shoulders and placed them on each side of his face. With my thumbs, I wiped the tears that were streaming down his soft cheeks. I don't know why but at the moment I had the urge to kiss those beautiful lips. It was hard to resist but I was able to. I let go of him then sat back looking at him waiting to see what he would do next. I think I saw a bit of disappointment on his face, maybe he did want me to kiss him.
We sat quietly in his truck just letting our emotions pass. I knew he had a lot of pain built up. Knowing I was in pain his came out too. How could such a sweet young man have so much pain? At the moment I did not know but I was to find that out.
Wiping the last of his tears with the back of his hand he said "Why don't we go inside to get you something to eat and maybe get you cleaned up too?" he forced a smile.
I was focused on him so I missed part of what he said. "Inside? Um sure why not?"
As we got out of the truck I asked: "Who lives here?"
"I do well kinda. This is my parent's place. I'm house sitting while they are out of the country and during my summer vacation."
"They won't mind you are letting someone in their house you don't know?"
"You won't kill me will you," he asked with a smirk
"No I won't. Besides you're too kind and much too cute to kill." Whoa where did that come from?
He still had the smirk but also surprised look at that same time. I was glad the sad moment had passed.
"Well, then there is nothing to worry about."
The guy I passed while riding my bike looked like a mess but still kinda cute. For a second I looked into his eyes when I turned to look at him as I passed. What I saw in his eyes scared me I didn't know what it was though. As I kept riding I thought about him a lot but I didn't know why. He was just some tried guy out for a walk. His hair was all messed up and his clothes were wrinkled like he slept in them or something. His gray eyes were beautiful and when I thought about them more I figured out what I saw in them that scared me. I use to see it in my eyes all the time still do once in a while. It was the pain of being alone, lost and missing a bit part of your life. That was when I decided to go look for him and try to help him. I didn't know it then but he reminded me of someone from my past.
A big thank you to Max and Mason.
Comments always appreciated at C. J. Gibb