a piece of short fiction by Tommy Paley
People never really grow up, do they?
At least I don’t -or didn’t.
I’m still the same.
I am the same being or person as I always was and always will be.
Boring and depressing and friendless.
Shapeless like an amoeba.
No control over anything, at all.
Like a discarded plastic bag in the wind.
Parents and teachers and counsellors and coaches all tried.
I know they did.
And they’d say those stereotypical things that adults say to lost kids.
“It’s just a phase.”
“Things will get better.”
“Keep your chin up.”
“Try to see the positives.”
It feels like yesterday to remember those lines.
It also feels like years and years ago; a distant past.
Rain pelted my shivering back.
It was so wet as I stood, like an idiot, waiting for a bus that was never coming.
Why was I always here, waiting for this bus?
Did I really want to go somewhere?
Did I even know where this bus was going?
As the rain soaked me to my bones, I realized that I should have brought a coat or an umbrella or a hat.
Or a boat to sail away from this, this mess, this everything.
To be honest, I am not waiting for the bus, not really.
I am waiting for something bigger, more grand. Answers.
Something to take me away from here.
Transporting me to happiness.
To the others.
If I closed my eyes, I could still see them.
Faded, fading, like a mirage.
Those others whom I used to call friends.
Some friends they were.
We’d meet, when they weren’t too busy with life or whatever other excuses they had at the moment.
We’d meet and we’d try.
I loved it.
Every. Second. Of. It.
For the first time in, I don’t know how long, I felt included, part of the plan, alive.
We’d come in, first thing in the morning, or on weekends, or in the middle of the night and try to work, try to connect, try to become one entity to brace ourselves against the elements.
To find a way through the darkness both literal and imagined.
We just worked.
I believed that if we found synergy, coalescence, harmony, we could defeat all odds and succeed.
If we try, we can finish by lunchtime, dinnertime, the middle of the night, eternity.
Like a beacon of light in the fog.
But, this story wasn’t destined to end well or on a positive note.
Or end at all.
Maybe it was my fault — wasn’t it always?
Wasn’t I the one who wouldn’t, couldn’t, grow up and move on?
Wasn’t I the one who couldn’t metamorphize into what I needed to?
Wasn’t I the weak link?
Hadn’t they been patient?
So many questions.
But, it’s true.
I was subconsciously holding the team back from victory.
When I take time to look in the mirror, I know deep down inside that I was scared.
Like a small mouse in a clowder.
I wasn’t honest with myself when I ask aren’t you just a little bit scared.
I was, I am, I will be.
And, after some time attempting to reach me, and failing, they left.
As if they never existed.
And here I remained.
Waiting for the bus that will never come in the rain that will never stop.
Wondering, hoping, dreaming of a new start.
Maybe tomorrow will be a new day?
Maybe tomorrow, I will start small, taking baby steps, incrementally working towards that place I need to go?
Maybe the day after that or the day after that or someday months or years from now, I’ll be whole and need to take larger and bigger and wider steps?
Those steps will be huge, humongous, terrifyingly large.
And, with a confidence that doesn’t yet exist, I will catch up with the others and together we will face the millions and millions who have been waiting for that moment and call out “can we make this bigger?”