Today’s sunday – but no normal sunday. It’s sample sunday! 🙂 If you haven’t heard of it before, let me give you a short explanation: Sample Sunday is a twitter experiment where authors blog a sample of their work with the hashtag #samplesunday (usually on sundays of course ;)). So if you want to find other samples, head to twitter and search for #samplesunday.
This sample is from the last story in my short story collection “Ficitonal Times – A fabulous anthology of wondrous stories” called “Ripples and waves“:
Ripples and waves on the surface of time. It was no river but an ocean and man not more than a grain of sand in a current as strong as the gulf stream and as able to escape the flow from past to future as the named grain of sand.
But time is not static and when something equivalent to the polar caps melted, the current changed. Not for long and not much, but there are about seven billion people on our small and lonely planet and somebody had to be there (or better: then) when it happened. This one seven billionth of humankind, this fracture of a chance of one in a million, was me.
There are times and places when I wish more than anything I ever wished for that somebody else would have taken my place. And then I remember the moment it happened and I’m sure that I wouldn’t have changed a thing even if I could.
Clary was my childhood sweetheart and since I was an only child she took the place of the sister I never had too. We were inseparable and everybody was joking that we would without doubt marry when we were of age. We stayed close during elementary school and it looked as if it could go on like that forever. I loved her joyful and creative nature and she needed me to keep her on the ground. At least that’s what I think. I don’t know what exactly she saw in me, but with her, everything seemed possible. Until the day when her parents died in a car crash. Naïve as I was I thought she would live with us now, but her mother’s sister insisted on taking her. I knew that she was scared of her uncle and wasn’t too fond of her aunt either, but when you’re ten, nobody asks you what you want.
She stayed in my class, which I was glad about, but nevertheless slowly slipped away from me. She had to go to school by bus now and had to go home directly after school. We met a few times after school, but not as often as before. That times got fewer and fewer and she never went back to being her joyful self. Suddenly we didn’t know what to talk or do with each other. I had tried to comfort her after her parents death but there was an invisible and unspoken wall in her, I wasn’t able to pierce.
When puberty hit, she naturally put up all the bad habits most kids try at least once. She started to smoke and drink and when I saw her in the breaks, she and her friends were always surrounded by older boys. It looked as if her aunt and uncle lost interest in her because suddenly she didn’t have to go home after school anymore. I saw her hang around with her peers in a dirty corner next to the sport field for hours but didn’t dare to ask to join them. She still said hello and her friends never made fun of me – which gave me the hope that she still felt something for me and would start talking to me again. But soon all she cared for were parties. The boys from our year were never invited so I never attended one, but Monday morning usually saw her wasted and she still smelt of smoke and cheap booze. Her marks got worse and I feared that she would have to repeat that year, but she didn’t.
Years passed and she grew more and more beautiful. I still believed that I knew her better than anybody else and that’s why I was sure that I was the only one to notice that her joy became a facade and that her smile and laughing were a mere mask, she hid behind.
A few weeks later, I was on my way home from gramps, I saw her waiting with some friends on the sidewalk in front of our school. I slowed down and stopped because I didn’t want to pass them on my bike. They hadn’t noticed me yet and while I was unsure what to do, a dirty white car stopped next to them and she got in after saying good bye to her friends. That’s when I recognized her uncles car, which I hadn’t seen in years. They drove past me without noticing and I saw him put his big hand on her thigh, just where her skirt ended. The only reaction I certainly saw, was her closing her eyes but I’m sure that her lower lip trembled too. I stood there, struck, and felt worse than I had ever felt before. Unwanted pictures and thoughts entered my mind and I felt utterly helpless and furious. Furious about a world which tried with all its might to crush the beautiful flower Clary was. That night I got no sleep at all and next day in school, I wasn’t able to meet her eyes. The night after my nightmares started and in the morning I was convinced that I had to help her, even if I didn’t know how yet. For the first time in months, I tried to talk to her, but she could still read me as I could read her and something must’ve shown, because she started to avoid me.
My grades dropped nearly as low as hers because learning didn’t come as easy as before with my mind always occupied with thinking about her and the situation I imagined her to be in. That year she didn’t pass the class and I only barely did. After summer break she had to repeat the year and without being in the same class anymore, she as good as vanished from my life. Maybe that is what I should have let happen, but I still felt that strong bond we once shared and I couldn’t. I made crazy plans to rescue her but never dared to put one to action. Another year passed and with a hard and cold winter came her seventeenth birthday. I soon learned that she was to have a big party in the basement of her uncle’s house. I didn’t get an invitation but even if I had, I wouldn’t have come. Not into that house.
But in opposition to my intention, I couldn’t bear to stay home on that evening. I decided to make something like an honorary remembrance walk and to visit all the places where we had shared our happiest moments.
There was the tree with the big hedge around where we had built our secret fortress, there was the playground where we had spent whole afternoons building sand castles, there was the small shop which got all our pocket money and the well where we ate all the candy from that shop. It made me happy and more calm than I had been for a long time. The night became somewhat surreal and maybe me wrapping myself in my past caused what happened later. I lost all feeling for the time and only my constant walking kept me warm. It was one of the coldest winters I could remember and after I couldn’t think of anymore places in walking distance, I went to the last place on my imaginary list. There was only one winter colder than this one. We were seven and her eighth birthday was the only time we could ever ice-skate on the river. I went down to the shore and was slightly disappointed to see flowing black water with only a little ice attached to the stones of the shore. I crouched down and broke a small piece of ice from the water’s surface. The water was incredibly cold. Cold enough to make me sure that it would freeze completely in a few days time if the weather stayed like that. I broke the small piece into even more pieces when I caught a movement in the corner of my eye. The moment I turned my head I knew that the white-clad person who fell from the bridge next to me was Clary. I watched, now even more helpless, her fall. Her long blond hair waved in the air and she tumbled over and over, like a puppet on her way down. Everything seemed to slow down and a short moment before her seemingly endless fall ended in front of me with a huge splash in the black, icy water, our eyes met. It was only the tiniest part of a second and even though it was dark, I think I was able too recognize relief and regret.
Without thinking I threw away my coat and my boots and dived after her…