I had nowhere to live, no one to love, and nothing to do than to sit on my horse, California Star, as he trodded onwards. We had no final destination; we just walked on and searched for the right place to be. Star was getting thinner by the day, due to the lack of luscious green grass - like those he ate back home. But home was no longer home to us anymore; everything was dead and grey. I didn't want to think about what happened, and I didn't want to go back - ever. Only bad memories wander around there now, and the good memories were long lost and forgotten. The only good memories - or only memories - that I carry with me, are those I have made with my beautiful, loving Star. I would never forget the memories I have made with him. But the ones of my family didn't count anymore, since...
I bit my lip when I felt tears pressing at the back of my eyes. I didn't want to cry; for everything was over, and there was nothing I could do about it any longer. A new life lay ahead of me, but if it meant that I would have to carry on travelling with Star and making a living out of wild fruits, small creatures and insects everyday, then I would rather give up and die. I guess I would've died from exhaustion, hunger or thirst after a while, anyways. If I did die, then I'd die with the knowledge that Star would watch over me, and he'd become a wild horse again and maybe find his old herd. He was my everything; my one true friend. I'd never betray him, and I'd do my best to keep living just to take good care of him.
I halted Star in the middle of a field, where patches of green grass were scattered among long, dry grass. I dismounted Star and he happily munched on the short green grass, and when one patch was finished, he moved on to another one. He knew I didn't mind him moving around without me telling him to. He was very obedient, and he almost never did something without my permission. Besides, it was getting late and he hadn't eaten anything the whole day. I was very hungry, too, but there was nothing to eat for me while Star feasted on the green grass. And, I was too tired to search for big ants or worms. Eating worms and other insects grossed me out, but I had no other choice - unless I wanted to die.
I looked at Star as he pulled the grass off the ground with his front teeth and munched on it contently, his jaw moving sideways like a cow's, repeating the same thing over and over. "I think I'm going to take a nap, okay? Just until you finished eating." I stroked Star on his long, silky neck, nearly lost in thought. He was so beautiful, and I couldn't have asked for a better horse than him. I smiled at him and scratched his perfect white star on his forehead. "And after that, we'll carry on walking until we find a nice place to rest for the night. A place where it's safer." I kissed his velvety muzzle and he nickered at me, pausing his chewing for a moment, then dropped his head and continued grazing. I chuckled, then walked away a few feet towards a small rock. I positioned myself beside it and then rested my head on it. I could feel the cold and hard ground below me, through my vest. I moved my head on the rock. Wow this is a very hard pillow. I sighed miserably, wishing I had another choice, wishing I could sleep on a real bed again, satisfied by a proper supper like I had every evening back home. But things have changed now.
I curled up my legs, and wrapped my arms around my body, trying to warm myself. As soon as I felt safe when Star started grazing closer to where I lay, I closed my eyes and soon I drifted off into a deep slumber...
I pulled my covers up to my chin, staring up at the white-washed ceiling. I was cold and lonely, and I somewhat felt insecure right there, in my own room - the one I've been sleeping in for nearly thirteen years. There was no assurance that I was going to be okay, and that everything would go back to normal. I was so unsure of everything; so ... unprepared. I felt the most vulnerable I've ever felt in my whole life, listening to the loud voices below the thick wooden planks of my room's floor. My bed creaked as I dared to move onto my other side, and I slipped my head under the pillow to deafen out the unbearable sounds coming from the living room; the shouts between my mother and father.
I couldn't take it anymore; it was like a sharp knife driven deep into my heart, or two handcuffs tied tightly around my wrists, forcing me to cry with excruciating pain. But the pain wasn't physical; it was somewhere inside my soul - my heart - where nothing could heal properly. There would always be a 'mental' scar inside of me. Even though nobody else would be able to see it, I'd never forget it long after it has healed and the pain has gone. I've learned to never scratch on a place where it doesn't itch, otherwise the consequences could be fatal. That's somewhat what happened in this situation: I brought up the subject, and soon I was the one to be chased out of the room.
As I lay there on my side, contently staring out of the window into the foggy dark night, the loud voices gradually ceased. The clock in the hall ticked on. This whole situation didn't turn back time or fast-forward it; it just slowly but surely carried on with what it was used to doing. I saw a dim light being turned on somewhere upstairs in the long hall, probably the one farthest of my room - next to Gale's room. My parents would've been done with arguing by now, I was sure. My mother was always silent after an argument, because she didn't want to stir up any other unnecessary things that would make my father angrier.
An ice cold shrill went down my spine, and I realised that my fingers were clasping at the bed's edge. I swallowed, hard, and wanted to turn my gaze to see who called my name. Instead, I closed my eyes and pretended to be asleep. You don't want them to realize that you heard the whole conversation, Joey. I lay there in suspense, wondering what would happen next. I didn't want my parents to scold me for bringing up the subject, and I didn't want them to get divorced after their argument, either. It was that bad. But what should I do to prevent all that? I heard the door creak open a little wider, and then the soft footsteps of my little sister as she tiptoed closer to my bed. I opened my one eye slowly, just wide enough to see what she was doing. She stared at me, her eyes as wide as golf balls, her arms wrapped around her favourite teddybear and her chin resting on its fluffy head. A small smile appeared across my lips in the dark, the moonlight brightening up the room just enough so I could see her figure. She was so small and so helpless, yet she was so cute. I opened both of my eyes and sat upright in my bed, realising I wouldn't get away with pretending to be asleep. She knew that I liked to pretend, but tonight was not a night to do that. The whole situation was very real; even more real than any of us could ever imagine.
Her fine blonde hair was tousled from tossing and turning in her bed, I had noticed, and her marine-blue eyes were an ash grey under the soft touch of moonlight. I positioned my back against the cold marble wall, still sitting on my bed with my legs under the warm covers. The moon shone directly onto my bed, illuminating any sort of darkness that could scare us. Not that I was scared of the dark, but Gale sometimes was. I was only scared of the dark in situations like this, afraid that something would jump up out of the shadows and grab me by my throat unexpectedly. But those stuff only happened in horror movies - not in real life. But at that moment, real life felt like a horror movie.
I patted the bed beside me, flipping open the covers just far enough so she could slip inside. It was cold, and I started to slightly shiver. But it was fine; I was quite used to it. "Come, Gale." I stretched out my hand and touched her forearm - she was cold, and I could feel how she shivered. Her jaws clattered on each other as she stood there, looking at me expectantly. "Sit here, then we'll keep each other warm."
She gladly accepted the offer, and within the blink of an eye she was on my bed, my arm resting around her shoulders. Her legs were covered with the duvet, and her toes were like icicles against my legs. There was a silence, but it was precious. There was no need to break it, because both of us needed the silence. I sometimes thought that silence was needed on earth to show people how much noise they made in their everyday life. And it was true.
"Joey, I am scared."
Those three words explained a thousand things, but neither of us understood what those thousand things meant.
"Joey, what is going to happen? Are we going to be okay?"
I closed my eyes. A stream of silent tears rolled down my cheeks uncontrollably, dropping onto the duvet below. I could not answer her; for my mouth was dry and my throat was achy. My lips felt cracked, and my tongue tied. I hugged her from her side, both of my arms wrapped around her and her teddybear. I kissed her on her head, burying my face in her soft golden hair. I took a deep breath, and let it out, but instead I stifled a soft cry. All I managed to whisper was: "I don't know, dear. I really don't know."
I was startled awake, feeling clingy and wet. I soon realized that I've been sweating and crying while I slept, and dirt and ground clung to my skin - especially my face because my head rested on the rock. I wiped at my face and dusted the extra dirt off on my pants, which were dirty themselves. I looked up at the sky, the sun shining its rays brilliantly onto the already dry earth. I was so tired of seeing just fields and no civilization. It was hard to have to try and live without the things you really need. I have come to the conclusion that whatever you have in life, you should enjoy it because when everything is taken away from you ... You might not be able to live. Like me. I didn't appreciate the special things I had in life, even though they were just basics. And now, there weren't even basics to keep me alive. I put my hand above my eyes to prevent the sun's rays from shining directly into them, and then looked around the field.
I yawned and rubbed my eye, but then my hand stopped moving over my eye because I realised something. It was California Star ... He wasn't in the field! I shot up from the ground like lightning and turned around in circles, scanning the field for anything that looked like a living creature - hoping I would spot Star. "Star!? Here boy! Where are you?!" I cupped my hands around my mouth and shouted, and I heard it echo across the field. There was no answer ... I sagged down onto my knees miserably, knowing that I have made a big mistake by thinking that I was just going to take a nap, but slept throughout the night instead.
But then something else caught my attention: it was my dream. It was exactly what had happened in real life. The situation was the same, the room was the same, Gale's face looked exactly like it looked on that night, the voices sounded so real ... How on earth did I remember every single detail? I stood there, astounded. I didn't know what I should think; I didn't know why I had the dream. Was I supposed to see some small details I have missed that very night?
I stood there, in the middle of the field, dumbfounded. My attention got driven back to the fact that Star was missing, and I sighed hard. It was difficult to imagine life without Star; maybe I should've just killed myself by stopping to eat and drink. What on earth is going on in your head??? There was no solution; I didn't know where Star was, and I didn't know how or where I would find him. I just went on and hoped for the best - hoped that he would stand up from somewhere between the long yellow grass and neigh at me, as if he was playing hide-and-seek. But I knew the possibility was very, very scarce that he would play hide-and-seek. He didn't even know how.
After about an hour of shedding hurtful, longing tears, I forced myself to stand up and go on with my life, even if it meant Star wouldn't be there with me anymore. I hoped he was okay, and I hoped I would find him. And soon. I wondered if he hadn't been caught by some kind of wild animal; but then again, Star would never get caught by anything, because he was so big and powerful. Maybe he had tried to chase the animal away from me, and that's how he got lost. But Star would always find his way home...always...
So, I put that thought behind me and walked on, with no final destination. Life is a journey, and a journey is life. I heard that saying many times before, and now I was about to live up to it - even though I had no friends, no family, no companion and no real purpose in life. Nothing could keep me from going, yet nothing pushed me onwards. I was on my own now, alone ... Far away from home and far away from the place I ought to be. Now my life was up to me.