Flash Fiction- Exploring the darkness and beauty of being a teenager.
| Dinner was silent. The long lines of setting summer sun threw Edgar's dining room into shadow. His mother stared at her dinner with the concentration of a scientist checking her calculations. It had been two days of silence. Even his father, usually so vocal in his frustration, was silent. Upstairs was no better. His empty backpack lay on the bed, its unzipped mouth waiting patiently to be filled. His clothes were on the bed too, neatly folded with the attention of a procrastinator. The problem was that they were perfectly folded. Nothing was left to do to them but put them away, and he did not know where to put them. The backpack held more fear, more uncertainty. But the closet held certain finality; a knowledge that he had failed to grab hold of life. Familiar pain was comfortable in its way. Like sitting on a hard chair until your thighs go numb and you stop noticing. If he left he did not know what would become of him.
The clothes went into his bag. Toothbrush, toothpaste, his wallet: the necessities of life. There were other things too, he was certain, but they could be forgotten. The drop from his window was short. He had no education in hotwiring cars, so he took his bike. It wobbled under the sudden weight, straightened out, and disappeared with him into the encroaching night.
Edgar's path took him past the high school. Its windows were dark for the summer; even the janitors were gone. The desks would be stacked in the hallways, the pipes turned off. Hibernating to conserve calories until the students returned to be gobbled up. He turned left and shot down the hill and over the stone bridge. A pack of teenagers roamed the sidewalk breathing in the balmy air. They paid him no mind. He went over the train tracks where his father had met him every afternoon of elementary school, and passed the concert hall where he had found his way to the roof. Then the town faded away and he joined the highway, rural and so empty he could bike in the right hand lane. The sky was pink and purple and gold, but as he pedaled it melted slowly to night's deep blue.
He turned off the road and swung down. The underbrush tugged gently at his sneakers and scraped against the spokes of his wheels before giving way to soft beach. The tide was rolling out, and the deserted sand was cool. He slipped off his clothes and waded out. His mind was clear, the ache in his chest an assurance that he was alive. The chirping of night birds made soft melodies over the gently crashing water. Car sounds lulled the world with their white noise. The ocean folded on itself like undulating silk, too gentle to form real waves, and as the sky rippled to night, air and sea formed one mass of darkness.
Later, he lay on the sand and looked up. Far from city lights the trail of the Milky Way lay streaked across the heavens. A great shining comforter pressed against the world to keep the monsters out. The granules of sand stroked his hair with every breath, and looking up at the great dome of the universe, the Earth seemed to sway in time with the lullaby of the night. The air was warm, dancing across his ribs and wrapping him in its embrace. And at last he fell asleep, alive in the world's dream.