I open the door and standing there looking directly at me is Hershel, from my class, the quiet kid at the back who doesn’t really like to make eye contact with anyone.
I wonder if is he is lost and I’m about to close the door when he speaks.
“Good evening Riley, may I come in?” His voice is very deep for a twelve year old, most people make fun of him for it, or they used to, I haven’t actually heard him speak for almost half a year.
His voice startles me and I almost close the door anyway, except I don’t, but I can’t just invite him in either, he could be crazy, it’s always the quiet ones, that’s a saying for a reason.
I debate for a moment as he just stares at the ground, he has got really curly hair, it’s dark brown at the roots and almost blonde at the tips, he even has blonde highlights. It’s quite feminine hair, I never realised, maybe it’s the voice that threw me.
“Come in, but don’t touch anything,” I caution, before leading him up to my bedroom, Hershel is quiet, too quiet, I don’t even hear his footsteps behind me, freaky.
I sit on my desk and he just stands, eyes on the floor.
“I have something to tell you,” he says quietly.
I wait for him to continue.
“Go on,” I say.
I wait some more.
“Tell me,” I command.
“I remember that when Miss Brent died you spoke at the assembly, my dog has just died can you please do the same?” He asks.
I am speechless, not only do I not know Hershel, I didn’t even know he had a dog, certainly I didn’t know the dog well enough to write him an epitaph.
I want to refuse but I don’t because I like to think I am a good person which is how I ended up standing in front of a grave on Saturday morning, speaking about a dog I never even met before.
Hershel is quiet, but I can tell he is sad.
When I finish he just stares at the grave, then he walks away, I follow him, into his mansion, because he is rich, like famous person rich, given a tour of his house, that rich.
We walk into wealth and he just stands there at the threshold, during the tour I saw a gaming room, I want to go there but Hershel is silent.
Then the maid comes up to us with a lovely bouquet of flowers that would fill up my whole house, she tries to give them to Hershel but he is just staring at the floor again.
I take them and thank her, before reading the note out loud.
“We will send a replacement, love Mum and Dad,” the words are out of my mouth before I even realise what I am saying, I re-read it appalled, and I carefully put the note down.
“You may go now,” Hershel says looking at me directly.
“You can come with me, my mum is not a chef, but she’s making spaghetti and meat balls, I don’t have a pet but I have a little sister, she’s almost two and she’s basically an animal,” I say tucking a braid behind my ear as I take my bike out of the shed.
“You do not have to be nice to me because –”
“Because you lost your pet and your parents are mean, yeah I do, come on it will make me feel better.” I say grabbing his forearm and dragging him along, it’s awkward with my bike, and I scratch my leg but I don’t let go.
“You do not have to drag me, if it will make you feel better then I will come.” He says going into the shed to take out his own bicycle.
I laugh, “Was that an actual joke? I thought you didn’t even know what it was.”
Hershel smiles as both get on our bikes and ride back to my house.
This generation is apparently, impatient, well connected, but still so incredibly lonely, which is why despite the multitude of social media platforms and dating website, true love is still an elusive dream. It’s why we no longer fall in love, but the truth is we never really did, not really. We fell in lust, mistook it for love then coasted into friendship, but true love, the kind that is whispered before it disappears. Most of us don’t know what it is, and what is worse is, though we search for it, we don’t really want to find it, not really, we wouldn’t know what to do with it. Or we would convince ourselves it wasn’t real before letting it go.
Do we fear something so special that it is easier to convince ourselves it doesn’t exist instead of looking or believing, and belief is a difficult thing, because suspending our analytical overly critical and sceptical minds is beyond most of us, we want proof, and even if we are presented with it, we dismiss it as a fluke and ask for more. I would liken it to if 99.99 per cent of the population was blind and that 0.01 per cent could see, convincing the masses that there was another sense, would be challenging, almost all would be sceptical to the point of disbelief, others would be cautiously optimistic but in their heart of hearts still not believe such a thing were even possible.
I didn’t believe in love as a teenager, I thought it was good for stories, poems and films, but in the real world there was no space for something so fanciful, that was until I saw it. A couple changed my opinion almost instantly, and I knew as I saw them together I was witnessing something magical, my heart was racing and I was only a witness, stepping in to their bubble of happiness for an instant so I could taste Heaven and be assured of its existence. I believed and for the next few days I was euphoric over my find, energised by the couples love for each other and I wondered if that was attainable why wasn’t everyone clamouring to take a piece of that extraordinary experience for themselves? I realised that love was like a fairy, you need to believe in love in order for it to appear to you, but unlike a fairy, love doesn’t require your belief in it to validate its existence – it will exist with or without you.
Most people want to believe but they simply don’t and the others that do, are delirious in their happiness and their fortune and despite this they still find it difficult to validate and proof it to others. Why? Because it sounds far-fetched, a fantasy, fantastical, too good to be true, they wouldn’t believe it themselves if they weren’t living it.
But I believe, so why wasn’t love immediately available to me. I came to the realisation that love exists it’s just not available to everyone. The reasons for this varies from person to person but the prevailing one that I have seen time and time again is that we are afraid.
It is this fear that holds most people back from even trying, or giving it their all when they do try. Love like everything else in life has to be fought for. Coming in with pre-conceived notions, or a dossier of demands is not going to work, there is no list or winning formula, it’s abstract because you fall. Like Dr Seuss said it is like falling asleep, you have to work towards it and allow a little bit of uncertainty to enter your life in order to fall, there is no safety net or harness a certain level of trust and openness must be had.
We are afraid of being open because it leaves us vulnerable. There is safety in sadness and misery or even indifference. Love is chaotic, complete with fluctuating feelings, differing attitudes, it is messy, but more importantly it is fragile because your happiness your wellbeing is no longer solely yours to control, your happiness is in the hands of another, and though you say you trust them a part of you doesn’t want to hand over the reins.
We don’t fall in love anymore but we should. Falling in love requires falling. It doesn’t always require some serendipitous moment, though that can happen. Most of the time true love is slowly building a foundation of trust, respect and companionship to reveal the diamond that is love underneath. It doesn’t sound as sexy as love at first sight, but it’s by far more beautiful and sustaining.
You are a customer lying face down on the floor during a bank robbery. Describe the robbery from this vantage point.
The cold marble was making my ear numb and the fixed position I had to hold my body in was giving me a cramp and yet I felt oddly calm, strangely euphoric. I held my body still as one of the three armed men walked past me, his boots brand spanking new, size nine, dark brown laces. I looked up carefully, he was probably my height, 5’10, slim, a mask over his face, but not his ears, pale a little red at the tips. I quickly looked at the other three guards. Their ears exposing their race to me.
My mind pinged as I looked at all three of them again; they had been eating at the café across the road for almost a month. I had spoken to one of them a few times. I could help the police when they interviewed me later. The police who had burst open my door a few nights ago because they had gotten an address wrong, terrified my student who I was tutoring who had been thrown against the floor, a gun to his cheek, as the police had torn my apartment inside out, searching for someone who was never there, before I, who they had put into handcuffs, had been able to explain to them, that 4a the apartment they were looking for was across the street, I was 4a1. A common mistake, one that could have been easily rectified if they had listened from the beginning.
I could anonymously help the bank. The same bank that had refused to grant me a loan to start my tutoring business, a business that had been taking off before the police had put a gun to one of my students, making all the parents rightfully stop bring their children to my house.
Abruptly I was furious and my mind again presented me with a plan to profit from my present situation.
I stood up, clutching my chest. The armed robbers came up to me immediately.
“Take me to the toilet, I will help you,” I said clearly whiles portraying someone in distress to the other thirty seven hostages.
They looked at each other and one of them raised his gun.
“Eggs benedict, hash brown, two sausages, baked beans, three brown toasts.” I said quickly meeting the eyes of the man who had raised the gun, before continuing with the theatrics again.
I was immediately walked to the toilet.
I quickly told them about my plan.
“Where the hell did you learn how to crack safes,” pink ears said, “you talk weird as well, are you like rain man or something.”
“I’m a tutor, one of the children will only learn if I allow him to crack a safe after every sessions, he taught me.” I said indirectly answering his question.
They were silent for a moment.
“Do we have a deal?” I asked to sped things along.
“Hell yeah!” The third man said sticking his head through the door.